For some travelers, shopping is an essential part of any trip to a foreign country. In some cases, you’ll find items you can’t get anywhere else, and in others, you’ll be able to get them cheaper. No matter what you buy when you’re traveling abroad, from designer clothes in Italy to locally produced rum in Puerto Rico, keep the following tips in mind to make the most of your shopping excursions.
– Know the specialties. Most major destinations have one or two items they’re particularly well known for, and you can capitalize on your trip by researching this ahead of time. In Italy, for example, you can find clothes from world-famous designers, sometimes for a discount. In Estonia, you can purchase incredible locally made lace.
– Create a budget. You can get great deals while shopping abroad, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be spending money. To keep from getting a nasty surprise when you check your bank account after your return, figure out how much you’re going to spend ahead of time, and then stick to that budget.
– Be willing to haggle. Use your instincts to know when to haggle and when a price is nonnegotiable. In many open-air markets in the developing world, for instance, you should never expect to pay the first price you’re quoted. You should probably aim for something close to two-thirds of that price instead. Haggling can be uncomfortable if you aren’t used to it, but in many areas of the world, it’s an expected part of doing business.
– Know what you can bring back. The complexities of international trade agreements mean that you should always check what you can legally bring back from your trip. Some items may be banned entirely, while others may be taxed if you bring back more than a certain amount. Check with U.S. Customs and Border Protection at www.cbp.gov before you go, so you aren’t caught by surprise on your way home.