INS AND OUTS OF INTERNATIONAL SHOPPING

A : Always keep your passport with you
When your mom says carry your passport everywhere you go, listen to her! You will be amazed how many times people will ask you for an ID abroad to verify your credit card. Famous shops like Zara, Champs, Guess, Dior and more, all ask for ID, so be prepared when on a shopping spree.

B : Buy cool souvenirs


Buying something to look back to help you reminisce the good old travel days is something we fully support. You can choose souvenirs that are not too heavy or bulky, so you can fit them easily in your suitcase. Make sure to look up places where you can go cheap souvenir shopping. And be careful not to be ripped off by the natives either. It’s always nice to buy something local, whether it’s a kimono from Japan or wine from South Africa.

C: Carry cash with you
In the US and UK, it’s easy to pay with credit cards; however, in many countries, it’s difficult to find that as an option at all. In some smaller shops, you can’t use your credit or debit card, which is why it’s always best to carry local currency. Make sure you carry a variety of notes. We recommend downloading a currency convertor application on your phone; it is a great way to find out what the current currency exchange rates are. .

D : Don’t forget to visit the outlet mall
You will not be disappointed with this one. If you are into designer bags but you are also into not breaking your bank account, an outlet mall is the place for you. Set aside half a day or more for this ultimate shopping experience. Outlet malls are usually on the outskirts of town and are regularly stocked to the brim, with popular designer brands at a fraction of the cost. Go HAM!

E: Explore tax refund options
Various big department stores like Macy’s and Harrods are known to offer in-store tax refunds or discounts for overseas shoppers! Yes, it’s exciting and is supremely convenient way to evade sales tax (GST equivalent, often 8-12%) without running around at the airport. Make sure to check out store guides or the information counter for more info before indulging. Other stores may offer special receipts that allow you to claim a refund on sales tax for purchases of certain dollar amounts at the airport. These can definitely add up. Remember to ask if your transaction is complete.

F : FOMO is real, people!
FOMO stands for fear of missing out. We think this is one of the biggest challenges when shopping internationally. The fear of not buying something and never being able to come back for it is absolutely real. The best of us have failed at this. Thus, before it escalates, ask yourself how do you know whether it’s a worthy purchase or not? One rule you could follow is the three-outfit rule. If you cannot think of three outfits you can tangibly wear a piece of clothing/shoes/accessory with, drop it like you dropped your ex.

G : Go with your gut feeling
Antique shopping can be fun and thrilling but there are high chances of being conned into buying fake antiques. Always do your research before you start antique shopping. Sometimes the best deals are in shady places, before you head to those places double check with locals about its safety and authenticity. Remember to trust your intuition. If your gut tells you it’s a sketchy deal, you’re probably right. Your safest bet is to move on.

H : Haggle away
Most shopping malls or supermarket prices tend to be fixed. But in many cases, you can haggle on the price. If you are visiting a bazaar you can definitely use your Bengali ‘daama-daami’ aka bargaining skills, to get your item cheaper. The trick with haggling is to be prepared to walk away. When you actually don’t want or need the item, that’s when you get the best price. Don’t immediately agree to the first price the seller demands, instead give him your lowest price and then try to meet somewhere in the middle. Haggling is supposed to be fun and good opportunity for some friendly banter. Don’t just offer super low prices; remember, the seller is trying to make a living too.

I : Invest in a cross body bag
If you are a serious shopper, you are well aware of the fact that you need to use your hands to be an effective shopper. A cross body handbag will not only amp up your tourist vibes, it will also be the most practical solution for shopping, as it reduces chances of theft. Investing in a bag with lots of secure compartments and super comfy to wear is absolutely crucial.

J : Just read the instructions
Make sure to read instructions or ingredients list when you are investing on an expensive product. Ask questions, look it up if you feel the seller might be lying to you. Always be an attentive shopper!

K : Know your size and how to ask for it
When shopping, it’s important to remember that sizes differ around the world. For instance, many shoppers are not aware that US shoe size 8.5 translates to 6 in the UK and 39 in Europe. Make sure you are aware of that when asking for sizes. If you do not know your size and cannot speak the languages, you may still find the right fit, but the experience itself can be frustrating and time consuming. Make sure to know beforehand.

L : Let your bank know about your travel plans
Be sure to call your credit card company before you travel to let them know you are going abroad. You honestly do not want to be purchasing a Kate Spade bag and be notified that you card has been frozen. You can also find out more about using credit cards abroad and any safety tips! There are ways to minimise the cost and hassle of spending abroad. Ensure that you have a credit card with no foreign transaction fee, that way end up paying for purchases expressed in terms of the local currency. You should be able to avoid post-trip credit statement surprises.

M : Master the art of department shopping
If you are a time-poor traveller, department stores are for you. They are a practical way to reach a raft of local brands in short amount of time. To ensure you’re not missing anything amazing, get the copy of the in-store directory first thing when you enter the store.

N : Night markets

Night markets in various countries have great selection of products at low cost. From various delicacies to local good you can find a lot there. They are perfect for budget shopping. Look them up and go on an adventure. But always make sure it is safe to do so!

O : Outside your comfort zone
We all know that going abroad and shopping is completely out of territory. We suggest learning a few phrases before you go off to a local bazaar, that way local vendors are happy to help you out. It may be different and overwhelming when there is a language barrier, but remember, that its part of the travelling experience. Do not panic, there is always Google translate if all else fails.

P : Probe for local sample sales
If you are lucky enough you may arrive during a designer sample sale. There is a huge possibility of this happening if you are visiting a big city, so look out for the holy grail of designer discounts. Check out websites for list of sample sales. New York and London have many such sales, so be prepared!

Q : Quality over anything else
Do not just go for something that you think is saving you money. Always make sure to look into the products you are buying. Being aware about quality is important when purchasing abroad, as you won’t have the liberty to do an exchange or a return.

U : Utilise duty free options
Duty free shopping is not all the same. Tax regimes and duty refund scheme differ from country to country. If you are going to more than one international airport, you can use a website like Duty Free Addict to compare prices of popular items and determine the cheapest option for you.

V : Value sets
If you want to make your grandma happy with some perfume or your niece happy with some makeup, value sets are your best bet. Other than being great gifts, you can also use it to try out a product for the first time. Try out a deluxe sample before buying a full-size product, while getting to try out multiple products from the brand. Plus, the value of the sets is usually way higher than the actual purchase price so you end up saving more.

W : Watch out for fakes
Does the price seem too good to be true? If the item seems too cheap it’s for a reason. Its fake and worse, could be illegal. Just like your favourite designer bags, legal antiquities should have some sort of authenticity proof, for instance the ownership history (also known as provenance). If the dealer is unable to provide proof of this or relevant paperwork like permits, it’s better not to purchase it, as the object could be seized at customs or worse you could be seized too.

X : X-tra baggage charge can be avoided


Be smart, if you are planning to do a fair bit of shopping on your travels. Pack a thin, lightweight duffel bag in your carry-on or checked suitcase. If you end up with too much stuff, you can check an extra bag on the way back. If you purchase expensive items, then you can put your unwashed clothes in the checked bags and carry the more valuable items on the plane. Keep in mind that packaging and shipping home can be expensive, easily more than $100 for a modest sized box, not to mention a big headache. So cheap duffle bags are your answer friend! #Winning!

Y : You are not obligated to buy anything
So, you try out your haggling skills but the shopkeeper is adamant, he/she doesn’t seem to budge. You have low balled hard on the opening gambit, but they are still persistent. You will feel the urge to give up but of course don’t give up! Hold off. Remember, patience is key, if you are looking for a great deal that is. However, do not feel obligated to buy it if the price isn’t right. While you are walking away, you might catch the attention of a nearby shopkeeper who is willing to give you a much better deal.

Z : Zero tolerance for scammers
Learn to differentiate between a good deal and a shady deal. If it seems shady to you, again, follow your gut. Do not fall for a smiling, friendly face! Beware that you are a tourist, hence you are treated by many as a revenue generating machine. Hold your head high and be confident, that way they know you are not vulnerable.

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Marshuka Hasan

Marshuka is a fashion enthusiast who is obsessed with following fashionistas on Instagram. She loves travelling and fancies exotic food.