We all explore a new place differently. Checking out museums, historical monuments, natural wonders, and tasty restaurants are some of the ways you can learn more about a place. But for those who love to shop know that another way to experience life abroad is by taking a long walk down the local shops and merchants, haggling with vendors to get the best deal on the coolest items.
Shopping isn’t normally my thing but when I am traveling to a new country, I always try to look around for items that might interest me. Moreover, shopping abroad is very rewarding. For one, you are able to experience what it is like being a local. Whether you are in a big city like Paris or you are somewhere quaint, you can shop around as though you are someone from that city or town. You can also find unique items to bring back to your friends and family as perfect souvenirs.
Though shopping abroad can be very exciting, there are a few things to look out for. You want to make sure that you are getting something authentic and at a great price. If you are planning on taking a trip across the globe, and you know you want to shop till you drop, here is everything you need to know about shopping abroad.
Do Your Research
Research is key if you do not want to get ripped off, especially if you are trying to find authentic local goods. You might shop here at an online shop or in-person at a Russian Bazaar. You want to make sure that you are getting a quality product. Getting that top-tier quality item at a great price is even better. Major purchases like a designer handbag, an artifact, or a cultural item require you to do some extra leg work to ensure that you are getting something genuine and reasonably priced item. Or, you may want to buy a nice piece of art or jewelry. It is highly recommended that you get a certificate of appraisal or authenticity the second you swipe your card or hand over your cash.
Doing your research before you buy anything will help you determine what to look for in a product. It will be able to tell you the crucial qualities that make that item authentic. It is also recommended that you do research on the best places to buy these items. Use the resources you have like the internet or your travel partner. If you are staying at a hotel, you could ask your concierge for suggestions.
Another step in the researching process is to avoid buying the first thing you see. Shop around a bit. Look at the different variety and prices of those items before committing.
Be An Expert Haggler
Haggling is the best way to get a sweet deal, no matter what you are buying. I am personally terrible at haggling but I do it sometimes when I need to. Before you go barreling down to the nearest market, you first need to have a firm grip on the culture of your destination. Haggling looks different in every country. There may be varying strategies that you can use. Some may work in some countries while other strategies may work in others. It is important to know all of this beforehand. Do some research on the local haggling customs.
One key to being an expert haggler is having a positive attitude. If you come into the transaction mean, or off-putting, you could hurt your chances of getting a great deal on that item you have been eying. Avoid getting angry at the merchant. Don’t insult the merchant, even if the haggling is not going the way you planned. Think of it as a game of friendly competition.
Haggling is where shopping around a bit before making a purchase comes in handy. The reason for this is because you do not want to start haggling without being prepared. You should know about how much your item is worth beforehand. That way you can keep the ideal price you want to pay in mind while still being realistic and preparing yourself to pay the maximum amount if it comes to that during the negotiations.
You should also be very cautious about where you are putting your money and how much, particularly if you are paying in cash. Carry small bills so you can pay the exact amount as some merchants will try to keep your change, claiming they do not have change for large bills. It is also recommended that you set aside the money you are planning to spend and keep it in your wallet. Any additional cash, place it someplace else. You will be able to physically show the merchant that what you have on hand is all the cash you have and it could stop you from overspending.
You want to make sure that your merchant starts the negotiations. From there you can counteroffer and the haggling begins! When all else fails, take the initial price and split it in half. You can start your haggling there if you are unsure about what to counteroffer. If you are haggling with a friend or loved one, the best advice is to put on a united front. Discuss who will do the talking before you walk into the shop and start negotiating.
One common negotiating tactic you could apply to haggle is to not show too much interest in the item you are wanting to purchase even if you want it really bad. This puts you at a disadvantage right away because the merchant knows how desperate you are for that item and they may think you are willing to spend the maximum amount on it. Be willing to walk away, and if the merchant is being stubborn with the price walk away. He or she will be running after you with a lower, better offer.
Lastly, know when to fold them. If you find yourself haggling for a while and the last negotiations are over a $5 or $10 difference, this is a good time to think about if you really want this item or not. If you do, take the offer.
Tips On Taking Your Goodies Home
Now that you have purchased your items it is now time to think about how you will transport these things home. Will you pack them in your bag with you or will you ship them? Ultimately, the choice is yours. Some people travel knowing they will do some serious shopping so they leave room in their bags for the newly bought items they plan to take home. You could even pack an additional bag and put your new things in there.
If all you are buying is clothes and things that are not fragile, a duffel bag is a great option. They are easy to store in your luggage without taking up too much space. If you are trying to take back valuable items you want to wrap them up carefully and pack them in your carry-on.
Sometimes your items are way too big to fit them all into your carry-on. Consider shipping your items in situations like this. You can either have the store ship it to you or you can ship it yourself. Some merchants are not able to ship your items for you, but in the chance that they can, insure your items. Make sure to pay using a credit card and get an itemized receipt just in case.
Deciding to ship your items out yourself is a great option as well. Do your due diligence to pack them cautiously so they do not get damaged during shipping and handling. Label the contents of what is inside on the box along with the monetary value. You must also label the box “personal use purchase” or “unsolicited gift.” This is just for customs purposes.
Purchasing something abroad is invigorating but getting through customs does not have to be a chore. If you are a U.S. resident coming back with your purchased items, you can only bring back up to $800 worth of stuff if you want to avoid paying duty. Do not think just because you are shipping your things means you are exempt from paying duty. You may still have to pay if your items are worth up to $200. Expect customs to inspect your shipped packages before you take them home. If you owe a duty, you have to pay it when your package is delivered.
Know What To Do For Credit Card Transactions
Make sure that you take with you at least two credit cards on your trip. Each card needs to be from a different company. It is also recommended that these credit cards do not charge you foreign transaction fees. Having two cards is a great safety measure because you never know what could happen. If you lose one card or it is stolen, you will have another one handy.
Shopping abroad can be a lot of fun!
Shopping abroad provides you with something tangible to remember your trip. With the proper preparation, you will be sure to find a collectible item that was worth traveling for.
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