Shopping abroad is for many the ultimate way to experience another country and have great fun at the same time. While many global brands can be found in almost any city, there are still many retailers that are unique to their own country. Sampling their wares offers fascinating insight into that country’s culture and people. The spread of global brands also means that shoppers have to travel further afield and beyond the high street to source unique items. Shopping abroad can be extremely enjoyable, but there are a few things to be aware of to ensure your trip runs smoothly. Following on from our guide to the top European shopping destinations, Send MyBag has put together some tips to help you plan your shopping trip abroad.
1. deciding where to go
Where you decide to go for your holiday shopping spree should depend on several different factors:
What destination will provide an enjoyable holiday all-round?
You won’t be shopping the whole time you are abroad, as much as you might like to be. So, make sure that there are other fun activities to fill your time and that there are good restaurants and bars to spend your evenings in.
What do you intend to buy?
The type of purchases you want to make will a big difference to what destination will best suit you.
If you are looking for top designer fashion, somewhere like Milan would suit you well. What better place to pick up designer gear than in the city where many designers started their careers, such as Prada and Armani?
If you want more affordable fashion, head to New York, to the big department stores like Macy’s, which often offer considerable discounts on the label price. New York also offers all the designer gear you could wish for, plus many stores that have become tourist destinations in their own right, such as Tiffany’s, Saks 5th Avenue and Bloomingdales.
If you are looking to decorate your home with a choice antique or rug, try Eastern Europe where previously closed countries are now opening up for trade. It is best to avoid tourist traps, be aware of fakes and be prepared to haggle.
If your idea of fun is finding the unexpected in market stalls, then consider the continent of Africa, where markets are a part of everyday life. In Morocco, for example, the souks are a fascinating place to shop and a great place to hone those haggling skills!
When do you intend to go?
Whether you plan to travel in winter or in summer will have a big say in where you decide to go. If you are looking to do some Christmas shopping, you can’t go wrong with many destinations in Europe, in particular those with Christmas markets. Germany is especially renowned for its many Christmas markets in pretty much every town. Christmas markets in Nuremberg, Munich and Berlin are among the most popular. If you are travelling in summer, you need to consider whether a shopping spree would be pleasant in searing heat. Make sure you pack well in anticipation of this and bring plenty of water with you when you shop. If you don’t cope well with heat, you should consider destinations where shops are fitted with good air conditioning, such as New York or other US cities.
Click here for a guide on some of the best European shopping destinations.
2. How to haggle
Haggling may not feel natural to those of us who are used to shopping in Western Europe or the US. However, in many countries, haggling is an inevitable part of the shopping process, and must be done in order to avoid paying over the odds for goods. You should swot up on the haggling customs in your destination by consulting a travel guide. You need to know whether it is more effectual to be gentle or forceful in your approach. Also, don’t be caught off-guard when making a purchase. Decide for definite whether you want the item and how much you are prepared to pay for it before you begin to show interest. If you can, have to hand only the maximum amount you would like to spend so that you don’t end up being persuaded to spend any more. Also, decide a strategy beforehand with anyone who is accompanying you.
3. How to spot a fake
In most cases it is obvious which items are fake – a ‘Prada’ handbag for 50 euro couldn’t be anything but fake. If you are hoping to bag a genuine article, you must do your research before you hit the shops. Search online for advice on what to look for and for listings of shops that might sell the type of item you are looking for. Ask the concierge of the hotel whether he/she can vouch for the shops you plan to visit. Also, don’t buy at the first place you visit but shop around to get the lay of the land. If making a large purchase, ask for a certificate of authenticity, if available, plus a receipt.
4. How to pay
If making expensive purchases, a credit card will offer you some buyer protection. It can also be safer to carry around cards rather than cash, as they can be cancelled if stolen or lost. However, credit card providers can charge several fees for transactions made abroad. You should, therefore, look for a credit card that allows you to make purchases abroad without charging extra fees.
5. Customs and duty fees
If making large purchases abroad, you should be aware that you may need to pay duty once you return home with your goods. There is normally a certain value of goods that you can bring in without paying duty. In the US this is $800 and in the UK is it £390 for goods other than alcohol or tobacco, on which there are quantity limits. Have a look at your government’s website for details on your duty-free allowance and fees for goods valued over this allowance.
6. How to get your purchases home
Once you have made all your purchases and your holiday is drawing to a close, you will need to consider how you will transport your items home. Send My Bag has the answer. Send My Bag will pick up your items from your hotel and deliver them straight to your door at home. Simply pick up a box or suitcase and fill it with your shopping, book in your collection, and leave your box/suitcase at hotel reception for pickup, along with the necessary documentation. Send My Bag offers fantastic flat rates for a massive 30 kg on many international routes. This will allow you to jump onto public transport without dragging bags behind and will make your journey home much more pleasant without the prospect of paying excess baggage fees, or waiting at bag drop or luggage carousels.
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Checked baggage is a significant revenue stream for airlines, with customers often being charged to check in bags in the first place, being stung for excess and oversized baggage and frequently forced to check in overweight hand luggage at the gate. Despite the high price of checking baggage for the customer, there is no guarantee that their baggage will arrive at their destination at the same time as they do.