28 Feb Tips for Shopping Abroad
When travelling abroad, some people like to explore museums, some like to get out into nature, while others can’t resist the urge to shop! I’m not a huge spender but I still like to buy the odd nice thing, like a bikini, a handbag or a nice souvenir to take home. Shopping abroad can be a fun experience, particularly as it gets you more familiar with the locals and enables you to practice the language.
Here are my top tips for shopping abroad:
Buy cool local souvenirs
I always like to buy something that reminds me of the country I visited. On the whole I try to choose items that aren’t too heavy or bulky though, so I know I can easily fit them in my suitcase and I know they won’t tip me over the luggage allowance. It’s always nice to buy something local, whether it’s a kimono from Japan, a leather bag from Morocco or wine from South Africa.
Know your size
Shoe and clothing sizes vary from country to country. For example, you can be a size 3 shoe in the UK but a size 36 when shopping in France. Here’s a handy international shoe size conversion chart that shows you how what your size is in various countries around the world. Whether you’re doing some online shopping for holiday clothes or you’re making a purchase on holiday, the chart is super useful if you need a quick reference.
Pay in the local currency
When paying by debit or credit card, sometimes the card machine will ask you if you would like to pay in the local currency or in your home currency. I always pay in the local currency because when the bank converts it to GBP, they usually charge more. For spending abroad I use Starling Bank, which is an app-based current account that charges no fees when making payments or withdrawing cash abroad. I’ve found it to be an absolute godsend because I can happily pay for things without worrying about all those pesky bank fees. Best of all the app sends you notifications every time you make a purchase, so you can easily keep track of your spending and see how much it cost in pounds.
Make sure you have space in your suitcase
If you plan on buying lots of clothes or bottles of wine to take back home, make sure you have room in your suitcase to transport it. To be on the safe side, pack less and make sure you have a decent size suitcase in case of any purchases. There’s nothing more annoying than having to sit on your suitcase trying to get it to close shut!
Learn to haggle
In shopping malls or supermarkets prices tend to be fixed, but in many places you can haggle on the price. If you visit a bazaar or a souk you can definitely haggle with the seller to get your item cheaper. The trick with haggling is to be prepared to walk away. When I don’t actually want or need the item, that’s when I get the best price. Don’t immediately agree to the first price the seller offers you – instead give him your lowest price and then try to meet somewhere in the middle. Haggling is supposed to be fun and can be a good opportunity for some friendly banter – just don’t make the seller angry by offering a ridiculously low price – he/she has to make money too.
In the UK and the US you can pay with plastic almost everywhere. But in other countries that’s not always the case. Try buying coffee in a family-run cafe in a Portuguese village for example and they’ll probably expect you to pay in cash. When I travel abroad I usually try to carry a little bit of the local currency just in case, but not too much.
Do you love to shop? What would be your tips? Leave a comment below!