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Shopping while travelling

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Shopping is associated with travel. Travellers might be able to buy items unavailable at home, or items cheaper, or of better quality, than at other places, not to mention souvenirs to remember your trip. Shopping can also be extended to the purchase of travel supplies, before or during travel. Some travellers plan trips around shopping opportunities; for example a trip to Singapore or Hong Kong for clothes or duty-free cameras and electronics.

There are some good deals in tourist areas. They will often have a better selection of tourist-oriented goods than you might find elsewhere and facilities may be better as well; for example they may have more English-speaking staff or be set up to accept foreign credit cards which other shops will not take. However, prices are often somewhat or much higher than elsewhere, especially in so called tourist traps, so buyers should be wary. In particular, if you plan to buy high-priced goods it will often be worthwhile to look for better deals elsewhere.

As a general rule any vendor with a captive market will be tempted to take advantage of the situation and overcharge; they may also have reason for high prices because they are paying very high rent. Examples include shops in airports and some hotels and, fairly often, a shop that is the only one available to people whose tour bus delivers them to some attraction.

The larger the place the less problematic this is likely to be. In a huge airport, a mall next to a hotel, or a whole district of tourist shops there is enough competition to keep prices mostly reasonable.

In many places — across much of Asia and sometimes elsewhere — a system of guide’s commission is widespread. When a tour guide, a cab driver, a rickshaw peddler or even a random “friendly” stranger takes you to such a shop, he or she gets a commission on everything you buy. More-or-less all such places are overpriced, and the ones that are most attractive to unscrupulous guides because they pay the best commissions are the worst of the lot from the traveller’s point of view.

Walking into many market buildings, or just along the street in some areas, you will be approached (in some places, swarmed) by touts who offer to lead you to shops. These people are usually on commission and should generally be avoided.

Tips for shopping

  • Shop with a list – Many people overspend or buy things they don’t want, don’t need and never end up using because they haven’t prepared properly. This is your hard earned cash and precious time you are spending – it’s worth a few minutes of preparation, don’t you think? Sure it is (and remember, you’re worth it!). So, before you set off on your shopping trip, prepare. Review what you already have – in your closet, cupboards, home or garage, then write a list of the ‘gaps’ you have and the needs this item will fill. Make sure they are genuine needs
  • Set a budget – Many people overspend on things they don’t want, need or use because they had no parameters around their spending. Think twice before you spend on something you want to buy.
  • Pay with cash – So once your list is prepared and you have a realistic budget you can stick to, withdraw your funds in cash and use only that cash for this shopping trip. Paying with cash feels more “real” and that’s what we want – to reconnect you to this shopping experience so you only buy things you genuinely need and will use.
  • Set a free time – Set a specific timeframe that you will complete your shopping in, and once that time is over, it’s time to head home. Your time is too valuable to spend it mindlessly anyway – once you’ve bought all you need (and nothing you don’t), stop shopping and turn your attention to something else for the day.
  • Remember that the sales person is there to sell to you – No matter how friendly or pleasant a sales person is, here is the fact you cannot avoid: they’re in it for the sale. Yes, they may care that you walk out only with items that suit you and that you will use. But they want you to walk out with something. That’s what they are there for – to sell you something, or to maintain a relationship with you whereby you keep coming back. That’s their business. Sales people, no matter how charming and helpful they are, aren’t there to be our friends. They may engage in friendly behaviours, but their purpose is singular: to sell us something. Today. Be mindful of this so that you only buy items you need and will use.
  • Don’t buy just because it’s on sale – ‘Sale’ really is a four-letter word! Accompanied by the word ‘shoe’, it is possibly responsible for more impulse shopping than almost any other word! Remember that a bargain is not a bargain if it’s not you, doesn’t fit correctly, you don’t love it, or it doesn’t fill a legitimate gap you have and is therefore a real need. 

Shopping is actually a good exercise for your mind as well as body. A majority of people prefer shopping accompanied by their loved ones including their family and partners. Doing so helps you build your relationship stronger and makes communication easier. Shop More. Have Fun !

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