Whether rummaging round the souks of Marrakech for souvenirs, sauntering around the markets in Peru for alpaca sweaters or hunting for bargains on the streets of Shanghai, shopping is part of the fun of travelling says Daralyn Danns. But, it can be easy to get carried away. Here are some tips and tricks to help you avoid making an expensive mistake.
Before you hand over your hard-earned cash stop and think whether the item is something you really will use back home.
For clothes, hunt out small boutiques as you can find original pieces that you won’t find on a UK high street. Check the label to see where the garment is made. Something made locally is likely to be cheaper than something imported. If you are buying leather, check it doesn’t have a strong smell.
Avoid tourist shops as goods often have inflated prices. Be careful about going to shops recommended by taxi drivers or tourist guides as they are usually “paid” for sending you.
Before travelling, especially if you intend to buy expensive items such as an oriental carpet, art or jewellery, do your research. If you are paying by credit card, check with your company about loading charges (conversion and processing fees). This can make a difference to the final cost of your purchase.
Markets can be superb hunting grounds for souvenirs and quirky items. However, the quality may be inferior to that of goods found in reputable shops. Prices vary from stall to stall so compare prices before you decide on what to buy. I usually ask the hotel concierge for a rough guide of local prices.
Be prepared to haggle with the traders. It can be fun, if you treat it as a game. I expect to pay about a half to two thirds of the original asking price. The trick is not to appear to be too eager to buy. If I don’t think I am getting a good deal, I am prepared to walk away. Usually, I get called back and given a lower price.
Never flash money at a market, it’s asking for trouble. I always examine an item before I pay for it ̶̶ take it out of the bag if it is wrapped up. Count your change before you leave the stall.
For info on what you can back to the UK check out www.hmrc.gov.uk/customs
Remember the golden rule of shopping: if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Daralyn Danns is a journalist. Daralyn can be found tweeting at www.twitter.com as @daralynstravels.