Even if your next international trip’s agenda is to catch up on some R&R or check off an item on your bucket list, you’ve probably still Googled the city’s shopping scene. Because admit it—traveling just isn’t complete without a little retail excursion. Whether it’s your first time to fly the nest or you’re a frequent flyer, let this quick travel-shopping guide help you buy the best pieces wherever you go.
Visit local stores. Luxury designer purchases might be tempting, but scoring a one-of-a-kind necklace from an artisan or exploring an open-air souk teeming with local style and culture is an amazing travel experience on its own.
Treat shopping as an adventure. Make friends with the locals, prepare to stand in long lines, flip through racks, bargain, and fight for that last pair of shoes in your size.
Nix shopping #FOMO. Don’t just grab a flimsy peasant top for the sake of buying something when you know it’ll be completely out of place in your closet.
Wear decent (or for Instagram #OOTD purposes, stylish) clothes, but nothing too flashy. You want sales staff to know you’re a paying customer, but you don’t want to give them the idea that you’re “loaded” because there goes your chance to haggle lower for that pair of handmade espadrilles you secretly can’t wait to wear for the rest of your trip.
Plan ahead to make sure you get your goodies home. Always hit the road with a little extra space in your luggage for incidentals. Or bring a foldable duffle in case you exceed your baggage weight limit. If you have a four week-long itinerary or are traveling to multiple cities (Hello, EuroTrip!), consider sending a Balikbayan box home so you don’t have to lug your purchases around.
And if you happen to have booked a flight to the following destinations, these veteran travelers and locals have shared insider tips on their favorite retail hotspots:
JAPAN and BALI
“Don Quijote in Japan is the 24/7 wasteland store of your dreams. Every imaginable thing is displayed wall-to-wall, and so cheap. I also like going to Bic Camera for marked down gadgets. Don’t forget to get coupons from magazines in the airport and hotel concierge. When in Bali, souvenir items from tourist spots cost lower than those sold by the streets.” —Jescel, 26
“Dubai is a gold mine for gold and diamond jewelry. Everyone goes to Dubai Gold Souk and Emaar Gold & Diamond Park to score good deals. You can buy scarves, clothes, and shoes at the Old Souk.” —Aizza, 28
“I shop at Le Cascine, Florence’s version of Greenhills tiangge! If you’re on the lookout for genuine, unbranded Italian leather bags and belt, Mercato di San Lorenzo could just be your thing. The area is usually filled with travelers buying pasalubong.” —Joyce, 29
VENICE and ATHENS
“I’m solved wherever there’s a Primark in sight. It’s like H&M, only cheaper. I noticed that Murano jewelry sold from the alleys near Basilica di San Marco in Venice is cheaper than the ones from Murano Glass Island. In Athens, the best place to buy trinkets is at the Monastiraki flea markets.” —Alexis, 37
“Istanbul is haven for anything cashmere, Ikat textiles, quality shoe brands and bath products. Head out to local boutiques or the Grand Bazaar and be ready to haggle big time.” —Archie, 29
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