I’m an expert shopper on vacation. We can have five minutes somewhere and I’ll find something cool. It comes from years of practice and honing of my skills.
As I look around my house, most of my knickknacks came from some foreign country. I remember buying all of them, and the experiences are part of my vacation memories. I usually don’t regret buying anything, but there are some things I regret not buying. Those regrets are how I have sharpened my shopping skills.
I remember a conversation with a friend while traveling in Colombia. She was looking at a ring and was hemming and hawing a bit about it. I looked right at her and said, “Time is ticking. Will you regret it if you leave here without that ring? If the answer is yes, buy it. If not, let’s move on.”
She looked at me, realized she didn’t really want the ring, and we left the store.
Time is usually short when shopping on vacation. Usually, I’m running to meet a bus, a cruise ship, or am under some other kind of time constraint. Making quick decisions is a key to my shopping happiness.
- If you like it and can afford it, buy it. You are probably not coming back to wherever you are, and you will like having whatever it is you’re thinking of buying.
- Trust your gut. If you’re hemming and hawing, you probably don’t want it.
- Don’t wait for something better. You’re never going to remember the shop where you are, so if it turns out you want to return there to buy something, you probably won’t, so buy it while you’re there. The exception is if the item is a bit more than you want to spend and the shop is on the way back to the ship, hotel, etc., then waiting is OK. If you’re still thinking about it when you pass by the place again, it means you want it.
- Bargaining changes everything. If you’re in a country where haggling is the norm (I consider it a sport), walking away is a key to getting a better price. If you walk out of the store, chances are the person you were talking to will chase after you. If they don’t and you want the item, wait a few minutes, and then go back and buy the what you want.
- Take a photo. Before a store wraps up your purchases, take a photo of it. People are going to want to see what you bought and you’re not going to want to unwrap it. Also, the photos come in handy when airport security wants to see something that is an odd shape and they can’t figure out what it is. Several times, a photo has satisfied them. Other times, I have had to unwrap things that were carefully protected with several layers of bubble wrap and paper.
If you find yourself looking at the same style of item over and over, it means you want it. On a recent trip to Greece, I kept looking at the metal olive trees in all of the stores in three different ports. I was drawn to them for some reason. I came up with every excuse not to buy one. Finally, on the last day, I found myself looking at them again and finally bought one. I’m so glad I did! I love it and I would have really regretted not buying it.
What’s your shopping advice?