By Carolyn Shepard of The Cruise Web, Inc.
Carolyn has worked in the travel industry for years, specializing in cruises. The Cruise Web is a cruise-only travel agency that focuses on providing travelers with the best value for their time and money in finding and booking a cruise vacation!
I’m a shopper by nature so of course when I go away I always make a point of engaging in some retail therapy. I’ve shopped at a flea market in Honolulu, a Souk (or market) in Marrakech and a department store in Beijing. Each place may have its own unique products, but there are a few things you can do to ensure you get the best souvenir at the best price.
Before you even set sail you should do some research. Look up the places you are visiting to find out if they are known for something. For instance, Belgium is known for chocolate. Venice is known for glass and the Caribbean is known for silver.
You can also take this time to search review sites or forums to see if there is a particularly famous store or shopping area that the locals like, but I like to explore on my own. I like wandering. I find that I can get a real feel for the country I’m visiting by exploring the stores off the beaten path.
I try to shop at stores that might not be featured by the cruise line or near the port. Those shops are good if you want to pick up a t-shirt or shot glass with the name of the town you visited, but if you want something unique you have to leave the tourist area. Some how or other I always find those little gems in stores that are down a windy little street, somewhere you’ll never be able to find again.
Now, once you find that special something its time to pay so be prepared with local currency because not all places take credit cards or the dollar. I like to have smaller bills (or coins) so you don’t have too much extra change left over.
One thing that’s different when shopping overseas is the ability to haggle. In many countries, paying what is on the price tag is the exception. Often times store owners will tell you they will give you a deal while you are shopping. If you don’t want it, don’t counter, but if you do want it then let the negotiations begin. I’ve even had a storeowner come running out of his store to accept my price when I wouldn’t pay his.
How do you shop on vacation?
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