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International Shopping


As I said in my last post, I was visiting my family in New York for the Thanksgiving holiday and what do you do when you are in a different country besides eat and drink too much? You shop of course!

Whenever I travel anywhere, I research what is cheaper in the country I am visiting. In New York, we didn’t bring back I NY tee shirts but I did bring back – contact lens solution, pens, Post-It Notes, Hue tights and Tampax. Not the usual tourist fare but it was all at least a third cheaper than in lovely London Town and stuff I use regularly.

When we went to Barcelona for a long weekend, we purchased saffron (the most expense spice in the world), wine, all types of Spanish chorizo, and some cheese. The chorizo and cheese went in the freezer so we can have beautiful Spanish stew with Manchego cheese for desert at the drop of a hat.

When we go to France, I look for cosmetics and beauty products especially Phyto hair products, Herbes de Provence, different spices depending on upon where we are in France and of course wine. In Italy, I dragged the poor man around the leather market in Florence for Xmas gifts in May.

The key to shopping abroad is knowing your prices at home so you can do your comparisons smartly. Even if your exchange rate is not amazing you can still do well. The best website for checking exchange rates is It updates every few seconds so you can be aware of how much you are spending before you get home to a scary credit card bill.

The other key thing you need to do is to bring a big enough suitcase to include any purchases or an extra bag. We got caught behind the eight ball coming back from NY when our airline changed the baggage weight allowance since our last trip and we had to decant some of our stuff at the check in desk into plastic shopping bags or pay a hefty fine. Not a pretty picture. Know the rules of how much you can take back to your country and the baggage allowances.

My other trick is to have purchases posted to me where I am staying.  When I am in America, I look at the sales at Saks Fifth Avenue on line, basics from The Gap and any other American supplier has them delivered to where I am staying so when I arrive it is a bit like Xmas and I don’t have to spend my precious holiday time in the shops.

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