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Tips on Shopping with a Beer Budget

October 20, 2008

Yes it is cliche sounding I know, but how else can you describe it. Most of us want to have the best when we travel, without having to compromise, max out the credit card, or load up the bank loan . Myself included.

Some of my readers have asked for tips on how to get the most out of their budget while travelling. There are many travel sites and forums catering to this topic already. So to be a little different, I’m going to look at travel budgets from a different angle, the shopping angle.

 With the volatile global financial environment we are currently experiencing, its even more important to spend wisely with minimal sacrifice.

Here are some of my tips on how to buy those champagne goodies:

Don’t go shopping on the first few days of your trip.

Never ever ever -this is usually the time when everything is new, your adrenaline’s running wild and you’re on that travel high. Set aside the last two days of your trip to do the shopping. By this time, you will have seen more than enough trinket and souvenir shops, stalls and what not. So you should be able to tell the difference between what is junk and what is quality.

Of course you have to be flexible here. If you are travelling to different towns it’s difficult. But more often than not, souvenirs from rural areas can be found in the bigger cities; and airports.

Don’t buy for everyone back home

Forget them! Unless it is someone very special or they have given you money in advance. Be brutal with this one. The reality is how many people actually appreciate your gifts? And how many people put them in the back of the cupboard or worse, give them away as gifts. I know my friends have done this (you know who you are!)

The less you spend on trying to please everyone, the more you can spend on something nice for yourself, or your home. And don’t forget -the more things you have to stuff into your bags, the more excess luggage you will have to pay.

Less is more

That golden rule applies here. I’ve done it countless times -overloaded on cute but indescribable junk. Take your time when shopping, have a good look around the markets, craft shops, hotel kiosk before making that decision. Ask yourself: “what is really going to look nice in my place” and “what am I going to appreciate having in my home over the years”

If you can’t answer these questions with the things you are planning on buying – don’t buy them!

Rationale your rationale

Even on holiday your rational is irrational. There are many things we simply need to have for ourselves: obscene flared pants, long tye-dyed skirts, tacky stringy shoes, braided hair.Does any of it look nice? Would you actually wear that stuff in your own country? I tend to look at what the locals are wearing. If they aren’t wearing these types of clothes or ridiculous hairstyle, there’s a reason why.

Do some homework before you leave home

Read up on those guidebooks, search google and look at websites. See what’s out there and what looks good. This way you can budget for extra cash before your go.

Credit cards are a must!

For two reasons:

1) In case of emergencies – a credit card is usually accepted more than travellers cheques.

2) In case of seeing that something you must have “whatever the cost”. Sometimes you do see something you really love and want. And its pricey. Rugs, art, clothing usually fall in this category. I always take a credit card when I travel for those emergencies. The only time I have used it was when I saw a must have rug in Tibet. It cost more than my budget allowed for, but I wanted it. I still have this rug at home.

Markets versus Shops?

Personally I avoid markets unless they are photogenic. Most markets are full of junk, you have to bargain, and you usually end up feeling ripped off and harrassed. It goes back to that rule of less is more- buy a few items from reputable shops and you can’t go wrong.

Don’t put off today
I learnt my lesson a long time ago when travelling around Europe.
I bought nothing and regretted it. If you see something you like, and it fits all categories above – buy it!. As for the budget. Well you will just have to forego eating at that expensive foreign restaurant for an evening.

Well readers I hope this helps. If you can add more tips super. I’m always looking for new information.

Caffeinated Traveller

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