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Travel is never complete without shopping. Whether it is buying ''a gift to myself'' or mementos to give to family and friends, overseas retail therapy means learning the art of haggling and bringing that ''something different'' home.
Admit it, we all get gripped by retail fever once in a while when in a new country. And instead of buying lasting souvenirs, we sometimes end up with shopping bags chock-full of junk. However, you can always avoid blowing your budget while on vacation by sticking to a specific amount. Forget credit and debit cards if you don't want to rack up hefty foreign transaction fees.
It is important to be mindful of the things you are picking up as gifts. Travel is the perfect chance to explore stores that sell products showing the place's culture and charm. Ditch mega malls and stores near tourist spots. Think quirky shops, thrift stores, flea markets, local boutiques, souks and sidewalk shops tucked away somewhere. It is in these spots that one often stumbles into serendipitous finds like a vintage purse, a boho ring or a nice piece of art.
Don't purchase the usual stuff. Go for items unique to the place you are visiting, e.g. leather in Turkey, silk in Vietnam, lace in Belgium. You will, however, be forgiven if you still want to buy ''souveniry'' pieces (keychains, fridge magnets, etc.), if only to add to your or a friend's collection.
Don't have enough time to browse the shops? Food is always a welcome present. Don't leave Paris without a box of macarons or Istanbul without its famous Turkish delights. And before you fly home, get a refund of the tax on goods you purchased from ''tax-free shopping'' stores.
• Set a strict budget for retail spending abroad.
• Go to thrift stores, flea markets and local shops.
• Food items best choice if you have no time to browse.
Source: Special to Classifieds