Seven Tips for Shopping on Vacation

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Seven Tips for Shopping on Vacation

We all look forward to vacations. Not only do we get to experience far-off places, take in the local sights and attractions, and sample delicious new cuisines, we also get to shop for treasures that remind us of our journey long after it has ended. That’s right, your vacation is the perfect time to indulge in some much-needed retail therapy. When traveling, you typically have more time to window shop than you would back home, plus you can find great pieces unique to the area you’re visiting. You may discover markets full of gorgeous fabrics, or boutiques selling clothing from new designers, or fine leather shoes handmade by talented craftsmen, or fun and unique accessories that will take your look to new heights.

The point is, it’s wise to keep your eyes open for “good finds” of all types during your travels. You never know when you will come across something unexpected that is perfect for you. No matter where your summer travels take you this year, these practical tips will help you seek out the best fashion finds and bring them home as souvenirs of your journey.

Budget in some extra cash for vacation shopping. You will likely save up for your vacation in advance, so set aside some of those funds for the treasures you’ll find on your trip. Knowing you’ve saved for those perfect-for-you Italian sandals or that delightful French scarf will free you to spend money without worry or guilt.

Figure out which pieces are missing before you go. Before you leave, take a quick inventory of your wardrobe and make a mental note of the clothing or accessories you currently need. By no means should you stress over finding these specific items on your travels, but if you come across that perfect pencil skirt between art museum visits in Amsterdam, you’ll be happy to bring it home and recall your trip each time you wear it.

Make extra room in your suitcase. Even though every inch of your suitcase is valuable real estate, it’s wise to leave a little extra room when you’re packing your bags. It will come in handy when it’s time to pack up your vacation finds. To create this extra space, wear your bulkiest items—jackets, boots, oversized scarves—on the plane. Another tip: Use packing cubes to pack your suitcase. These small pouches help you compartmentalize your clothing so it stays organized, and you can squeeze a surprising amount of items into each cube, enabling you to pack in less space. Of course, if you decide to make a larger purchase while on vacation, you can always have it shipped back home.

Set aside plenty of time to window shop and discover. Overscheduled trips leave you exhausted and in need of a second vacation to recover. So, make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to wander and take in the city you’re visiting. Meander through shops and shopping districts without any agenda. Check out a funky boutique you might normally overlook. Sit down for a coffee and do some people watching (this is a great way to get a sense of the local fashion scene). Fashion inspiration is everywhere…it’s up to you to notice it.

Look for items you can’t find at home. Don’t waste your time by shopping at the popular chain stores for brands you can find back home. Instead, research the region you’re visiting so you can get a better idea of what it is known for and make a point to visit some of the shops unique to the area. You may discover an under-the-radar brand you’ll love for years to come.

Give yourself permission to splurge… Remind yourself that it is okay to treat yourself to something nice on vacation. Whether you find a one-of-a-kind necklace in Cape Town or a gorgeous and flawlessly constructed bag in Florence, go ahead and splurge. As long as you know you love the item and will get a lot of use from it, then it is worth the purchase.

…but don’t buy anything you don’t love. Spending for the sake of spending is a common trap on vacation. Before you make any purchase, make sure you really love and want that item, and that you will be able to use it. Imagine bringing it into your home. Imagine hanging it in your closet or placing it in your jewelry box. Imagine wearing it. If you feel any hesitation whatsoever, give yourself a day to think about it before making a final decision.

Aways approach each new place you visit with an open heart and an open mind. You never know how visiting a city will influence your philosophy on life…or fashion! And you never know what great new fashion pieces you might discover along the way, whether at a crowded market in Greece or in a funky boutique in London. You may even surprise yourself with the pieces you are drawn to. But remember, your clothing and accessories are all expressions of your true self, and that self is unique, complex, and beautiful. So, expect the unexpected and trust your instincts when shopping on vacation. You never know what you will find!


  • Marla Tomazin

    Marla Tomazin, Certified Image Consultant, established her image consulting business in 1990 with the goal of helping clients identify an authentic image and develop its effective expression. Marla utilizes her abilities in evaluating body shape, movement, and coloring as well as synthesizing optimal cuts, lines, colors, and textures. This results in balance and proportion that accentuate attributes and conceal flaws. Marla has appeared on numerous TV and radio stations and programs. Visit

2 Responses

  1. Beth Martin says:

    You’re so wise. I love the suggestions for window shop first, buy unique and giveyourself permission to splurge. I’m going to follow those tips on my next trip.

  2. Marla, I continue to love your articles. You’re all about smart shopping over impulse shopping, while still having fun AND looking great. I believe in No Deprivation and you help hit the mark. Carrie, Money Coach

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