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Shopping on the Road Tips

Stick to a Budget. Vacation is time to have fun and splurge a little. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep a budget in mind. You make better decisions when you know what things cost to you. Do you want to dine out every night when you can do two full-day excursions if you dine out only every other night?

Pack Smart. Remember to pack an extra bag that can be folded and packed into a suitcase to hold your vacation purchases. This will prevent you from having to overstuff your suitcase or buy a new bag on your vacation. This is especially true if you are flying and required to pay extra for baggage that exceeds the weight limit.

Size Does Matter. If you are flying to and from your destination, remember that most airlines now have weight and size limits for suitcases. If you are over the allocated size or weight, you may be required to pay a hefty fee. Go online to your airline's site or call the customer service number before leaving to verify the rules.

Ship it and Save. If you are purchasing something large and expensive, like crystal or china, it may make more sense to ask the store to ship the items to your home. If the store doesn't have a location in your state, and they ship your merchandise to you, you may not be required to pay the sales tax, just the shipping costs.

Consider Your Credit Card. Always purchase items you plan to ship home through your credit card so that you have a proof of purchase. If for some reason the merchant does not deliver your items in time or in perfect shape, you can dispute the charge. Consult your credit card customer service about the dispute procedure.

Collect Memories. Encourage your children to start a travel collection. Whether it's snow globes, key chains, postcards, or t-shirts from each destination you visit, they will always have a tangible memory of their vacation and something to share with their children in the future. This is an inexpensive way for children to get excited about each trip and have something they can look for during their travels.

Make Allowances. If your children earn allowance at home, encourage them to save for your trip. If you don't give a regular allowance, allow them to complete jobs around the house for some vacation money. This provides them the freedom to make a purchase on their own and to think about their decision before spending their money.

Avoid Impulse Buys. Although you may be swayed to purchase a bright Hawaiian shirt or pink flamingo rug in Florida, don't get caught up in the moment. Be honest with yourself and decide if this potential purchase is something you would wear to your local grocery store or display in your home.

Shop Where the Locals Do. When traveling, look for locally owned stores. These often offer one-of-a-kind items you can't find back home. Local artist galleries offer unique items from jewelry to prints, at various price points. These purchases provide a wonderful memory of your vacation.

Shop Around. Don't jump on buying the first thing you like, as you might see the same item at a lower price a few days later. And remember - there's nothing wrong with bartering. The worst they can say is "no." Waiting until the end of your trip to make a purchase will allow you to review your vacation budget and prevent you from overspending and making impulse buys.

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