When traveling, the lure of the duty free shop is irresistible for many tourists. They think because it’s called duty free it must be less expensive than anywhere else. But that’s not the right way to think of a duty free shop. It’s better to think of these shops are places to kill some time between flight where you might, MIGHT, find a bargain or two after some careful research and comparing.
Americans are allowed to bring up to eight hundred dollars worth of foreign merchandise into the country duty-free, so that takes care of most of your shopping before you even get to the airport. Duty free shops are not the best place for last minute shopping or impulse buys. Still, if you keep an eagle eye out, you can occassionally spot an item that has been heavily discounted just to get it off the shelf. Also, cosmetics are often a good buy at the duty free shop. Alcohol and tobacco are not that much of a bargain, and there can be trouble getting them onboard if you lose the receipt and don’t have them sealed in a tamper-proof bag.
One of the best duty free deals is books published locally and in the local language. These can become collector’s items in a few years because most often they are never translated and published in the United States. So if you have a bibliophile friend, try a duty-free book.