Travel Shopping Made Easy: What to Buy Wherever You Go


Dree Hemingway for Shop Latitude

Sometimes it may seem like the world is one big mall filled with the same stores, same brands, and same products, but, believe it or not, there are still plenty of unique treasures to be found—especially if you’re lucky enough to be traveling to a locale known for traditional handicrafts.

But how to know what to look for once you’ve landed? And what do you do once you think you’ve found something worth getting? Here, travel-shopping expert and founder of online world marketplace Shop Latitude Alisa Ng shares her tips for finding the best pieces wherever you go.

What to buy in…

Brazil: Swimwear. “They make the best bikinis,” Ng says.

Mexico: Embroidered tunics.

Italy: Leather goods and accessories.

India: Jewelry, caftans and home decor. “I highly recommend visiting Bandit Queen’s showroom for home, Gem Palace in Jaipur for Maharaja jewelry, and Bungalow 8 in Mumbai,” says Ng.

China and Hong Kong: Furniture and home decor. “Soho is home to some of my favorite boutiques including furniture spot Tree and Forest Bird,” says Ng. “Gough Street is teaming with interior design stores.”

Turkey/Istanbul: Textiles (especially Ikat), bath accessories, and jewelry. “The Grand Bazaar is a great one stop shop,” says Ng.

Everywhere: “Check out what the locals are wearing; those pieces are usually cult classics which have stuck around for years for a reason,” Ng says. “Look for boutiques or family-owned businesses that sell those time honored favorites. For example, when I first went Casa Hernanz in Madrid, there was a line around the block—all of the locals were stocking up on espadrilles for the summer. I knew I had found something special.”


Dree Hemingway for Shop Latitude

3 Tips for Negotiating a Good Price:

1. Set aside enough time to check everything out before committing. “Collect cards and take pictures along the way,” advises Ng. “Never buy something without a price and quality comparison.

2. Take your time. “Bargaining is a game,” says Ng. “The more patient you are, the better deal you can usually muster.”

3. Don’t be afraid to play hardball. “A poker face never hurts and the old ‘walk out the door’ trick really does work.”

How to Pick the Right Items:

Be observant…and ask questions. “Watching the process of how a product is manufactured or handcrafted is the best way to determine whether or not it is authentic and of good quality,” says Ng. “If you can’t get behind the scenes, ask questions about production and compare the item with similar products.”

3 Tips for Building Your Own Global Collection:

1. Start slowly. “Choose items that hold meaning beyond their function,” says Ng. “Look for pieces with a story that connects you emotionally to a place and time.”

2. Begin with the basics. “Pareos are an easy starting point because they are so versatile,” advises Ng. They can be beach cover-up by day, a skirt by night, and they’re generally affordable.”

3. Think practically. “I love unique, eccentric, dramatic pieces, but as a rule of thumb, if you can’t picture where you’ll keep that three-foot beaded Massai headdress, don’t buy it,” warns Ng. “The product should translate outside of its place of origin.”

How to Get Your Treasures Home:

Plan ahead. “I always bring an extra duffel or two that I can roll up in my suitcase so I have additional space when I want to bring back treasures from abroad.

How to Incorporate Your Global Goodies Into Your Everyday Style:

Keep it simple. “Too much of one thing is never a good thing,” says Ng. Try pairing just a few traditional jewelry items with simple clothing like a white summer dress. “It’s all about finding the right balance.”

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