Shopping in USA: Tips on Ordering Stuff to Yourself

USA is a place where even the most reluctant person can be converted into the most avid of shoppers. It is indeed a shopper's paradise, the Mecca of consumerism. Almost everything can be ordered online, with a press mouse clicks, key presses and viola, within days or even on the same day, almost anything under the sun can be delivered to your doorstep.

The trick is that some items cannot be shipped outside of USA, or that the shipping charges are prohibitive. So when we get a chance to travel to USA, one of the highlights is to shop to your heart's content. We can get an assortment of items from different vendors, but I do most of my shopping from Amazon. It is not only a place to buy books and DVDs, but now it has evolved into a one stop shopping centre for everything from Swiss knives to sweaters, hi fi gear and even climbing harnesses.

So if you have an address, you can partake of the consumer shopping frenzy. Here are a few pointers:

- know what you want, and check the prices.
Is it worth the trouble to lug them back?
Will it run locally - 110 or 220V or universal
- understand the risks of internet shopping, and that you may not be able to claim warranty
- weight limits
check with your airlines for the baggage allowances - most major airlines allow 2 bags weight 22.5 or 23 kg each - that means a total of up to 46 kilos of goodies!
- Tax and GST
exceed $400 and you may face taxes
- fragility
can you check the item in? IF you remove the boxes, it can be less bulky but you may end up damaging the items
- how long are you in USA
shipping can take a while and it is best to give some allowance
- do you have an address
most hotels will keep an item for you before you arrive, but check first
- begin shopping early
there is no reason to wait til you are in USA, start placing items in the shopping cart first, and monitor the prices. Often they will go up and down.
Then check the stock, if the item is out of stock, you may miss your shipment or hold up the rest of the items and end up missing them at your hotel
- when you are all set, choose the shipping method that suits you
check the estimated shipping time, and make sure you have enough allowance - don't get it too tight, or a slight delay will mean you miss the items
if you want to be sure avoid the free shipping which can be fast, but there are no guarantees and you can end up missing the item. Choose option this if you have lots of time.
You can choose standard shipping and it should come to you within a week.
Remember to account for weekends and the time difference. For example, the 3-5 day shipping time is for working days, so if you order on the weekend, it could be delayed.

- keep all receipts and invoices in case you need to claim or return an item.

Otherwise, all the best and happy shopping!

:)

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