Have you ever just chilled out for a bit and hung around a duty-free mall, well because you’re organised and you’ve arrived nice and early for your flight and so you have some time to kill? People-watching is a favourite activity amongst true travellers whose wanderings are more about exploration than anything else, so people-watching in this particular setting feeds that spirit.
So taking things back to the duty-free mall setting, it’s interesting to note how generally the most indicatively money-savvy class of travellers in backpacking budget travellers almost never hang around too long in these duty-free malls, simply because they don’t see anything much of value to buy. I mean sure, if some of these financially savvy travellers are smokers, for instance, then they’ll take every opportunity to stock up on some ciggies so that they save a bit of money in the long run, but otherwise, a duty-free mall doesn’t seem to be the place you go if you want to save money.
Is it really duty-free?
The thing with economic and political terms and “statuses” such as that of something being duty-free is that ultimately it’s really just a technical term. So yes, if something says it’s duty-free, it means it really is duty-free, which means you don’t have to pay any “duty” on the customs processes surrounding that item’s importation or exportation. Duties that are slapped onto goods coming into a country are basically government service fees to ensure that those items are safe for their citizens to use or consume, so duty-free products are usually just pre-screened items that subsequently doesn’t have to undergo regular scrutiny.
Does the duty-free status translate to savings?
With this explored understanding of what duty-free means as a technical term – it should be clear that something duty-free doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cheaper than your regular shopping avenues. You may often find yourself saving money on particular items, especially if you go to a coupon website and find an appropriate deal to cut your costs further. Therefore duty-free doesn’t necessarily translate into savings, although that’s the impression often given by the mere mentioning of that status.
The clever way to do duty-free shopping
The smart way to do duty-free shopping is to buy only those items which you really need, taking full advantage of their customs-exempt status. The problem with this however emerges as one which suggests that the items available for sale, duty-free, are generally not very useful items.
Sure, if you’re addicted to tobacco, for instance, then feeding your addiction in a cheaper way (buying duty-free) definitely helps, but to the backpacker for whom there is nothing of value they can buy, there’s not much they can benefit out of seeking to shop duty-free…
Are we perhaps over-thinking it all?
I might be over-thinking all of this, I’ll be the first to admit it, but be that as it may, the bottom line is that duty-free shopping definitely has its place, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into something that carries the value associated with it. I say this as I think about the most delicious chocolate on earth, which I’ve only ever seen sold in one of these duty-free malls!