20 things to buy at the airport duty free (2023)

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    20 things to buy at the airport duty free (1)Jeff BogleUpdated: January 25, 2023

      It's almost impossible to board an international flight without going through the airport's duty-free shops. You can find some great deals if you know what to look for.


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (2)BSIP/fake images

      What is tax free?

      If you've ever flown internationally (or passed through an international terminal) you've probably seen the well-lit consumer paradise of a duty-free shop.

      But what is a duty free shop? These are stores that sell all sorts of products for which there is no "tariff" (a local import tax or fee levied on goods by government agencies). Typically, when shopping at a duty-free store, travelers can save money on liquor, tobacco, fragrances, cosmetics, luxury items, candy, and more.

      Note: If you are traveling internationally and shopping at duty free shops (a great oneThings to do during your layover at the airport), the cashier at the checkout will ask for your boarding pass to verify the trip abroad. Travelers leaving the United States for 48 hours or more can shop duty-free.


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (3)innewsfoto/Shutterstock

      How much can I save if I buy duty free at the airport?

      How much you save by shopping duty free at the airport depends on the country, the exchange rate and the products you buy. In Europe, duty-free shops are not only duty-free, but also duty-free. You can save up to 25 percent on your tax-free purchases! Make sure:

      • Use a currency converter to make sure you're getting a really good deal.
      • Use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees
      • If you can, always pay in local currency (you'll probably get a better exchange rate from your own credit card company than from the duty-free shop).


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (4)Faiz Zaki/Shutterstock

      Chocolate Cadbury

      Both Alexis Kelly, travel editor forfragrances, and Paul Eisenberg of TravelingDad.com agree that Cadbury chocolates are a prime duty-free shopping destination when traveling internationally because they:

      • Not available in the US
      • Tastier than American chocolate.

      Cadbury in the US has been different from the UK version since 2015. So if you miss the opportunity to bring something home, that would count as ato avoid travel errors.


      (Video) What's the Deal with Duty Free?

      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (5)Laboratorium Papin/Shutterstock

      Longchamp bags

      Kelly doesn't just queue at the duty free to buy her Cadbury candy! A few years ago, traveling home from Paris, she saw a great deal on duty-free Longchamp bags at Charles de Gaulle Airport. The savings were significant enough that thefragrancesThe publisher bought three bags from the French-owned company because:

      • Abundance of shopping opportunities in France
      • Cheaper at the source


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (6)Willy Barton/Shutterstock


      If you like fine liquor, visit the many duty-free liquor shelves on international flights. Scotch connoisseurs, for example, are likely to find a bottle or two at much cheaper prices than at home.

      • Often available in duty free shops
      • Wide range of options

      TSA says you can't open your duty-free drinks mid-air, but if you're a nervous traveler don't miss these6 facts to help you stay calm while flying.


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (7)saiko3p/Shutterstock

      Last Minute Gifts

      Another great way to take advantage of airport duty free shopping is by picking up last minute gifts at your destinations. Whether you're buying ornate snow globes for the kids or hand-painted fans for your significant other, jewelry and souvenirs from a duty-free shop are a great way to show everyone back home that you've thought of them while you were away, even if you really forget have to buy presents in the meantimeInAreaffordable beach vacation!


      Things that don't exist at home

      Just as Cadbury's in its European form is not available in the United States, there are other items sold at airport duty free shops that are not available at home. Specifically, the duty-free foreign candy aisle, which includes:

      • crispy bars
      • Varieties of strange flavors of well-known sweets.
      • Odd shapes and sizes of containers like the giant tic tac box filled with dozens of miniature tic tac boxes.

      On the way back from the fun, happily fill every corner of your carry-on with duty-free treasures.European spring breakand holidays


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (9)Tendo/Shutterstock


      Sometimes your vacation destination dictates the type of tax-free shopping you want to get the most out of. In South America or the Caribbean, coffee is:

      • aromatic
      • The most delicious
      • It's not as expensive as at home

      Besides, coffee is a great gift for a family member, friend or boss. Before you start brewing your local coffee at the duty-free shops, be sure to read themTips for preparing the perfect coffee.


      (Video) Duty Free Secrets Revealed - Should YOU Buy Alcohol in Airport Duty Free Shops?

      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (10)Ekaterina_Minaeva/Shutterstock

      Swiss chocolate

      With prices that can be lower than at home, tax-free shopping on your way home from vacation offers you a unique opportunity to buy better chocolate than you normally devour. Swiss chocolate from the duty-free shops in Geneva or Zurich can be a great buy because:

      • Swiss chocolates are often taxed when purchased outside of Switzerland
      • Buying through the duty free shop can be a sweeter deal price wise

      Chocolate is sure to please a toddler on a plane, but here's moreSecrets to flying with kids.


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (11)TY Lim/Shutterstock

      gray goose

      According to Duty-Free Addict, a free travel club that helps duty-free shoppers find the best deals on everything from liquor to jewelry, Gray Goose is:

      • Cheaper in Japan than Australia
      • More expensive at Singapore Changi Duty Free Airport than Dubai Duty Free Airport


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (12)Sorbis/Shutterstock

      Country-specific beauty products

      Shopping for foreign beauty products at duty-free stores can be fun and affordable.travel and leisureWriter Maya Kachroo-Levine likes to spend whatever foreign currency she has on a single country-specific article.Beauty Product, if:

      • French micellar water
      • Fiji Coconut Oil
      • A sample of a perfume that is not available at home

      Next learnhow to get free stuffalmost everywhere.


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (13)Radu Bercan/Shutterstock

      cigarettes and cigars

      During a recent national trip, the Charlotte duty-free store advertised a deal on all major brands of cigarettes. Please note that the number of cigarettes you can bring into the United States is limited, maximum:

      • 1,000 cigarettes or
      • 100 cigars from most foreign countries

      Are you traveling to the United States? discover thebest memory of any state.


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (14)Valmedia/Shutterstock

      Local honey and sea salt

      Chicago-based travel writer Vera Holyrod ofpassports and spicesoften makes international trips to Slovenia. On your flight home, you'll never get past the airport duty-free shop without shopping for local honey and sea salt because:

      • Prices are fair
      • The quality is great

      You may regret missing out on shopping for local foods, herbs, and oils before flying home, but you won't belongThe biggest travel mistakes of your life!


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (15)TY Lim/Shutterstock

      (Video) Which Fragrance Should You Buy at Duty Free? [ENG DUB/KOR SUB]

      Brand cosmetics and fragrances

      The cheapest duty-free shopping at airports is usually found in the cosmetics and fragrance aisles. For example, JFK Terminal 8 has fully stocked duty-free shops for:

      • Estee Lauder
      • MAC
      • Channel

      So find your favorite scents, smells and looks before you fly home and save a few bucks (or bucks) on your makeup and perfume.


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (16)Shablon / fake images

      small bottles of wine

      When I flew home from Reykjavik this summer, the airport's duty-free shop had a 'buy 4, get 1 free' deal that was too good to pass up 200ml bottles of wine. Smaller Bottles:

      • pack easier
      • costs less
      • Allows you to try new strains with less financial risk


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (17)Carol Yepes/fake pics

      Bath and Body Works soaps and sanitizers

      If you're addicted to Bath and Body Works' creamy, luxurious hand washes but balk at the sticker price at your local mall, save some space in yourspursefor tax-free deals on authentic soaps, sanitizers and more from Bath and Body Works. Not all duty-free shops carry these products, but if they do, they may be available for sale, but they don't have the varieties or scents of a regular shop.


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (18)Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

      Exclusive products and sizes

      One of the joys of airport duty free shopping is not just finding great deals, but also finding unusual packaging for well-known products. Nadine Heubel, CEO of Heinemann Americas (a company with duty-free shops at 74 airports in 28 countries), suggests travelers look for the following:

      • Larger product versions than usual and tax-free exclusive offers
      • Unique packaging that you have never seen in a store near you
      • Exclusive trips from well-known brands

      It's okay if you forget to shop duty free during your international trip, but these are the ones16 things you should never forget when traveling abroad.


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (19)fotokostic/Getty Images


      Whether you are in onecruiseOr if you're passing a brightly lit duty-free shop at an airport, the shiny metal of designer watches can tempt you to take a closer look. However, before you buy, make sure you:

      • Check online prices in household stores
      • Find out online about the prices of discounters
      • Consult a currency converter to verify the duty-free "offer".


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (20)Carol Yepes/fake pics


      Consumer electronics aren't standard duty-free fare, but there may be times when you're looking for a new pair of Bluetooth headphones before a transatlantic flight. Check the price of similar items before buying:

      • in your destiny
      • At home (hard to beat Amazon or Best Buy prices for consumer electronics)

      Electronics is one of the things that most consumer advocates would recommenddon't buy at the airport, but the prospect of a long flight without headphones or an iPad with a dead battery is hard for some to imagine.

      (Video) 9 Best Duty-free DEALS TO BUY on a Cruise *Plus 3 things NOT to buy*


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (21)Etienne Girardet/Getty Images


      Watches in the duty-free shop are not the only things that make your eyes light up. There is usually a solid selection of Swarovski jewelry to seduce travelers before boarding. This bracelet or necklace might look great at a fancy dinner party, but remember there might be better deals out there:

      • In a port like Nassau, Bahamas
      • From an online retailer


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (22)Carlina Teteris/Getty Images


      Versace and Michael Kors are just two of the famous luxury brands you may come across while shopping at duty-free shops in transit. If you've forgotten your own pair of sunglasses or just want to treat yourself, there's a duty-free shop ready to sell you a pair of fancy shades. But just like watches, electronics, and jewelry, make sure you:

      • Check the currency converter to make sure you are seeing the actual prices
      • Do a quick Google search to see if you can get something similar at a better price from a store in your destination.

      These are thebest polarized sunglassesto buy online.


      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (23)Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

      skin care

      Flying can be tough on your skin, so why not grab some luxury lotions while you shop at the duty free? Products from trusted skincare brands like L'Occitane may even be available at duty-free shops, so you can choose between travel or original (since you've already gone through security) versions of your favourite:

      • facial scrubs
      • body lotions
      • Anti-Aging-Seren
      • shower oils

      Duty-free shops are still an option, but explore themThings you won't see in airports anymore.


      Originally posted: September 20th, 2021

      20 things to buy at the airport duty free (24)

      Jeff Bogle

      Jeff Bogle is an Iris Award-winning photographer, avid traveler and English football fan who is a regular contributor to Reader's Digest on travel, culture, cars, health, business, the environment and more. Jeff has also written for Parents Magazine, Esquire, PBS, and Good Housekeeping, among others. He is the proud father of teenage daughters. You can follow their adventures on Instagram and Twitter @OWTK.


      What is the best thing to buy at duty free? ›

      Brand name cosmetics and fragrances

      The best value in duty-free shopping at airports can usually be found in the cosmetics and fragrances aisles.

      What are the common items in the duty free shop? ›

      These duty-free shops are staples of airports and retailers sell duty-free products, with some of the most popular items on sale being alcohol, tobacco, fragrances, confectionery, as well as luxury fashion accessories, electronics, and more.

      Is anything cheaper at the airport? ›


      Yes, you can save money by buying an airline ticket at the airport. However, according to travel experts, this tip only applies to ultra-low-cost airlines that charge online booking fees.

      Are chocolates cheaper in duty free? ›

      At times, they might be priced higher at duty free. For a block of Toblerone chocolates, you may spend USD $8.50 at the airport while your local grocery store will sell it at USD $5.70. With other types of boxed chocolates, you may see a similar trend.

      Is duty free overpriced? ›

      The truth is, for a lot of products, there isn't always much difference between duty-free and the prices you can get at home — especially if you're prepared to hunt online. The key differentials are tobacco and alcohol, which are both usually taxed heavily and therefore can be bought for a lot less at the airport.

      Is it worth buying headphones at the airport? ›

      Buy headphones on the airplane, not in the airport

      "If you're buying any tech items in an airport, chances are you're paying too much," McAree said. For example, McAree said, if you need headphones for your flight, you're better off buying them once you're out of the airport and on the plane.

      Is it cheaper to buy designer in duty free? ›

      At duty-free shops in international airport terminals, the taxes or fees that the country you're in would normally levy on the items being sold are waived. That can result in some significant savings for you on luxury items.

      Are iPhones cheaper duty free? ›

      iPhones are Tax Free not Duty Free, this means there is only the local sales tax to be paid... not Excise Duty.


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