One year – buying power
If you were reading yesterday’s piece about the stuff we packed on our travels between May and July 2015, you may be surprise to learn that despite the age of the Internet and the opportunities it presents to make purchases from the comfort of the sofa, your office chair or whilst supping an overpriced milky coffee in a chain cafe, most of our purchases are still made in shops rather than transactions made via Firefox or Safari browsers (other browsers are available folks, but I still remember Netscape!).
The reasons are simple. We like to support local businesses or retail chains that do give a monkey’s about what they sell and how it’s sold. Some items are also no-brainers as packs, footwear and cycle helmets are the categories that I’d always try to buy from physical stores rather than online as all should be tried and fitted before you buy.
It’s not usually in a salesperson’s best interests to advise and recommend items that have the ‘in’ brand label on them or the highest price tag. It’s also worth taking note of a salesperson’s recommendations are as they may have knowledge that could swing your thoughts in a more useful direction.
I’ve had a couple of people go into huff mode when I’ve mentioned that they don’t need an 80 litre pack for a visit to Thailand (40 litres is the usual recommendation from those who have headed off in that direction).
One aspect of world travel is that yes, you can usually get what you need in most countries so you don’t need to take large bottles of shampoo, conditioner or shower gel with you.
Think light and it’s a case of having travel sizes for your first few days, by which time you have probably passed a few stores that stock just about everything you need for your stay in the country/countries you’re visiting.
There’s also the school of though that thinks it’s best to travel as light as possible to avoid baggage charges either from the airline you’re travelling with or the bag in the boot charges levied by taxi companies.
One of the best exchanges Caroline and I have had was with a taxi driver in Arendal, Norway about five years ago. We needed to get to Arendal railway station in order to get a train to Stavanger and as it was a few kilometres away and uphill, we got a cab.
Once in, we started talking to the driver who was dumbfounded when we answered his question ‘Have you left your main bags at a hotel?’.
‘No’ was my reply. “They are our main bags….” He couldn’t believe that we were in Norway for almost two weeks and were only using a holdall each.
By going for a smaller bag, there’s another point to consider – you will probably be able to pick it up and run in the event of any last minute dash for a bus, cab or train.
One person I was advising was insisting on a 90 litre bag to hold everything for their travels until I out that if that bag was filled to the brim with what was perceived to be needed for the trip, then the potential owner of said bag probably wouldn’t be able to lift it, let alone sling it over their shoulders and run with it…
Footwear is another area that shop purchases rather than online buys pay dividends. Visit a decent shoe shop or outdoor store mid-afternoon and try the boot, sandals or shoes on and wander around in them to your heart’s content until you’re happy with them and always, but always, insist on taking the pair that you’ve tried on rather than another pair from the stockroom that you haven’t tried on.
Why wait until mid-afternoon to try on? Unless you’re just off a night shift, then mid-afternoon is the time to try on as your feet can expand between half and a full size as the day progresses.
And cycle helmets? It’s a case of getting the best advice and listening to it. Be honest with the type of biking you’re doing and listen to what’s being said regarding the care, aftercare and way to wear a helmet (I’m still amazed at the number of cycle helmets that are being worn in such a way that severe damage will be inflicted to the wearer’s skull as it’s not being worn properly).
Caroline and I do buy clothing from trusted online retailers from time to time, but that’s usually because we know the company’s size blocking and can be pretty sure that the items we order fit and fit well.
For the most part though, we still buy from shops. Some are local to us whilst others are part of the same chain in another area of the country.
The main chains we deal with are Rohan and Cotswold Outdoor, largely because we’ve had good service from their staff and we’ve been happy with the purchases we’ve made from both companies over the last few years.
With Caroline needing some new shoes for her cycling and potentially some new sandals too, it could well be that we’re heading to their Leeds outlets soon to take advantage of Cycling UK or sale discounts at Cotswold Outdoor and sale discounts at Rohan as their sale starts tomorrow.