I love airports! Once I’ve made it past the hassles of baggage check and customs, my excitement to board the plane can only be calmed by a quick trip to The Duty-Free Shop for some pre-flight deals. Known for deep discounts on goods like alcohol, tobacco, and cosmetics, Duty-Free shops remove local and national taxes and duties on goods based on the premise that they will be taken out of the country by travellers.

At Duty-Free, you can encounter major price reductions on everything from decadent chocolates to luxury handbags. With the promise of big savings, it’s easy to overspend in a hurry, however, are you really getting a deal at Duty-Free? Keep reading for tips on what items to steer clear of and which to save on at Duty-Free.


Alcohol and Tobacco

Buy! This deal is a no-brainer. You won’t find better prices on alcohol or tobacco products than at The Duty-Free Shop. If you’re unsure about liquor prices, I recommend downloading the LCBO app on your smartphone. The handy barcode reader will allow you to compare prices on the spot and reassure you of a great deal.

Designer Fashions and Accessories

Do your research! My weakness is luxury handbags and when I reach The Duty-Free Shop, I instantly begin to rationalize large designer purchases. However, purses, jewellery, and sunglasses are not always the best bargain when travelling. If you have a fashion or accessory purchase in mind, know your prices before travelling and always travel with a currency converter app on your smartphone for quick calculations on the go.


Don’t buy! I always recommend passing on electronics at the airport. Most items are poor quality and won’t last you the duration of your trip. Forgot to pack your headphones? Purchase a $5 pair on your flight rather than taking a chance on a high-end pair at Duty-Free. Remember: making an exchange or return on a Duty-Free item after you purchase it will be next to impossible; you’re safer buying electronics at home before your trip.

Cosmetics and Beauty Products

Don’t buy! In my experience when it comes to duty-free cosmetics, if you needed the item, you probably would have purchased it at home already. There are so many ways to score discounted brand name cosmetics in stores and online; there is no need to waste time calculating if a 3-pack of mascara is worth the price in the middle of a busy airport. 

Know your prices before indulging at Duty-Free rather than making a large impulse purchase on something that you can probably buy at home. Be a smart shopper – ‘Duty-Free’ does not always mean ‘Deal’.

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