Taking a break and traveling back home is a big deal for Indians living abroad. The main concern right before getting on your plane is not only packing, but what to buy TO pack!
Most of the time we end up spending tons of money on unnecessary things and regret later, or forget to buy things that are actually essential and regret that as well. There's a lot of confusion that arises when we begin shopping for our trip, and sometimes its super stressful.
As someone who has travelled to India a LOT from the United States while growing up, and having travelled even more in the last five years, I can tell you things that can make it so much easier to make a checklist, and also when you can get the best of prices while splurging!
Candy & Chocolates
Lets face it, this is one of the crucial things we buy before going to India because our parents ask us to bring them to " Distribute them among relatives and friends - especially kids", when you meet them or when they come over. Even though 90% of the chocolates and candy we take are now easily found in India as well, "American Chocolates are different" is what they say. So you take them anyway. However, they tend to be expensive at times, right?
WHEN TO BUY THEM: Depending on which month you have planned your trip, you can determine at which time you can splurge on buying Candy and Chocolates without having to spend a ton of money.
If your trip is planned sometime towards the end of the year or in the beginning, stores have incredible price drops on Candy the week after Halloween (After October 31st). Usually the expiration dates are for a year at least so you can check the packaging and go for it.
If your trip is planned sometime during the summer, stores have sales after Easter (sometime between the end of March to the End of April). So you can plan accordingly then as well. Just make sure to check the Expiration date, and know how you will be able to store them without melting until your trip.
2. Supplements & Medical Care for Family
Always prefer to buy supplements that are absolutely necessary and helpful to the condition of your family member. I always like to prefer buying at Costco (under Kirkland brand) where they have huge packaged supplements that can last for a long time. Same goes with any Medical Care items such as Bengay cream, Icy hot patches, etc. It's better to buy them in places that have the items in bulk so you can save money.
If you do not have a Costco card, you can ask a friend to lend theirs, or even get you a Costco Gift card (which you can pay back later) so that you can enter the store without any hurdle.
3. Clothing & Accessories
When it comes to buying clothes and accessories for family and friends, they always prefer "Brands" because unfortunately, anything else has no value according to them. Which is sad, but fact. So how can you save on branded wear? Three places are best to do so- Ross, Burlington, and Outlet malls. Ross and Burlington sell branded wear and accessories for half or even more off the original price. Including purses! Outlet malls have sales often- again depending on which time of the year you have your trip planned, you can shop during Thanksgiving or Black Fridays during the Easter time.
4. Technology & Gadgets
This one is definitely a challenge. Mainly because we have limitations of how many gadgets we can carry, and take a huge risk by putting them in our check in luggage- since transits and inspections during transits can possibly cause the items to be stolen, lost, or damaged.
Its always important to understand that taking such things for very important people only is the way to go. Everyone wants an iPhone, Airpods or a laptop. But, you cannot buy them for everyone or take the risk and end up regretting later. Sometimes you have to say no and its okay.
The best time to invest in technology & Gadgets is around Thanksgiving time. Some stores like Costco, or Best buy have deals during the remaining time of the year too. Just keep an eye out for things like that. Also, you can check out Refurbished or slightly used gadgets which are sold for lesser price since they are sent back, repaired and put back on the market, its not much of a risk.
NOTE TO THOSE IN INDIA: While we are open to getting you things and bringing them for you, please note that just because we live abroad, does not indicate we are automatically "Rich". We struggle on a daily basis to earn too, and while trips to India itself are very expensive and stressful to find the right time to plan, we need to plan our budgets to make sure we are not bankrupt or in debt by the time we come back or we don't end up paying extra for overload of luggage weight. We are fine with bringing basic necessities and gadgets but its very crucial to understand that we cannot fulfil everyone's need at once.
I've seen people demand, and even argue when things are not according to their need before they got on their plane. Which isn't fair, so please take these things under consideration and keep in mind that we are not "Rich".