10 Best Things To Buy Duty-Free at the Airport

Save some cash by avoiding additional fees at a duty-free shop.

travelers walking in airport concourse
Updated July 18, 2024
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Traveling to new places is an adventure. And if you're traveling more internationally, you can take advantage of duty-free stores along the way to save money.

So if you've got some euros or yen to spare, here are some of the best things to buy at a duty-free store the next time you're on a trip.

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What is duty-free shopping?

Solarisys/Adobe duty free of malpensa airport

Duty-free shopping allows you to buy items that aren’t subject to local and national taxes in the country where you buy the product. You will find duty-free shops at places such as airports, cruise ship ports, and border crossings.

You can save money through duty-free shopping because you don’t have to pay taxes on items. That can be especially helpful when you buy expensive products.

So, grab one of the top travel credit cards and earn additional perks or points when you purchase items at your favorite duty-free shops.

Now, here are the best things to buy at a duty-free shop.

Liquor

sirylok/Adobe tequila gin and rum alcohol

Liquor is one of the most popular duty-free items because it often has high taxes and other fees when purchased outside of a duty-free shop.

One thing to note is that liquor is often sold in pre-sealed bags in duty-free shops. The goal is to keep buyers from drinking too much alcohol during a flight.

So, don’t expect to buy a bottle to make the flight home more enjoyable.

Perfume

monticellllo/Adobe chanel no 5 perfume

Perfume can be expensive, especially if it’s from a brand name. It can be difficult to find a favorite scent that is also affordable.

But check the duty-free shop on your next trip, as shops often carry various perfume options for less than what you would find in a typical shop.

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Beauty products

vefimov/Adobe wide selection of cosmetics.

Other beauty products such as makeup and lotion also can be good options to pick up at a duty-free shop.

Review different choices carefully, as duty-free shops may carry multiple companies’ products to help you beautify for less. You will find everything from eye shadow and concealer to brand-name nail polish.

Specialties from the country where you are shopping

simona/Adobe traveler backpack man

You may love a certain type of liquor you tried while traveling or a specific type of snack that you can’t find at home.

Check the duty-free shop for those options on your way back home. It’s a good way to stock up on something unique that can remind you of your trip without busting your wallet.

Chocolate

ltyuan/Adobe various choices imported japanese candies

Many countries offer their own varieties of chocolate and other treats that you cannot find elsewhere. So, grab some snacks for the plane ride home or to enjoy when you get back home.

Chocolate bars or other chocolate desserts can be found pretty easily in a duty-free shop. They are an affordable splurge that still saves you a little extra cash.

Luxury accessories

Usmanify/Adobe close-up of handbags

Big-name brands can be expensive whether you buy them at home or abroad. So, check the duty-free shops for luxury goods that won’t add taxes to your costs.

Taxes can get expensive on items such as purses, wallets, and other types of luxury goods. So, seek out these goods at a duty-free shop to see if you can save.

Jewelry

Africa Studio/Adobe young woman choosing ring

Jewelry can also get rather pricey when you’re paying an additional tax. Head to the duty-free shop to look over the selection of these luxury items.

Check out big names for everything from bracelets and earrings to watches and cuff links, and see if you can find deals on fine jewelry.

Cigarettes

ltyuan/Adobe various brands of tobacco

Many countries add taxes and additional fees to tobacco products such as cigarettes.

If you are a smoker, stock up on cigarettes in duty-free stores. They can save you cash if you live in a country that adds extra costs to these types of products.

Souvenirs

K.A/Adobe stack of luggage on trolley

Buy a souvenir at the duty-free store so it can remind you of your vacation after you return home.

You will likely find T-shirts, mugs, and other options that are unique to that city or country.

Coffee

leszekglasner/Adobe professional barista giving coffee

Pick up some locally sourced coffee at the duty-free shop, particularly if you are coming home from a country that is known for its coffee production.

Coffee is a great thing to enjoy when you get home. With an aroma and taste unique to the place you visited, each cup will remind you of your trip.

And you will smile as you remember how you were able to save by making your purchase at a duty-free shop.

Bottom line

Cerib/Adobe duty free area

Duty-free stores are a great place to shop because you can avoid taxes and save money shopping.

So, make sure to leave room in your travel budget for some duty-free purchases on your next trip.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.