Expats, What They All do When Leaving the US, Shop

//Expats, What They All do When Leaving the US, Shop

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Expats Shopping in the USA

What do all expats do when returning from a US visit… they shop. There is always something a person living abroad wants that they can’t get in their new country of residence. Most likely it’s some electronics, a food specialty item or clothes. Clothes seem to be what I always hear that people bring back. I don’t think there’s any place in the world that has such a large selection with inexpensive prices as the United States. For me, because of where I live, size plays a role. The people are much smaller in stature. As a result, the largest men’s shoe size is a 10. My point is that there are all kinds of reasons why expats bring back with them that second suitcase full. If you are like us, you go to the US with a suitcase inside a suitcase just to have room to bring things back.




Outlet Mall

My most recent three-week US trip ended with a day of shopping in Miami. So, we decided to go to the famous Sawgrass Mill Outlet Mall. This mall has over 350 stores including the very high-end ones like Gucci and my favorite Columbia Sportswear. We know people that live in South American countries that just fly in the Miami to go shopping, and then they go home. The hotels around the airport are very accommodating to shoppers. Consequently, they don’t mind having Amazon.com orders sent to them. We stayed at the Hyatt House near the airport and had a box sent to our hotel and I saw one lady picking up her 20-30 boxes of Amazon stuff.

The mall is about a 40-minute drive from the Miami International Airport and has shuttles that go to 200 hotels in the Miami area. The Sawgrass Mill Mall is set up for people who are buying to take back with them. As a result, the mall is full of people wheeling their suitcases with them. Hence, they take them right into the stores, make their purchases, and put them in the suitcase. If you don’t need a suitcase, they rent carts, somewhat like you get in an airport. Only these have a built in seat for that tired spouse. I ended up buying a rolling duffel bag that was capable of holding 50 pounds of clothes for $35. And by the end of the day, I was one of those tourists pulling their day’s bounty behind them.




Spending a Day in the Mall

This mall is meant for people to be at the entire day. Therefore, in this mall, you can get a foot or chair massage, teeth whitening, or a chiropractic adjustment just to name a few. There is a huge food court and lots of other typical mall food treats. How many people remember Orange Julius? I haven’t had one of those in 30 years. It seems that Dairy Queen owns them now. I couldn’t resist and had one. Later in the day, I came across a Hagen Daas kiosk. They don’t sell that in Ecuador. As a result, I had to have a taste to bring back those comfort food memories.





After a long day at the mall and a stomach full of memories, we went back to the hotel to get ready for an early flight home the next day. Of Course, we spent the next two hours figuring out how to balance all we purchased into suitcases of no more than 50 pounds each. Too bad we weren’t flying a higher class where we could get 70 lbs,  would have made packing for these expats, so much easier.



About Keith Paul

I'm an early retiree that now lives in Cuenca, Ecuador. I was an executive in Health Care Information Technology most of my career. My wife and I love to travel and have ventured all over the world. Now that we are retired, more adventures are on the horizon.

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2017-09-19T10:16:09+00:00By |


  1. Samantha Lee June 9, 2017 at 11:32 am - Reply

    Too funny – I work with a lot of people who are NOT from the US, and every time they make a trip back home, they always order tons of stuff to bring back with them. ;p


    • Keith June 9, 2017 at 11:53 am - Reply

      There’s no better place to shop than in the US. Thanks!

  2. Loraine July 11, 2017 at 12:16 am - Reply

    I remember the suitcase in a suitcase trick! And I remember buying clothes for my husband and household items like sheets and towels for my mother in law. Once I found a big sale on curtains and table cloths at Ross; that material came in handy for many things in Mexico.

    • Keith July 11, 2017 at 5:58 am - Reply

      Thanks for the story Loraine. Linens are something else expats value enough to bring back in their suitcases.

  3. Sue August 9, 2017 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Just order online and have shipped to a loving, agreeable relative! 🙂
    Keep in mind, if you love Columbia Sportswear, Reny’s (with locations throughout Maine) has a pretty decent selection of Columbia Wear at good prices; it’s where the locals shop!

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