Are you thinking about doing some shopping on your next trip? Then find out what to buy in the USA in this post, including the best products and brands. Discover the best electronics, beauty products, clothes, shoes, home goodies, sports gear, and more!
When I talk about the best places to travel to, usually I don’t have a straight answer. It depends on the trip goal, budget, attractions… But if we are being honest, when talking about the best destination to shop, we have to hand the crown to the United States. Ok, there are some exceptions, such as European luxury brands, but everything is generally cheaper in the US.
Funny story: I had no idea how cheap everything was when I first visited the country back in 2007, and I got back from my trip to Disney World with some dollars still in my wallet! Crazy, cause now I spent the days before my trips researching the best things to buy in the US (and praying a little bit to the luggage gods to not go over the weight limit when it’s time to go back home).
Anyway, the truth is: even if everything is cheaper in the US, it’s still hard to figure out what to buy. Mainly because if you are from Europe, some things are more affordable, but the price difference is not that big, and you might be better off spending your money on other products, like the ones you can only find in the United States.
And how to figure out which products are worth buying? Doing some research! That is a bit time-consuming, though, and you might rather spend your time planning your trip instead. This post is perfect for you cause it has all my research on what to buy in the USA in 2021! Electronics, beauty products, clothes, baby stuff, sports goods, and everything else worth buying!
NO TIME TO SHOP? If you have a tight schedule and don't have time to go to stores or to make sure you will get everything on your shopping list, I suggest you shop at Amazon.com. As you can imagine, they have everything you can think of, and delivery is extremely fast, especially if you subscribe to Prime (it's a free month trial, and you can cancel after that). To make it easier for you, I have already linked every product to Amazon.
Pssst: If your hotel charges for online deliveries, you can use the Amazon Locker service – it's completely free and available in most cities across the country.
WHAT TO BUY IN THE USA IN 2021 – BEST PRODUCTS AND BRANDS
If you are from Europe, you will find that prices are not that much better in the States, even though you can save a couple bucks on most products. You can focus on American brands and those that you can’t really find in your country or inside the EU. You can find a list of those brands at the end of this post!
Just a quick reminder that in the US, prices DO NOT include state taxes. You have to remember to add the tax to the price being shown, be it online or in stores. To find out how much the tax is, you can just google “name of state + tax”, but here are some of the most popular:
- New York City – 4,5%
- Orlando – 6,5%
- Miami – 7%
- Los Angeles – 9,5%
By far, the best savings you can make will be in the electronics department, especially if you are from places like South America or Asia. Of course, if you are from Europe, prices won’t be that much lower, but you might still be able to save some money.
Quick reminder: I also wrote a post focused on electronics, with even more suggestions of products worth buying in the US. Click here to read it!
Probably the most popular thing to buy when you travel abroad, especially if you are from a place where Apple is craaaaazy expensive (Brazil, anyone?!).
The top iPhone is the iPhone 13, which comes in the standard version, mini, Pro, and Pro Max. Even though it’s not that much cheaper than in Europe, you can still save a couple hundred bucks even after including the shopping tax. If you are from other continents, though, you may be surprised cause prices in the US are almost half compared to Apple worldwide.
If you don’t care about having the most powerful devices, you can go for the iPhone SE, with the old iPhone design. It’s almost the same price as buying it in Europe, though, so if you live in a Euro country and are considering purchasing the SE version on your trip abroad, save your money and spend it on other more worthy products.
If you want to save BIG, go for a refurbished or renewed iPhone (or any Apple product, really). Amazon has a lot of options on their Amazon Renewed Store.
If you are not a big Apple fan you can still save some money opting for Samsung smartphones. You can go either for the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, part of the top-of-the-line Galaxy family, or even for the trendy flip phones (Galaxy Z Flip 3) that are aaaaaaall the rage right now on Tik Tok. Again, the difference is not that much if you compare it to the prices in Europe, but you will for sure save on a couple hundred dollars.
In the old days, if you wanted better photos, you had to buy a DSLR camera. And even though their quality was excellent, it was a pain to carry the camera (and the lens!) all the time, mainly if you used it for trips or long photo shoots. However, that’s no longer an issue since now you can invest in a mirrorless camera, with the same quality as a DSLR while being way lighter.
This is the best type of camera for bloggers, frequent travelers, Instagrammers, and even amateur photographers. I use one for my blog pictures and couldn’t be happier with the results. The best models are from Sony, like the Alpha 6400 (I use an older model of this one, the Alpha 5000), and from Fujifilm, such as the Fujifilm X-T100.
Again, if you are from Europe, you will save some money but not a lot. If you are from other parts of the world, though, you can save even thousands of dollars buying this type of camera in the US.
I should already have given you a heads up: if you are from anywhere else in the world, except an EU country (or the UK), you don’t even have to think about if it is worth it to buy an Apple product in the US. The answer is yes. The Apple Watch is no exception, and depending on where you live, you might be able to buy two watches for the price of one in your home country.
If you would rather have a sport-focused smartwatch, go for a Garmin. The Forerunner line is the most popular one, being the 945 model the top of the line, while the Forerunner 55 is perfect for those who want to buy a great watch but are conscious of their budget.
Both watches have GPS, sport tracking modes and have long battery life.
SURPRISE! Jk. If you are a tablet user or want to start using a bigger screen, know that the iPad is one of the best products to buy in the USA. Depending on where you are from, you may save hundreds (even thousands) of dollars.
The current models are the iPad Pro, with 11 or 12.9 inches, with 128GB up to 2TB. The iPad Air is a little bit cheaper, and it has a 10.9″ screen, a little less memory, and fun colors. The regular iPad was just relaunched in 2021, with a screen of 10.2″, and the iPad Mini, with its 8.3″ also got a new version with different colors in 2021.
I swear I’m almost done with Apple. The cheapest model is the 13″ Macbook Air, 256GB SSD, and 8GB RAM, with the new Apple’s M1 chip. In South America or Asia, you will probably buy it for double the price. I purchased a similar machine in 2011 and sold it in 2019. It still worked and barely had any problems during its 8 years with me!
The Macbook Pro comes in the 13″ and 16″ versions, with up to 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD, and you can custom order if you would like a more powerful machine.
Just a quick reminder that this is a high-priced item, and depending on where you live, you might have to declare it to customs. Do the math to be sure it’s worth it.
If you want to update your laptop for something other than a Macbook, check Amazon for other brands. Laptop prices for Acer and Lenovo in the US are also lower than anywhere else. If you are a gamer, you can go for an Alienware.
To be honest,I never thought I needed a speaker until I bought one and can’t live without it. I use it to work out, listen to music while I shower, listen to podcasts while I do the dishes… It’s so handy and easy to use! And it’s also so light you can take it to your friends’ places (please, don’t use it in public places).
The most popular brand right now is JBL, but honestly, their products are not more expensive if you buy them in any other country. However, if you want to save some money and still get good quality, I’d recommend investing in a speaker from Bose, such as the SoundLink Color II or even the SoundLink Micro.
If you prefer earphones, I have to say the AirPod Pro is the best choice in the market today. I think the price is insane for such a small thing (I use a cheap Xiaomi one, and I’m good, thanks), but you won’t get them for less anywhere else.
If you are a frequent traveler or spend a lot of time outside your house, you will probably want to go for a Nintendo Switch. It is small, super light, and the price is better than any other console, which gives you more money to invest in some great games.
If you’d rather play at home, you should just go for the classic Playstation 5. Unfortunately, it’s still kind of hard to find, so if you plan to buy it and see it available in stores anywhere, don’t hesitate, or you’ll probably regret it.
For the games, I have to give you the same disclaimer as most of the electronics in this list: the price is almost the same in Europe or you may save some money, but it’s not worth it, spend your dollars somewhere else and buy the games when you go back home. But, on the other hand, if you are from anywhere else, enjoy the opportunity and buy some games, such as FIFA 2022 or Mario Kart.
Don’t worry, I’m not talking about TVs or big electronics – even though they are dirty cheap, they are kind of hard to take with you on a plane. Anyhow, you can still get some bargains on other items, such as:
How do you feel about having a smart house? It’s effortless to do so using Amazon’s Echo, which you may know as Alexa. With this device, you can ask your home assistant to set alarms, play music, add events to your calendar or even update your shopping list while cooking.
If you want to go even further, you can also buy a smart bulb to control the lights in your house – they usually work well with Alexa, and they need only wifi. No other technology is necessary.
Ok, I don’t exactly know the name of this type of device, but they are small plug-in things that you connect to your TV, so they become smart. The most popular ones are the Fire Stick by Amazon and Google’s Chromecast. I have both of them and prefer the Amazon version since it comes with a remote, so I don’t need to use my phone for casting or anything.
I still remember watching Breaking Bad, seeing Jess throw a party, and having his vacuum robot clean the mess after. I have wanted one of these robots since that day, and they have only become more and more popular as the years go by.
In the US, you can find many different vacuum robot brands, such as the iRobot (which has no affiliation with Apple whatsoever) with the basic Roomba 694 to the Roomba i6+ (6550). Other excellent brands quality-wise are Roborock and Shark, the latter selling the most powerful model.
NutriBullet was initially famous for being the perfect blender for smoothies. However, it got so huge that they now have models for any type of blending you might need, making this the ideal brand to add to your kitchen.
It’s the perfect appliance because not only is it great, but it’s also cheap and small, perfect for bringing with you in your suitcase.
What if I told you scales can measure your weight and your fat percentage, BMI, muscle mass, and more? These are known as smart scales, and even though they are new, the US already has countless models with all types of prices. My recommendation is the RENPHO Bluetooth Body Fat Scale. It’s an excellent choice because it has an app with all your statistics so you can measure your progress, doesn’t matter if your goal is to lose fat, gain mass or just get healthy in general.
Besides electronics, beauty products are the most worthy category when we talk about what to buy in the USA. Not just because they are cheaper, but also because you can find some brands that are only sold there, and most of them are not only good but also affordable! *score*
Starting with one of my favorite brands, The Ordinary. If we are honest, you can find it in most countries these days, but usually, it’s through resellers (most times not even official stores), and their prices are sky-high. In the USA, though, prices are way lower, and you can buy an entire skincare routine without spending too much. My favorites are the Hyaluronic Acid + B5 (great light moisturizer), the Niacinamide + Zinc (vitamin complex for your skin), and the Peeling Solution AHA 30% + BHA 2% (chemical exfoliant). The face oils are also great and go from super light to heavy, so you can find one to suit any skin type. I’ve used these products for years, and I can say they changed my skin!
Another skincare brand, but this one is a little bit on the pricey side. Drunk Elephants uses only non-toxic natural ingredients (especially Marula Oil) to give you healthier glowy skin. The most popular products are the T.L.C Sukari Babyfacial 25% AHA + % BHA Mask (chemical exfoliant), T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Resurfacing Night Serum, and the Virgin Marula Antioxidant Face Oil.
The #1 solution to get rid of pimples. Just dip a cotton swab until it touches the bottom of the jar, and then apply it directly to any visible spot. The results are incredible, and it has been one of Mario Badescu’s best sellers for years!
Now for hair products.I have the impression that Shea Moisture is not that well-known outside the US, but it should be since their products are made with excellent ingredients and have an incredible price! In addition, they have a lot of different lines – most of them full of oils and moisturizing factors – and they have options for all types of hair.
I recommend the Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil line and the Black Castor Oil Strengthen and Restore Hair Serum.
Olaplex is kind of the new kid on the block when we talk about hair products, but it is already famous and used in hair studios worldwide. Instead of names, their products have numbers, and numbers #1 and #2 are for professional use only. Number #3 is a mix between a mask and a treatment, and it helps strengthen your hair. It has an exclusive technology that can reverse damage caused by chemical treatments, straighteners, hairdryers, and even from the wind and sun! It’s kind of a miracle on a bottle.
Looking for more hair products tips? Then take a look at this post with a list of the best hair products to buy on your trip to America!
Do not waste your time with brands you can find at any Sephora around the world. Yes, Urban Decay, Too Faced, and Nars are good, but they are not the best, and you can find so many better options in the US.
Want to invest your money in incredible makeup? Go for Natasha Denona’s eyeshadow palettes, skin products from Hourglass (such as the Ambient Light Powder), and get some surreal highlighters from Jouer. Wanna spend all your money on one single brand? Go for Pat McGrath Labs or even Charlotte Tilbury if they don’t have it in your country (it has a similar price in Europe, so don’t bother with CT if you live there).
Wanna buy incredible but affordable makeup? Try drugstore brands. They are excellent and cheap. Most of my brushes are from e.l.f. The photoFocus line from wet n wild is like magic in a bottle. Wanna go crazy? Just search for Colourpop, they have so many products, and they are all amazing.
I think it goes without saying that if you have a trip to Europe planned in the next couple of months, you should not buy from any European brands while in the US. Yes, they are cheap there, but they are even more affordable in Europe, and if you don’t live there, you can even get your tax back when going home!
Instead, go for American brands, such as:
- Levi’s: the world’s most famous denim, with so many models and sizes it gets hard to choose. I recommend the 721, high-waisted skinny jeans.
- The North Face: perfect for those who face cold weather regularly. Wanna get super warm? Go with a Thermoball. Wanna versatile option? Try the Arrowood Triclimate Jacket.
- GAP: hoodies with the giant GAP logo are just a MOOD. The rest of their clothes are also good and affordable, especially their denim and basics.
- Guess: do not buy it in regular stores, go to the outlets and find good quality pieces for a considerable discount. Seriously, it seems like every outlet has a Guess store.
- Ralph Lauren: nope, not a French brand, Ralph Lauren is American. Their most popular item is the classic polo, but they also have other interesting pieces.
- Tommy Hilfiger: another brand that has so many outlets with all their staples. I just don’t see the point in buying it at full price. Go for the polo shirts, underwear, and even casual bags.
- Calvin Klein: the best products you can get are denim and limited edition underwear (the regular line is not that much cheaper compared to other countries)
Other exciting brands are Hollister, Abercrombie, American Eagle, and Aeropostale. Bear in mind that even though the first two are more expensive, you can find all these stores in outlets.
When shopping for clothes, go to the outlets first and then the regular mall. You’ll probably save hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars.
The American brand got popular again in the last couple of years due to their collaborations with celebrities – Selena Gomez, anyone? The Coach Cassie had a great moment for a while because of its similarity to Louis Vuitton’s Pochette Metis, but the hot item right now is the Tabby, with a structured silhouette and soft leather.
Another accessories brand, Kate Spade is perfect for those who are into the girly style since it uses a lot of baby colors, prints, and little details that make all their pieces stand out. You can find bags, wallets, watches, jewellery and other small items that will make you look go from boring to fashionista.
If you have a little bit more money to spend, you should consider buying some Michael Kors. They don’t do only bags, although they are known for that, but wallets, watches, sunglasses, and other items that will give you a sophisticated look. My suggestions are the watches, with their modern and luxury design, and the bags. The brand has some great options that will surely please you if you are into the monogram trend.
In search of a travel backpack? Then you should go for brands such as Osprey and Deuter (the latter is actually a German brand, so if you are in Europe, do not buy it in the US!). From Osprey, I recommend the Fairview 40L, a women’s backpack that I happen to use for most of my trips. From Deuter, try the Future 34 or 45 liters. You can find both brands in stores in other countries, but they tend to be overpriced.
In case you are looking for casual backpacks, go for Adidas or The North Face.
What isn’t really worth it when we are talking about accessories? From my research, I found out that expensive sunglasses tend to be costly everywhere, including in the US. The price difference from other American countries is not that big, much less in Europe.
A quick reminder that luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, etc., are cheaper than in most places, but they are more expensive if you compare it to European prices, especially since you get your VAT back when shopping in Europe at the end of your trip.
That’s the most challenging category on the list cause what is worthy depends from brand to brand (and even from product to product!).
I will say that in general, training shoes are cheaper in the US, especially if you are not looking for the latest models. You can find Nike, Adidas, and even Asics for less than US$100, sometimes even less than US$50. When we talk about the current models, though, I don’t see much difference between prices in the US and the rest of the world. They are expensive everywhere.
If you are actually into collecting kicks, you will find the most different and exclusive models in the USA, and even if they are not cheap, they probably will be worth it for you. For workout clothes, I honestly think the prices for Nike, Adidas, etc., are insane and only recommend you buy them from outlets or discounted stores such as TJ Maxx or ROSS. If you are into Lululemon, though, you should definitely buy it in the states.
Vitamins e Supplements
I have never found another country that is so into vitamins as the United States. They have isles and isles of vitamins in Walmart, it’s kind of impressive. Of course, you can really save money on any type of vitamin, but here are some of the best:
- Centrum: A Centrum multivitamin with 200 capsules in the US is the same price as the 30 capsules anywhere else. Do I need to say more?
- Vitamin D: Most brands sell it at 2000, 10000, and 50000 IU, and they are all super cheap. If you regularly take Vitamin D supplements, you should definitely stock some of them on your trip.
- Cranberry: Not insanely cheap, but if you compare to prices in Latin America, it’s almost half of what you pay over there.
- Melatonin: Perfect for those who suffer from insomnia, sleep problems, or even jet lag.
- Whey Protein: Quality whey protein is not cheap, but it’s certainly more affordable in the US. If you are planning to buy some protein powder, I recommend you save some space in your suitcase, especially because the bigger the package, the bigger the saving. Don’t know the brands? Go for Optimum Nutrition.
- Creatine: Different from most supplements, creatine efficiency was scientifically proven by many studies, which makes this an excellent investment if you are into training. Again, I suggest you go for Optimum Nutrition, but other brands are also cheap.
Is it really a trip if you don’t buy toys for your kids or your relatives? Nah. When we talk about what to buy in the USA, toys are on the top of the list, and the popular ones are really cheap in the land of freedom.
Ok, listen – I had no idea what a LOL was until I read all those posts from parents asking where on earth to find these cause they were sold out everywhere. So if you are like me and have no clue what they are, they are just tiny dolls, and the fun part is that when you buy yours, you actually don’t know which doll you are getting.
Even though you can find LOL dolls in other countries, you can find different themes and kits in the US, so you have way more options there.
LEGO is a toy for all ages, let’s be honest. Is it worth it to buy the regular sets with some blocks to play around with? Maybe, it depends on the number of blocks you choose. But is it worth it to buy the special sets? Absolutely.
I recommend you try the Hogwarts Castle set if you are a Harry Potter fan, the Millennium Falcon if you are into Star Wars, or even the Coliseum with more than 9000 pieces (it was at some point the most giant set in the world).
Also, if you happen to see a LEGO store, especially in New York or at Walt Disney World, don’t forget to go inside! They have some crazy sculptures (made of LEGO, obviously).
The fact that Nickelodeon was finally able to get the Slime to stick… priceless. If your kids, nephews, or any kid in your life in general likes to play with Slime, then you have already found the perfect gift. Besides the different types of slimes, like this galaxy one, you can also find huge DIY kits, so they can “create” their own slime (don’t worry, it’s just different colors of slimes and “toppings” for them to embellish it).
I am not sure Funko Pop qualifies as a toy since it’s basically collectibles and decoration, but hey, here they are. Again, it’s almost the same price in Europe, but waaaay cheaper if you are from anywhere else. I remember my cousin being so shocked with the prices that on our last trip to Disney World, she took 7 Funko Pop home.
There are so many different characters that it’s hard to suggest which ones are the best, but I love the Disney ones, all the different versions of Marvel’s heroes, the super cute pokemons, and the ones from TV shows, such as Friends.
Last but definitely not least, baby stuff. This category is so cheap in the USA that many bloggers and famous people take a trip abroad just to shop for all their baby essentials. So not only can you save some money, but you have so many good options to choose from!
Starting with one of the best sellers in the category: Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 Stroller. It’s super easy to fold and store, it’s light, its wheels are game for any kind of terrain, and it has a handlebar brake. It can’t really get better than that.
If you want a more affordable option, go with the Graco Modes Pramette Stroller. It has different ride options, and you can also use it as a car seat for your infant. It also has a kid and an adult tray for your comfort, different reclining positions, and you can let your baby face you or forward.
Graco’s 4Ever 4-in-1 Car Seat is the best choice for a car seat cause it keeps up with the child’s growth. You can use it for when your kid is an infant and needs the seat facing the rear of the car until they grow and can use it facing forward. It also connects with the car seat belt, and you can even use it as a booster.
O Infant Optics DXR-8 has already won several prizes in the baby monitor category, and it’s perfect for those who want to keep an eye on their kids at all times since it has zoom and tilt functions. In addition, it’s super light, so you can take it with you through your house with no hassles, and it has an FHSS connection, which means it doesn’t go through the internet.
The LILLEbaby carrier allows you to carry your child in 6 different ergonomic styles, with straps that will enable you to use it in front of you or in a backpack style. It is also made of a breathable mesh, so you don’t even have to worry about your infant’s temperature. The perfect product for those who want a comfortable, stylish option to carry their baby.
An electric sterilizer that does all the work for you, so you can spend more time with your child instead of cleaning bottles. Dr. Brown’s Electric Steam Sterilizer can be used for bottle parts and for nipples and even pacifiers. It uses steam to sterilize everything, and its design makes it easier to clean two bottles simultaneously.
Lastly, the cheapest item in the baby category, the Fisher Price Infant to Toddler Rocker Chair. It holds even bigger toddlers (up to 40lb/18kg), it reclines, and it even has two different vibration speeds to help soothe your baby. In addition, the fabric part can be thrown in the washing machine in case of any accidents, and the toy bar is removable.
WHAT NOT TO BUY IN THE USA
I already mentioned some products that are not worth buying in the US. Most of them have a low price difference compared to other countries, and then it makes no sense for you to spend your money on it. So instead, save to buy these items back home and buy other things on your trip.
Nonetheless, here is a list of things not worth buying in the US:
- Expensive sunglasses: Sunglass Hut has almost the same price worldwide, especially in big brand names such as Ray Ban.
- Top-of-the-line training shoes: Not that much of a difference between prices in the US and other places. The older models are dirt cheap and more than worth it if you can go to outlets, though.
- Workout clothes: If you are after Lululemons, go for it. Otherwise, only buy these types of clothes from outlets or stores such as TJMaxx or ROSS.
- Luxury Brands: most of them are European, which means they are cheaper in Europe, and there you also get tax back so you can save even more!
WHAT IS WORTH BUYING IF YOU LIVE IN EUROPE
As I told you repeatedly through this post, most products in the USA are not that much cheaper than in Europe. Yes, you can still save hundreds of dollars if you buy a lot or do your shopping at outlets, but you may also enjoy this opportunity to buy some brands that are not easily accessible back home, such as e.l.f., wet n wild, Colourpop or Glossier.
I also suggest you go to stores such as ROSS and TJMaxx, that sell brand products at a considerable discount. For example, I was able to buy Under Armour tops for less than US$5 and Sketchers for US$10!
IS IT WORTH IT TO SHOP AT DUTY FREE STORES?
NO! Do not mix “shopping in the USA” with shopping at the airport duty free, even if these airports are inside the USA. The prices in these stores are way higher than what you will find in stores across the country, and it’s only a valid option if you forgot to buy something or didn’t find the product you were looking for anywhere else.
WHAT TO BUY IN THE USA – SHOPPING LIST
No time to read this post? No problem, here goes a shopping list with what is worth buying in the USA (especially if you live in South America or Asia):
- Apple products in general
- Electronicos in general
- Beauty Products (makeup, skincare, haircare)
- Vitamins and Supplements
- American-brand clothes (The North Face, Guess, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Abercrombie, Hollister, Levi’s, GAP, Calvin Klein)
- Accessories (Coach, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Osprey)
- Workout clothes (at outlets or ROSS stores)
- Toys and Baby Stuff
So tell me… after finding out about all these great things to buy in the USA, which items are you adding to your travel shopping list? Let me know in the comments!