One of my favorite things to do on vacation is outlet shopping.  I often find that I can get some great deals on clothing and accessories for my entire family.  However, you do have to be careful – there are often some not-so-great deals lurking among the treasures.  Here are some things you need to think about before outlet shopping while on vacation:

Pay attention to the tax rate

If you live in a state with no sales tax on clothes (as I do, here in Massachusetts), you should be aware that many states do charge tax on clothes.  If you aren’t prepared to pay this, it can add up to 9% to your total bill.  Suddenly that bargain may not seem like a bargain anymore.

Try on everything

Yes, it is tempting to just grab your size and go.  But, you really should try everything on before buying.  Outlet clothing can be mis-sized, or even damaged.  Try on everything, make sure you like it, and then buy it.

Ask about discounts

Many outlet malls offer discounted VIP coupon books, so inquire at guest relations.  Often you can get one of these VIP books with a AAA card.

Know what you are buying

Some outlets offer a special line of clothes made especially for the outlet, and these are often lower quality than the items available in stores.  Outlets often carry seconds and damaged merchandise – if you buy seconds, make sure you know where the defect is.  Sometimes these defects are almost unnoticeable, but other times they can be really obvious.  To me, the best deals can be found with closeouts and markdowns, which are usually first quality merchandise that didn’t sell in the retail stores.  These offer the best bargains!Before you head out on vacation, do an inventory of your closet (and your children’s closets) to determine what you need.  That way, you’ll have something specific to shop for, and you’ll actually buy something you need, rather than something you want.  Remember, it isn’t a bargain if you don’t use it!Jodi Grundig reviews products for moms, babies, and children on Mom’s Favorite Stuff, and writes about her life at Multitasking Mommy.