Shopping is a vacation replica louis vuitton unto itself. Let others have their spa getaways, whitewater rafting adventures or cultural treks. I'll take a retail quest every time. Shopping is a cultural exchange, an educational experience and an anthropological dig all rolled into one.
When I encounter an unknown emporium and hear the metal-on-metal sound of shopping carts clashing, my adrenaline starts pumping. Who needs skydiving or spelunking or scuba diving when magnificent discoveries await around every corner? Once I bag a few treasures, the spendorphins start flowing -- an experience more blissful than an exotic island retreat and more intoxicating than a happy hour. The highs, the lows -- shopping's got it all.
I have lots of company: 90,999,999 other happy shopping travelers, to be exact, or 63 percent of all travelers, according to a study done by the .
More than louis vuitton outlet online half of shopping travelers report that shopping was the primary or secondary purpose of one or more of their trips in the past louis vuitton handbags year. Four in 10 say a trip is not complete without shopping. Vacation shopping beat out family events, sightseeing, beach-going, museums, amusement parks, nightlife, sports, zoos, aquariums and cultural activities as the thing to do on vacation.
In other words, louis vuitton handbags outlet one could say shopping has become the cause, not the effect, of the decision to travel. And that is as it should be.
"It's the No. 1 travel activity, hands down," says , association spokeswoman. "These days, shopping malls aren't just near all the major tourist destinations; they are the major travel destinations."
Like the nation's No. 1 visited attraction, Mall of America. The gigantic retail and entertainment complex in Bloomington, Minn., features an 18-hole miniature golf adventure, a roller coaster, a seven-acre theme park, a 1.2- million-gallon aquarium containing 3,000 sea creatures, a , the
Beat that, Grand Canyon.
Or take Potomac Mills. If you were a non-shopper, you might assume Virginia's No. 1 travel destination is or maybe Monticello. Wrong. The Old Dominion state's major tourist draw is Potomac Mills, a giant outlet mall 30 miles south of Washington featuring stores from Abercrombie Fitch to Zales and hundreds in between.
Mall Web sites such as these include lists of "shop and stay" vacations complete with lodging at area hotels, VIP coupon books, tote bags and complimentary breakfasts to get you fueled up and ready to hit the road shopping. Keefe says tour operators across the country are organizing more and more such packages to popular retail destinations.
"Vacation shopping is huge and getting bigger all the time. It's what people want to do when they travel. Retail complexes and travel professionals are responding by creating even more shopping opportunities," Keefe says. "Maybe if you're a guy, you might not see it that way, but it's true."
Research also shows that 70 percent of shopping travelers want to shop at stores that are unique or different from those they have at home. I'm on board with that. No Gaps or Starbucks or Barnes Noble for me when I travel. I've shopped for furniture in North Carolina, wine in Napa Valley and grapefruit in Florida, and many of the stores I've discovered along the way are as distinctive as their locales.
Such as Remy's, a Maine discount chain, founded in 1949 and still famous for its bargains, where canned wild blueberries, blueberry pancake mix and blueberry jam cozy up to bags of addictive Maine Coast Chips, flavored with sea salt. And there's Sydenstricker Gallery on Cape Cod, with its exquisite glass designs; pieces are on exhibit in in New York - - and at my home, as well.
At Filene's Basement in Boston, where subways rumble right past the store, folks try on clothing in the aisles, and deals aren't just deals, they're steals. Then there's the flea market in New Orleans; Usingers in Milwaukee, with its cases of "brats" and other sausages; Fast Buck Freddie's, Key West's tony department store; and others too numerous to mention.
The Travel Industry Association says half of all shopping travelers seek items that represent the destination they are visiting. Any shopper knows that. My desk is covered with artifacts from places far and wide: wind-up lobsters from Maine, diminutive replicas of Niagara Falls' Maid of Shenbj0405 the Mist and the Eiffel Tower, bottles of sand from Wrigley Field, a toothpick holder from Alcatraz, and more -- all creating a three-dimensional mosaic of the places I have seen and hope to see again.
Junk to others, perhaps, but these are mementos of unforgettable experiences to a traveling shopper -- often carefully picked out and purchased against backdrops of panoramic vistas, imposing cliffs, beautiful louis vuitton online store beaches, towering skyscrapers, charming architecture or whatever other wonders the destinations I visit might have to offer.
Here's my advice: If you want to truly get a feel for a place and its people, put down your guidebook, and skip the safaris and bus tours. Instead, hit the stores, and see the sights from the aisles and the lines behind the cash registers.