I admit it–I’m a material girl. I love to shop. I especially love to shop when I’m traveling–little boutiques, independent gift shops, arts & crafts galleries, funky thrift stores…all of ’em get my patronage. (Well, they get me browsing through them anyhow.) Shopping is a way to become part of the local economy, check out local arts and crafts and goods.
But if I’m not careful, shopping can be one of the most pain-exacerbating parts of a trip for me. So here’s how I go a-retailin’ without hurting myself:
Keep shopping trips short(ish)
How long can you shop comfortably at home? Subtract half an hour. That’s the amount of time that I’ve found works for travelers with pain when they’re shopping on the road. (You need that half-hour to wrap up your last purchase, use the restroom or take a 10-minute rest break, then get back to your hotel.)
I can shop for about an hour when I’m traveling. But I can do that every day, and on a good day I can do it twice if I rest well between sessions.
A good thing about limited-time shopping trips–by necessity they’re also limited spending. When I only get to shop for an hour per place, I spread out my budget over more of my trip, which brings me more joy.
Sit down often
Walking slowly and standing still for long stretches hurts me lots. Which means that typical shopping is actually one of my pain triggers. So what do I do? I sit down every chance I get. Whether it’s a plush upholstered chair in a chic boutique or a city bench, I park it just about every time I see a seat.
Drink up! Hydration keeps the juices flowing (ha ha).
I like to carry a small bottle of water in my purse when I shop. That way I’ve got something to sip often. And I can fill the bottle back up at water fountains if I finish it.
Yes, some shops and galleries do not allow food or drink (so as to protect their merchandise). That’s why I use a small bottle that I can stash in my purse. For my non-purse-toting (mostly male) readers, I suggest giving your water bottle to the clerk at the counter when you enter the store, then retrieving it when you leave.
Use the restroom when you need to
Don’t try to hold it–use the bathroom when nature calls. The goal is to stay comfortable for as long as possible.
Likely as not you’ll have to ask a clerk in a store to use their facilities. Many will say yes and give you access to their restroom. Some can’t do that (usually for insurance reasons), but it’s still worth asking. Clerks almost always know where the public restrooms are, or where there’s a cafe or shop nearby that lets customers use their restrooms.
You’re spending more energy than you think you are when you shop. Stop and have a meal sometime in there–a real meal with some protein (or whatever works for you in your situation). Fuel helps you keep moving, and it’ll help your body maintain now and later on.
So those are my rules to live by for shopping when traveling. Did I miss anything key?