Guest Author - Christine Wilcox
Solo travel can get repetitive - finding hotels, finding restaurants, finding your way - but there's one favorite solo trip that I always recommend: the solo shopping trip!
Major cities offer the best combination for shopping trips: flights are usually cheaper than other areas, the shopping is a lot more varied and plentiful, and hotels are usually very close to major shopping centers or downtowns where lots of great shops are located.
First, find the website of your favorite shop and watch for the sales!
When you're loyal to a chain, the chain can reward you with great deals. Call the store you love, ask the associates when the semi-annual sales are, or plan your solo shopping trip to coincide with after holiday sales post-Christmas.
Second, pack bare essentials.
Are you shopping for suits or other clothes that need special care? Take a roomy roller board so they won't get crushed. If you're shoe shopping, then you have more latitude - like taking a duffel bag that will still comply with carry-on rules.
Third, shop for the space you have, and no more.
Don't exceed the space you have when you're solo shopping on travel. Sure, you CAN buy another bag to shop til you drop your way home, but keeping within your space limits can also keep you within your budget.
Fourth, shop for the flight home.
If you're flying and planning only to take carry on luggage, don't shop the perfume and lotion sales. Soon after the three ounce rule was implemented, I made the mistake of shopping a great sale at Nordstrom in Scottsdale - and ended up with some fantastic Philosophy product - all of which exceeded carry-on limits. I had to put my great finds into the hands of baggage handlers, and it was a tough separation!
Fifth, as an option, consider shipping.
Okay - so you may have exceeded your space or even weight limits (I once - pre 9/11 - took half a case of wine in a computer briefcase through San Francisco airport!). You may have to ship your shopping trip home. In some cases, if you're not a resident and you ship your items home, you can even save on sales tax if that store doesn't have a business presence in your state. It's worth asking about!
With a little planning, you can have a successful solo shopping trip! But remember, it can also be a good girlfriends weekend, too.