For many travelers, visiting new places is not only about the people, culture and historical sights; it's about the souvenirs they bring home to remind them of their experiences. For some people, the experience is the shopping and the travel just gets them there.
If you are one of these shopoholics who would happily build an entire vacation around your obsession, we have good news. You can shop someplace far away and fabulous with a savvy shopping sidekick who speaks the language and knows how to not shop like a tourist.
These businesses were created around the love of shopping, collecting and traveling. Antiques Diva and Chic Shopping Paris are both shopping tour guide services based abroad. The Red Shed is an antique boutique in Texas that organizes a yearly field trip to France for shoppers who want to find their own European treasures.
The Red Shed Tour to Provence
Spend a week in the beautiful town of Aix-en-Provence shopping the boutiques, bookstores, and spice markets. Take a cooking class and enjoy tours of local farmhouses and townhomes. Visit the L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, home to famous flea markets and fabulous vintage shopping. Outings are lead by an English speaking Provence local who is a wine and antiques shopping expert.
Antiques Diva European Shopping Tours
Schedule a half-day or an full day excursion with an expert local shopping guide in the Netherlands, Belgium, France or Germany. Tours are intended to prime you for shopping abroad by pointing out the best shops for antiques, vintage wares and home décor (including the most obvious and the lesser known). Shopping guides, or Divas, help you secure local discounts, deal with shipping issues, and shop with a "decorator's eye". Rather than a complete, organized vacation, this service is more of an accessory to an already planned vacation.
Chic Shopping Paris
Don't waste your time trying to decipher the Parisian shopping scene, rue by rue. Spend a fun, but efficient afternoon in Paris on a guided, thematic shopping tour such as boutique shopping in the Marais district or gourmet food and wine tasting. The advantage to a guided service is access to secret addresses and shopping tips, as well as a bi-lingual companion who offers unbiased advice (no commissions). Most tours are four hours long, but customized tours can be arranged to fit your time and shopping requirements.
What do you think about taking a shopping vacation? Would you use a shopping guide abroad?
Images: Flickr member dicktay2000 licensed for use under creative commons, Le Boudoir