Since I promote my blog as a website for women who love to travel, and given the stereotype that women love to shop, this may not be the best place to write about my hate of shopping. But I do hope that I am not alone in my predicament.

In truth, I do not hate all shopping. I am quite happy to browse handicraft stores in foreign countries and buy the occasional souvenir. I don’t mind buying groceries. And I actually quite enjoy shopping for books and luggage. No, what instills in me an almost obsessive procrastination is having to shop for clothes and shoes: things that have to fit my body, look good, be comfortable, fit in my tiny backpack, and last me for months on the road. I am looking for multi-purpose, affordable and good looking garments. And I know that to find them I will have to brave the malls. I hate malls.

There is something about walking into a windowless, artificially-lit space full of people and new-smelling stuff that always makes me feel slightly nauseous. Within a couple of hours I grow increasingly tired and uncomfortable, so time is of the essence.

Shops at Eaton Centre, Toronto

Shops at Eaton Centre, Toronto

The experience usually goes something like this. Having waited until the last possible moment to make my purchase, I am now under intense stress, fearing that I will not find what I am looking for. I usually have a deadline a couple of days into the future in the form of a flight to somewhere.

I enter a neon-lit store that often has annoying music blaring in the background, and within a minute am intercepted by a chirpy 20-year old who tells me about the special sale of the day.

The sale looks good. I start getting enthusiastic. I rummage through the clothes looking for my size. Of course the middle sizes are often all gone. If I find it, it will probably not be in a colour I like. If it is, it will probably not fit me, requiring many repeat trips into the fitting room. (By the way, if the store does not have mirrors inside the fitting room, I am out of there).

If miraculously I find an item on sale, of the right size and right colour that actually fits me and looks good on me, I may discover as I’m about to pay (and breath a sigh of relief), that there is a tiny stain or other defect on it. Of course it is the last one of that size and colour left! Back to square one.

Old shoes with holes

Old shoes with holes

Take last Friday for example. My shopping expedition failed miserably. After having known for about a year that I needed new shoes (my current shoes have multiple holes the size of cashew nuts in their mesh top), and having had it on my to do list since June, I finally made it to Eaton Centre. I hate Eaton Centre. It does make me nauseous.

My goal was simple: find a pair of shoes that would allow me to walk for hours across world cities, do day-hikes on uneven ground (nothing too strenuous), and look good in a restaurant or a convention centre. Simple right? I just want one pair of shoes that does everything. I want to travel light. Shoes are heavy. I hate shopping for shoes. Yet shoes are the most important item for a traveller. They have to be comfortable, or you won’t be able to walk. Buying shoes is trickier (and usually more expensive) than buying clothes. I truly and sincerely hate it!

New shoes

New shoes

I went through four stores (two regular shoes stores and two sporting goods) and emerged empty handed and slightly disgusted. Although this time I was pretty sure I knew what was wrong. I probably had unreasonable expectations. (Or maybe not, but I didn’t intend to go to every single store in Toronto to find out.) So the following day, I returned to the very first shop I had visited, and ended up buying the first pair of shoes I had tried on.

Granted, they only look good with pants, and won’t be able to handle much more than the very lightest of off-road hiking but they offer many advantages. They’re black (so won’t show dirt and will go with everything), and they’re supremely comfortable (featuring “memory foam”). They should be able to handle most of the activities I have coming up this fall. They’re slip-on (no laces) which should make it a lot easier to go through security in American airports, as well as visit mosques and temples. And the best part: they were on sale for $59.99. 🙂

If you’re a woman who hates shopping, I want to hear from you in the comments!

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