An ideal vacation can mean so much more than trendy shops and relaxing spa treatments. Beyond the indulgence of laying poolside with a piña colada or springing for the newest Marc Jacobs handbag, there is awareness to be had, culture to be experienced…not to mention, the sense of reward felt when your dollars spent are making a positive difference in the lives of others. I visited many local artisans and their shops while traveling on my most recent journey abroad. There is something magical about personally buying gifts for friends and family from the man or woman who actually created it! I’ve been known to shop up a storm or two, or morph into a professional bargain hunter when the opportunity presents itself; but this time was no time for bargaining, and was most definitely more rewarding than the average trip to a Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.
Frivolous can be therapeutic for a shop-o-holic, trust me, I know! That said, there was nothing frivolous about purchasing local handicrafts that benefit the local children’s schooling program, or investing time in visiting the local artisan workshops where disabled (and otherwise unemployed) people are skillfully trained to carve or sew, in order to create beautiful goods that provide them a profession and means to sustain the livelihood of their families. Next time you feel the urge to buy, shop with a purpose. Shop for a cause. Shop with your heart, it’s good will shopping at it’s finest!
Sidenote: During my travels, I found that many other American’s saw local village people as “less fortunate.” However, that depends upon what you consider to be “fortune. Clothing served its true purpose for warmth and modesty, not fashion and status. Every bit of food was treated as a valued delicacy, never wasted. I saw genuinely happy smiles on the faces of the elderly and children alike. They displayed an undeniable sense of love and family, with multiple generations dwelling, working and playing together. Their lives were so simple, and absolutely rich in love. Simplicity is bliss. Love is priceless.