packing for a trip always exposes needs in my wardrobe. if i weren't taking the trip, would i have the need? no, not really.

do you shop during trips, or for them?

on saturday i found myself faced with an unfortunate choice during a burst of unfortunate weather when i discovered that i had accidentally (and most unfortunately) grabbed the freak umbrella before leaving the house. the freak umbrella has a shade with an awkwardly small radius, so when standing as close to center as any umbrella allows, this one fails to cover (and even then, it's barely) more than some of my head. a shoulder? forget about it. the freak umbrella also has an awkwardly small shaft, so that holding the umbrella over some of my head requires lifting my arm quite high. one is always reminded that we need to throw out the freak umbrella when it is called into emergency service, but once delivered home again the victim, just grateful to be semi-dry, inevitably returns the freak umbrella back to the umbrella collection, only to be pick it up again on another day when in a rush, in need of a light umbrella "just in case." by the way, while carrying most any other umbrella guarantees clear skies all day, the freak umbrella is a sure talisman of rain, though you don't realize it until it's too late.

anyway, i had to choose between covering my head and my (paper) shopping bags. just 2, but it was them or me. i chose them and felt distinctly silly doing it.

that was one of many moments that day when i found myself shaking my head...at myself.
the first was when i entered a store whole-heartedly intending to look for someone else, and instead found something for myself.

this seems to fall under the murphy's law of shopping - when you bring the awkward freak umbrella, it will rain; when you aren't looking for something, you find it.

so i go into a store not looking for myself, find an item not only for myself, but it's two main points of appeal were that a. it would work perfectly for a trip i'm taking next week, to a place across the country with a climate i do not live in year round, and b. the color will look great with my purse and some other things like scarves. accessories! i'm buying clothes now for my accessories (and, yes, thank you for reminding me, for places where i do not live).

so i'm walking along with the freak umbrella, holding it over something i hadn't intended to purchase for a place where i do not live (and for my accessories), protecting it (instead of myself) from the downpour, and what is it? what is sheltered under the freak umbrella?
a rain jacket.


-h of candid cool said...

!!!!! i think that's what they called ironic no?

as far as the shopping goes, i shop during my trips.

Times of Glory said...

I can never underestimate the power of shopping simulation! And I always believe in murphy's law! If I try to find something for myself, I can never find it, but whenever I try to be deciplined, I will purchase something "by accident"!

P.S. I'd choose covering my shopping bags as well, so... :)

Carlene said...

Ha! That is a great story. I love the freak umbrella so much. But really, throw it away. You've gotten one great, O. Henry-esque story out of it, its job is done.

I try not to shop for trips, but I like to take one new thing (not shoes!), just because it's fun and makes the trip even more special. I don't buy much during trips, I tend to spend my trip money on food, drink &/or cabs.

Sara said...

I love this story! I laughed out loud and commiserated - freak umbrellas are the worst. Just don't bring it with you on vacation!

To answer your question, I shop for the trip instead of during (unless I'm traveling only to shop, but now that I live in a real city I no longer do such traveling).

I always feel like I buy things on vacation that I never would buy if I weren't, like I've been slipped a shopping mickey and have no recollection of my closet and life at home. I almost always feel guilty when I get home and see that I can't really wear the thing I bought in my native environment.

Great post!

Iheartfashion said...

We have a freak umbrella too!
As for trips, I almost always shop on a trip rather than for a trip, but it depends where you're going.

Sal said...

Oh, the glory of Murphy's Law of Shopping. And poor you with the freak umbrella! Sounds like a day of frustration galore ...

Unless I'm going on a trip that requires *equipment,* like hiking boots or long underwear or similar, I'm much more likely to shop when I arrive. I figure, wherever I'm headed, they are likely to have whatever I need. And purchases from trips always have more emotional cache - even if they are mundane items like undershirts and socks.

CoutureCarrie said...

Hmmm . . . I like to shop before, during and after the trip!! As for umbrellas, they are annoying and ever since I lost a fabulously expensive Burberry one on the subway, disposable!

landis smithers said...


i believe that is the freak calling the umbrella freak.

and i always shop FOR trips, so i know i can out chic the locals (or at least blend in. going to paris in a week. big pressure.)

i rarely shop on trips (no, not true. i shop on trips for basics i can't find at home, that perfect ____ that always seems to be in another city, but not your local store.)

editor said...

okay, touché landis. touché!
(ack, now that we have established a basis for empathy, i am developing compassion for the useless thing!)

i absolutely shop for trips (i like to hit the ground running, style-wise), and rarely during, unless i've done research ahead of time and know where i'm going and what i'm looking for, or if i am smitten by a small item that can act as a souvenir - but something beautiful i will enjoy, not something tacky, in that souvenir way. for example, 2 years ago i bought a beautiful umbrella in switzerland. gorgeous. i love it and use it every chance i get, IF there is sure to be rain. when things are less certain, i grab a smaller one, most recently the freak umbrella, and unfortunately THAT is the only way to be sure it will rain, in which case i would want my good umbrella. but then it's too late. i have never lost an umbrella, and having a nice one is such a (small) pleasure for me. clothing generally backfires, if i shop while traveling and it's a caught-up-in-the-moment purchase. like, heaven help me, the cotton duster i bought in germany years ago.

landis smithers said...

oh, no.

you are NOT coming to san francisco and not meeting up with me because i am in paris.

that is cruelty.

when are you here??

editor said...

shhhhh keep your voice down.
that is precisely what i am going to do though. that is just punishment for going to paris sans moi.
i will be in SF before bastille day.
i was in paris on bastille day once. the metro was noisy.

enc said...


(I'm not being cavalier or glib. I really mean it. I LOVEloveLOVE the way you wrote this. I wish I'd written it myself.)

editor said...

^^^enc, really? i wish i hadn't had any reason to write it.

Duchesse said...

I shop before I go, usually buying clothes of that destination so I do not look like "a dumb tourist".

Then I shop when there, to find unique things... but I will also buy an item I might find at home: I'm here, it's here, I like it.

So travel brings out my worst over the top shopping.