Planning a vacation around a shopping trip isn't something that always comes to mind when it's time to get away. While shopping is often part of the trip, it's not the main event, so to speak - which is exactly why turning the tables can lead to the adventure of a lifetime. We're not just talking about shopping at big, luxury outlet stores or making a trip to the Mall of America - we're talking about seeking out small towns, big cities, and everywhere in between to find the small businesses that need our support right now.

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The pandemic changed the way many of us looked at the world and if we weren't personally affected by a loss of business, chances are that we know someone who was. While these boutique businesses struggle to come back, their hope lies in a renewed love of shopping small, and not just on Small Business Saturday. This means anything from giant farmer's markets to outdoor festivals, and even opting for a small-town trip rather than an urban metropolis. Here's how you can factor in small businesses when you plan your next vacation.

Start By Determining What Type Of Things You'd Shop For On Vacation

It seems silly to work backward on this but hear us out. Inevitably, shopping will occur while in another state, city, country, what have you. Therefore, are you a souvenir type of person? Do things such as unique and hand-made clothes or housewares interest you? Do funky, unusual, or even creepy things catch your attention? Or, perhaps, it's artwork that speaks to you while you're away from your daily routine. Whatever it might be, this is going to be very telling of where to start looking for a vacation.

For those interested in funky, unusual things, a city that's known for its oddities or antique shops might work well. For anyone interested in artwork, consider a college town or a historic district. Everyone has a passion and through our shopping habits, we can find them. Basically, you're letting your wallet, and your guilty pleasures, lead the way.

Consider Booking With Airbnb Or Another Rental Company

We're not here to tell you what to do with your life, we're just here to tell you how to travel with it. And, by doing so, we're recommending booking with a rental because by doing this, you'll also be helping someone who technically works for themselves.

There's a ton of work that goes into renting a home and, rather than indulging in a hotel or resort, opting for a rental can only help someone directly post-pandemic. It also provides a private experience that allows people to come home to an actual home while on vacation - and it's often a little more charming than a hotel room. Plus, this is a great way to get local recommendations and find an affordable place within walking distance to a town or city center.

Use Social Media To Your Advantage To Find Fun Shops And Activities

Don't underestimate the power of social media! Still, to this day, it's one of the most powerful tools we have. Searching via hashtags or 'suggested' pages, especially if they're local town or city pages, can help travelers find some must-try destinations. It's a great way to explore a new place without actually going there and the best way to figure out what's worth it is to stalk the locals a bit (not literally).

Anything that's tagged, any geo-location that's listed, is worth giving a shot and exploring a bit further. If the locals - or other travelers - are raving about it enough to upload it to social media, then there's obviously something worth booking a trip for.

Opt For Someplace Walkable With Plenty Of Dining Options

After doing all of this and finding what's likely to be the perfect town both in terms of attractions and great shopping, it's a total bummer to find out that the only food within walking distance is a Taco Bell and a Burger King. You could forge ahead if it's really worth it or, you could revamp your trip to include foodie-approved restaurants that will only enhance the experience.

After all, if there's anything a shopper knows it's that all of that walking around and bag-carrying can definitely make a person hungry. This is the perfect way to support small businesses, as well, as many restaurants are still struggling as we come out of this pandemic and could use the extra biz.

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