What Does it Mean to "Go Shopping" When Traveling?

For the life of me I can’t understand what people mean when they “go shopping” while traveling.

In Beijing I heard a middle-aged American guy talk on the phone to another buddy who was in Beijing: “I did some shopping this afternoon….yeah tomorrow we can review the board presentation and then do some more shopping.”

Guidebooks have recommendations for “shopping” and my hosts often point me to “good shopping areas.”

What on earth are they shopping for? Even though I haven’t bought a single souvenir anywhere, I do understand people like physical keepsakes from countries they visit. Fine. But what else? Clothes? Toys? How do you have room for these new goods? The “best” shopping countries like Japan and Hong Kong are also more expensive than the States, so why mess around in a foreign currency? And in cheap places like India or China, it’s likely a fake.

Anything I would want to buy I could buy from home, either at a store or online.

Maybe it’s supposed to be an “activity” — they don’t really buy anything, but it’s part of the social experience. If this is the case, I can only think back to what George Castanza said to Jerry Seinfeld while lying in the hospital bed, “Kill me Jerry, kill me now.”

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