Traveling often involves exploring new cultures and experiencing the uniqueness of various destinations. One fascinating aspect of this cultural exploration is the clear contrast between the buying habits of tourists and locals. It could be food, apparel, or souvenirs; there is almost always something that tourists will buy that locals never think of.
Here are some insights shared by locals from different countries about items and experiences they never buy, but which tourists eagerly spend their money on.
1. Fettuccine Alfredo In Rome, Italy
Romans do not consider Fettuccine Alfredo as a traditional dish. They prefer traditional, regional Italian cuisine and prioritize fresher, healthier options, making Fettuccine Alfredo a less common choice for them in their own culinary landscape. However, contrary to the saying, “When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do” tourists in Rome often splurge their money on Fettuccine Alfredo due to familiarity, language barriers, and the expectation of finding Italian-American dishes.
A subreddit user commented, “Even if the dish was created in Rome, it is not considered traditional at all, and it is seen as something only tourists (mainly Americans) eat.”
2. Bottled Water in Iceland
Tourists in Iceland often buy bottled water due to concerns about tap water quality and the convenience of travel, despite the tap water being safe. They may also be accustomed to buying bottled water in their home countries. Additionally, bottled water’s unique packaging can make it an appealing souvenir.
Locals, however, rarely purchase it, relying instead on the country’s high-quality tap water. One Reddit user remarked, “Tap water here is the best…the first thing I do, when I come home, is to run a fresh glass of cold tap water.”
3. Butter Cookies in Denmark
Butter cookies, renowned for their appeal and packaging, are a go-to souvenir for those visiting Denmark. They serve as ideal gifts, capturing the essence of Danish confectionary art. On the flip side, Denmark’s residents tend to skip the packaged varieties, preferring fresh, homemade delicacies or traditional pastries that are staples of their culinary heritage.
As noted on Reddit, one commenter observed that butter cookies seem only to be sold in souvenir shops, not grocery stores, and another quoted a Danish coworker saying, “We don’t eat these. We sell them to tourists.”
4. Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon, Us
Voodoo Doughnut is a hit with tourists in Portland, seeking the novelty of its unique offerings. Locals, however, may skip it for other donut shops with longer-standing community ties, opting for variety and tradition. A Reddit user emphasized this local sentiment, stating, “Voodoo Donuts, there are way better donut shops than Voodoo. The only people who stand in line for them are tourists.”
5. Beer Steins in Germany
In Germany, the ornate designs of beer steins make them popular among tourists as collectible souvenirs, emblematic of the local beer culture. For Germans accustomed to these items, however, such purchases are uncommon. One local explained the cultural context: “Beer steins. We usually don’t drink beer out of ceramic mugs with a lid. We also don’t call it stein… We call it Bierkrug.”
6. Miniature Eiffel Towers in France
Miniature Eiffel Tower replicas are a common souvenir choice for visitors in Paris, cherished as mementos. Locals, surrounded by Parisian landmarks, seldom find allure in these keepsakes. Highlighting their impracticality, a Reddit user jokingly referred to them as “pocket shredders.”
7. Ice Bakery Waffles In The Netherlands
Iconic Dutch “stroopwafels” are a favorite purchase for visitors in the Netherlands, often seeking out specialty versions as tasty mementos. In contrast, locals treat them as typical snacks, opting instead for regular cheese purchases at markets. A local’s advice underscores this: “Those stupid ice bakery waffles in Amsterdam. Just go to the Kaasboer at the market for good quality cheese.”
8. Any Clothing Bearing the Name of a City or Local Institution in Scotland
Tourists in Scotland often purchase clothing labeled with ‘Glasgow’, ‘Edinburgh’, or ‘St. Andrews’ as souvenirs to commemorate their visit, while locals are less likely to wear such items. A commenter elaborated on this trend: “Scotland – Any clothing with either ‘Glasgow’ or ‘Edinburgh’ (and sometimes ‘St Andrew’s’) university scrawled across it… real students wouldn’t really wear anything with their uni on it… Seems very popular with American and Indian tourists and international students.”
9. Oxford University Hoodies or Sweatshirts in South England
Oxford University hoodies are a popular buy for tourists seeking a tangible link to the institution’s esteemed reputation. In contrast, locals and students tend to choose attire that reflects their specific college affiliations, indicating a more personalized connection.
As a local resident notes, anyone spotted in generic university merchandise is likely a visitor: “I live near Oxford. You know that anyone wearing an Oxford University hoodie/sweatshirt is a tourist… Oxford Brookes students will sometimes wear Oxford Brookes hoodies, which is fine.”
10. Traditional Handcrafts in South Africa
“South Africa – Little animals made from wire and beads, straw hats, tribal masks, wooden figurines of African women walking with clay pots on their heads… I could go on…” commented a Reddit user.
The aesthetic value and craftsmanship of these handcrafted products also attract tourists, making them appealing as decorative pieces or gifts. Tourists often seek the authenticity of locally-made items, making these traditional crafts a popular choice. In contrast, locals may not purchase these items as frequently due to their familiarity with these products and differing spending priorities, as well as the fact that these items may not hold the same novelty or cultural significance for them.
11. Troll Figurines And Clothing Adorned With The Norwegian Flag In Norway
Tourists in Norway favor troll figurines and flag-themed clothing as mementos, embracing Norway’s folklore and national pride. These souvenirs allow them to carry a part of their journey home. Locals, surrounded by these cultural symbols, don’t share the same fascination, as noted by a commenter: “Norway -Troll figurines and clothing with the Norwegian flag plastered all over them.”
12. Ushankas Adorned With Ussr Symbols in the Czech Republic
Did you even visit the Czech Republic if you did not buy Ushankas adorned with USSR symbols? Tourists are drawn to these hats for their novelty, fashion appeal, and, in some cases, nostalgia for Soviet-era imagery.
However, Czech locals may be hesitant to purchase such items due to their historical context, personal beliefs, and a desire to maintain their cultural identity, given the complex history with the former Eastern Bloc and the USSR. “Ushanka (warm hat) with SSSR symbols on it. Actually, any kind of communist memorabilia you can get in tourist shops in Prague. Including Matryoshkas – they are Russian and it makes absolutely no sense that they are being sold in Prague tourist stores as souvenirs from the Czech Republic.” opined a Reddit user.
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