Lately I’ve been leading a client project where colleagues around the world are coming to the U.S. for the first time. It’s been interesting to hear what they want to do during the week or two that they’re in the U.S.
Here’s a few of the interesting requests from these first-time visitors:
- Eat at Taco Bell, IHOP and Subway.
- Meet a real cowboy.
- Go shopping. While this is a common request from visitors from all the countries that I am with, I’m most perplexed by the visitors who are from China making this request. Chances are very high that they will be buying items labeled “Made in China.” Can’t they be found less expensive in China, maybe at their version of a factory outlet mall?
- Meet a ‘CHiPS’ police officer on a motorcycle.
- Go through a drive-through anything (yes, not all countries have drive-through fast food restaurants or banks or churches).
Some of these may seem silly, especially when you think of someone traveling thousands of miles just to eat at Taco Bell or Subway. Really? Is that on any of your lists of top things to do for people visiting the U.S.?
Before I chuckle too much at people wanting to eat good ol’ American fast food and meet a modern-day John Wayne, I thought it would be interesting to think about what we’d want to experience if we go another country – not the typical “1,000 Things To Do Before You Die,” but local foods, stores or events that we wouldn’t want to miss.
For example: I wanted to experience a Deep Fried Mars Bar in Scotland, walking the streets of Paris with French baguettes in white paper bags sticking out of my canvas bag, and High Tea at Harrod’s in London, and I’ve now done all these things. Other things on my list: Go shopping in a food market in Italy (and stay in a place where I can do my own cooking), eat off a street cart in China and take a photo of a restaurant menu (from anywhere outside the U.S.) that offers bugs on their menu. On this last item, note that I said just ‘take a photo’ vs. actually eat the bugs. Eating bugs is nowhere on my list of things to do.
While the things on our to-do lists may raise an eyebrow to the locals, just as the visit to Taco Bell elicits a “You’re kidding!” response from an American, it’s often these small things that give us the most enjoyment in our travels.
So what’s on your list of non-top-tourist things for your international travels that you won’t be happy unless you do?