Are you the type of person who arrives in a new destination, gets settled and heads straight to the grocery store? You're not alone. The grocery store is a great place to start any trip overseas vacation. Why? Read on to find out why you should always visit a grocery store when traveling abroad.
Try Local Specialties
Grocery stores are the go-to spot for foods you’ve probably never seen before back home. Do you want to try odd potato chip flavors? How about unique sodas? You can even often find locally produced beer, wine and liquor.
Don’t forget to hit the produce section for a selection of fruits and vegetables important to the region. (However, if you’re in Asia, skip the temptation to buy durian to bring back to your hotel room as the stench is truly unlike anything else.)
When you go to a grocery store on your travels, you’ll learn about local eating habits and what foods are produced in the region. Visit a grocery store in Taiwan and you’ll find aisles devoted to rice and tea, while in Mexico, you might find dozens of masa brands or nopales being freshly cut right in the produce section.
Learn a Few New Words
Take a walk around a grocery store in a different country and you’re bound to pick up a few words in the local language. Visually identifying different foods with their local names can certainly help with menu translation later on.
Great Place to Pick Up Souvenirs
Looking for some small souvenirs for friends and family back home? Grocery stores can be a fun place to get edible goodies, especially for people who you aren’t sure what to get them. Chocolates, local snacks and more can be ideal options as they are small and inexpensive. Plus, you can usually pick them up for less than at a gift shop.
Look for special promotions, especially at holiday time. You might find different themed packaging or special gift sets. Be sure to check customs regulations on what you’re looking to buy, as some products cannot be brought back into the United States.
You Can Also Save Money
Travelers on a budget often visit a grocery store abroad just to stock their room, especially if they have a kitchen. Some destinations are known for inexpensive eats, while others can be pricey, so visiting a grocery store can be a great way to reduce your overall spending.
Learn About the Local Way of Life
Grocery shopping is something you do out of necessity at home. When you visit a grocery store abroad, you get an inside look at daily life in that country and learn about cultural norms. For example, you don’t want to pick up your produce with bare hands in Italy. When you’re visiting smaller open-air markets, the vendors may pick the produce for you, while at larger grocery stores, you’ll find plastic gloves that you use to pick up your fruits and vegetables.
If you’re visiting a grocery store in many parts of Europe, you’ll want to have euros handy as you’ll some to unlock a grocery cart. In the Netherlands, you can pick up a scanner and “check out” as you shop, just paying and bagging at the end of your shopping. Be sure to have a reusable eco-friendly bag no matter where you shop, as many countries charge for bags, and it’s certainly better for the environment.
When you’re visiting grocery stores abroad, remember to always be respectful and not treat the grocery store like it’s a tourist attraction. And, if you’re visiting a market that is a popular stop for travelers, ask before taking any photos — especially of the vendors.