People Are Sharing What Tourists Never Realize About Their Home Country Until They Arrive, And It’s Fascinating

No matter how much research we do prior to visiting a new country, we'll inevitably miss something that only locals really know. Recently, redditor u/palbuddy1234 asked the r/expats community to share the things tourists may not know about their home country. Here are the tips locals shared that are sure to help you out on your next trip.

1."In the UK, people will go to the pub to meet with their friends, but usually not to make new ones. I always see people on Reddit wanting to go to a 'real British pub' on their holiday and 'get to know the locals,' completely unaware that if a total stranger is talking to you in the pub, they probably have ulterior motives."

a crowd around a british pub at night
Fotovoyager / Getty Images

2."Japan: People very rarely visit each other's houses. Houses are small, walls are thin, and people are private. Even families tend to do larger gatherings at onsens or restaurants instead of anyone's home. If people don't invite you to their home, don't be offended."

"Trash is also a very, very big deal. Some places have over 10 categories of garbage which must be sorted, cleaned, and placed out on the morning of the appropriate day, not the night before. People take this quite seriously. Lastly, that super crazy expensive fruit you see in the store is for gifting. It costs more because it's grown to be very pretty and packaged well. Reasonably priced fruit exists."


3."New Zealand: Everyone who works in an office of some description does the five-minute quiz every day with their colleagues, usually during morning tea."

coworkers gathered in the stairwell of an office all looking at a document

4."Netherlands: We are not hospitable people by culture, and we always eat dinner at 18:00 (6 p.m.). If there are visitors in the house, we always gently shoo them out if it is near 18:00. Dining with a Dutch person is quite rare."


"We don’t have a culinary tradition at all here. For us, breaking bread is not a ritual. Food is fuel, that’s all. I’m personally not like that, but many of us are."


5."Spain: Shops close in the middle of the day not because of the siesta, but because it is a MANDATORY lunch break forced by the companies who hire only one person for the morning and afternoon shifts. Workers are not sleeping, they are having lunch and killing time until the afternoon opening hours."

someone putting up a sign that reads "closed" in spanish
Lourdes Balduque / Getty Images

6."Norway: We have so many hiking trails and little cottages you can stay in overnight for next to nothing. If you like hiking, definitely come here. Just know that when the trail info says it takes four hours, it actually does take four hours of active walking. I've met so many people who complain about the length of the hike because they are in normal shape and expect the trail to take less time for them. Also, I beg of you, for the love of god, no flip-flops in the mountains."


7."Turkey: Avoid restaurants in touristy places, places that actively try to attract tourists, and taxis as much as possible. And Istanbul is a city full of hills, so be prepared for some cardio. Also, avoid talking about politics."

a table in a restaurant featuring a large turkish breakfast
Guven Ozdemir / Getty Images

8."There are a few for Serbia. Take your shoes off when entering the home. Shops, markets, restaurants, etc. work on Sunday. Everybody has a strong opinion on any topic and is willing to spend time and coffee to express it. There is no 'splitting bills' in a bar/restaurant; everybody argues about it, and the one who is most persistent or cagey pays as some kind of a 'win.' If you are hungry in an urban area, there is some food to buy within a five-minute walking distance."


9."Belgium is, in fact, just one big city. We do eat fries on an almost weekly basis, but the waffles are a rarer occurrence. We are also perfectly fine eating bread twice a day."

someone holding a cone of fries on a belgian street
Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

10."At home in the United States, food is engrained in the culture as a love language. If you have long-term friends over and they want a drink, I was raised to say, 'You know where the fridge, glasses, and ice are — help yourself!' If friends are visiting you and it’s dinner time, you’re always invited to supper as it’s polite to offer. Grocery shopping is a weekly event, not daily or monthly depending on locations. In the South, where some of my relatives are from, I am always addressed as 'Miss' — it’s respectful and not poking at your age."


11."In Taiwan, cash is still the number one form of payment, and many places may not accept cards at all. The number four is unlucky and left off many elevators, just like 13 in the States. Kitchens are seen as unnecessary in many apartments because eating out is so cheap and convenient."

people ordering food from a street market in taiwan
Itsskin / Getty Images

12."Mexico: We're more formal here than the US. We get dressed every day, and not in athleisure. Some/most people do hair and makeup for basic errands or family days. Shorts and flip-flops are rare, even in beach towns. Think smart casual to get groceries. Family is important. Restaurants always have huge tables because multiple generations and big families go out to eat. Restaurants have family meals more often than not. Costco is bougie, at least for some people. A Costco membership is a flex."

a large group of people eating at a table and raising their glasses
Ferrantraite / Getty Images

13."In Lithuania, most of us are really welcoming people. If you are our guest, there will be food at the table, sometimes a lot. If it's a quick and unexpected visit, you will definitely get tea or coffee and some sweets! If you are a close friend/relative, there is a big chance you'll get some food packed to take with you."

"Most people prefer basketball rather than football (we call it football, some parts of the world say it's soccer), and most of them are very passionate about it. We tend to be direct without being rude! So if you ask us something in a polite way, you'll get the answer."


14."Philippines: Most Filipinos love gossip, but I can assure you that we are very welcoming and generous to the point where even if we don't have money, we will find ways to give you good food as a welcome. Strangers can also be trusted."

a family sharing a meal in the philippines
Lynzy Billing / Getty Images

15."German efficiency seems to go out of the window when it comes to anything to do with the government. Old gray buildings full of people gripping to pieces of paper with their number on it, hoping that they are queuing in the correct line for their query. Also, official documentation is written in such a way that leaves even native speakers second guessing what they might actually mean."


16."Austria: Accordion music and lederhosen might look fun on a postcard, but in real life, it's a living hell. Every 'fest,' every time, without fail. It's like time stopped in 1945. It's cash-only in so many places still! I once used my watch to pay for something in a supermarket, and people crowded around me like apes looking at fire for the first time."

a close-up of a musician's hand playing the accordian
Gina Pricope / Getty Images

17."As for my homeland of Canada: Yes, weed is legal and pretty normalized, but that doesn't mean you can just smoke up anywhere. Keep it to your patio or maybe a park bench far away from everyone else. When people are friendly with you, it's typically very genuine, but depending on where you are, they can also be exceptionally cold (Vancouver). We're very aware of our similarity to the US but don't like to acknowledge it. Comparisons are generally unwelcome."


18."Croatia: It's more expensive than most people think. Most people actually live in the capital, Zagreb, and most things like concerts and businesses happen there more often than in the nice coastal towns that people know about and see on social media."

a view of the skyline in zagreb, croatia during sunset
Chain45154 / Getty Images

19."Finland is a bilingual country, and everyone has to learn both Finnish and Swedish at school, but most Finnish-speaking Finns will very quickly switch to English if you try to speak Swedish to them. Theoretically, though, you should always be able to get service in Swedish in any government institution."

"You can't buy strong alcohol or even wine from grocery stores, you have to go to the state monopoly shop Alko. Which, by the way, isn't open on Sundays. All takeaway alcohol sales are also limited to between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. If the lights go off and on again in a bar, it means you can't buy any more alcohol and the bar is going to close in 30 minutes. There is no warning for this."


Are there any customs from your country that tourists may be surprised to find out? Let us know in the comments or fill out this form if you prefer to remain anonymous!

Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.