I love to travel and I plan many of the trips with my family. Sometimes, I have to pause and think about whether it’s worth it to visit certain famous attractions, or if it’s just one big tourist trap we could skip.
Defining Tourist Trap
Tourist trap is defined as “an establishment, or group of establishments, that has been created or re-purposed with the aim of attracting tourists and their money. Tourist traps will typically provide services, entertainment, food, souvenirs and other products for tourists to purchase.“
While I enjoyed some off-the-beaten paths during my travels, I actually quite enjoy some of the more popular destinations. This is despite knowing that some of those places are tourist traps.
Some Famous Tourist Traps
Not surprisingly, Times Square in New York is often considered a tourist trap.
I stayed near the heart of Times Square a handful for times. It’s not a place that I’d want to visit often, simply because I don’t like huge crowds. This isn’t something you can avoid when you are at Times Square.
Another common tourist trap is the Eiffel Tower. I bought little souvenirs there, and I took the obligatory “I-am-standing-in-front of-Eiffel-Tower” picture.
I even knew that the Dole Plantation in Hawaii is a major tourist trap. The first time I visited, we took the Pineapple Express Train Tour and ordered delicious pineapple flavored ice-cream at the shop. When I visited Hawaii earlier this year, Dole Plantation made the list again (mostly for my Dad who was visiting Hawaii for the first time).
In fact, we made it touristy. We rode the Pineapple Express Train (yes, again), purchased trinkets at the store, and completed the Pineapple Garden Maze. According to their own website, the maze was “declared the world’s largest maze” back in 2008.
Redefining Tourist Trap (What it is?)
Over time, I’ve changed my own definition of what “tourist trap” is and what it means to me.
If I enjoy the activity and feel happy about it, it’s not a tourist trap even if it is at a touristy destination.
If it’s something I regret doing or paying, then I consider it a tourist trap.
Fortunately, I don’t have a lot of regrets. The one notable exception is the Pick a Pearl experience at Dole Plantation. I’ve never seen a “Pick a Pearl” in action so I was intrigued. The sales staff and their sales pitches were convincing, without being pushy. They even allowed us to have multiple “pick a pearl” experiences if I just buy a setting for the pearl.
So I did.
I am not too big on jewelry and it wasn’t something I was planning to buy. I think I instantly regretted my purchase the moment I walked away. Or at least I felt a twinge of buyer’s remorse and thought that maybe – just maybe – that I just got suckered into a tourist trap.
What places have you visited that you would consider a total tourist attractions/traps? Would you still recommend these attractions(s) to others?