Have you ever traveled to another country only to realize their way of doing things is, perhaps, revolutionary? Whether it be buying a bottle of wine from Italian street vendors or an umbrella from a Japanese vending machine, the world is full of unique solutions that leave us gobsmacked.
While America is the glorious land of the free and home of the brave, we can take a few notes from other countries when it comes to their innovative products and recreational laws; we’ve collected some of the weirdest and most delightful of these customs to inspire you to travel the globe more often!
1. Romanian vodka boxes: Now this is what we call innovation at its finest. While the kiddies are enjoying their Mott’s apple juice boxes, mommy and daddy will be sipping from their adult juice boxes; and no, you cannot have some.
2. Japanese heated mirrors: You’re in a rush. You just finished showering, and you still have to do your hair and makeup with 25 minutes to spare. There’s no time for a foggy mirror moment! Well, Japan has super convenient heated mirrors to solve this very issue.
3. Japanese toilet audio: You know that awful moment when trying to stealthily produce a bowel movement in a public bathroom… and there’s dead silence. Well, Japan has a solution for those shy poopers: some toilet stalls offer the option of white noise or music!
u/mikieliza / Reddit
4. Australian candy-free check-out: Shopping with a child repeatedly tugging on your arm demanding “I want this!” can be a headache-and-a-half, so when you’ve finally reached the check-out, you’re at the home stretch. Well, this Australian supermarket eliminates the final hurdle that is the impulse candy section!
5. Japanese moving trucks: Moving is always an exciting installment in a person’s life, but transporting all of those personal belongings, specifically furniture, is a nightmare. Why hasn’t America jumped on the Transformers moving truck bandwagon?
u/Biflindi / Reddit
6. Japanese smart phone cleaners: We bring our phones everywhere; like, everywhere. It turns out that scrolling Twitter while sitting on the toilet isn’t exactly sanitary. But since we probably won’t stop that nasty habit, these handy Japanese smart phone sanitizers are a godsend.
7. European free museums: Attending American museums comes with that dreaded “suggested donation” conundrum. You’ll be getting a harsh side-eye if you don’t shell out a few bucks. In Europe on the other hand, museum goers are encouraged to enjoy art and culture for free!
8. Danish hygge: America should really be adopting the Danish concept of hygge, which puts coziness, wellness, contentment, and togetherness on a pedestal. Valuing intimacy and cuddling up by a fire is something we can all get on board with. Now someone fetch us our slippers!
The Journal Pioneer
9. French lunches: As Americans, we know the time-sensitive pain of vacuuming lunch into our mouths so we can speedily return to work. But the French don’t have a care in the world when it comes to lunch breaks. They eat their baguettes in slow motion.
10. Japanese toilet slippers: The Japanese tend to be inventively hygienic. Traditional Japanese households request you replace your muddy shoes at the door with a pair of comfy slippers. To avoid dragging potty germs around the house, Japanese hosts often supply “toilet slippers” as well!
11. Portuguese ATMs: We all know that infuriating moment when realizing a restaurant is “cash only.” But scavenging for an ATM in Portugal is a non-issue. Not only are ATMs everywhere, but you can even purchase movie and event tickets on them!
12. Japanese single dining: Sometimes we just want to eat our ramen noodles in peace. While the grandeur of a restaurant is always enticing, meaningless small talk is not. Thankfully, Japan has normalized the concept of “low-interaction dining,” which involves cozy “isolation booths,” and we love it.
13. Japanese underground bike garages: When traveling on an ever so eco-friendly bicycle, finding a “parking space” is a quest. So you’re not forced to chain your vehicle to a tree, Japan offers ingenious underground bike garages, which save space and prevent thievery!
14. Norwegian russefeiring: Rather than celebrating high school graduation with a calm family party, Norwegian grads lose their minds during a booze-filled, three-week tradition called “Russ.” In a tacky, pimped-out bus, the teens travel, party, and take on risky dares. It’s a bananas rite of passage.
@drammenlive24 / Instagram
15. Australian meter maids: In America, letting your parking meter run dry is pretty chancy; you risk getting a ticket. But Aussies can stay calm, because the glitzy Gold Coast Meter Maids have been generously refilling hungry meters since 1965. It’s a kitsch part of Australian history!
Gold Coast Bulletin
16. French restaurant portions: If America embodied one of the seven deadly sins, it would be gluttony. Jumbo portions rule the American diet. While Frenchies enjoy good food, they keep their portions healthy. Perhaps we should follow suit.
ILoveParis / YouTube
17. Venezuelan punctuality: You’re dashing out the door with one arm in a coat sleeve and unkempt hair, all in hopes of being punctual. Amazingly, in Venezuela strict punctuality is considered rude! Venezuelans would rather you chill out and arrive 10 to 15 minutes late.
Sugar Pie Tees
18. European vacation time: Imagine being entitled to four weeks paid vacation time (in comparison to America’s crummy average of two weeks vacation time, which isn’t always paid). Work would be more pleasurable with 28 days of paid relaxation to anticipate. Those carefree Europeans have it good.
19. Japanese subway pushers: New Yorkers know the actual hell that is the subway system, which often involves noses nuzzled into strangers’ armpits. Japan is no stranger to this either, and they’ve got designated subway pushers to sandwich as many people together as possible.
johnwhye / WordPress
While Japan’s subways are, um, efficient, other subway systems across the globe are recognized for their stunning architecture, energy efficiency, art, etc. Since people are often in a rush to catch their train, they miss out on these underground worlds stuffed with culture.
2. Stockholm (Sweden): One of the most beautiful subway systems in the world is the Stockholm Metro. The network opened in 1950, and 90 of the 100 stations are adorned with statues and paintings. Each station is totally unique.
Wander the Map
3. Athens (Greece): The Athens Metro consists of three lines and a total of 61 stations. When engineers were excavating the areas where they wanted to build the metro, they discovered a ton of archaeological artifacts!
4. Singapore (Republic of Singapore): Like many things in Singapore, their metro system is modern, clean, and efficient. The Singapore subway is extremely energy efficient and is active in helping reduce the region’s carbon footprint. Additionally, the tunnels are equipped with cell service and double as bomb shelters.
5. Dubai (United Arab Emirates): The subway cars on this system are driverless. There are currently only two different lines, the Red and Green, both of which opened in 2009. The cars are separated into sections Gold (first class), Women and children, and standard.
Ads_dxb / Instagram
6. New York, New York (United States): The first public transit system in the city was a 12-seat stagecoach also known as “Accommodation.” It wasn’t until 1904 that the first subway system debuted — the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT). It covered 9.1 miles with 28 different stations.
More than 100 years later, the New York City subway system is one of the most extensive subway systems in the world. It features 472 different stations across 27 lines within four different boroughs. It’s also one of few systems to run service 24/7.
Times of Israel
7. Cairo (Egypt): There are only two cities in Africa that have underground subway systems, and Cairo’s one of them. The Metro Cairo opened in 1990 and consists of just two lines. There are plans to create two more to help accommodate the 500 million people who use the subway annually.
Villaintonio / Instagram
8. Beijing (China): This bustling city holds the world’s second-longest subway system. Construction started in the ’60s and trains opened for use in 1969. There are a total of 20 different lines, which span 380 miles.
9. Santiago (Chile): This city offers South America’s most extensive subway system. The Santiago Metro currently has 73 miles of tracks and, as of 2018, is scheduled to get an additional 20 miles installed.
10. Tokyo (Japan): Two separate entities run Japan’s subway systems. The Tokyo Metro is owned and operated by a private holder and consists of nine lines. The public Toei Subway is owned and operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. They aren’t fully connected, but you can use a prepaid card to transfer between stations.
11. Mexico City (Mexico): The Greater Mexico City area didn’t have a form of fast transit until the 1960s. This system now has 12 lines (the twelfth of which opened in 2012), and about four million people ride the subway per day.
Daryl Thetford / Instagram
12. London (United Kingdom): The underground train system, commonly known as “the Tube,” is the world’s oldest subway system. Underground trains have been running since as early as 1863 along the Metropolitan Railway.
Kiara Premereur / Instagram
The first electric Tube line wasn’t operational until 1890. Today, about 1.35 billion passengers ride the tube each year from one of the 270 stations throughout the city.
13. Delhi (India): As of 2018, this subway system was fairly new, as the Delhi Metro didn’t open until 2002. The system has 160 different stations that are located at elevated or ground-level locations. On each train, the first car is reserved for female passengers only.
The Gori Details
14. Chicago, Illinois (United States): Built in 1897, the “L” in Chicago is the oldest rapid-transit system. Today, the whole network — which services about 238 million per year — is a combination of elevated, subway, and ground-level segments.
15. Moscow (Russia): The Stalinist-era design of this subway system — which is the busiest rail system in the world — boasts marble walls, chandeliers, and mosaics. The 200-station subway system transports about nine million people per day.
16. Istanbul (Turkey): The first underground transit system, the Tünel began service in 1875. However, a modern subway system didn’t operate in the city until the light metro line in 1989, and a fully operational line wasn’t active until 2000.
17. Berlin (Germany): In Germany, people use two different rail systems: the U-Bahn (Untergrundbahn, “underground railway”) and the S-Bahn (Stadtschnellbahn, “city rapid railway”). The U-Bahn opened in 1902, while the S-Bahn didn’t open until 1924. The U-Bahn alone spans about 90 miles with 10 lines that service 173 stations.
18. Toronto (Canada): The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) opened Canada’s first ever subway line in 1954. That one line had 12 stations. Today, Toronto has four different lines and 75 stations throughout the city.
416ingtilldeath / Instagram
19. Paris (France): The Métro is the second-busiest subway system in the world. The system itself has 16 different lines with around 300 different subway stations. It opened in 1900 at the same time as the Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair).
Remy De La Mauviniere
Ahh, the joys of public transportation. Every day, millions of people ride the subway and that means people from all walks of life are briefly thrown together. And since there’s such a mishmash of different personalities riding together, you often see some pretty wacky stuff…
1. Are these guys off to save the day… on the train? You’d think superheroes would opt for a quicker way of racing to the rescue. Maybe the crime they’re trying to put an end to is long wait times on the subway platforms.
2. Everyone likes to get comfortable when they ride the subway, but it’s hard to believe this position actually feels better than sitting in a seat. Of course, he could be a professional trapeze artist, and this is just how he lounges.
3. “Don’t mind me. I’m just feeding Cheerios to my pink rooster.” Man, this is bizarre. Also, what’s up with the skeleton decor? Maybe it’s Halloween, and this dazzling bird is going trick-or-treating.
4. This guy looks like he came to Earth from a far-off galaxy. When he asked someone to take him to their leader, the person answered, “Just take the 6 train down to Houston Street. He’ll be there.”
5. Lots of people listen to music while commuting, but not many of them get the chance to listen to live music played by a werewolf. You can imagine the lyrics probably involve a lot of howls, which may not be the greatest thing to hear early in the morning.
6. The wizarding world of Harry Potter is supposed to be pretend, right? Well, it appears that somewhere in New York City, every single character from the books can be found. If you know where to look…
7. Hey, we all could use some emotional advice sometimes, but what kind of advice could a young boy possibly give to people who have lived so much longer than him? Maybe he’s just an old soul in disguise.
8. Okay, who brought the cheetah on the bus? No matter which direction this person with the startling scarf is looking, they’re always watching you from behind. So, don’t try anything funny!
9. This guy is literally the definition of “rocket man.” Look at how he hovers with both feet off the ground for nearly half the subway car! This is clearly the second best use for fire extinguishers.
10. When your subway is held up but you have an important business meeting to hold, what do you do? Break out a makeshift desk and hold it right then and there, of course!
11. We all know the slogan for Snickers is “Hungry? Why wait?” but this picture proves the slogan for the subway could be the exact same thing. That man in the red hat is not amused by this woman’s appetite.
12. Sometimes you wake up late and just don’t have time to do everything you need to freshen up. Thankfully, subway benches appear to be perfect places to complete your morning routine… not!
13. Apparently, after a random unopened bottle of champagne rolled out from underneath the subway seat, the man in the suit popped it open and gave the guy next to him a toast. Here’s to making friends on the way to work!
14. It’d be nearly impossible to sit next to this lady and not have the urge to politely ask, “Can I please pop some of your hat?” Her headwear serves two purposes: it protects her from inclement weather, and it gives her something to do when she’s bored!
15. Even though this is quite a creepy cat costume, the velvet does look extremely comfortable. But, can they even see out of that thing? If not, hopefully, this feline has their own seeing eye dog.
16. You can go ahead and assume this lady’s favorite color is blue. You know, based on the fact that her trash bag is blue, and that the pyramid on her head is blue. On second thought… You probably shouldn’t ask her though.
17. Whoa, that’s a lot of cans and bottles. Whoever is on their way to the bottle deposit to cash these in must be saving up for something special, like a new pair of expensive shoes, or maybe a lifetime supply of soda.
18. It’s not a shock when people bring their pets like dogs and cats onto subway cars, but a peacock? This guy better hope that his beloved bird doesn’t spread those feathers because he’ll be invading a lot of personal space if he does!
19. Either this plant has sprouted out of a man’s body, or a man’s body began growing on the base of this plant. Or, this guy just got back from harvesting his hydroponic room. You know what they say: it’s always 4:20 somewhere…
20. Well, someone is heading off to a party, and whatever they’re celebrating must be epic. The only thing they need to worry about is someone running through the subway car with a sharp object.