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The Dutch benefit from more annual leave than any of their European counterparts, meaning that they have ample opportunity to indulge in one of their favourite pastimes – holidays! On average the Dutch take at least two annual holidays of more than a week and supplement this with shorter breaks spread throughout the year.
While a large percentage of Dutch enjoy exploring far flung, exotic lands, a good number prefer to stick closer to home. Over three million opt to spend their holidays in the Netherlands, choosing a holiday cottage in some of the country’s most picturesque regions such as Friesland and Zeeland or a camping trip in the green hills of pretty Limburg.
More than eight million Dutch, however, insist on decent weather and favour a holiday abroad, where sunshine and blue skies are more or less guaranteed. France has been the number one Dutch holiday destination for many years, trailed closely by Germany, Spain and Turkey. Despite going out of fashion for a few years, Spain’s reliably warm climate and economical prices have helped it remain an incredibly popular destination for the budget conscious, Dutch traveller.
The Dutch love going back to basics and camping is without doubt their most preferred way to holiday. Despite a reduction in the volume of car trips (largely attributed to a spike in petrol prices in 2011), the Dutch seem reluctant to give up their beloved caravan, campervan or tent. And they bring everything but the kitchen sink along with them for the ride!
A recent survey on what the Dutch take with them on holiday was conducted by Royal Peijnenburg, a famous Dutch manufacturer of ‘ontbijtkoek’ (low fat gingerbread). It was incredibly revealing!
A whopping 44 percent of Dutch tourists seemingly cannot survive without a regular taste from home and stuff their car boot or suitcase full of typical Dutch food products before leaving. Traditional Dutch sweets such as ‘drop’ (liquorice) are a popular choice, taken to appreciate both on the journey and throughout the holiday. Other favourite Dutch food items routinely included in holiday supplies are ‘hagelslag’ (chocolate sprinkles) and ‘pindakaas’ (peanut butter). Whilst Hagelslag is almost impossible to purchase outside of the Netherlands or Belgium, the Dutch also pack many items that are widely available abroad, including standard tea and coffee. The Dutch insist that their home brands are best and many foreign products simply don’t live up to their high standards. Cheese is a perfect illustration of this – despite holidaying in countries renowned for exceptional cheeses such as France, Italy and Spain, the Dutch still prefer a slice of Gouda, Old Amsterdam or the ever popular cheese spread, ‘Eru Goudkuipje’!
Curiously they don’t only pack delicacies, but everyday food items such as cans of ‘erwtensoep’ (pea soup), jars of ‘appelmoes’ (apple sauce), bottles of ‘fritesaus’ (a variety of mayonnaise) and even bags of potatoes. The reasons for this are unclear, although many believe that the Dutch are merely living up to their thrifty reputation and are concerned about higher foreign prices, particularly in tourist hot spots. Of course, many supermarket items are in fact cheaper than in the Netherlands, so this is not always an effective strategy. The Dutch frequently assert that Dutch food is healthier and cite this as a reason for taking Dutch products abroad. Yet they cannot argue with research that shows six out of every ten Dutch holiday makers actually gain weight on holiday!
It would appear that the greatest motive for bringing Dutch food stuffs on holiday, has nothing to do with financial or health reasons. Rather Dutch holiday makers worry that they won’t be able to obtain their best loved treats abroad. And it seems that holidays are a time to enjoy a break from diets too and the perfect holiday just isn’t complete without a delicious pack of Dutch stroopwafels (syrup waffles) or tasty hamkas (ham and cheese flavoured) crisps to enjoy by the evening the campfire!
Souvenirs of the Edible Variety
This might lead you to believe that the Dutch are not very adventurous when it comes to foreign food. Surprisingly, the Dutch see a holiday abroad as an ideal opportunity to sample unique and unusual recipes and often purchase food items as edible souvenirs. Fragrant spices, local honeys, home made jams, pungent olive oils, sweets and chocolate are all snapped up in large quantities and Dutch visitors to Spain, France and Italy rarely leave without a few boxes of quality wine for the collection back home.