It’s officially the start of fall—and the start of fall means one of the largest international events in the world, Oktoberfest. Kicking off in mid-September, Oktoberfest’s headlining event is in Munich, considered the world’s largest fair. However, other Oktoberfest celebrations take place throughout Germany, and beyond. So be it your first Oktoberfest, or planning a future trip to Germany, check out a few of my Germany travel tips below.
Travel with cash.
If you’ve never been to Germany, then you may be surprised to discover how dependent it is on cash transactions. You aren’t going to be swiping your card or using Apple Pay like you may have in other European countries. But unless you have a bank that doesn’t charge fees or inflated rates, I’d recommend just getting cash out of a bank ATM upon arriving to Germany. However, don’t just carry all of that cash around your entire trip. Take advantage of your hotel room’s safe-deposit box (if it has one).
Tip 5 – 10 percent.
Tipping in Europe isn’t like it is in America. A 15 – 20 percent tip, for example, is exorbitant. And Germany is no exception. Tipping is expected, but 5 – 10 percent is a good rule of thumb. Additionally, at places like restaurants, proper etiquette is to actually hand the tip to your waiter, rather than leaving it on the table, which can be considered rude. For taxi drivers and bartenders you can often just round up. For something like €9, give them €10. For higher prices like €47, then round up to €50.
If you hadn’t already gathered, punctuality is very important in Germany. And that couldn’t be more important for business travelers. Even being a few minutes late can be considered rude. If you are running even just a few minutes late, call the person you’re meeting ahead of time. Furthermore, expect that buses, trains and other modes of transportation are going to leave exactly at the time they’re scheduled to. In fact, you’re much better off arriving well early for anything in Germany. Germany doesn’t recognize island time.
Get a rail pass.
Train travel is one of my favorite things about Europe, and that couldn’t be truer than for Germany. In Germany, their transportation system is actually considered one of the most sophisticated in the world. Not to mention that traveling by train is typically faster and more comfortable than every other mode of transportation. If you plan on traveling around the country, then a rail pass is a great value. Consider getting a German Rail Pass if Germany is your only destination, or a Eurail Pass if you’ll be visiting other parts of Europe. Otherwise, you can typically just buy a train ticket at the station. However, for some longer train routes, you can book it ahead of time to save money.
Brush up on your German with a language-learning app.
By and large, staff that you encounter at hotels, restaurants, and transportation hubs will know English. However, don’t just assume it. As such, it’s helpful, and respectful, to at least know some generic phrases before going to Germany. If you don’t pick up a German phrasebook, then consider downloading an app, such as TripLingo, which is geared for international travelers to learn essential phrases. For a more proper app for learning German, I recommend Duolingo, a free language-learning app and website. Lastly, I suggest downloading Google Translate to translate words and phrases on the go.