I’m sure you’re very excited now that you’ve booked your trip to Germany. You’re likely excited thinking about all of the many castles, breweries, vineyards etc. But you may also be brainstorming to come up with things that you may forget! In this article we will attempt to get you as prepared as possible, so that once you get there, you’re prepared and ready to maximize your enjoyment.
I can’t go over every little detail in this article, but I’ll go over the most important things.
1. Currency Conversion – Currently, Germany is using the Euro. So you’ll need to convert your currency to Euro. You can either do this at a local bank in your Country of origin, or you can bring some cash with you and convert it at the airport. Once in Germany there are ATM’s, just like in the U.S. and other Countries, but you’ll want to get some Euro right away so you can buy food and get transportation, so be prepared and don’t forget to convert your cash into Euro as soon as possible. For more, see our page about German currency.
2. Power Conversion – If you’re from the U.S. this is very important and I’m sure it is also regularly overlooked. If you plug your U.S. appliances into a power outlet in Germany there is a possibility of your appliance being ruined! That’s because German power outlets have a 220 volt output, while U.S. power outlets have 110. Many newer appliances are “dual voltage” meaning you can plug them into either and the appliance will recognize it and operate just fine, but older appliances and some newer appliances (usually smaller things like phones) are NOT dual voltage! You will need a power converter if you want to use any electrical device/appliance in Germany that is 110. For more info on this, see our page on the dangers and cautions while in Germany.
3. Transportation – Obviously, you’ll need to understand how the transportation system in Germany works! This is extremely important, as if you just show up and try to figure things out on your own, you may be in for a rude awakening! Don’t be alarmed, it’s not incredibly difficult to understand, but I highly recommend getting things figured out ahead of time, rather than trying to figure it all out once you’re there! The train system will be your best friend, as there are trains that go everywhere. Learn how it works ahead of time… you can even get train schedules and maps online from DeutschBahn. For more info, see our page about getting around in Germany.
4. Emergency Prep – In the U.S. you simply dial 911 from any phone for any type of emergency. In Germany the number is 110. Technically 110 is for the Police (Polizei) and 112 is for fire and ambulance, but if you call 110 they will dispatch whatever you need, so just remember 110. Remember that! For more information and numbers, see our page on emergencies while in Germany.
5. Communication – Your cell phone may or may not work in Germany! It all depends on the type of phone you have and the type of service you have. If it does work, you may end up with a large big after your trip. For these reasons it is very important to get in touch with your cell phone provider ahead of time and figure out exactly how your phone works and how your plan is setup, including what options you have. For more info on this, see our page about cell phones in Germany.
6. Driving – Believe it or not, even though you’ve never past a driving test and have likely never even see German driving study guide, you can legally drive a rental in Germany. For the most part, driving in Germany is very similar to driving in the U.S. However, there are a few differences and those few differences can be VERY dangerous if you’re not aware of them! For one, there are many intersections in Germany where there are no stop signs or lights but you are expected yield. Failure to do so could cause an accident. Also, there is no right before left rule and you cannot turn right on red. For more info on this, see our page about driving while in Germany.
7. Red Light District – In most German towns, and every big city, there are areas known as the “Red Light District.” Obviously I can’t tell you exactly where each one is, as there are so many, but you will want to stay away from these areas –> ESPECIALLY <– if you will be traveling with children! The red light districts are full of drug dealers/users, prostitutes and various other dangerous people. They are generally not difficult to spot … just think of the bad “side of town” in any big city of your home Country. That’s basically what the red light districts amount to. They are often very close to the train stations, so just be vigilant when taking walks outside of train stations and while downtown of any city or town especially if you will be traveling with children! For more info on this, see our page on the dangers of Germany.
These are the most important things to keep in mind when planning your trip to Germany. As I mentioned before, there are many other things to keep in mind, but these, I would say, are the most important. Enjoy your trip! I hope thise tips help you prevent anything bad that could potentially happen. Overall Germany is a safe and fun Country to visit.