1. Pick a place and time to start. Germany is a big country, full of history, architectural wonder and celebration. So unless you have a month, you might want to break it into manageable sections – and take more than one trip!
2. Bring your language dictionary. Most Germans speak English, but like every other nation, they really appreciate a little effort on your part.
3. Don’t make jokes about Hitler. You can be arrested. Germans can be sensitive about their past and jokes about the horrors of WWII are not thought to be funny at all – big surprise. Though it seems redundant to mention, there has been a recent surge in tourist arrests for this very offence.
4. Carry your passport. German police can ask you for ID at any time, and though it isn’t likely to happen, you are expected to have some.
5. Smile, be friendly. German people are generally very friendly, and interested in different cultures. I have made a new friend on each of my visits, and have even had a number of locals go out of their way to help and accommodate me.
6. Bring more than one memory card for your camera. Much of Germany is very picturesque. The towns are quaint – especially if you are lucky enough to be happening upon somewhere that has retained its medieval core – and the countryside is lush, rolling and green. I took thousands of photos during my last visit, and on the one prior I found myself hunting for a place to buy memory cards. Not the most fun way to spend a day of your European holiday!
7. Know some of the history of where you are going. The depth of your tour can be amplified, just by doing a little prior research. And while this can be said of any country, Germany has a particularly full and rich history – and not just because of war – also in regards to nobility, community and commerce.
Germany is an affable country, with a crime rate comparable to Canada. Though every place has its pickpockets, you don’t need to sew a secret money stash into your undershirt to survive the major cities. Most of Germany is quite affordable. It makes it onto the list of cheapest places in Europe – though it sits at number 20. And Germany is clean. You don’t need to worry about what you might find if you are staying in a traveller hostel.