10 Rookie Mistakes To Avoid When Traveling In Europe

When traveling anywhere in the world, there are do's and don'ts that can help make your trip go smoother. These are the ten biggest faux pas that travelers and locals insist you should avoid when going to Europe.

1. Don't Let Anyone Hand You Objects Like Flowers

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It's a typical tourist scam, one person says, for people in major cities to place objects like flowers in an unsuspecting tourist's hands and then demand that they pay for it.

Many other commenters even insist that they have had people offer them these things for free only to request money afterward and switch from a sweet to a cold demeanor. You can avoid these situations entirely by not taking things from strangers. A few travelers warn this is extremely popular in Rome and Paris.

2. Take Advantage of the Public Transport

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When in Europe, do as the Europeans do. That means using public transport. One user advises renting a car in Europe is unnecessary if you stay in a major capital. Public transport and Uber can get you from A to B. If you rent a car in Europe, be mindful that you'll likely be given a manual car as a default unless you request an automatic one.

3. Be Respectful At Holocaust Memorials & Museums

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This isn't a time to laugh or take duck lip selfies. Germany takes disrespect of Holocaust victims very seriously — it's illegal to do the nazi salute, even as a joke. Many people advise that you avoid taking videos or photos at all.

This is a place for silent commemoration and reflection. Laughing is inappropriate, given the context, which may seem obvious. However, there have been instances of tourists mocking, laughing, and misbehaving in these memorials.

4. Store Your Wallet In Your Front Pocket

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A commenter warns that you should keep your wallet in front of you to avoid pickpocketing. Whether you keep your wallet in your pocket or a purse, position it in front, not to the side or behind your body. This will make it much more difficult for anyone to grab it.

Another argues that you're better off avoiding fancy phone wallets because if someone steals them, you've lost a bunch of valuables. They add, carry as little as you require to minimize the risk of pickpocketing. If it happens, it's better to be a cancellable credit card than your passport.

5. Don't Expect Stores & Restaurants to Be Open During the Same Hours as Your Home Country

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Though it varies by country and region, one person responded by saying that you shouldn't expect stores or restaurants to be open all the time like they may be in countries like the U.S. While in America, most grocery stores won't ever close before 9:00 pm, they say that European grocery stores close quite early.

A lot of places are closed on weekends, they continued. You may need to arrange your plans around the operating hours of certain stores and restaurants.

6. Be Mindful of Cultural Norms

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According to many users, the American stereotype of being loud and rude is usually because of a misunderstanding of cultural norms and manners. They recommend being polite but direct about what you want. Another provided the context that Americans often talk in circles to ask for what they want rather than being straightforward about their requests.

While making small talk in most U.S. places may be typical, another commenter said Europeans don't like small talk, especially in the northern countries. Likewise, others comment that tipping is not a cultural norm and can be viewed as disrespectful. As one person put it perfectly, “Americans, tone it down.”

7. Falling in Canals & Walking on Bicycle Paths in the Netherlands

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According to a Dutch user, tourists frequently fall into canals and block bike paths when they visit the Netherlands. Some joked, “what country should I go to if I want to fall into canals?”

Someone from Delft clarifies it's super common for tourists to fall into canals when the water is high because “eendenkroos,” or duckweeds, cover the water and look like grass. As far as the bike paths go, someone suggests you avoid using them altogether, even if you bike all the time in the U.S. because there's an entirely different rhythm.

8. Eating At Restaurants In Touristy Areas With Photos of the Food and Prices Featured on the Window

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Supposedly, those restaurants that plaster signs with photos and prices of their food outside their restaurant are the last places you should dine. These places are famous for scamming tourists. One person provided useful tips: 

  1. Take photo evidence of the menu to double-check prices.
  2. If they claim the card reader doesn't work, you should ask to see it.
  3. If they tell you there's no wifi or cell service, you can check the signal on the card reader.
  4. Check that they are not upsizing your orders to charge you more, such as bringing you large fries when you asked for regular.
  5. Make sure you got what you ordered, and don't accept anything else brought to your table.
  6. Beware that the water is not free.

9. Buying an Overpriced International Phone Plan

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Avoid international phone services like the plague. Instead, ensure your phone is unlocked to accept sim cards from other carriers. Then, wait to buy a cheap sim card at the airport when you arrive at your destination.

This will be much cheaper and get you more bang for your buck. One person said they bought a cheap sim card in Seville, Spain, for 12 euros, and it provided them with a month of service and 9 GB of data — a far better deal.

10. Splitting Airport Cabs With Random People

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Okay, this one is admittedly a joke, as one user suggests you avoid splitting airport cabs with creepy dudes unless your dad is Liam Neeson. However, this is honestly good advice, and someone may genuinely try to split a cab with you.

Don't split cabs with people you don't know, whether it's a creepy man or not. A few people shared sketchy personal stories about weird things that happened to them when they were too trusting of people they didn't know. Better safe than sorry.

This thread inspired this post.

This article appeared on The Money Dreamer.

Jaimee Marshall
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