Travel Like a Pro: Avoid these Common Pitfalls When Traveling To Europe

Europe holds a mystical appeal for a lot of Americans. Schools teach us European culture and history, while many of our families originated someplace on the ancient continent. 

Visiting Europe

aerial view of Paris with the eiffel tower in it
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 Visiting Europe tops many of our travel bucket lists. However, tourists need to be wary. Not everything in Europe is magical. 

While scrolling through my favorite internet community I stumbled upon a thread asking users to share the real-world experience of what you should avoid on a European vacation. 

If you plan on traveling across the pond, you may want to heed some of this sage advice!

Watch Out for Canals

One of Amsterdam's canals on a bright day with the buildings surrounding it.
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Far too many tourists fall into canals in Amsterdam and other European cities. The US doesn’t have many cities with canals, so Americans don’t often think about how to navigate them, especially after a night of partying.

“On average, each year, 15 men die from being drunk and peeing in the canal,” shared one user, adding that it’s not only about drinking too much. “It has something to do with your blood pressure dropping when you’re peeing, which makes you lose your balance,” they said. 

Walking on Bicycle Paths

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Americans aren’t used to bike paths. Our cities are car-friendly, and we don’t always consider the needs of cyclists. 

“The bike paths are brutal!” exclaimed one user.  “I nearly got ran over several times before I figured it out.”

Street Scammers

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Any major city has its share of petty crime. Street scammers specifically target tourists, hoping to make a buck off their lack of street smarts. 

“No one warned us before we went over. Never seen anything like the level of scamming,” said one user in a thread about scammers in Rome. 

The user gave examples of common street scams they’ve seen. People dressed in costumes will demand outrageous sums for photo ops, art sellers will intentionally set up their wares so you step on them, demanding payment for the “ruined” work, and “lost” travelers will distract you while their accomplices pick your pockets. 

Hassling Restraunters

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In some countries, hassling is part of the culture. Istanbul even set up “hassle-free zones” where the appeal is that people DON’T accost you every 5 seconds asking you to come into their restaurant or shop. 

However, in many European countries, it’s best to avoid the restaurants that try to force you to come inside. 

“Avoid any restaurant that tries to strong-arm you into entering,” stated one user.

Another described how it works. The owner will get too close to comfort and practically beg you to come in. “Come come sit down” as they shove a menu in your face, fast-talking, usually offering a free drink/entree/dessert, basically trying to get you to feel bad about turning them down,” they shared. 

Outside places where it’s the cultural norm, if a restauranteur is hassling you to enter, it’s probably not a good place to dine. 

Petty Theft

man stealing wallet out of another's back pack
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Don’t leave your stuff unattended anywhere. 

Many European thefts are opportunists. They work in tourist areas looking for easy targets. Don’t wear backpacks on your back, don’t put them on the back of chairs, keep your wallet in your front pockets, and hold onto your valuables. 

Car Rentals

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US travelers are used to renting cars everywhere they go. They’re a necessity in most American cities. 

However, unless you’re planning a road trip, you won’t need to rent a car in most European metropolises. 

“Don’t rent a car if you’re going to stay at a major capital, it’s not worth it, it’s much better to use public transport and get an occasional Uber,” offered one user. 

Being That Guy

Man making a stupid face and pointing to his head as if to say "duh"
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Europeans, especially Germans, take racism and antisemitism seriously. 

“Should be obvious, but I‘ll say it anyway: don’t do the “Hitler salute“ while in Germany. Not even as a joke – it’s illegal.” shared one user. 

YouTube is filled with videos of pranksters doing horribly offensive things in Germany and getting their just rewards for it. You shouldn’t even be that guy in the states, don’t go to Germany and try to be funny. 

It’s not funny. It’s offensive and illegal in many European countries. 

One-Culture Mindset

group of European flags looking up towards the sky.
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Some Americans treat Europe like a monolith but would do well remembering its diversity. 

Europe hosts 44 unique countries with different cultures, traditions, laws, culinary practices, and even languages. 

“Don’t think that what goes for one country goes for all. There are all sorts of differences in cultures, laws, etc.” advised one user. 

Splitting Cabs

Yellow cabs on a busy street
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Although most people are generally good, we must protect ourselves against nefarious players. It’s just as important to remember safety while traveling abroad as in the US. 

One user said you should avoid “Creepy dudes outside airports tryin to split cabs,” referencing the hit movie Taken. Although most people won’t become victims of trafficking, bad actors may offer “rides” for numerous reasons – they may be scoping out your room to rob you later or have assault in mind. 

Another user shared that you should avoid drivers helping you “avoid the line,” as most will charge you an outrageous fee after you get into the car. 

Exchange Fees

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Currency exchanges often charge ridiculous fees for exchanging your money. However, in today’s world, most of that can be avoided. 

“Just use your debit or credit card everywhere. If you need some cash, take it out of the atm. Exchange rates will be much better, no commission, 3% fee from your bank, but that’s reasonable,” advised one user. 

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The US bursts with cool cities, gorgeous national parks, and niche cuisines. There’s something for everyone to enjoy in the diverse country!

Here’s the Best Places to Visit in the US for your specific travel goals!

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Source: Reddit