Read these 55 Travel Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about German tips and hundreds of other topics.
What is DB? Those initials stand for the national German company "Deutsche Bundesbahn". The company is state subsidized and offers a regular, punctual and comprehensive range of services across the entire country. Check out their website for train schedules, travel information, reduced tickets and much more. This site is in German. It is searcheable.
Forget about taking your American hair dryer to Germany. You would need an adapter, and you would have to change the voltage. It is not worth it. Buy a cheap hair dryer at one of the bigger department stores (Karstatt, Hertie, Wertheim)instead. Prices start at ca. DM 10. You may also want to get one of those that come in a pouch and have a folding handle.
If you are traveling Germany, try to make it in time for the annual carnival in Cologne (every February). Other cities that have one are Mainz and Wasung. You will see an unusual side of Germany at its best. I recommend you do a web search on 'Cologne' for more details. There are also some tips and links in my 'customs' section. Look for "Fastnacht".
Packets of instant oatmeal and other hot cereals can be an inexpensive lifesaver if your hotel does not offer complimentary breakfast. Bring a small supply in your suitcase and replenish your supplies in any German
grocery store. Quick meals in a disposable plastic cup (made by German companies such as "Maggi" and "Knorr") are cheap and widely available.
"Schwarzfahren" is the act of using the public transport system for free (for details see tip: subway cops). If you want to engage in this sport, you need to either be a fast runner and an excellent liar. Once you get caught, you will get fined. If you get caught too often, you may be denied access to public transport altogether. Talking your way out of it ("I have a daily/weekly/monthly ticket and left it at home/the hotel") will not help much. Your ID can get confiscated. To retrieve it, you will need to bring the ticket to public transport headquarters, and you will still have to pay a (slightly lower) fine. Ok, being a tourist might help you somewhat. Generally speaking, though, Schwarzfahren is not advisable.
It is possible to get on some subway trains without paying, i.e. there is no barrier between the point where you (should) buy your ticket and the train platform. That's why plainclothes "cops" are a frequent occurence on the underground. They are legally entitled to check your ticket. If you do not have one, or refuse to show it, they will take you off the train, check your ID and fine you. Fines can be anything from DM 60 to 400, especially if you are a frequent offender. If you can not pay or do not cooperate, they will call the police. Don't risk it.
Should you plan to stay in one or more German hotels, you can save by bringing along an adaptor and a small electric immersion coil, which will enable you to heat up hot drinks and quick meals directly in your hotel room. In general, you will not find a coffee maker in your room, although there may be a hairdryer.
Cabs are useful if you want to get around at night and do not have access to a night bus. In smaller cities, there might not even be a night bus system. Check for cab companies in your district in the local phone directory. Prices are not always fixed. Generally speaking, German cabs are expensive. Inquire at your hotel for details.
If you visit Germany's larger cities (e.g. Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, Dresden, Leipzig, Frankfurt) you may not need to rent a car. Parking space is limited, and the public transport system (bus, underground, city train) is well developed. Most cities have nightbusses, too. Car rental would be advisable in rural locations only.
If you want to save money going places, check your local German phone directory for "Mitfahrzentralen". These agancies will provide you with phone numbers of drivers willing to take on passengers. The fee is very small, and usually, all you need to pay the driver is your share of gas. Highly recommended.
Abenteuer und Sportreisen GmbH (Adventure tours) is a German online travel agent, which helps you to book your winter vacation. Site features winter highlights, ski tours, ice climbing, snow boarding, trekking and igloo building. Site is in German.
German busdrivers do not have to accept large bills (Geldscheine) as a rule. Before going on a bus, make sure you either have a supply of small coins (50 Pfennig, 10 Pfennig, 1 DM, 2 DM) handy, or even better, try to buy a tourist ticket in advance. Most transport services have vending machines near the stops. In some towns, this is cheaper than getting a single fare directly on the bus.
Always carry a map & a pencil. Although some Germans might be good about directions, most aren't, or you might not understand them well enough. Have them outline the route on the map. It is advisable to ask policemen, as those are usually friendly to foreigners. Do not ask the busdriver. His job is to drive, not to give directions (in some busses you find signs 'do not speak to the driver'). If you get totally lost go to a subway stop. There is usually a city map on or near the platform.
When eating at a restaurant inquire if the same food costs more to "eat in" than to "take away." Save several dollars per meal by ordering food to go. Sit outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of the foreign culture you have come to visit. It is also a good idea to go to a farmers` market, where a variety of typical German food will be sold at little cost.
Most German city centers suffer from a severe lack of parking space. Do NOT park your car in a no parking zone. Even if you only go around the corner for 5 minutes you may find a hefty ticket upon your return. The German police employs a special unit (mostly females) to find and fine parking offenders. In extreme cases, your car may get towed.
Go to a German travel agent and inquire if there are any 'last minute' trips available. You will get great bargains. Of course, this only makes sense if you are staying in Germany for a longer period of time, and you should not be too picky about the details of your destination, accommodation etc.
Depending on your needs, here are two brands I can safely recommend: "3-Wetter-Taft Haarlack" for maximum hold, and "Wella Flex" for maximum shine. Both are also available in travel-size bottles. Both are medium-priced, but give better results than other brands. Where to buy: Drospa, KD Drogeriemarkt, any bigger department store, such as "Hertie", "Karstadt" or "Wertheim".
The Deutsche Bundesbahn provides train service between cities and regions that do not have their own public transport companies. Train riding in Germany is fun, but it can get expensive. Try to get special discounts whenever possible. Inquire beforehand at the train station. Sometimes the same route can be booked on a slightly slower train, which saves you money, too.
If you are staying at one location for longer, try renting a bicycle. There are lots of bicycle paths in German cities, and there is not better way to explore the countryside. Check local newspapers and phone directories for bike rentals. Sometimes they are located next to the train station.
No matter how light you are traveling, take an extra sweater, possibly a cardigan or something else with buttons or a sweater. Put it into your hand luggage. German summers can be cool and rainy. Having something handy once you step out of the airport might prevent you from catching a cold.
If you plan to phone home frequently from overseas, you can save a lot of money by renting a cell phone which is valid in Germany prior to your trip. Of course, this phone can also be used for calls made within Germany. You will save time and avoid the hassle of finding a phone booth, or buying German phone cards. Log on to www.planetphone.com for more