11 Things Americans Should Avoid When Traveling to Europe

Embarking on a European adventure? While the continent is a treasure trove of culture and history, some seasoned travelers on social media have shared their insights on what to steer clear of. Many users agree on these essential tips to make your European escapade enjoyable and hassle-free.

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#1 Beware of Pickpockets in Western Europe

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“Watch out for pickpockets in Western Europe. There is a stigma that Eastern Europe like Romania and Bulgaria is dangerous, but pickpocketing happens more in Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, etc.”

In cities like Paris and Barcelona, where tourists abound, pickpocketing is an art form. Many users share stories of clever tactics employed by thieves in Western Europe, emphasizing the need for extra caution in crowded areas and tourist hotspots.

#2 Steer Clear of Pushy Restaurants

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“Avoid any restaurant that tries to strong-arm you into entering.”

Some users recount experiences of being aggressively ushered into restaurants, which are usually tourist traps with sub-standard food. This advice sheds light on the importance of choosing establishments that prioritize a positive dining experience rather than high-pressure sales tactics.

Pro tip: not all Italian restaurants in Italy have authentic Italian food.

#3 Mind the Canals and Bicycle Paths in the Netherlands

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“You wouldn’t believe how many tourists end up falling in canals and walking on bicycle paths when they come to the Netherlands.”

Beyond its picturesque scenery, the Netherlands poses unique challenges, with users sharing humorous yet cautionary tales of unsuspecting tourists falling into canals or running into bicycles. This insight provides a lighthearted perspective on staying safe while enjoying the country’s distinctive landscape.

#4 Exercise Caution with Handouts in Major Cities

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“In major cities don’t let anyone hand you anything such as flowers or whatever. Once it is in your hands they start asking for money.”

Users delve into the dynamics of urban scams, detailing instances where accepting seemingly innocent items led to persistent requests for money. For example, in Rome, a boy ran up and put a bracelet on my wrist. Before I knew what was happening, a group of men surrounded us and demanded payment for the ‘sweet’ gesture. This advice serves as a reminder to stay vigilant in busy city environments where scams are more prevalent.

#5 Guard Your Belongings

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“Do not put your bag/purse/backpack on the back of your chair when you sit down to eat, especially outside.”

Beyond the basic caution of guarding belongings, users share stories of organized theft, emphasizing the strategic nature of thieves working in groups. This insight offers a practical understanding of how thieves operate, urging travelers to be proactive in securing their possessions.

#6 Navigate Taxis Wisely

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“To avoid letting the taxi know you don’t know where you are or where you are going, the bad ones will drive you in circles and run the tab up.”

Users highlight the prevalence of taxi scams, providing practical advice on how to avoid unnecessary detours. Take an Uber or ask your hotel to call you a taxi. If getting in a taxi anywhere, always ask for the meter to be turned on or negotiate a price upfront.

#7 Check Local Opening Hours

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“Don’t assume that everything will be open during the hours you’d expect in your home country.”

Detailed experiences shared by users emphasize the need to adapt to varied opening hours across Europe. Whether it’s grocery stores or post offices, understanding and planning around local schedules become crucial for a seamless travel experience. Always call ahead before you start driving.

#8 Choose Practical Footwear

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“Do not, for the love of god, wear stilettos. You will slip and fall down in front of 100 people including children who will point and laugh at you as you wobble away on the cobblestone with quivering ankles.”

Humorous anecdotes illustrate the practicality of wearing appropriate footwear on ancient cobbled streets. This advice combines humor with practicality, offering a vivid picture of the potential pitfalls of fashion choices while traveling.

#9 Think Twice Before Renting a Car

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“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.”

Users delve into the logistical challenges of driving on narrow streets and finding parking in busy areas, sharing their experiences to dissuade fellow travelers from renting cars. Transit is usually very efficient and cost-effective across much of Western Europe.

#10 Mind Cultural Sensitivities

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“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.”

Users underscore the legal consequences of insensitive gestures, providing a sobering reminder to respect local laws and cultural sensitivities. This advice goes beyond the obvious, emphasizing the importance of cultural awareness during travel. Don’t climb into the Trevi fountain or scratch your name in the Colosseum’s walls in Rome, don’t touch the King’s guard in London, don’t disrespect the monarchy where it exists, don’t be loud and obnoxious in Cathedrals, etc.

#11 Opt for Card Transactions

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“It’s not worth coming over with a bunch of cash ($) and using an exchange service to buy €. Just use your debit or credit card, everywhere.”

Users share practical insights into managing finances during travel, advocating for the convenience and better exchange rates offered by card transactions. This advice encourages travelers to rely on modern payment methods rather than carrying large amounts of cash.

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