20 Tourist Traps You Might Consider Avoiding If You Are Traveling To Europe
Can we really form an opinion about a certain place just by looking at all of the professional photos that pop up in the search bar? The images might show you only happy things about your travel destination but they fail to warn you about the traps you might face in a foreign country.
Nobody likes getting scammed, especially when on a vacation – that’s why it’s extremely important to do your research so you don’t fall victim to anything unpleasant. And who can tell you better about these scams better than local people! Someone on Reddit asked Europeans about tourist traps in their areas, and the answers are an absolute must-read for anyone who wants to travel to Europe in the future. Scroll below to read some advice and to protect yourself from the worst tourist traps in Europe.
More info: Reddit
“Tipping. Don’t start making it the norm here.”
“I’d avoid social media and watching TV in the month before your trip and spend that time on Duolingo instead. Not sure where exactly you’re going in Europe but it’ll help you to know a couple of phrases in the language.”
“Street scammers in Paris, anywhere really, I just mostly see it in Paris.”
“As an American who did this foolishly: American chain restaurants. You flew 5,000 miles across an ocean, don’t waste your time eating American food you could have gotten in Ohio. Don’t just try the “local” stuff, go out of your way to find small mom and pop restaurants that the actual residents prefer.
The best meal of my entire life was in such a restaurant in Greece. I had rented a car with a friend who was visiting his grandparents and we were driving up north from Athens for hours. I kept trying to stop on the highway for some American or similar fast food (Pita Pan is legit decent fast food).
We had pulled off onto a smaller road and for hours didn’t see anything. We were so hungry we promised to pull over at the next restaurant we saw. When we finally saw one we pulled over immediately, only to find ourselves in someone’s house. It literally looked like someone’s driveway. Eventually I noticed a little coke branded refrigerator (filled with beers) and realized it really was a restaurant, kind of.
Inside was literally some grandma’s house but the living room was full of small wooden tables (probably 4-5). We were the only ones in the entire place besides grandpa who was reading a newspaper and having a coffee. You could see into the rest of the house, which was literally just some old people’s home. Grandma excitedly welcomed us and asked us what we wanted to drink. The food was whatever she cooked that day, you didn’t have a choice. That day it was some kind of meat (either beef or beef + goat) in red meat sauce with potatoes and some Greek salad and hearty bread. I guess if you didn’t like what she was serving, you were out of luck, but it was utterly divine, best thing I’ve ever had. It was also like $7 for the whole thing.
I figure she literally just cooks for herself and her husband and makes 2-3x as much on the chance that a few people stop by. I wish I had some idea where that place was, but I’d never find it in 100 years of traveling again. :/”
“Be respectful to memorial places. Don’t come to the idea to make selfies or similar.
Inform yourself about the traditions of the country. In some countries, you can openly make smalltalk with strangers, while in another one, you do have to approach them like a wild animal.”
“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”
“Carry your wallet in your front pocket, if carrying a bag or purse, towards the front. It’s a comment for all tourist areas, Europe just has a lot of them.”
“Don’t assume that everything will be open during the hours you’d expect in your home country–this is true no matter where you’re going. It varies by country and region, but in my experience, grocery stores, banks, post offices, etc., had much more restricted hours than they do in the US. In the US, it’s rare for a grocery store to close before 9 PM, if it’s not open 24 hours. In Europe, it’s normal for grocery stores to close quite early, and for things to be closed on weekends, though this varies by country.
Also, mind your manners. In America, you can often skip over the formalities without being seen as rude. In Europe, this is much harder. Be more direct about what you want, and more polite about requesting it. Part of what perpetuates the unfortunate “rude American” stereotype is that Americans tend to find European manners blunt, and Europeans tend to find American manners invasive.”
“Avoid any restaurant that tries to strong arm you into entering.”
“Falling in canals and walking on bicycle paths if they come to the Netherlands.”
“Avoid assuming Europe is all roughly the same. It’s a continent, not a country. You don’t go to Japan and expect it to be like Indonesia just because they are both in Asia. In other words, it all depends on which country in Europe you are traveling to.”
“Insinuating that Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland – and possibly some parts of Cornwall are in England.
Doesn’t go down too well.”
“Avoid speaking without exchanging greetings first (in France at least) and not responding in kind when someone greets you. In other words, exchange *bon jour*s before you ask where the toilet is.
Avoid letting your kids act like monsters in public–in restaurants, in particular.
Avoid rushing through meals (unless your kids are acting like monsters).”
“It really, really, REALLY depends on which part of Europe you are talking about. For example, Finland and Italy are very different places with different social cultures. Heck, there are differences even inside a country!
Some tips in Finland, capital area especially:
– Never sit right next to a stranger unless the bus is super cramped or something. Otherwise, you’ll be regarded as a creep. Also don’t walk or stand too close to people if there is space. Finnish bus stops are actually a bit funny with how people spread horizontally as far away as possible while still being at the proximity of the bus stop.
– Don’t speak loudly in public spaces, only if you really have to. Otherwise, again, you’re a creep. (This is more a city thing.)
– Don’t interrupt other people (unless, again, you have to, or the other personis REALLY rambling on and you have limited time to speak). This is actually a significant difference between Finns and aforementioned Italians: interrupting or more like “elbowing” in conversations in Italy is normal “traffic rule” and implies active engagement and listening (assuming that both parties are “elbowing”), while interrupting in Finland implies that you aren’t valuing what the other person is telling. (Source: I’m a Finn that worked a bit with Italians, I kinda needed to learn new “traffic rules” with them, it went fine after that!)
– Don’t take schedules lightly. A Finn says 2 PM? They MEAN 2 PM sharp.”
“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.
However, one thing that opened Germany up for me while stationed there was one interaction. I would ask in German “Sprechen sie englisch”, do you speak English. Followed by “Mine Deutsch ist scheisse”, my German is s**t. Everyone from women at the bar to elderly people would laugh hysterically and then immediately switch to English in good spirits. They just like to see you try, then they are more than happy to help you out. So my advice would be to learn a quick fire phrase that you can pop off to quickly to avoid the fumbling and starting the interaction on a bad foot.”
“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. They even gave a flower to one my kids and then wouldn’t take it back. Just set it on the ground and walk away.”
Don’t make small talk, especially in northern countries. It’s not part of our cultures and it’s freaking us out big time. We’re not rude, we’re just minding our business, be respectful
Image source: abfukson
Saying you’re travelling to ‘Europe’ rather than the country you’re actually travelling too.
Europe is an entire continent of vastly different countries and entirely different cultures. Saying you’re travelling to Europe means absolutely nothing, and makes you look extremely ignorant (and/or American)
Image source: __GoldenFace__
When arriving in Iceland on your way to France and going through customs, don’t answer the question “What is your destination?” with “Europe”. Also when they tell you “Sir you are in Europe”, don’t answer with “Real Europe”.
I travel abroad about once a year and this is the only time that I have been “the dumb American” (to the best of my knowledge anyway) and I cringe every time I think of this.
Image source: dvrooster
“If you’re from the US don’t sign up for the bull s**t $10 per day international service with Verizon or other service providers. Nearly any airport you arrive in will have a place where you can buy an sim card to put in your phone at fraction of the price. For instance, I once got a sim card in Seville, Spain for something like 12 Euros and it came with a month of service and 9 GB of data.”