Travelling to Germany – Handy Hints


In German it is typical to give your waitress or waiter a tip, even if you’ve just had a cup of coffee. The general rule of thumb is to add 5-10%, so even if your coffee only cost you 2,20€, you might round it up to 2,50€. When you pay your waitress you either tell her the amount (e.g. 2,50€) or you just give her the exact amount, including tip, and say “stimmt so.”


If you’re staying with a host family, make sure that you bring gifts for them. For example, you might bring a tea towel with Australian animals, eucalyptus soap and coasters for the host parents and a plush koala or kangaroo for each child. In addition to this, it is always handy to have extra clip-on koalas or koala/ kangaroo keychains with you – if you make new friends they will love to receive a small gift from Australia!


Whilst many Germans speak English, they will appreciate your attempts at speaking German. If you’re worried about your pronunciation – do not fear – Germans understand that learning a new language can be hard and will appreciate that you’re trying to speak their language, rather than just expecting them to speak English. If you’re learning German this is a great way of practicing the language, however, if you’ve never learnt German you have at least 20 hours on the plane to brush up on some basics!



Germans are known for their punctuality. If you decide to meet people at 3pm, make sure that you’re there at 3pm, not at 3:30pm. It’s considered very rude to just show up late for no reason – better to be 10 minutes early than 5 minutes late! If you are running late, for example, because your train has been delayed, make sure you call or text the person that you’re meeting, even if you’re only going to be a few minutes late.



Ensure that you always have a valid train/ bus ticket. If you purchase a train ticket, double check which trains you are allowed to travel in. Whilst regional trains (RE) stop at every station and can thus make the trip take a lot longer, the tickets are generally much cheaper than travelling by inner city express (ICE). However, if you purchase a regional train ticket, ensure you only board RE trains – if you end up on an ICE you will end up paying a 60€ fine for not having a valid ticket.


If you purchase a bottle of water in a supermarket, the actual bottle of water may only cost 19 cents, but you pay 25 cents extra – this is your Pfand. Once your water bottle is empty, you return it to the machine at the front of the supermarket (it does not have to be the same supermarket) and you will receive a receipt for your 25 cents (although people generally wait until they have more than one empty bottle until they return them). You can then go shopping in the supermarket and the 25 cents will be taken off your total, or you can simply give the cashier your receipt and get the 25 cents back in cash.


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