People Reveal The Sketchy Traps Tourists Should Look Out For While Visiting Europe
When people talk about living life to the fullest and having independent, solo experiences, they often reference the importance of traveling internationally to experience more of the world.
But in the midst of describing the wonders of traveling in another country, they fail to detail the things that could go wrong, or how a local might try to scam an unknowing and unprepared tourist.
Curious specifically about this phenomenon in Europe, Redditor subuubalaa asked:
"What should people avoid while traveling to Europe?"
The Fines Can Be Incredibly Steep
"Another thing which primarily applies to Giethoorn, but also any place in general."
"STAY OUT OF PEOPLE'S YARDS."
"For those who don't know, Giethoorn is a small village where instead of streets there are canals. It is quite a tourist attraction where they can rent boats to travel through the canals. However, some people fail to comprehend that it's still an actual village and people live in the houses."
"It has occurred on multiple instances that tourists walked into the gardens of residents to take pictures."
The Menu Should Speak For Itself
"Avoid any restaurant that tries to strong-arm you into entering."
"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."
Just Keep Walking
"Street scammers in Paris, anywhere really, I just mostly see it in Paris."
Keep an Eye on Your Stuff
"I hung my purse over the back of my chair at a restaurant on my first day in Bangkok."
"We were eating dinner and my tour guide came over to where I was sitting, and he was holding my purse. He asked if it was mine, and I said yes. Then he told me that he saw some guy take it but he was able to get it back before they left the restaurant with it."
"Turns out my guide was the 'guy' who took it to teach me a lesson. He did this to a couple of other people in our group to encourage us to be careful with our stuff. I spent the rest of the trip white-knuckling my purse so it worked for me!"
Your Future Looks Expensive
"In Sevilla, they hang around the cathedral. A woman will walk up and hand you a flower, then insist on telling your fortune. Just drop it and walk away."
Seriously, Protect Your Belongings
"Do not put your bag/purse/backpack on the back of your chair when you sit down to eat, especially outside."
"Thieves look for this, in groups of three or four. One of them will come from one side of you as a snatcher, and the rest will stand in a group very close to you taking or smoking, etc., pretending that they don't know the snatcher."
"Then the one guy will snatch your item, and run right through the group, in case someone is quick enough to chase. They will 'accidentally' be in your way."
"Happened in Rome, but locals recognized it and broke it up."
"A guy tried to do the bracelet trick to me, but I knew it and told him no before he tried anything. He jabbed me in the side as I walked passed. I was so p**sed."
No Directions Needed
"Also: DO NOT STOP to 'help' people asking for directions. You're a tourist, you look like a tourist, and you're the last person someone would legitimately ask for directions."
"They're trying to get you to stop so they can pickpocket you. It's usually a woman, too, looking 'helpless.' Just keep moving."
"Be careful if you encounter the fake disabled people in Venice. My dad fell into that trap. A guy pretending to have a limp and speaking disability came up to us and asked for money. I switched to Dutch and told my dad not to give him any. My dad gave him a 20 euro banknote."
"The guy walked away without a limp and started talking without issues a few meters away."
Try to Blend In
"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."
"Also, 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 schei**e,' 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, and 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 too quickly to avoid fumbling and starting the interaction on a bad foot."
Scamming the Scammers
"I managed to find one of the bracelets they peddle on the ground midway through my trip. Threw it on every day when I was out in public and didn’t get hounded at all after that."
"I assume they probably thought I was a fool already caught in the trap, but man, the peace of mind was great!"
Please Be Polite
"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."
Stuff Can Be Taken from Anywhere
"Don't leave stuff lying around anywhere. Don't put your stuff next to you on the table if you're sitting outside at a restaurant. Someone can just run up to you from behind, grab the phone/wallet and run away."
"Don't leave stuff in a rental car."
"Don't even put stuff in the trunk of the rental car after you park it. I've heard that in some touristy places, thieves will employ local kids to sit at the parking lots and see who puts their camera, laptop, or purse in the trunk of the car before walking away."
It's All About Playing It Smart
"I've seen it in Paris, France, Barcelona, Florence... any popular tourist destination is going to have pickpockets."
"These scams vary, and you should read about them before you go so you're aware. Some of the ones I've seen:"
"1. People in costumes (mostly Roman centurions) will accost you for pictures with them, and demand an absurd amount of money for the pictures."
"2. People will shove an object or a flower into your hands and then demand money. You may have to very aggressively say 'no.'"
"3. Someone will approach you with a map and ask for directions (their accomplice is behind you while you're distracted, and helping themselves to your stuff)."
"4. Someone will lay out paintings on the ground near monuments like cathedrals, and when you inevitably step on one (because you're looking up at the Duomo, not at the ground) they'll demand an absurd amount of money for the painting you just stepped on."
"Basically, you just have to understand that if you're a tourist in a city, no one is going to have a good reason to talk to you. No one needs directions from you, no one needs a petition signature from you, and anyone trying to stop and talk to you in a major tourist destination is likely a scam."
"If you do get into a situation where someone is demanding money from you (maybe you stepped on a painting or took that ill-advised picture with the Centurion) just say, 'Okay, let's go find a police officer, and I will pay you in front of the police officer.' That usually gets them to back down quickly."
"You may have to be aggressive about not letting people touch you or put something on you. My husband had to yank his arm away from someone trying to tie a bracelet on him outside of Castel Sant'Angelo. I had to quickly move away from someone shoving a rose in my lap on the Spanish Steps."
"And also, watch your stuff. Don't absentmindedly sling your purse over the back of a chair. Don't leave your phone on the ground next to you while you have a picnic on the Seine."
"I have a black purse by PacSafe that has some anti-theft features, like a lock so I can lock it to a chair at a cafe and a lock on the zipper so it can't be easily zipped open. Sure, a determined person could break into the purse, but it's all about not being an easy target. It's enough of a deterrent that if someone does try to help themselves to the contents of my purse, it'll be too much trouble and they'll go pick someone else."
"That being said, don't let the fear of being pickpocketed deter you from traveling! Rick Steves has a story about a family that had their passports and thousands of dollars stolen from them immediately upon arrival in Amsterdam, and they still had an amazing trip. Just be aware and have a plan in case the worst happens."
A lot can happen while you're traveling, and while being stolen from or scammed could easily happen in your hometown, there's something about suddenly being without your possessions or having to pay a hefty sum of money when you're in new territory.
But as the very last Redditor in this thread pointed out, this shouldn't stop you from traveling the world! As long as you are well-prepared and stay alert, you should be able to have a wonderful journey.
Just like the items and behaviors that are easily defined as "American," there are some activities and mindsets that are distinctly "European."
From castles to coffee culture, to an overall dismissal of "hustle culture," this combination of characteristics will leave zero doubts in a person's mind that they have entered a European country.
Redditor doeyy0 asked:
"What is the most European thing ever?"
A Day in the Life
"Driving through four countries to go on vacation, not using your passport, no visa, and using the same currency everywhere."
"Plus using your cell phone all the way with no extra cost."
Castles, Castles Everywhere
"I can literally see one castle out of my living room and another one out of my kitchen window."
The True Meaning of "Walking Distance"
"One big difference is the way from villages to big cities are laid out. They all have numerous squares or public gathering places. You can enjoy a drink, music, and people-watching. You don’t have to drive everywhere. Local pubs abound."
"I always wondered how so many Europeans could make do with those tiny fridges. But then I realized they shop fresh all the time. There are so many butchers or bakers, produce stands, cheese, deli, and flower shops within walking distance. They shop locally and fresh all the time. Without a car."
"My Uncle lived in a big condo or over the row housing area. Every Saturday mobile butchers, bakers, fruit and produce, etc. would set up outside for a few hours and then move on. Everything is fresh and local, and absolutely delicious. And no car needed."
Just a Few Minutes Away
"Going to another country just to go shopping."
"From an American's perspective; Kebab shops. I've been all over Europe and I've got to say, those things were everywhere and I stopped at way too many of them. I could really go for a durum kebab right about now..."
Trains, Trains, Trains
"Trains. Trains that are clean. Trains that go where you want to go. Trains that are affordable."
Better Soft Drinks
"Fanta, but not the American kind."
Truly Ancient Buildings
"Casually having buildings from millennia ago around you all the time."
The Musical Sport
A Continued Tradition
"Closed stores on Sundays."
"One weird thing I learned about other countries is how they get American music on their radios, but we hardly ever get their music on our radios. Recently, the closest we’ve come is Boy With Luv by BTS featuring Halsey."
"I wish we could get some foreign hits on our radios, but oh well. I can look that up online."
A Top Priority
"A proper selection of cheeses."
Dressed Up to Go Out
"Men unapologetically dressing super stylish."
"Paid vacation time."
While these things might be seen occasionally in the United States or other countries, seeing them all compiled in one place feels undeniably European.
People Break Down Which Things Are Illegal In Europe But Not In The U.S.
Whenever a person is getting ready to travel, one piece of advice they should always listen to is to read up on the local laws of the place they're visiting.
Because there are activities that might be acceptable back home that will land a person in jail in another country.
Curious, Redditor Judgmental_Squirrel asked:
"What is something illegal in Europe but not in the US?"
"In Denmark, we can't just name our babies anything we want. We have an approved names list to pick from. We can request a name that is not on the list but it rarely gets approved."
No Medicine Commercials in Europe
"Pharmaceutical companies marketing directly to consumers."
Aesthetic Dog Changes
"Docking dog's tails and cropping their ears."
Also Cat Aesthetics
"Declawing cats. Most countries here do not allow that."
"In Germany and in other European countries, it's illegal to lock dogs in cages or crates for extended periods of time. As in daily while you are at work, for example. It's considered animal abuse."
"So many people in the US do this and I've always thought it was abusive. It amazes me how they justify it as, 'Oh, my dog loves the secure feeling of being in his crate' when it's only done for the owner's convenience."
"Selling something below the price you bought it for (with the intention to sabotage other businesses). For example, Walmart tried to do this in Germany to destroy their rivals, but they failed miserably and completely retreated out of Germany."
Washing Eggs Pre-Sale
"I'm in the US, and a former workmate has chickens as a hobby and gives away the eggs, unwashed. They are in the carton and obviously straight from the nest, because there are all sorts of particles of an output nature on the eggs."
"In Europe, eggs at the stores have sometimes a bit of poop or even feathers on them. Either rinse them before or just wash your hands after. But usually, they're quite clean."
Not Okay in Europe
"Well, Colorado just made it legal to grow psychedelic mushrooms in your own home."
Additives in Food and Drinks
"Brominated vegetable oil."
Satire Not Allowed
"In the UK at least, showing footage from parliament in a comedy show. More specifically, 'No extracts from parliamentary proceedings may be used in comedy shows or other light entertainment such as political satire.'"
"I only learned that when I tried to watch an episode of 'The Daily Show' that was blocked in the UK for that reason.US comedy shows can show congress all they want."
No Sick Days
"This is the main reason I quit my job at Walmart. I had strep throat, so I got a doctor's note and asked that my absences be excused. The managers there refused, and so I quit."
"By the way, Walmart counts your absences as points against you. For example, if you're absent and call in to let them know, you still get a point. Get five points and you're fired. Really makes you feel like a worker drone in a dystopian novel."
The Impact of Additives
"The US has a use it until it's proven harmful policy, and the EU the other way around. Prove it doesn't harm (in given and reasonable quantities) and you can use it."
"Fun fact, some friendly Americans after moving to Europe started realizing they did not suffer from suspected lactose/gluten/you name it intolerance but simply had their guts harmed by additives and seen their symptoms improve here. Check your additives, kids."
"Various ingredients found in lollies/sweets/candy e.g titanium dioxide. There are tighter restrictions on food production in Europe resulting in American companies having to alter their recipes so they can be sold in European countries."
"A lot of US-based companies partner with foreign companies to meet these laws (so the healthier versions rarely reach US soil). In French Polynesia for example, Coca-Cola partners with La Brasserie de Tahiti, and all of it is made with real sugar and sold in glass bottles that you return to any store for a discount on your next purchase."
"I can't remember for sure if the glass bottles are a law or just the standard for La Brasserie de Tahiti. Either way, it's a great example of how easy it is to cut our reliance on plastic. The public will adopt it quickly, it's really just corporate greed getting in the way."
Sale Sale Sale
"Artificially jacking up prices of things only to then put them 'on sale' when the sale price is really just the always-intended price."
While the word "illegal" may make most people think of illegal activities that a citizen might perform, most of the illegal acts here were in regards to public safety, as well as allowing the general public to live a healthier life.
The Things That Europe Has That The United States Doesn't
People in the United States know that our culture differs from that of other countries, but it is not always obvious how.
Many European countries house historical castles, cars are unnecessary in several cities, Europeans are practically expected to speak more than one language fluently, and of course, the chocolate is a million times better!
There are plenty of other things Europe has that the United States doesn’t. Redditors know what these things are, and are ready to share.
It all started when Redditor QuintessentialPies asked:
“What does europe have that the US doesn’t?”
"Cultural perspective. Each country is closely adjacent to another with a different culture so there is much more understanding of diversity. There are often multiple languages spoken in each country. The US has some cultural variety from one state to another but nothing quite like having multiple other countries so close. Mexico and Canada aren’t quite the equivalent version of this."
"Well for starters, USA is a country while Europe is a continent. So Europe has many countries but USA has only one"
It's Like A Rainbow!
"Colorful money of varying sizes"
"Did you know, the reason the bills are different sizes is in part because it helps the blind distinguish between denominations. Because all US bills are the same size, you cannot tell from feel if a bill is a $1 or a $10, so it's easier to get ripped off. (Some blind people fold their bills in special configurations depending on value so they can identify their money by touch)"
"They have braille on them too! I was genuinely surprised of the accessibility when I visited the UK!"
The History Is Here
"Medieval castles and ancient structures. As a history nerd, I don't know how I'd survive in a modern country like the US."
"I was an exchange student with Italy. The Sala Borsa Library in Bologna is built on *top* of ancient roman ruins, and the floor of the library is actually glass so that you can look at the roman ruins beneath your feet and watch archaeologists excavate the ruins while you're checking out books. You'll never see anything like that in the US."
"'I'm from Europe, where the history comes from'"
"Eddie Izzard performing in San Francisco."
Let's Take A Walk
"Cities that expanded before the popularisation of the motor car."
"TBH, living in Ireland has been wonderful for my health. With no car, cities unsafe for biking, and sub-optimal public transportation, I have to walk everywhere whether I like it or not."
"Bicycle paths. I mean separate dedicated 2 lanes."
It's All Greek...And Italian...And French...To Me
"A significant percentage of the population that is bi or tri lingual"
"An expectation that you speak more than one language."
"220v electric kettles. They boil water insanely fast"
"Tea kettles being commonplace in most home"
"How can anyone live without kettle? Do you guys over the pond don't start you're day with cup of coffee or tea?"
"Free healthcare, 4 week PTO, paid maternity leave, cheap/free college education"
"a working health care System"
"Oh it works and it works really well, it just costs a f**k ton of money."
The Cost Of Learning
"Affordable higher education"
The Metric System
"Apart from the walkable cities, affordable education, modern infrastructure like high speed railroads, a humane healthcare system, wine, public order, strict gun control, limited lobbying, less obesity, guaranteed vacations, and lower prison population, what did the European ever had better than us?"
"A good system of measurement?"
"Oh. A good system of measurement? Shut up!"
Who To Vote For?
"More than two political parties"
Ah, the choices!
Is there anything we missed on this list? Let us know in the comments.
Americans Break Down The Weirdest Things About Europe
There's little more exciting than an American's first visit to Europe.
There is so much to take in between the famous sights, the delicious food, and the vastly different cultures and ways of life.
Most American tourists have no problem jumping into some popular customs and activities, such as afternoon tea in England, or a soothing sauna in Finland.
Other customs and behaviors, however, some Americans usually choose to leave to the locals.
Redditor Mark-Zuckerberg- was curious to hear which European habits or ways of life were truly bizarre to Americans, leading them to ask:
"Americans, what do you think is the weirdest thing about Europe?"
Where's the kitchen?
"Rental apartments in Germany often come without a furnished kitchen."
"Sink, refrigerator, stove and cabinets."
"Because these are almost always provided in rental apartments in the US, it was shocking to me as an American looking at rentals in Germany that I would have to buy and install those things."
"Having read so many interesting comments about kitchen expectations in different parts of the world, let me ask this question."
"Do any of you know of places where rentals don't come with bathroom equipment either, and it's expected the tenant will purchase and install their own toilet and sink?"- AmbitiousPeanut
Differing levels of intimacy
"Depends which countries."
"I’ve always found it weird that a lot of them think hugging is more intimate than kissing someone on the cheek."
"I know it isn’t actually 'kissing' someone on the cheek most of the time."
"I’m referring to how someone touches your face with their face that is extremely intimate."- LadyValenciaLA
"The way people drive."
"The laws don’t seem to matter at all in Italy, only a little in France."
"Then the Germans are a completely different story."- jesusmansuperpowers
"OMG the toilets."
"In the US every toilet I've ever come across has a flush lever on the left of the tank or, in public restrooms, a sensor or a button on the top."
"In Europe every single toilet has a different flush mechanism."
"Every. Single. One."
"It's like an escape room challenge."
"Foot pedals. Cranks. Pull knobs."
"Things attached to the sink."
"I was once stuck in a bathroom for 20 minutes trying to figure out how to flush the toilet, it turned out to be a pulley on the other side of the room."- Yellowbug2001
Not for Night Owls
"The oddest thing I found in Copenhagen was that when we tried to go get food around 9pm, nearly everywhere was closed."
"We were in a busy part of the city but it took us so incredibly long to find a place open late."
"I don't live in a huge city but I can throw a rock from my house and it will bounce off half a dozen places open until midnight or later."
"This is not a complaint, just an observation."
"I loved Denmark."- Ginger_Chick
Just how old are we talking?
"Can't wrap my brain around that."
"I live in a farm house built in the 1920s and that is considered old."- Necessary_Sir_5079
"The sheer grasp of language I've seen from some Europeans is wild."
"Back in the early days of minecraft I used to play on a server with an English kid and a German Kid."
"The English kid would randomly speak Welsh and the German could jump between German, French, and English all the time and I was there like 'Guys, I can barely English, can we dumb it down for the yankee'."- CYNIC_Torgon
"We've been working on the railroad..."
"Trains go to every major city."- CoolIceCreamCone
Balmy summer nights
"Our hotels had ac but it was just room temp air."
"That heatwave must have been brutal I hate sleeping when it’s hot."- Slowmexicano
Some things that might seem strange at first might just take some getting used to.
Though power to any American brave enough to drive through Europe.
Particularly on the wrong side of the road in the U.K.!