My trip to Berlin took an unexpected turn when I found myself handing over 60 Euro for fare evasion. Hang on a sec, that sounds terrible. By no means am I a criminal. I am however, forgetful, and since I had left my three-day rail pass in my bag that was back at the hotel, I had to pay the consequences. But thanks to my mistake, I’ve come up with a short, yet important list of things to keep in mind when travelling abroad!

Before leaving your hotel, always check to see that you have all of your important and necessary items with you. 

Don’t make the same mistake as me and find yourself handing over money in a situation that could have totally been avoided! When using local transportation, check with station staff to ensure that you’re purchasing a ticket that will get you to where you need to be.  Additionally, don’t forget your student ID, for many places offer student discounts! On the contrary, I would advise that items such as your passport and excess cash be left in a safe place, depending on your daily activities.       

When visiting historical or memorial sites, always be respectful and think/reflect deeply on the symbolism and meaning behind each one

During my trip to Berlin, our group visited many historical sites including Hohenschönhausen Memorial Center (former Stasi Prison), Memorial and Museum of Sachsenhausen former concentration camp and Neue Wache, just to name a few. We were given a guided tour of each site that we visited and I found that one thing in particular was stressed throughout each of the tours – the importance of respect and reflection. It may seem obvious to act respectfully and reflect when visiting historical sites however, and as one tour guide expressed his frustration, some people easily forget. For example, think about when and where it is appropriate to take a ‘selfie’. When taking photos of something historical, remember to understand its significance and the story behind it. Chances are that you will show your friends and family photos of your travels and it is important to be able to share with them the true meaning and symbolism behind each memorial.

Berlin Cathedral, German Bundestag (Parliament) and the Brandenburg Gate

NEWS FLASH: Your shoes may be comfortable until you have to walk around for 12 hours – dress and pack accordingly!! 

You’re probably thinking “duh, it’s obvious”, but I can promise you that if you haven’t already worn something you once thought was suitable for a day filled with walking and regretted your decision, you will one day. Travelling to new cities means that you will most likely explore by foot and unless you have the world’s comfiest shoes, I suggest you fill your backpack with Band-Aids and take as many breaks as possibles. On the topic of attire, don’t wear a mid-drift and mini shorts to the German Bundestag (Parliament) or the site of a former concentration camp. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

You’re travelling to immerse yourself into the culture of the place where you’re visiting, right? What better way than to indulge in the local cuisine. 

A sure-fire way to get an understanding of an area and its traditions is through its cuisine! No matter where you go, there will be some sort of dish local to the area and chances are, you’ve probably never had it before. Luckily for me, German food is delicious and I happily feasted on Schnitzel and Currywurst. Sometimes however, you may question why such things are being served as food. Nevertheless, always try new things! Afterall, what do you have to lose?!

German Schnitzel, “Prost!” and Currywurst