Germany, Italy & Switzerland: Oktoberfest
Know Before You Go
For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.
Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 800-766-2645. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
- Verify your passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date. No visa is required for this trip if you are a U.S. Citizen
- Join the Facebook group: Join your private Facebook group now! It’s how you can meet other travelers and see announcements from your Tour Director. Call us at 800-766-2645 if you’re having trouble joining.
- Request a roommate:: Double check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
- Personalize your trip: Travel Insurance is not available for purchase on tour, and the price of Optional Excursions increases after departure. We suggest logging in to your Online Account now to add these items.
- Call your bank: Let your bank and credit card company know of your travel plans so you can withdraw cash and use your debit/credit cards abroad. Otherwise, you risk your account being blocked.
Pack Like a Pro
Consult your airline’s website for baggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but note that your airline ticket includes one checked bag. At EF Ultimate Break, we recommend limiting your luggage to one backpack or purse, plus one checked bag or larger carry on. See more packing tips below:
- 1 light jacket (check weather beforehand)
- Comfortable walking shoes
- 1-2 pairs jeans / trousers / shorts
- 3-4 shirts / t-shirts / sweaters
- 1 nicer outfit for Farewell Dinner or a night out
- Lederhosen / Dirndl for Oktoberfest (more further down)
- Underwear and socks
- Toiletries, medicine
- Phone or camera
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
- Adapter / Converter – type “C”, “F”, or universal
Religion: You’re required to cover your knees and shoulders in sacred places like St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.
Oktoberfest: At Oktoberfest, large backpacks and purses are not allowed in the tents.
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. You can check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.
- If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get re-booked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time
- If you slept in and missed your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case…
Note: All flight information is online (e-ticket) via your account and the airline’s website. You will not receive a physical paper ticket from us.
Arriving in Venice
Your Tour Director will communicate on Facebook or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is another reason you should join your Facebook group.
Meet Your Tour Director and Fellow Travelers
Your Tour Director will also tell you best way to communicate with them during the trip; they will be with your group from start to finish so if there is anything you need, connect with them. Concerned about international cellular data and staying in touch with your group? Check out “Phones and Electronics” further down in this guide.
Use Your Phone, Internet, and Electronics
We recommend purchasing an international data plan from your cell phone provider for this trip. The most common options are the Travel Pass with Verizon, or use a personal hot spot with your carrier. See more details about connectivity:
- Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches.
- For your cell phone and any other electronics you bring abroad, you will also need a converter/adapter
- Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons, and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.
Note: You should use a “C” or ”F” adapter / converter on this tour. A staff favorite is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)
On The Ground
Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volksfest (people’s festival) held annually from late September - October. Millions of people flock to this event every year, and for good reason! Locally referred to as the wiesn (fairgrounds, Theresa’s meadows), it’s a staple of Bavarian culture, taking place since 1810. Read on for tips and know-how’s of this Bavarian bash, so you can make the most of your celebration!
- “Wiesn”: If you really want to be a local, call it the wiesn*. ***Wiesn translates to meadow, and this festival takes place on a giant meadow - the Theresienwiese!
- Be nice to the bartenders: Not only are they extremely fast and efficient, but if you’re at a table you’ll order from a waiter or waitress. Be nice, and know that if you tip, you’ll get even faster service.
- Don’t touch: Follow up to our point above… Please don’t touch the waiters or waitresses. Out of respect, but also know that their jobs and tensions are very high!
- Pace yourself: Beer at Oktoberfest typically comes from Munich’s six breweries: Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu München, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten-Franziskaner. They’re all brewed at 6% and a bit stronger than you’d imagine. Don’t be that guy/girl.
- Share the space: The tables in Oktoberfest tents are communal, so don’t be surprised or hesitant when others join you for the fun!
- It’s not cheap: One mass of beer costs approximately $11. If it helps… they’re huge.
- Dress the part: If you don’t wear a lederhosen or dirndl, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. Lucky for you, there are plenty of places to buy these abroad! Just avoid sequins, neon, or above-the-knee garb - these are frowned upon by locals.
- Try the food: Bratwurst, pretzels, spaetzle, pie, balance out your beer with some of the delicious local food!
- Prost! When you cheers, or prost, clink your glasses at the bottom, say “PROST!”, and make eye contact!
- Have fun: It’s a once-in-a-life-time experience, after all!
Manage Your Money
The local currencies on this trip vary. In Italy, Germany, and Austria it is the Euro. In Switzerland you’ll use the Swiss Franc! Read on for more must-knows about money and tipping on your trip!
- When exchanging money before the trip, better rates are usually found overseas, but it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive.
- You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but be wary of fees
- Budget around $80-$100 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities
- Tipping is not customary in Europe, but if you feel inclined it’s ok to leave 10%. or a few euros for exceptional service.
- We recommend tipping your Tour Director $40 - $60 at the end of the trip. For local guides, you should tip $1-$2 at the end of each experience.
Note: Let your bank and credit card companies know your travel plans ahead of time to avoid potential complications while abroad.
On this trip you’ll experience standard rooming, unless you purchased a private room upgrade. Standard rooming is in European hotels or boutique hostels and you’ll room with up to six fellow EF Ultimate Break travelers of the same gender per room. What to expect for standard rooming:
- 4-5 fellow EF Ultimate Break roommates of the same gender
- Small, boutique hotels and hostels
- One private bathroom per room that you’ll share with your roommates
- Limited WiFi connection
- Limited air conditioning – AC is popular in the U.S., but not in Europe!
If you have any questions about your rooming status or want to request a specific roommate, call us at 800-766-2645, or connect with your Tour Director.
Getting from A to B
All transfers between cities are via private motor coach and can take anywhere between 2-8 hours. You’ll also receive a public transportation pass in each city that offers them. Transportation in cities that offer no pass may require more walking. Prepare to walk between 4-8 miles per day, especially when sightseeing.
Optimize Your Free Time
If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. Or, talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time. Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add ons.
Wine and Dine
You’ll sample a variety of local dishes on your trip, but read on for tips, tricks, and delicacies you just must try.
- For breakfast, try a sweet pastry and cappuccino instead of the savory continental breakfast you’re used to!
- Iced coffee begone, espresso is your new friend. You’ll never find a bad espresso in Italy, but order and pay for your espresso at the bar to avoid paying more than the usual 1-2€.
- Indulge in a long lunch and try the local pasta, meat, fish, cheese, fruits, wine, and more wine. May we suggest a bold Tuscan red?
- Before dinner, try aperitivo—a light meal between lunch and dinner with snacks and wine, or a refreshing spritz like aperol or campari
- In Italy, dinner doesn’t often begin until after 8 or 9pm. More reason to enjoy aperitivo!
- Try an after-dinner digestive liquor like limoncello, sambuca, amari, or apertivi.
- With over 3,200 recognized types of bread in the country, German bread is the best thing since sliced bread
- Unlike Italy, breakfast in Germany is a savory spread of bread rolls, sausage, and cheese with coffee or tea
- Lunch, or mittagessen, is the main meal of the day, featuring potato salad, sausage, schnitzel, vegetables, fries, cabbage, and potatoes!
- End your day with abendbrot, or “evening bread.” Yes. MORE BREAD. This meal consists of bread, cheese, pickles, sausage, and beer
- For beer, try a refreshing Hefeweizen from Weihenstephan, or Stiegl, the official beer of Salzburg. Prost!
- Save your Swiss Francs for a block of frischschokolade—fresh chocolate, a praline, or a truffle for a chocolate foodie experience
- The Swiss recommend Gruyere, Appenzeller, Emmentaler; world-renowned cheese from all different regions of Switzerland
- Like Italy, the Swiss start their day with light pastries or cereal, followed by a mid-morning snack of bread or fruit
- Zmittag—lunch—is when locals enjoy hot international dishes
- Dinner, or Znacht, starts around 6-7pm and can consist of colder foods like cheese, meats, honey and jam
Dining in Europe
- Ordering food and drinks is a great time to practice the local language; it goes a long way with locals, and shows respect for their culture.
- Restaurants ask you to choose between still or sparkling water, but remember sparkling water is an added cost
- The less special requests you make at a restaurant, the more accurate your dish will be
- It’s normal to seat yourself in a restaurant instead of waiting to be seated
- Wait-staff in Europe are not as attentive as in the US; don’t be afraid to flag someone over for help!
Note: Vegetarian options will likely be available but let your Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions ahead of time so they can plan accordingly.
Speak the Language
While it may feel awkward at first, attempting the local language goes a long way when navigating a city and interacting with people. Practice these basic phrases in Italian, German, and Swiss German to get started:
- Hello = Ciao / Hallo
- Goodbye = Ciao / Auf Wiedersehen
- Thank You = Grazie / Danke
- Yes = Sì / Ja
- No = No / Nein
- Where is ___? = Dove si trova _? / Wo ist _?
- Cheers! = Saluti! / Prost!
Health and Safety
It’s important to maintain your health and stay safe while abroad. From your first flight to Italy all the way through to your farewell dinner, drink plenty of water, get sleep when you can, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:
- Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
- Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
- Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
- At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi or Uber, and always have cash on hand.
- Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411
We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.