Looking back on that very first Oktoberfest, there were a ton of rookie mistakes that I made. I still had the time of my life, but I do wish I could have done it a little differently. And because I care about all of you future study abroad-ers, here are some tips that will prevent you from becoming "that American" who is face-planted in their sauerkraut and bratwurst by noon-time in the Augustiner tent.
1) Rest is necessary for an all-day booze fest.
Before running a marathon, athletes make sure to get tons of rest. Since attending Oktoberfest is an event equally as notable as running 26.2 miles, you should follow the same regime. Trust me, you're going to need some serious Z's before a day worth of drinking. If you travel with Euroadventures, you'll be on an overnight bus which is AWESOME because you hop on, watch some good movies, pass out for the night, and wake up in Munich ready to hit the tents, fully rested!
2) Endless Steins + Empty Stomach = I'llcleanitupIpromise
To me, the best part about Oktoberfest is the food. Okay, maybe it's the beer - but the food is an added bonus! From the sausage, to the sauerkraut, to the pretzels - there's definitely stuff heavy enough to keep you full. The worst mistake you can make is forgoing the grub in exchange for more booze. Start out your day with something heavy, like one of the various types of sausages - even if it's still early. Vegetarian? Order one of the GINORMOUS pretzels you'll see being sold, and maybe a vegetable-based soup to go with it. Regardless of your choice - just make sure you're putting enough in your stomach to balance out the amount of alcohol you're putting in it as well. I promise, you don't want to be THAT American puking underneath the table and getting kicked out. You'll go from YOLO to FML faster than you can say "Prost".
3) "I'm Not Wearing Lederhosen. I'll look like such a tourist."
You might think the people dressed up in lederhosen (men's traditional German wear) and dirndls (women's typical German dress) are annoying, tacky tourists - not the case! Most of the people you see dressed up are actually German! Oktoberfest is a traditional festival held since as early as 1810 - so Germans take it very seriously and dress accordingly. Don't be embarrassed to join in on the fun! If you want to save some cash & plan ahead early enough, you can order cheaper, imitation costumes from the states. If you want the more authentic frocks, you can buy them in tons of places all over Munich - but be prepared to spend anywhere from 50€ - 200€ depending on the quality.
We all know that wave of confidence we get when we've had a drink or seven. However, Oktoberfest is NO place to be showing off that bravado. Germans take their drinking seriously, but they take their security even more so. They truly believe this festival is a time to be happy and enjoy making new friends - so any sign of conflict means you'll get tossed before you can even utter your first "yo momma". That being said, you will be in tight quarters and you're bound to bump into someone - if you get heated, take a walk, cool off, and remember, there's no use crying over spilt beer.
5) Chugging Is Cool...Until You Throw Up Or Get Kicked Out In Front of Thousands of People
There are a lot of rules in the tents - and in many tents - you WILL get kicked out for chugging if you make it a well-known fact. Many people stand on the benches to chug their stein but it can end up pretty badly if you aren't able to down your booze or, even worse, you can KEEP it down. Dancing on the benches is fine, and often, encouraged. However, you'll be removed from the tents if you stand on the benches and make yourself a drunken spectacle. Save the dramatics for frat parties and enjoy your time without trying to be an Oktoberfest hero.
6) Don't. Wear. Flip. Flops.
This is pretty simple - even if the weather permits - don't wear open-toed shoes. There will be glass EVERYWHERE among the Oktoberfest grounds, and the last thing you want is to head to the E.R. to have a piece removed from your poor little footsie - even though from what I hear the hospitals are quite nice in Munich! Do yourself a favor and cover them feet up!
This is similar to the last tip, but put simply: steins are heavy and made of glass. Prosting (saying cheers by tapping glasses) your neighbor is fun, but there have been more than a few occasions where the prosting was a bit too vigorous and well, the glasses broke, and some nasty cuts have ensued. We have former employees with the stitches to prove it!
8) Know Where You're Sleeping, Or You'll Sleep On the Grass
Picture this - you're numerous steins deep, it's about 6pm and you've been drinking since 11am. Needless to say, it's time for a power-nap. You say bye to your friends, and start heading back to your accommodations. That's when you realize, you're in a completely new city, you may have lost you map, and you also probably have impaired judgement. Result? You may end up sleeping on the Infamous Lawn. Yes, there is a famous lawn where you will see tons of people passed out. If snoozing on grass isn't your scene, we recommend writing down the address or name of the place you're staying, as well as keeping a taxi number on hand. Also, Euroadventures will provide you with a detailed contact list of all hostels as well as tour guide phone numbers so you can be helped home, as well as a map of the area. Hang onto that info and you can' go wrong. That way, you'll sleep in your comfy bed instead of on fertilizer.
9) "Bringing My I-phone and/or Thousand-Dollar-Camera Is Such A Great Idea! Memories!"
Think about that time you brought your new cell phone to a house party. By the fifth round of flip-cup, you may have been feeling stellar but your phone is probably swimming with the fishes. Literally. Of course you want some memories from your trip, but try to reserve those photos for times where you might be, ahem, less under the influence. There are A TON of reported lost or stolen phones and cameras during the festival, and you DON'T want to become a part of that statistic.
10) Don't Let Anyone Lie To You. Europeans LIKE tips.
Forget the mantra that "tipping isn't necessary in Europe", 'cause it will get you EVERYWHERE at Oktoberfest. Picture a tent of thousands of people with a limited number of servers to accomodate all of those people. How will your server remember you and head to you for a refill before countless others? If you tip well, it's a surefire way to make sure you won't be waiting too long to get your hands on your next drink. If a stein is around 8€, we recommend throwing down a 10€ bill and insisting they keep the change. This makes their job easier, they'll be grateful for the generous tip, and they'll pretty likely remember to head your way before anyone else that may be vying for their attention.
So what are you waiting for? You're fully schooled on the world that is Oktoberfest. Book your trip now before we're sold out!
Besides all my STELLAR tips at how NOT to be a Rookie at Oktoberfest, check out the video below. If this doesn't have you strapping on your lederhosen and buying the German edition of Rosetta Stone, I don't know what will...
Questions? Feel free to add or message me on facebook!
Until the next trip,