Hi, my family and I are going to Germany mid-December into January. I am a bit concerned about inflation and lack of fuel for hotels, trains etc because of the war in Ukraine. Should we postpone this trip until the situation hopefully gets better? My travel agent says everything is safe, but is he just trying to make money? Sorry to sound like a timid person, but I have concerns.
Tourism in Germany is up. Oktoberfest is back in full force right now in Munich after 2 years ; from looking at Instagram people appear to be having a good time ; you got to live now nobody lives forever.
Why pay for the services of a travel agent if you don’t trust his professionalism? If you don’t wish to go for whatever reason, then make that decision but why diminish your travel agent in the process.
Germany and other parts of Europe will be having a hard winter, with bad inflation and fuel shortages that are likely to affect heating and transportation. But I doubt if safety will be an issue for travelers or anyone else in places like Germany. I think your travel agent is right about safety, but you may not want to share the kind of winter Europeans are in for. Inflation is worldwide, your concern about it should be as great whether you're traveling or home.
No one can tell you what to decide. Things may be better next year, or not. Your family will be a year older, whatever that implies for your travel timetable. My bias is to take opportunities when they arise, partly because I'm older. I had a very enjoyable trip to Berlin a year ago. But prices were lower and fuel plentiful. Your risk/reward balance may be different.
I live here. The airports are busy, the city is full of tourists from everywhere. Trade Shows are taking place.
Yes, people know their fuel bills will be increasing. They already pay about 8$ a gallon for gas. They have turned off lighting on monuments in the city, but other than that, it is business as usual. No one is running around with fear in their eyes.
"My travel agent..."
I thought those folks had become as scarce as the Fuller Brush men. IME the average Fuller Brush man might be just as knowledgeable as the average travel agent about train travel in Germany. TA's sell rail passes, which today are anachronisms, generally speaking.
The answer to this is right in front of your (and everyone's) face:
Stop watching the news.
Get your entertainment from sources that honestly label themselves as such,
and get your information from sources that aren't trying to sell you stuff.
1 You hired a good travel agent, in my opinion, and by my standards everything in Germany is safe (your standards may be different, and just as valid).
2 To your question of shortages, probably will be some, and cost will be up, but the exchange rate is strong, so maybe it's close to break even.
3 Me, I would go have fun, given the circumstances it may add to the education that travel provides.
My mantra is “Postpone nothing.” Who knows when you’ll get to go again? The pandemic showed us how disrupted the world order can be.
Everyone is of course entitled to their own fears. But, I think it might be useful for you to think in more depth about what the exact details of these concerns are.
- September inflation numbers, in Germany, with the rate at 10 % are concerning. But, for some context: The year-over-year CPI inflation rate for Germany in August was 7.9 %; the year-over-year inflation rate in the US in August based on the CPI was 8.3 %. The inflation situation is a worldwide problem right now.
- The situation with energy is not so much about fuel (petrol), as about gas for heating and relatedly electricity, although of course the entire sector is impacted, and saving electricity by turning off public lights is for sure happening (along with many other things). In any case, the biggest problem is with natural gas. For a scale of gas-saving measures: The current government standards for saving gas include things like lowering indoor temperatures in work-places by 1 degree Celsius (from about 68 to about 66.5 f). There are currently no such rules for dwellings and hotels (of course things could change, but it would be a fairly major thing). We are all paying a lot more for home heating, though, so people are conserving pretty dramatically, and public spaces will by law be a bit chillier this winter. But, that is what extra layers of clothing are for.
I think it is likely that tourists this winter will, indeed, notice the energy crisis. But I am not sure that is something to be afraid of, exactly. Germany is the leading economy of the EU and a country with over 80 million people who are going about their normal lives right now. In order for the conditions deteriorate to the point that tourism is unsafe or miserable, there would have to be a huge crisis in between, far larger than what we have seen so far and in a radical new direction (for instance, an expansion of the war outside the boundaries of Ukraine or something). If that happened, then of course I would rethink about travel. But on the basis of the current facts? That is less understandable to me, although of course everyone is entitled to their own standards on these sorts of questions.
Just a little anecdote about fears and travel from a German perspective (and I do not say this to be politically provocative, but just to share the different side of a story): A reasonable number of Germans in general as well as in my specific circle are afraid to travel to the US because of how much gun violence they believe to be present in the country. I know more than one person who simply won't go anywhere in the US. Fears, especially fears about foreign countries, are not always rational, and it is therefore to really consider the basis of the fears and the data behind them.
I would not cancel my vacation.
In fact I'm happy that we are having now the once in a lifetime chance to safe some gas/energy/power and all of that.
Inflation. Phooey if you are paying in dollars. It's never been cheaper. The dollar is up 20% while inflation last month in Germany was about 10%.
Hi Christina, hopefully the information shared by others has already alleviated your fears.
Since your trip is two and a half months away, you probably still have some time before you have to decide (due to cancellation policy, etc.).
If it was me I wouldn’t make this decision until you have to, who knows what all might change in the meantime.
Here in Switzerland they are now predicting a more mild winter, if that happens then our experience of things will definitely be different.
So often where you get information or a “slice of information” can really impact your point of view.
News is often just a dumb downed sound bite to grab attention. I’d listen to your travel agent and the people reporting on what day to day life is really like in Germany right now.
1 christinabergbower4, you just demonstrated a good reason to have a travel agent; professional informed information.
2 Decide what you decide, you cant be wrong and be happy with your choice.
3 There is no wrong decision.
There is little doubt that prices will continue to rise across the board, in Europe, as the seasons change and demand for energy increases. While the US$ may be favourable, the CDN$ is not.
There might be a we can handle it smugness amongst some Germans now, but my friends in both Brandenburg and Hessen (one of which owns a small inn, in the Taunus area), expect their budgets to get squeezed this coming winter.
It'll be your comfort zone that will make or break your decision, not the "now or never, don't delay types." Hell, there's always tomorrow.
There will never be a perfect time to travel. If you always wait for that perfect time, you'll never go anywhere.
I guess the difference for me is, I've been travelling internationally since 1970, and as a result, I don't have any lost ground to make up as so many here seem to have the need to do.
well there is certainly expected impact in Germany from the energy costs, if not the supply.
I was speaking with a friend who has a hotel in the south west of Germany, a town which gets plenty of tourists during the high season of summer.
He's put in a heated infinity pool and spa area - a couple of years before the pandemic - and taken over a nearby restaurant, again a couple of years ago. They managed to survive the pandemic so far, but he told me that the huge increases in energy cost have taken him to the edge. They charge a fairly hefty price because they offer all these new amenities, and of course all the building work needs to be paid for. They have seen their bills shoot through the roof. So they can't afford to heat the pool into the autumn and winter and shut it off. They can't afford to keep the saunas running if there isn't anybody in them, and they can't just turn them on in an instant, so they have shut them off. The associated staff have been let go. Since they can't run a partial spa they have shut the rest. They don't worry about the availability of energy, they just can't pay for it. They are hoping that the new German government will help them. They can't afford to lower the room night price but they are nearly empty because the high season is over, so they have to. He told me that if they don't get help they will close before November.
That's not to panic - that's fact - and I'm sure they aren't alone.
There are certainly plenty of tourists elsewhere in Germany, and people are continuing their daily lives. A bunch of English men on a works outing in the Saarland (???) where I was staying a couple of days ago certainly kept me awake with the noise from their Oktoberfest celebrations (in Saarland???), and were still shouting across the breakfast room the next morning, so maybe it is all location.
All I'm saying is, don't expect normal everywhere. But don't worry.
Generally, I think you are good to go.
Still, I understand that some lighting outside in cities may not be utilized and some form of rationing may take place. However, that is more likely to be an issue later in the Winter.
I lived in Germany for four years and got to dislike the long winters. It gets dark at 4:30pm around Christmas and it will be cold.
I just don't like traveling to cold places.
I'm watching this post since I will be traveling to Italy in December and my husband has the exact same concerns as you do. I believe your concerns are legitimate. You mention traveling with a family which means that not only do you need to keep yourself safe, but others as well. That requires a higher level of caution than if you were just traveling by yourself.
No one knows the future. And not paying attention to news and just trusting a travel agent is not wise. I believe you need to be as informed as possible. This means looking beyond what's easily available since our news does have a tendency to sensationalize things. Perhaps you can find a local German paper in English and read what's happening from their perspective. And of course, do what you have done and post in forums.
Hopefully your travel agent booked accommodations that have a generous cancellation policy. Unless you are coming up on a deadline where a decision needs to be made, I'd wait. That's what we plan to do. For my trip, I don't plan on making a decision on go no go until late November. Things can change very quickly and since covid, 3 months is now considered a long time before a trip.
Perhaps you can find a local German paper in English and read what's
happening from their perspective.
The best news from Germany in English (although honestly still very limited) is Deutsche Welle, which can be found here.
Normally, I prefer going to Germany only in the summer which is the story of all my trips there except for one in Oct, certainly not in the winter as you have in mind. Aside from that, if I were to do a winter trip, I would not hesitate going over regardless of the news. I follow the news daily, (repercussions on the war in the Ukraine ....horrific, depressing !) .
Regardless, as one up to date fully vaxxed, boosted, and all that, I would have absolutely no concerns being in Germany now, using only public transport ie, no rental car , exploring Berlin, Leipzig, Munich, etc again, visiting small towns especially those in North Germany and the eastern area , tons of places I can think of seeing, and staying in small hotels, Pensionen, etc., ie, simply being out and about I would rather be traveling in Germany than a lot cities in the US.
Traveling now over there has admittedly its pros and cons, if one chooses to view it as such. My view...forget the cons, focus on the momentary and singular advantages.
Wow, what a response, and all very thoughtful comments! I especially liked the idea of getting a German newspaper, and booking closer to the actual date. Yes inflation is worldwide, but some of the post put that into perspective with facts to back that up - very appreciated. Thank you forum contributors.
The old saying goes - 'It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.' Deutsche Welle did have an article from July 2022, 'Germany braces for social unrest over energy prices.'
My assumption was that you already booked your trip and were wondering if you should cancel it. If that is not the case, the decision is going to be harder for you to make since as you get closer to your travel date, prices most likely will go up and selection down.
If still planning to book, ask the travel agent what the cancellation policy is on the accommodations and airfare. That will help in your decision making.
Within the DW news network I like the business segment the most, and a recent story they are running is about how restaurants are having trouble keeping their waitstaff positions filled because other retail and clerk jobs are easier than being a server -- and then in the story they interview a restaurant owner who used to have 41 employees pre-covid and now uses only 16 -- the owner is running plates out to the tables himself and admits that when every seat is filled during the dinner rush it's too many eaters per waiter for it to be manageable. This sounds familiar here in the USA where all this faux wining about how people don't want to work is actually a situation in which owners don't want to pay reasonable wages. The traveler angle on this is that you can adjust your expectations about how quickly and how pleasantly you will be waited upon when you dine in places that are understaffed.
Cameron Hewitt's postings from his wrap-up of the season along the Dalmatian coast say similar things -- cafes and bars and small hotels are ready for a break after dealing with too many rude tourists all summer and not enough hands to cater to them.
I think it depends on your tolerance for the cold. I have already turned on my heat because lows in the 50s make me cold.
Fully second the notion by others to go! There's no better time than now, with exchange rate as it is providing actual savings. My sister is on vacation at the Bodensee as we speak and having a great time. Restaurants, museums etc will be open, and you'll be there to experience Christmas markets, if you and your family are into this kind of thing.
I am going on a Rhine River cruise in late November/December. A life long worrier, I too have digested stories about energy shortages and the growing footprint of the war in the Ukraine. I can't control any of that. I can only control my resolve to live my life the way I want to and I love to travel. I will be prudent and keep apprised of any government or vendor (cruise operator) warnings. But I am full steam ahead (sorry, it's a cruise, could not resist the pun) on doing this trip.
Also, the thought of an hour or more on hold with Lufthansa to change my travel plans is scarier than the world news!
Thank you for the positive and humorous response. We have decided to go.
I've been in Vienna and Budapest for 2 weeks. All is well, prices are reasonable. But the surprise is that when I check my credit/debit card accounts the numbers always surprise me. It's been years since the exchange rate was this good. Come to Europe, life is too short to put things off.
Glad you had a fantastic time in Budapest. Thank you for the encouraging words. We are going!!!!
I am glad you decided to go! I just got back from 2 amazing weeks in Budapest following a month in Poland. For anyone else reading this thread and still making up their minds, right now is still a great time to go.
Just got back from two weeks in Italy and then Paris. Had no issues, felt safe, and enjoyed every minute.