Not drinking at Oktoberfest is no big deal.

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Some of the many booths at Oktoberfest.

Although you’ve probably heard much to the contrary, if you don’t drink beer and find yourself headed to the festival, it’s still pretty easy to have a blast.

I don’t like beer. Not one bit.

Why does beer taste bad to me?

I’ve been to breweries before to see the actual process of how it’s created, but they might as well have put some pasta in a blender and slopped in down in front of me. That’s what it tastes like to me.

A spaghetti smoothie.

Cut to my forever travel companion Smoky suggesting we go to Europe in the fall. The number one thing she wanted to do was visit Oktoberfest in Munich. She’s a beer aficionado, meanwhile I gag when I smell it.

At first I was like “Noooo way. No thanks. Nope. Not gonna happen.” But I really wanted to go to Europe with her. And Oktoberfest was one of her “If I don’t see this, I’m gonna die” things on the trip. So I took a page out of my traveling with pals survival guide and agreed to go, knowing that if my friend would enjoy herself, it would be worth it.

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Chums at Oktoberfest. We got there a little after 9AM on a Sunday. As you can see, there were still plenty of seats.

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I read quite a few blogs for Oktoberfest tips before going, but nearly all of them made it sound like a day of debauchery that would leave those wishing to stay sober at Oktoberfest bored to tears and irritated at their sloppy companions. One literally said that those not drinking at Oktoberfest would be “SOL.”

I completely disagree.

To clarify, I do drink, I just don’t like how beer tastes (or wine…or champagne for that matter). But, to those of you don’t drink at all for religious or personal reasons, you can still have fun at Oktoberfest if your group wants to go!

Here’s How to Enjoy Not Drinking at Oktoberfest:

  • Enjoy the Oktoberfest Drinks Other Than Beer.
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My lemonade.

Radlers are the name of the drink of beer mixed with lemonade. But you can just get the good stuff by itself! The lemonade they serve at Oktoberfest is actually basically sprite, but that doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. It costs between five to seven Euros for a decent sized bottle, so if you sip slowly, you can pace your friends and their beer steins.

There are tons of Oktoberfest drinks other than beer, including the aforementioned lemonade, water, coke, and other sodas.

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It can be weird to be sitting there without a beer stein in your hand while your entire table yells prost every three seconds and clinks their glasses together, sloshing beer everywhere. So to have fun and join in while not drinking at Oktoberfest…

  • Take the Menu out of the Display Glass and Use it to Toast.
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The German menu.

There are beer steins just chilling on tables in a few of the tents. They usually have silverware or a menu (all in German…sometimes with pictures) in them. If you feel left out, you can empty it and use it to clink with your table mates. Another option is to hang onto a friend’s finished stein instead of giving it back to the waitress right away.

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Smoky’s drink and “mine.”

I did this when Smoky and I moved from our first tent of the day the Augustiner-Festhalle into the Löwenbräu-Festhalle since there weren’t “menu steins” on the table, as it was a bit more rowdy.

No one really noticed that I wasn’t drinking. In fact, when they saw “my stein” was empty, they kept pouring some of their beer into it.

All in the generous spirit of Oktoberfest, but internally, I was still like “blech.”

  • Enjoy the Food Options at Oktoberfest.
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We demolished our pretzel.

If you’d like something to do with your hands, pass the time, or you’re just hungry while not drinking at Oktoberfest, dig into the delicious Bavarian food!

Just don’t do what Smoky did and tip five Euro on a three Euro pretzel, as buying food from the “pretzel people” walking around the Oktoberfest tents is never as competitive as ordering a drink, so small tips are okay, as you’re not tipping for more service, but rather as a courtesy.

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One of the “pretzel people.”

 

I had major food envy as a watched plated after plate of schnitzel, sausage, and potatoes parade out of the kitchen, but I was saving the cash I had for the carnival rides, so I stuck with sharing Smoky’s accidentally expensive pretzel.

  • Ride the Carnival Rides at Theresienwiese.
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SO much fun!

My favorite part of the day was going on carnival rides with a very intoxicated Smoky. She took it like a champ and even though I hadn’t had any alcohol, I think I was more nauseous then her! The rides at Oktoberfest are kind of pricy, ranging from three Euro for the tilt-a-wirl and swings really high in the air rides (does anyone know the actual names for these things?) to nine Euro for a 90 second roller coaster featuring the Olympic Rings.

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9 Euro for a 90 second ride comes to 1 Euro per 10 seconds.Kind of worth it.

Sober at Oktoberfest Oktoberfest drinks other than beer Not drinking at Oktoberfest

Her Snapchat Story that day was legendary.

Getting out to explore Theresienwiese to play on the rides was a nice break from the slightly claustrophobic feel of the tents, something that’s kind of exaggerated when you’re sober at Oktoberfest. There’s lots of families, teenagers on dates, and older tourists judging the younger ones stumbling around, making it an eclectic and interesting atmosphere.

  • Sober at Oktoberfest? People watch!
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Most of the girls were in Dirndls

Making friends at Oktoberfest was my favorite part of going! Alcohol is said to be a social lubricant, but it works just fine one-sided, so if you’re having a sober Oktoberfest, you won’t be lonely!

In Augustiner-Festhalle, Smoky and I shared a table with a group of rowdy Italian actors from Milan. Even though they spoke no English, their friendliness and my two semesters of basic Italian made us fast friends. We also chatted with a Hungarian woman and her German daughter, as well as an American from Seattle who met his German wife while at Oktoberfest many years ago.

Y’all knoooooow that story had me hyped. I was like “Omg yes y’all. Today’s the day. Where’s my German prince AT!”

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Our new Italian friends

In Löwenbräu-Festhalle, we met some with a few of Smoky’s friends from work, which was great because it had a more frat house-ish feel (read: loud and crowded), so it would’ve been harder to talk if we didn’t kind of already know each other.

Even if you don’t chat with too many people outside your group at Oktoberfest, seeing everyone walking around in their Dirndls and Lederhosen (or with gingerbread cookies around their necks) is still fun.

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People wore these cookies as necklaces.

Final Thoughts on Staying Sober at Oktoberfest

Obviously, if being around buzzed people or lots of alcohol in general is going to be detrimental or difficult for you, don’t go to Oktoberfest. There’s lots of things in Munich to enjoy while you’re friends are at the festival like the Deutsches Museum and Marienplatz.

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At the station on the way to Oktoberfest.

But, if you’re like me and just prefer not to drink beer, or even just don’t feel like drinking that particular day, not drinking at Oktoberfest doesn’t have to be a boredom sentence.

I had a blast and would even go again.

Have you been to Oktoberfest?

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This ultimate study abroad preparation checklist is here to save your life!

Preparing to study abroad is a super exciting time…so exciting, in fact, that you might forget to take care of some things before you jet off. Because I’ve been there, done that, messed that up, I’ve put together these study abroad planning tips to save you from the stress.

The Ultimate Study Abroad Preparation Checklist

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Typically, students choose a study abroad phone plan that might allow limited use within their new country, but without access to calls from home. If you plan to apply for a job during your program, then updating your voicemail is one of the most important things on your study abroad preparation checklist.

study abroad preparation checklist things to do before studying abroad

Call me beep me, if you wanna reach me…in Istanbul

The message should be short and sweet:

Hi, this is [your name] and I’m out of the country until [date]. In the meantime, please contact me at [your email].

I lost out on a cool job because I forgot to update my voicemail before leaving the country. Don’t let it happen to you!

  • Confirm your Credits 

Confirming your credits is worth stopping by your school’s international programs office in person — just to check. Before you leave to study abroad, there is still time to add/drop classes in your program. Your academic advisor or your school’s international program coordinator will be able to confirm the exact number of credits you need to take abroad and how they will transfer back to your home university.

study abroad preparation checklist things to do before studying abroad

My home away in Rome, the John Felice Rome Center.

Check and double check! Study abroad credits transfer is not something you want to mess up. I had a miscommunication with my registrar at Mount Holyoke and had to take two extra classes my senior year to graduate on time. No fun.

Don’t let this scare you, though! It’s not a reason not to study abroad. A little elbow grease and #ConstantVigilance can totally prevent any issues. Just don’t leave it off your study abroad preparation checklist.

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Don’t leave buying a bag off your study abroad preparation checklist. One of my main study abroad tips for women is to upgrade your purse before you leave. Also, if there are any guys reading this, ain’t no shame in rockin’ a new murse.

I’d like to recommend a “pick pocket + slash proof” bag like this one or this one. But fear not, you don’t have to sacrifice style for safety. I scoured the interwebs for the cutest choices because you’re all #WorthIt.

study abroad preparation checklist things to do before studying abroad

My “hella secure and unstealable” purse

Since studying abroad on a budget is also key, a small investment in a budget airline approved suitcase will you a lot of money on weekend adventures in the long haul.

I have this one from Rick Steves and am absolutely obsessed with it. It’s basically a Mary Poppins bag, in that it holds way more than it appears to.

  • Make some Friends

There is usually a Facebook group that you can join to ask questions specifically related to your program and semester and get to know your classmates. It’s a great resource for finding sometime to split the ride to campus from the airport or to share dinner with during that first awkward night.

study abroad preparation checklist things to do before studying abroad

the squad and I during my first week in Italy.

It’s also a good idea to touch base with your future classmates about sharing the cost of expensive textbooks, planning weekend trips, or trouble shooting Visa issues.

See also: 

Hate Traveling with Friends? Here’s How to Avoid Fighting on Vacation

5 Questions to Ask when Traveling to Avoid Common Travel Mistakes

  • Get a Credit Card 

Many of my friends had their debit cards eaten by ATMS or swiped by pickpockets. Getting a replacement debit card while abroad is SUCH a hassle, and you don’t want to consume your semester dealing with it. If you bring a credit card with you, you already have a replacement card handy if “disaster” strikes.

Credit cards are also easier to dispute fraudulent charges with, so if you fall victim to any shady travel companies, you are more likely to get your money back, making this one of the ESSENTIAL items on my study abroad preparation checklist.

 

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**This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase an item via these links, I get some cash money, at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

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