Blog,  Travel

CultureSmart! Travel Guide Review – Prepared For Germany!

Disclaimer: I was kindly gifted the CultureSmart! Germany travel guide to read, review and learn. All words and opinions are my own unless stated otherwise. I have also not received any money in return for this review. If you have any questions then please leave a comment below. You can find MSBLife’s Disclosure and Privacy Policy here.


If any of you have been with me and MSBLife since January 2019 then, first, thank you! Second, you would know I set myself some goals in my post titled, ‘Achieve what YOU want in 2019!’ Whilst this is not an update on those goals, (don’t worry – that’s coming) it does concentrate on the first goal on my list – visit Germany.

Spoiler alert: I haven’t been yet. I have been very close quite a few times now. First in February with Jack and even this coming August bank holiday on my own. But, there is still 4 months of 2019 left and I am a determined person.

me sat at garden bench looking at the front cover of CultureSmart! Germany guide.

So, as I mentioned, I did spend quite a bit of July thinking about my August trip to Germany. The fact that I have now been given the opportunity to be gifted a CultureSmart! travel guide is such perfect timing! This post is going to concentrate on my thoughts on the guide, based around what I would want and find interesting to know when visiting a country.

Before we get cracking, here is a short introduction into who and what CultureSmart! are.

Who and What is CultureSmart!?

CultureSmart! says that their ‘guides are written for people who want more than just the nuts and bolts of where to stay, what to see, and how to travel.‘ They cover the general key facts about a country but then keep going – and I love it. I’m not lying when I said I read the entire thing, front to back, one Saturday morning. CultureSmart! also offer consulting services, and deliver seminars, for companies on intercultural and diversity issues.

Letter from Philip from CultureSmart! and their Germany guide.

Our aim is to arm readers with a level of cultural fluency, so that whatever your reason for travelling, each situation may be approached with both confidence and sensitivity.

CultureSmart!

I love learning. For someone who wanted to visit Germany that badly, I seriously did not know enough about it. I knew its history, just not it’s present. Now though, I know that if you have an accident on their autobahns you can lose your driver’s licence – even if it isn’t your fault. Things like this don’t make it into other travel guides, yet it is so important to know!

The actual CultureSmart! guide

The guide is small enough to carry around but big enough that you aren’t squinting. So a good size. For perspective, it is slightly bigger than your average pocket-sized lonely planet guides. I’m am also a fan of the lil‘ things in life, so I am not embarrassed to admit that I am won over by the fact the inside of the front cover acts as a bookmark. The price of the guides are £7.99.

I am slightly disappointed that the photos are in black and white, although I guess it is better for the environment. Despite this, the book is made of quality material and, in my opinion, is going to withstand being chucked in a suitcase or bag.

What does the guide include?

The guide lives up to its name – it’s culture smart. There are nine chapters to fully prepare you to immerse yourself into the country. You have the generic key fact population figure (81 million recorded in July 2014) next to the fact that where you live can impact how much members of religious communities have to pay in church tax. You then explore further into topics such as the land, social lives and communication of the country.

Inside the travel, health and safety chapter

Who are the CultureSmart! guides for?

The answer to this is debatable. If you are wanting the generic style guide that includes the top sights then maybe these guides aren’t for you. Do you find the country, the people that live there and the history (oh the history!) interesting? Then a CultureSmart! guide is for you.

If you plan to travel to a country for work, or long periods of time, then the guides are also suitable for you – and there are 100+ countries to choose from!

So, what sort of stuff do you learn?

I got to learn about Germany’s different states, their capitals and difference between the north and the south. The history throws it back to the Carolingian Empire right to the German reunification. I know about Germany’s work ethic, and how it differs to ours, (Very useful for those travelling for work!) to their various traditions.

Inside the CultureSmart! Germany guide learning about lifestyle.

I do wish the guide did include more on the ‘holiday’ side of things. Whilst the beginning speaks of the various cities, I could do with some more suggestions. That would be my only hit to this guide.

To summarise…

If you want to learn – buy these guides. Only there for the famous landmarks? You may find more use elsewhere. But, if you want to become more aware of cultures whilst travelling – buy these guides.

I found the writing style easy to read, at times humorous and enjoyable to read. For example, ‘In Britain, if a train is four minutes late they breathe a sigh of relief that, for once, it is on time.’ (You should all know my troubles with public transport now!)

What are your thoughts on the CultureSmart! guides?

Do you have any questions? Please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the guide, CultureSmart and even any interesting facts on Germany!

Me reading the Germany guide in blue hoodie and batman shorts...

If you would like to check out and purchase a CultureSmart! travel guide yourself then visit their website or follow them on Twitter.

I will go to Germany and I sure will be bringing this with me.

Till next time my friends!

-Millie 🙂

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