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Winter Wanderer - some tips and packing

24 Oct 2013 Dani2203 said

Dani2203

So I did winter wanderer over Christmas/new years last year. I had an absolute blast, met the best people and saw some amazing things.

So a few things I thought;
* I did all of the optionals on the tour. Although there are some that are dinners etc, a lot of the time if you don't do the optional you then you have to find your own food and way around(which you might want) but most people do the optionals so its fun to be with everyone.

* Even if you plan not to do all of the optonals, SAVE AS IF YOU ARE!!!! Because you either will choose to do them when the tour manager sells it to you or the tour manager will create and find there own little deals like dinners, pub crawls or other 'special things' in different cities that cost but are often the best ones and you definitely don't want to miss because you have run out of money.

* If you have any questions ask the tour manager or driver! They know their stuff and if they don't they will find out!

As for packing;
less is best! - There are plenty of opportunities to pop into shops if you want something to wear out etc but make sure you have the essentials before you leave while you can find sales etc.

as for warm clothes
2 jeans, wind (kind of snow) jacket, nice coat, hoodie, tights, thermals

(thermals are necessary if your traveling over similar time - I wore them under jeans ALOT or under tights to go out. I never really used the thermal shirts though. If your considering not buying them I would insist to buy atleast one pair while you have options before you leave as many people tried to go out and find the during the middle of the tour.)

I took 2 dresses and a skirt and top to wear out, 1 pair of shorts which I wore in Spain. I mostly wore t-shirts then layered depending on weather, as the buss, shops etc can be warm.

Shoes I took a pair of volleys (runners), flat, leather, knee high boots and nice ankle boot heals. Although my shoe options were pretty good quality wise even they didn't always stand up to the cold. Double socks and frozen feet isn't the greatest so GET GOOD SHOES!!

Also take lots of underwear!!! Even though on the longer tour we had 2 laundry days by the end of the tour I ran out and had to buy more! Which is funny now but not so much at the time!!

I could probably ramble on here for ages so if you have any questions please ask!!

ALSO, if your trying to figure out whether to do the trip or not DO IT! Don't hesitate!

Something that I forgot to add when I first wrote this is that you have to (not entirely expected but kind of is) to tip the tour manager and driver. Though by the end of the trip you will probably want to do so anyway, they are great! But 2-3 pound common (at least what we were told).

  • 24 Oct 2013 Chelsea said

    Chelsea

    thanks for the tips. I am doing this tour January 8 2014 and I could not be more excited. I’ve done a lot of research and I’m just ready for it to get here already!

  • 8 Nov 2013 DAFINA said

    DAFINA

    Thanks Soo Much 4 All The Great Information. I’m actually doing the European Magic Winter Tour December 2013. I can’t wait 4 my trip 2 start but had no clue what 2 take or how I should possibly pack. Reading your post has helped me to get an idea on what 2 take or not 2 take. Thanks! :-)

  • 10 Nov 2013 Karenth said

    Karenth

    hi Dafina! im taking the European Magic too! when does your tour start? :)

  • 10 Nov 2013 Karenth said

    Karenth

    hi Dafina! im taking the European Magic too! when does your tour start?

  • 10 Nov 2013 DAFINA said

    DAFINA

    Sorry Karenth I’m alittle tardy with responding, but I’m going from December 5th to the 15th. When are u going on the European Magic Winter Tour? :-)

  • 11 Nov 2013 Karenth said

    Karenth

    Mine starts Dec. 19th, ill be there for christmas and new year!

  • 11 Nov 2013 DAFINA said

    DAFINA

    @Karenth=Aaaggghhh We missed each other by 2 weeks. Well When u go definitely have fun because I know I will (freezing my azz off or not) OOOh from what others are saying don’t pack heavy & be prepared 2 do a lot of walking….sooo have walking shoes. :-)

  • 11 Nov 2013 DAFINA said

    DAFINA

    Sorry I was tryin 2 say Definitely Have Fun, because I know I will! :-)

  • 11 Nov 2013 Dani2203 said

    Dani2203

    Hey girls you will absolutely both have the time of your lives (excuse the cliche!) but your 100% correct in that you’ll do a lot if walking! Good WARM walking shoes is a must!

  • 11 Nov 2013 RebeccaAnn said

    RebeccaAnn

    Did you have the opportunity to do any skiing?

  • 12 Nov 2013 Dani2203 said

    Dani2203

    No, not on winter wanderer. Only tabogganing once in Switzerland.

  • 18 Nov 2013 Karenth said

    Karenth

    Im so excited!ive got thermals, boots, winter jacket…
    Dani2203, anything youd wish to take, or to know before your trip? Are hotels secure to leave passport (when i dont need it), money, etc? Is it easy learning to use public transportation, or how often would i need it, as ive read we wont always be in the tour bus.

    Thanks in advance! Have a great trip everyone! :)

  • 18 Nov 2013 Dani2203 said

    Dani2203

    Sometimes I left my passport locked in my bag at the hotel. Othertimes I took it with me but put in a fairly secure pocket in a backpack. (Don’t ever carry your wallet in your hand or put your phone in your pocket! Everyone gets warned but theres always someone who gets pickpocketed!) Same with money. Sometimes when you need to pay for optionals and things you have to get out heaps of money and you don’t want to carry it around on you so I would lock some of it in my bag. Always have money with you though (its just easier!) and usualy the tour manager will let you know if you will definetely need your passport. You are in the bus a lot to travel from city to city but in the cities you walk…a lot!! The public toilets are easy to use, you just need to pay to get in (usually like 20cents or 50cents) or tip at some places. But because you pay they are alway nice and clean!! The first time i used the undergrounds was in Paris and we freaked out a bit but got to our hotel fine after that you get use to it, even though its not in English it is easy to figure out. The above ground transport however, is much more confusing! Listen to your tour manager, and take note of buildings around you/which direction you walk in etc when the tour manager shows you the way.

    I dont really have anything that I wish i had been more prepared for besides good warm shoes!! lol you dont always need them but when you do…you really do! Oh and I was slack and didnt tell my phone company I was going overseas so my phone didnt work at all. As much as you try and use wifi as much as possible a working phone would have helped contact my parents and things when there was no wifi.

  • 18 Nov 2013 Ryan said

    Ryan

    Hey Dani,
    How amazing are you with all your little travel tips! I am starting the Winter Wanderer on the 16th of December and I am starting to get so excited… I’m from the Gold Coast so really not sure how I will cope with the freezing weather, although I am sure it will be amazing to see a European Winter! I do have a few questions if you don’t mind?

    In regards to packing, did you do much shopping in London before the tour started? I have heard it can be better off buying clothes over there as they are a lot thicker etc…? Are there any places you could recommend to shop?

    You mentioned you wore t-shirts etc when you were out? So is it comfortable enough to dress as you would another night out (in Australia) but then wear a jacket for travelling to and from bars etc…? I am assuming most places have ample heating…

    For guys, are street/casual shoes fine or do I need to try and find something water proof?

    Did you just purchase a sleeping bag when you arrive in London?

    Sorry to load you with questions, although you already provided so much amazing info I would be mad not to ask a little more… :-) Plus I am getting a little excited so I cannot help myself… Ha! Thanks again..

  • 19 Nov 2013 Dani2203 said

    Dani2203

    Ryan!! That’s so exciting AND you are starting your tour 1 day before I started mine last year!! lol I weirdly love answering questions cause it kind of means I can reminisce about my trip and help people out at the same time!

    As I did the tour starting on the 17th and my work finished up on the 14th I had about 12hours in London before leaving! I would say though that it depends on how long your in London before hand as if you haven’t been there before there are soooooo many other things to see and do! I did do a day shopping on my second time through and definitely Oxford Street!!! That has all the mainstream shops. Other fun shopping places though is Harrods (not to particularly shop cause its crazy expensive but kind of just fun to look at)!! You’ll understand if you look it up/if you’ve heard of it before. Also Camden markets is fun!!

    Going out was a hard one, but yea kinda dress how you go out here and take a jacket (scarf sometimes as well). You will still be cold but you kind of just put up with it/drink more!!! A couple of times I did jumper and jacket and scarf and gloves, but you kind of just work it out on the night on a scale of cold to unbearable!

    There weren’t many guys on my trip and they didn’t complain too much about there shoes which would have been a similar type but too be honest I think sometimes they would have just sucked it up and not complained! lol I had volleys and good quality waterproof, leather boots, which were both awesome 80% of the time. The other 20% I had 2 pairs of socks (1 thermal pair) and my feet were still frozen! Not so much because of water (we were lucky and it didn’t rain much) but just the cold coming up through the roads and paths and into the shoes!! I am sure though if you don’t want to go out and buy new ones, you will survive (I did) with regular shoes just buy good socks (and have a sneaky 2nd pair in your backpack!)

    Don’t need a seeping bag – all hotels. You really would freeze otherwise lol!

    No worries about the questions, sorry about the crazy long answers!! I don’t have to tell you to have an awesome time though cause I know you will!!

  • 19 Nov 2013 Dani2203 said

    Dani2203

    Also Ryan and anyone else reading…CONTIKI COUGH!!! It’s real! Be careful of it. Prepare for it! Multi vitamins, immunity vitamins, probiotics!!! When it does get around to you make sure you have Panadol/cold&flu, cough lollies/medicine, tissues! Chemists are not always conveniently positioned near the hotels, so stock up before you leave that way your ready for it!

  • 22 Nov 2013 Ryan said

    Ryan

    Hi Dani,

    Thank you so much for your responses… They will help a lot!

    You mentioned in an earlier email about your phone situation, so you didn’t have use of your phone at all over there? Guess I need to get mine switched to International Roaming… Do most hotels/places have free wifi?

  • 23 Nov 2013 Dani2203 said

    Dani2203

    Sometimes hotels had free wifi, sometimes if your desperate you can pay (go halvsies with your room mate). Some places just don’t have it. The only reason I would have used my phone was to contact my parents when I was in transit cause they were freakibg out a bit lol. Otherwise on the tour it’s quite old fashioned in the way that they say meet at this place at this time!

  • 30 Nov 2013 DAFINA said

    DAFINA

    @Dani2203, Yeah I had a similar issue when I went 2 Australia last year. I traveled at the end of August beginning of September (during Labor Day) I found out at the last minute like 2 days before I left that I needed to have my phone unlocked soo I could use it while in Australia to contact my moms and pops. I guess because I didn’t allow enough time and with the holiday I was in Australia with no phone service either. I had to communicate with my folks through my brother on FaceBook….Crazy!!! Sooo Yeah definitely make the necessary changes to your phone company ahead of time. I guess I should follow my own advice because I leave next Thursday 12/5/13 and I haven’t called my phone company sooo I guess I should do that today!!! LoL. :-) Ummm I’ve been reading a lot about this “Contiki Cough” I just went to the store today and bought multi-vitamin powder pack to add to my water, first aid kit. I’m soo not tryin 2 get sick while on my trip. I also bought hand sanitizer and flushable wipes, my question to you is there any other important things I should buy/purchase prior to my trip? Anything else I should know? Thaks Dafina :-)

  • 2 Dec 2013 Ryan said

    Ryan

    I am also interested to learn of how strict the Contiki crew are with luggage sizes? Obviously I will follow the luggage size guidelines, my travel pack indicates max bag size as 73cmx50cmx25cm although if the luggage bags are slightly bigger (3-4cm only) is that an issue? just looking at purchasing new luggage now although most bags seem slightly deeper than 25cm. Thoughts?

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