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What do you wish you'd known?

18 Jul 2007 ashleightara asked

ashleightara
I'm curious to know what ppl wish they'd known before they went on their trips, and only discovered afterwards...

For example,
Did you miss something in a town you wish you'd known about?
Did you pack something, and never used it?
Did you NEED something you didn't pack and had to go in search of it?

In particular, looking for different advice to what is already available on the board...share you experience so others can learn from you 'mistake'.

Thanks Smiler
  • 30 Mar 2012 emily7 said

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    hey guys, im wondering if with any of your tours on your last night was left to your own arrangement rather than contiki providing you with accomodation. I just recieved my documents and thats what it says for my last night in paris! yet the tour ends the next morning after breakfast. I dont see the point in this! bit annoyed. thoughts? im doing the euro horizon

  • 30 Mar 2012 cdm115 said

    cdm115

    Check your documents again. Your tour should have accommodation in Paris for the last night. Then breakfast the last morning. Then it goes to London where you do not have accommodation.

  • 1 Apr 2012 Lauren Berl said

    Lauren Berl

    does anyone have any trip advice for the greek island hopping tour?

  • 9 Apr 2012 JulieK said

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    Mel_mel, you say you are vegetarian and thus some meals became a ‘waste’. What does this mean? I am a vegetarian also, and now I am concerned that I will have the worst of options, although I didn’t initially think it would be a problem…

    Also, lots of you mention buying nice prints and posters in places like Paris. How on earth do you transport them back home without bending them? Poster tubes are still quite big.

    Heading on the European Escapade May 12, 2012, alone, and terrified, but excited for the trip of my dreams : )

  • 9 Apr 2012 JulieK said

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    LauraM12345, you say leaving Europe directly from Amsterdam was the worst mistake of your life.
    Why???
    This is what I am doing, lol. I have a feeling I will be homesick by then and would rather just jump on a plane then go back to London and stay another night.

  • 9 Apr 2012 cdm115 said

    cdm115

    JulieK, Europe hasn’t totally embraced the whole vegetarian thing and so doesn’t always do it well. My vegetarian friends found it to be hit or miss, depends on who is making it.

    As for leaving from Amsterdam vs London – I know a lot of people who have regretted that decision. Most people do not deal with homesickness, particularly when you know it’s your last day on tour with these people and you may not see them again. There’s something special about your last night together, even if others have left. It’s tough saying goodbye at the end of the tour, you’ll most likely want as much time together as you can get. Home will still be there if you stay another day or two.

  • 9 Apr 2012 LauraM12345 said

    LauraM12345

    JulieK, it was like cdm115 said, you get really close to your tour mates and I was one of the only ones to fly out of Amsterdam. I saw pics of their real last night and it made me sad that I missed it!! However, I have stayed in contact with lots from the trip and have plans to visit in the future.

  • 9 Apr 2012 LauraM12345 said

    LauraM12345

    Ps I went on the same trip as you by myself and had the most wonderful time!! A good third of the trip was people traveling by themselves!

  • 9 Apr 2012 JulieK said

    Default_avatar

    Thanks guys. So… I hope there is at least veggie OPTIONS everywhere, decent or not…

    Another VERY important question: I was hoping to take my USB cable and load off some photos at Internet Cafes onto DropBox or something. Does anyone know if internet cafes have the capability to allow you to plug in a USB cable?

  • 9 Apr 2012 cdm115 said

    cdm115

    I think a lot of internet cafes do not allow you to transfer data, afraid of picking up a virus.

  • 10 Apr 2012 GoodNightmares said

    GoodNightmares

    Hey guys, this has been a fantastic thread with great dos and donts (:
    I am doing the Great Britian and Ireland tour in September/October with the London Discovery extra 5 nights at the end. I was just wondering what the weather would be like, and what the vegetarian options are like over there? I am from Australia, which is quite multicultural so I often have vegetarian options here.
    Thank you

  • 10 Apr 2012 GoodNightmares said

    GoodNightmares

    Hey guys, this has been a fantastic thread with great dos and donts (:
    I am doing the Great Britian and Ireland tour in September/October with the London Discovery extra 5 nights at the end. I was just wondering what the weather would be like, and what the vegetarian options are like over there? I am from Australia, which is quite multicultural so I often have vegetarian options here.
    Thank you

  • 10 Apr 2012 Analise said

    Analise

    like everyone else has said, great thread!! if you took your laptop with you, was it okay to leave on the bus if you were not yet to a hotel?

  • 13 Apr 2012 DragonflyGirlie said

    DragonflyGirlie

    All this advice is great, thanks guys! I will definitely use it.
    I’d like to ask who has advice specifically for the Great Britian & Ireland tour…. I’ll be leaving for London on May 9th (less than a month away YAAAYYY)

    I’ve never done a contiki but as far as personal traveling advice….

    • ALWAYS bring a backpack
    • ALWAYS bring a small notebook for your purse. Record your trip form the planride to your drive home. It is a wonderfull to look back on. And more expressive and personal than pictures.
    • Bring comfy casual, not so many jeans. Being American, my comfy jeans are WAAAY dressed down compared to their normal slacks.
    • Bring baby wipes, hand sanitizer.
    • Spare battery for phone and camera.
    • WISH I had my laptop to blog AND research each stop. (but I can do that on my phone, just wanted the lap top for photo editing and use)
    • Bring a pari of heels and a fun dress, You’ll use it just cuz you have it! :)

    A side note…. You will never see everything so just figure out what your goals are BEFORE you go. BUT change your plans on a whim, get lost, take WAY too many pictures, break off from the goup and meet the locals. I don’t regret not doing anything, the things that I saw were beyond amazing and the people….. SOOOO much nicer than america. You can always go back…

  • 17 Apr 2012 JaninoD said

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    Hey all… I’ve just recently booked my first contiki trip..
    European Experience leaving Aug 24th. Cannot wait! so excited… I’m a little nervous as i’m doing it alone, but from reading this thread I feel i’m going to have the ultimate experience! YAY :)

  • 26 Apr 2012 ashleyv said

    ashleyv

    Anyone been on the Great Britain & Ireland tour? Would love any tips or suggestions!!! OR has anyone been in that area in May?? Just wondering how the weather is going to be and if I should bring more warm clothes or summer clothes????

  • 26 Apr 2012 ashleyv said

    ashleyv

    Repeat! Sorry!

  • 26 Apr 2012 ashleyv said

    ashleyv

    Repeat! Sorry!

  • 30 Apr 2012 Explorer1399471 said

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    Hello! Although my Contiki trip was ahem 6 years ago…. I may be able to part some wisdom for some :)

    Having read all 29 pages of posts, it appears the major concern for the girls is hairdryers/straighteners/heels. Here’s my two cents!

    1. If you have thick/long hair and are travelling in Winter, TAKE A HAIRDRYER. Doesn’t have to be a huge one, just a travel one will be fine. I don’t regret taking mine, and I very rarely blow dry my hair. But I was not willing to wander the streets in freezing cold temperatures with wet hair all day. If you are going with a friend, you only need one between two!
    2. If you have short/thin hair, you can probably get away with not drying it or just risk using the hairdryers in the hotels.
    2. Straighteners – if you’re the type of person who straightens every day, then take it. If you’re not, I’m sure you can live without it for a few weeks. I just borrowed my friend’s – twice – and that was fine for me!
    3. Heels – I took two pairs of shoes. My walking boots and a pair of black heeled boots. This did me fine. I’m not really a heels person anyway, but if you travel in Winter, it’s best to go boots all the way. Summer – it’s probably worth taking a pair of dressy sandals/wedges/heels – just make sure that you will be able to walk in them for long periods of time, as you may have to walk for a while to get cabs!

    Things I wish I’d known:
    1. To take more notice of what the TM was saying as we drove past different places, names of places, history etc. And I wish I’d wrote it down!!
    2. Take a notepad (and pen) everywhere!
    3. To take lighter undies so they’re easily washable at night and will be dried by the morning
    4. To take light clothes in general so you can layer, and then if you wash things at night they’re dry in the morning!
    5. That you have to pay to use public toilets! I’m assuming you still have to do that in some places. And the little ladies that are in there get REALLY annoyed at you if you don’t pay. So keep change with you at all times.
    6. Took more time before the trip to research where to go. Spent a fair bit of time just wandering and feel as though I missed out on experiencing more.
    7. That I didn’t have to take as many clothes… and that I had taken a couple more fashionable things so I didn’t stand out like a tourist quite so obviously.
    8. That everywhere is heated in winter. If you get hot easily (like me), it’s best to wear 1-2 layers and take a windproof/waterproof jacket that can easily be taken off, so you don’t have to keep stripping layers off all the time. Gets a bit tiresome.
    9. They smoke everywhere in Europe. Which can get a little tiresome at times.

    Things I’m glad I did:
    1. Take my camera everywhere, and then get my friends’ photos after the trip. Lots and lots of photos!!
    2. Did all the optionals
    3. Made friends!
    4. Had a couple of alcohol free nights :)
    5. Not worry so much about the money. You’re there to have fun!
    6. Had a couple of “early” nights. I love sleep… and wasn’t prepared to sleep on the bus all the time!
    7. Took a travel pillow.
    8. Kept the map, info, TM phone number and passport with me at ALL times. One girl forgot to take the map with her in Rome, didn’t have the TM number and got lost on her way back to the hotel. She ended up having to call home (Aus) and track down contact details that way – quite stressful and time consuming!
    9. Left most of my practical self in Australia and let the riskier side shine through :) Suspend ALL expectations and you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more.

    As for the Contiki Cough… It stands to reason that having 30-50 people together on an air-conditioned bus most days, not sleeping as much, drinking more alcohol and eating differently, there are going to be illnesses. How much it affects you is partly up to your immune system, and partly how you look after yourself whilst on tour. My friend got sick about halfway through, but I managed to not have any issues until the very end of our whole trip (a few days after the Contiki part had ended), and at that stage it was mainly sinus anyway (that flight home was a bit horrible). I didn’t take any vitamins, or try and fortify myself before I left… I do have a pretty strong immune system though. My advice is to have a few alcohol free days, try and eat as close to what you normally do at home, drink PLENTY of water and try and get as much sleep as possible at night. Day time sleep on a bus is just not as beneficial as night time sleep in a bed :)

    Sorry for the long post! Hope it helps some people :)

  • 30 Apr 2012 AlexG said

    AlexG

    @Explorer1399471 – thank you so much for that advice :)
    @Jase84 – theyre pretty strict on the first day as ur bag has to be UNDER 20kgs but r genereally fine after that .. thats wat ive been told .. also u gotta take into consideration how much ur weight limit is for your airline… If ur suitcase weighs that much empty id suggest u go and buy a lightweight suitcase that u can get for around 3kgs or less … mine is i think around 3.2kgs empty … but watever you want to do :):) u could also look into a backpack as well … they r generally lightweight to start off with :):) hope that helps

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