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What do you wish you'd known?

18 Jul 2007 ashleightara asked

I'm curious to know what ppl wish they'd known before they went on their trips, and only discovered afterwards...<BR><BR>For example, <BR>Did you miss something in a town you wish you'd known about? <BR>Did you pack something, and never used it?<BR>Did you NEED something you didn't pack and had to go in search of it?<BR><BR>In particular, looking for different advice to what is already available on the board...share you experience so others can learn from you 'mistake'.<BR><BR>Thanks <img src="" alt="Smiler" width="15" height="15"><!--graemlin::)-->
  • 15 Oct 2012 JulieK said


    My tour: European Escapade May-June 2012, 28 days

    I wish I had known…

    That my straightener would blow. Canadians and Americans, don’t bring your expensive straighteners! If you love straightening
    your hair, just buy a European one. I wish I did, the GHD’s looked amazing so I would have loved to own one anyway. Instead,
    I just borrowed from everyone the whole trip which got frustrating.

    That we would go out almost every night. Whether it was to a random Karaoke bar, a fancy dinner, a sex show in Amsterdam, or
    the Monte Carlo casino… there was always a requirement for a nice outfit. Girls! I’m not saying heels. But skirts, dresses, nice
    flats… I ended up wanting a new outfit every time, so me and the girls would go insane when we saw an H&M or Zara… my
    suitcase doubled in size, all for the sake of looking nice when I went out. I wish I would of known to START with lots of nice
    clothes. The Europeans do dress very nice! But again, personal style & taste.

    That I wouldn’t have time to load my photos, or write blogs, etc.. etc… It was just a go-go-go. Instead I gaurded my memory
    cards like a hawk. I’m still not entirely sure what an alternative to keeping my photos safe would have been. And as for
    keeping up on the internet, a quick message home and a status update on facebook is reasonable based on the amount of
    spare time you have!

    That I WOULD get sick. I’d heard about the Contiki cough, thought it might be a myth. I was smart enough to bring Vitamin C,
    Halls, painkillers and Cold FX – but I wish that I had gone to my doctor and specifically asked for antibiotics. See, for me, when I get
    sick it inflammes my glands causing painful swallowing and pain in my ears. I should have known. But oh well, what can you
    do? Everyone just kept on going – your only in Europe once, swallow the pain and just keep going!

    For me, personally, I wish I had known to go single. Unless your with your partner, or you have a serious partner you trust that
    your leaving behind. I ended up becoming single two weeks in, and it was such a relief to just relax and enjoy these people
    that you might never see again without worries of staying loyal. Yes, Contiki has rumors of being hook-up central. But it was
    a bit more deep than that, you form bonds with everyone and “fall in love” with everyone in a way. In my opinion it’s quite smart
    to go Contiki without any ties unless you have a serious relationship back home.

    Bring ziploc bags for your toiletries, but ALSO bring a proper makeup bag. You will appreciate it once your there. I disliked
    using out of ziploc bags for a month very strongly. OH, and remember a toothbrush holder, or else all your makeup etc. will get soggy!

    Brought more warm clothes. I misunderestimated Europe in May. Another pair of sweats, socks, and a big comfy hoodie would
    of been greatly appreciated. Mitts and scarves as well, and even snowpants and boots if you plan to go up Jungfrau Mountain in Switzerland.

    Stick with the same type of drink all night.

    That a “special brownie” in Amsterdam is not smart if you don’t do marijuana often. It will course through your body much too
    uncontrollably, stick with a joint! Plus mixing it with drinks is a horrible idea. I passed out on the boardwalk, thankfully I had
    50 friends to take care of me.

    I’m glad I….

    Took nights off. Some nights, I would skip out on the clubs or the pubs and opt for an 8 hour sleep, in order to be rested for a
    big day + huge night the day after. Never regretted it, except for missing the Eiffel Tower at night.
    In Barcelona, I’m particularly glad I stayed in. A few people who went out into the wild Barcelona night got mugged. Barcelona is bad
    for that. Be extra extra careful. Losing cameras/phones were devastating to people.

    Left room in my suitcase. Enough said.

    Bought things for myself, for around my apartment. I will forever be reminded of this trip.

    Did not spend too much on drinks, or cabbing. But I guess I’m lucky as I’m a lightweight.

    Went with an open mind – I hoped to make a couple friends, I ended up making 50. Completely stepped out of my comfort
    zone and took on the world with a whole new perspective. I’m glad I went out a lot, I didn’t expect to be interested in partying
    but once you know the people, it is an amazing time.

    Forced myself to stay awake until evening when I got to London. It was necessary to get my body back on a routine, even though
    I fell asleep a few times riding the hop-on hop-off bus around the city.

    Brought a purse that zips shut, and straps across my chest and sits on my hip, so that I could hold it at all times under my arm.

    Left my camera behind on big crazy nights out. Drinking + valuables is never a good idea.

    Had a travel pillow. Enough said. Soo comfy for those long hours on the bus, and looong hours on a plane. Your neck will
    never be sore again! And I’m talking about those bean-filled u-shaped ones. Everyone wanted one.

    Found some local cafes out of the way. Eating lunch there was more authentic, and cheaper! I’m not one for busy touristy places.

    Stay in the buddy system. If your not comfortable with transit, take a cab. You won’t regret it. Don’t talk to people or go into
    places your not comfortable with. Always be respectful and learn the basic greetings.

    Brought an umbrella and windbreaker.

    What I wish I did…

    The first night in Paris, I was exhausted and went to bed early. A few girls ventured out without me and ended up getting onto
    the Eiffel Tower with no lines – apparently it was beautiful! Sad. Oh well..

    Forced myself up for the Vatican Tour. Would of loved to see the Sistine Chapel… however, most people said it was a four hour
    tourist trap and you could barely hear the guide. So I’ve reconciled with myself for sleeping in that day. I needed the sleep.

  • 23 Oct 2012 tanya86 said


    hey guys im going on my first contiki with camping im stressed about phone chargers and camera chargers is there ways you can charge your stuff and s;eeping stuff what to take????

  • 3 Nov 2012 Megz said


    I just wanted to ask, ive read a few times in here that contiki is strict about the weight of your luggage at the start of the tour, but how strict are they about suitcase height. I know they say height of 29’ but mine is 30’ will that be ok?

  • 29 Nov 2012 RJ1817 said


    ya, they don’t really care about the dimesions of your suitcase, as long as it isnt way over the limit. It’s weight that matters (just at the start of your tour though)

  • 30 Nov 2012 Megz said


    Thanks RJ1817 I just got new suitcases and they are 29" so its good to know their not to strict on the dimensions. I leave July 12, 2013 and it can’t come soon enough

  • 4 Dec 2012 jimwilso said


    The list of things which were required but did not pack is a good question indeed :)

  • 11 Dec 2012 amanda said


    I was wondering, I am going on the ROAD TO ATHENS PLUS 7 DAY GREEK ISLANDS CRUISE on april 23rd 2013 with a friend from work.. anyone else going??
    also, did anyone bring their laptop and regret it?

  • 18 Dec 2012 Kristie1986 said


    @tanya86: there’s approx 4 australian power points on the bus that u can use, so with this in mind bringing a power board with u is pretty smart. I hear “charger parties” in the campsite bathrooms are how it’s mostly done. ie everyone sitting around drinking whilst charging. I also remember reading somewhere that there’s power points in the cook tent…maybe someone can verify?

  • 18 Dec 2012 Kelsey said


    The power plugs on the bus are European on the European yours not Australian, and it depends on the bus driver but we weren’t allowed to use power boards on the bus because it would be too much power, but still bring power boards because they are good to use especially if you are in a cabin with 4 people and only one PowerPoint. And I can’t remember if there were powerpoints in the cook tent but no way are you allowed to use them if there were, the cook tents are strictly off limits unless you are in there helping with cooking/dishes

  • 18 Dec 2012 Kelsey said


    The power plugs on the bus are European on the European yours not Australian, and it depends on the bus driver but we weren’t allowed to use power boards on the bus because it would be too much power, but still bring power boards because they are good to use especially if you are in a cabin with 4 people and only one PowerPoint. And I can’t remember if there were powerpoints in the cook tent but no way are you allowed to use them if there were, the cook tents are strictly off limits unless you are in there helping with cooking/dishes

  • 8 Jan 2013 Paige said


    ill be going on my first contiki in june/july and some of these posts have given me a bit of an idea as what to and what not to pack! glad ashlieghtara posted this topic! :)

  • 8 Jan 2013 Chandre A said

    Chandre A

    What a helpful post!!! 725 replies and cover so much!! thanks

  • 10 Jan 2013 Kristie1986 said


    @Kelsey Thanks for clearing that up. I never used the ones on the bus, just knew that some people did. As for the cook tent part, I swear to God I read on here somewhere that that’s how some people charged their stuff on camping trips. But that post was probably really old, I don’t remember. But yeah people only use power boards if you’re in a cabin/room, NOT on the bus. :)

  • 14 Jan 2013 Kelsey said


    Can anyone who has been on a winter tour give me some advice? I’ve done a summer one, and I’m booking one with a friend who’s never been to Europe and can’t decide between summer or winter. Does the rain/snow stop you doing anything? And what about going out at night? And input would be appreciated :)

  • 30 Jan 2013 LauraS said


    I am doing the European Experience in August, and I am just wondering about a few things:

    - I don’t want to take a backpack, but an over the shoulder bag that is just the right size to keep a cardigan and bikini just in case and my essentials (sunblock, wallet, passport etc). Is this risky of being pick pocketed, or fairly safe? Should you take a money belt? (I really don’t want to).

    - Where can you find out about the details of the dimensions that they accept for your suitcase? Or the weight?

    - Do you need a sleeping bag? Just a light weight one?

    - How easy is it to keep a phone charged? I have an iPhone so I am planning on just using that to take photos etc, and it usually needs charging every day. As it has iCloud this is a good way to ensure I don’t lose my photos.

    - If you buy alcohol Duty Free in London, can that be taken with you? My Contiki starts in London and moves to Paris for the first stop

    - for a three week contiki, how much money does one usually spend?


  • 18 Feb 2013 Jazmina33 said


    Kelsey i did the winter inspiration tour in 2011, i did the first one in the winter cycle, the only thing that wasnt offered to us to do was the white water rafting, and bike tours, we did walking tours instead. I strongly suggest taking thermals a ski jacket and layers, and take ur normal going out clothes for night time, just bring a nice going out warm jacket as everywhere u go has a coat room and its heated inside. If u go at the start of winter or the end then i suggest a pair of shorts and singlets as well, it was -6 in berlin but it was 25 in rome. Our walking tour guide in berlin told us he still does walking tours with contiki when theres half a meter of snow on the ground.

    Some other general tips:
    Power boad is a must, u have 2 or 3 things to charge and so does ur room mate and theres only 2 power points in the room

    Power adapter

    Power converter for americans- u guys use arount 130V eourpe and australia use 230-240v, i had a couple of girls blow their hair straightners up the first night.

    If ur first night is in amsterdam, no matter how quiet u are definatly go to the live sex show, its a really good ice breaker and gives the group something to talk about on the bus, u dont want to feel left out, and nothing else u do/go to on tour will shock u or bother u.

    Take anti nausea medicine, having a hangover on the bus is not fun, and for those who are sympathy vomiters its not fun for them either.

    YES everyone gets the contiki cough/cold/flu, no matter how well u try to avoid it, drug urself up and push through it or u will miss out on so much.

    Take different strength painkillers, if something happens over there and u dont have it, u have to see a docter to get anything stronger than an asprin.

    When u get to london buy some washing powder/liquid and do u washing in the sink, u dont have the time to waste going to a laundry mat, the hotel laundry service is expensive and u cant gaurentee that u will get it back before u move on, take a travel clothes line and hang u gear up in ur room,

    Everyone on here says it, but get to know everyone sooner, i regret not spending more time with some of the people on my tour

    For those of you asking how much money, i spent 4weeks on contiki and i spent around $4500, i had a couple of big nights and just one or 2 the others, and did most of the extras

    Pack as light as possible, being winter for me that was kind of hard, my suitcase coming home was 10kg over weight.

  • 18 Feb 2013 Jazmina33 said


    Make sure u have cash for the first day, at at ur first stop cash a not in for change as yes u have to pay for the toilet and most places there is someone standing on the door,

    By the end of the tour it will just be another church and u will be praying for no more stairs but trust me there will be more.

    In ur hotels, if ur lucky there will be a lift but there will be 50 of u trying to use it, so get used to carrying ur suitcase up stairs

    If ur going solo dont pay for a single room, u will make more friends if u have a room mate, a few of the girls on my tour that came along left with best friends

    Make sure u take a couple of garbage bags, bag ur dirty clothes in ur suitcase to stop them making the rest of ur clothes smell, and double bag the clothes u had on in amsterdam and wash them straight away at the next stop,

    I found the language barrier to be painfull at times, prauge in particular, amsterdam most people speak english, italians love aussies , germany had its moments

  • 8 Mar 2013 Jess said


    This thread is amazing, I’ve read all 35 pages! I thought I had my packing list sorted but now have an extra list of things i’d forgotten just by reading this. I am doing the 9 day London, Paris + Amsterdam hotel tour on May 4th, then have 6 weeks travelling with Busabout staying in hostels.

    BATH TOWELS – Can anyone give me advice on whether or not it’s worth taking a towel? I assume the Contiki hotels will have them, but you’d have to pay for them in hostels throughout Europe. Would I be best to take a thin one and use it when towels aren’t supplied?

    LONDON WEATHER, MAY – Londoners, how big of a jacket will I need in the beginning of May? Will a blazer jacket be sufficient? I’d also take a more casual knitted jumper to put over t-shirts or a long sleeve top,

    Thanks in advance and thanks to everyone else for all the posts! Can’t wait to share some advice of my own when I’m back :)

  • 18 Mar 2013 Richard said


    I wish I had known about this sushi restaurant when i was visiting japan.

    I literally walked past it several times whilst I was there and it is home to the best sushi restaurant in the world!… I’m not a big fan of seafood but I’d try it just for the experience..

  • 28 Mar 2013 emilie said


    Bring a bathtowel. Some of the places we stayed at were just an over nighter and we were constantly told to bring a towel as well as toilet things and extra clothes for the next day. I brougt along a backpack with me on the trip because a)I used it as a carry on for the flight, b)When we had an overnighter I could throw y things into it and go instead of stuffing it all into a purse and c)I felt like when we had a two hour bus ride it was nice to have a big enough bag to carry any extra little thing I might need for entertainment or store something in like food or water. When we were just walking around at stops like Florence or Amsterdam I had a small little purse that I had fit my things in instead of carrying a bookbag with me all day. All I kept in it was handsanitizer,sunscreen and money.

    Now things I wished I knew before going a trip was how to pack. I went through my suitcase twice before saying I was ready to fly off to Europe. I ended up only just over 10 kg. I wished I packed a little more clothing then I had, just to give myself more choice and not wear the same thing a few timess before finally getting washed. Also it might have been nice to bring something electronic to keep busy or stay in contact with my family. The only thing I had really was my camera haha. Oh one other thing! bring an alarm clock or even just an orindary wrist watch. I’m so happy I brought one with me, it helped when you wanted to make sure to keep on time on the meet ups to catch a ride back to where you stayed with the tour bus instead of paying for a cab or getting lost on the subway :p

    Like Jazzmina33 said, I wished I had opened up and chatted with more people on my tour. I mean I had made some really good friends through it but it would have been nice to get to know others better aswell. I had gone with my friend and we both had an awesome time and met cool people but we both agreed that we wished we hadn’t been that shy in the beginning.

    One last thing I swear haha I only realized this when we had our first night in Florence. A group of us were walking around and we found a convientstore where they were selling packs of 6 waterbottles for like 3 or 4 euros. They were like 1 litre bottles, so we bought one pack of six an each grabbed one. So for most of the trip we each kept an eye out for that especially at some of the bus stops we had for lunch. It’s a much better deal than buying a small bottle for a euro or two. Just make sure to bring a water bottle with you instead of carrying a huge bottle around.

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