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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...

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
  • 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.

  • 1 Apr 2013 stephie_091 said


    We did two contiki’s In December 2012, Berlin-Budapest and italian espresso, both were amazing and I have no regrets from either contikis, they were both set out fantastically!

    We also spent a few weeks travelling by ourelves, a few things I think we should have sorted before we left was:

    Sorting out early what we wanted to get out of each city, we went in wanting to do this and that and by the time we were heading to a new city, we remembered that we wanted to do something else! this was disappointing, but we will know for next time.

    My second thing was that I wish I had of sorted out my internet banking whilst in Australia, Instead of trying to log in from my iphone 3 weeks later, this was an issue as we couldn’t open the webpage on a smart phone and needed a computer. I also had to go through and “set up” my account, which could have been done at home.

    other than these it was a perfect trip :D

  • 5 Apr 2013 Isabella said


    hey guys this forum has been really helpful!
    i leave at the beginning of may 2013 on the ultimate european plus greek islands and im having a lot of trouble of what to pack.. i am a typical girl who loves clothes so if someone has suggestions please!!! eg how many pairs of shoes (what type as well) any little extra things you think i should take that you wouldnt have thought of or to save me from buying it over there? also the weather?

    thanks !

  • 5 Apr 2013 Jess said


    Hey Isabella, I’m starting the London, Paris & Amsterdam on 04 May and have just written my packing list! Here’s a few things I found online and in this thread that I hadn’t thought of originally so they might help you:

    Tweezers, nail clippers, laundry bag (people get annoyed with plastic bags rustling), snap lock plastic bags for snacks and to keep things from leaking, sleeping mask & earplugs, travel alarm clock, neck pillow for the bus/plane, a big lock for hostel lockers, power board (i can’t imagine all places having enough powerpoints for everyone!), quick dry towel, travel speakers…

    As for shoes… I’m going for 9 weeks in total and taking 1 pair of thongs, 1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of black flats and my Vans. From everything I’ve read, don’t bother with heels!

    Another thing that’s handy are those purses that fit your cards, money and iphone with the wrist strap attached. That way that’s all you should need to take out :) Hope that helps!

  • 5 Apr 2013 Isabella said


    what about money guys? how much and in what forms did you take your money to europe/uk?? im going for 8 weeks!?

  • 5 Apr 2013 itsagneshere said


    Isabella, you’ll definitely need cash when you first arrive in UK/Europe so take at least 100 of euro and pounds for the first days. Euro is actually pretty cheap right now so you may want to look into buying some now for better rates.

    I’m planning to take whatever 1k AUD gets me in Euro and pounds cash TO europe. This might actually be a bit much. I will be withdrawing cash if I need to in Europe, but will try to use my credit card (28 degrees) whenever possible since it has no international transaction fees and will probably have better rates anyway. Westpac Australia partners with a few european banks so you have no withdrawal fees when using their ATMs. The list is on their website. Withdrawing cash overseas gives you better rates than exchanging cash. Theres a huge forum on lonely planet forums on exchange rates and money. Credit cards and withdrawing cash is the best way to go. Try to carry as little cash as possible though – pick pockets are common in Europe.

    As for shoes, I don’t think I can go wrong with a pair of black ballet flats and a pair of sandals/thongs (flip flops to you americans haha)

  • 6 Apr 2013 jaimi said


    Hey everyone, im doing the european escapade in may. Just wondering if any people who have recently been on a tour have some more tips or what else people wish they had of taken or wish they left behind. Anything would be helpful. Thanksssssss :)

  • 8 Apr 2013 Kristin said


    Lovin this thread! Very helpful! Just a quick q’s I have heard that they dont measure your bags – is this true? Do you think I could get away with a 78cmx53.5cmx32xm suitcase even though the allowance is on 73cmx50cmx25cm??

  • 10 Apr 2013 rachaelnhunt said


    i have a question for someone, anyone? i am doing the ultimate european + greek islands on august 21st and we have the option to go up mount jungrau and i have only experienced snow once when i was really young and i was wondering what exactly would a girl wear? considering the luggage restrictions i was hoping it could be something i have already got with me but any suggestions for what pants and tops and jackets would be really helpful!

  • 10 Apr 2013 Leanne said


    hey all, I’m doing European Horizons this June. I was wondering about my bag; would you suggest a roller suitcase or a backpack?

  • 14 Apr 2013 Kayla-may.k said


    Hey! Does anyone know if you can leave a bag on board the bus during the day? Like if I bring a bag of snacks, books etc… I don’t want to be luggin it around all day. Is it safe to leave it or do they usually make you bring it?

  • 20 Apr 2013 Elena said


    Hi there! I’m going on my first contiki holiday to Europe on June 6 (European Highlights). It’ll be my first time travelling alone and my first time in Europe! I’m super nervous so I have a couple of questions..

    1) Weather! I’ve read mixed things about the weather in June.. Should I be taking lots of summery clothes? I’m a big summer dress kind of girl but will I be too cold wearing them? Also it say’s we will need a sleeping bag. If it is hot wouldn’t the sleeping bag be too much? I was thinking of maybe just bringing a small blanket.

    2) Money belts! I think these are a great idea but I can’t really see it working for a girl. I’m hoping to wear mostly summer dresses which would make accessing the money belt very difficult. I also thought about the one’s that go around your neck but most of my clothing is more fitted at the top. Does anyone have any alternatives?

    3) Money! As for optionals do you pay them all at the same time? I’m a bit uneasy about walking around with tons of money on me. I was thinking of just taking out money from ATM’s once I am in each county and using my Visa for bigger purchases. How much money would be an acceptable amount for each day? Is it smarter to take our more money less times or does it not matter?

    4) Pre-purchasing museum passes? Would this be advisable? I heard it was a good idea to do so for the Anne Frank exhibit in Amsterdam.

  • 25 Apr 2013 raj864 said



    I went on a European tour last year, although it was in winter, I may be able to clear some things up.

    1. Weather, june is usually hot, depending where you travel. I’d suggest summer clothing, maybe pack a jumper and jeans just incase, but if worse comes to worse you can always buy something. And with the sleeping bag, maybe if you are worried about it being too hot, pack a foam mat and just unzip the sleeping bag.

    2. Money belts are really important, especially in summer. On my tour we had half a dozen run ins with gypsies and pickpockets, even having one girls money bag around her neck being slashed off her inside the vatican! We were always told if you need to get your money out of your money belt, do it in a toilet so no one could see. Try to carry a small amount in your wallet still, so that way you arent always running in and out. I also carried my passport, a travel money card (i was issued with two, so one was a back up) and around 200 euros in there just for emergencies. I would go with the one around your neck however, especially since its hot, youll get awfully sweaty and itchy from the belt.

    3. On my tour we were given a sheet on the second day with all the optionals on there and we had to tick which ones we were going to do, then pay the tour manager the money in one big load in the next couple of days. I’m not sure if its the same for every tour, but it seemed to be the best way to do it. I always took out a large amount from the ATM and used cash for all my transactions. It made it easier as sometimes overseas cards take a while to process, plus it meant i wasnt always whipping out a card that could get scammed.

    4. I would say if you really want to go, then give it a shot with prepurchase, but remember that there are no printers on the tour and little to no internet. If you plan well enough and hopefully you are brought out into the city early enough the lines shouldnt be too bad. Word of advice, when going to the colosseum in rome, find a tour guide. its a bit more expensive but usually saves you waiting hours in line.

  • 25 Apr 2013 Elena said


    Thanks so much for responding Raj I feel way more prepared now! I’ll definitely be heading out to buy the money belt that goes around your neck :). And it turns out since I live in Canada we get a voucher for a sleeping bag once I arrive in London! Thanks again for your advice!!

  • 25 Apr 2013 Explorer1231905 said


    Hi Elena -

    I went on European Experience in September 2011. It was my first time in Europe, and I was travelling alone too! Plus I don’t drink and am a vegetarian, so you can imagine how out of place I could have been! But I was determined to see Europe and enjoy, and I did :) My points:

    1. I wish I had gone in June, it would have been way hotter than September and I would’ve been able to wear what I love – summer dresses. There were girls in our group who wore dresses and shorts in Sept. So you can certainly do that in June. But you should take something for some unexplained cold weather just in case. I ended up in Amsterdam in October and froze my ass off wearing a dress, so I went shopping and had great fun! So, if you’re positive and have a bit of presence of mind, you can actually make-do, or even make things better for the unplanned situations. That’s part of the fun!

    2. I had the same problem as you – money belt? They’re ugly and I associate them with middle-aged loud American male tourists (no offence meant! they’re just so uncool and I don’t think the designers had girls in mind). Instead, take a reasonably trendy purse that can fit your necessities (and if you’re going in June then a decent bottle of water!). I didn’t take any money cards with me – I carried 2000 Euros hard cash. Dad’s sage advice. I used to carry around 100 Euros in my purse/wallet daily plus my Visa. My passport and some extra cash, I actually carried in a discrete purse that I had made and wore under my clothes. The latter I did in the beginning of the tour quite a lot – but eventually if I felt that the cabins and accommodation were secure, some days I left all this at home. Moral – keep your valuables out of plain view in less obvious locations. In your purse, just carry the necessities but those that can easily be replaced. If you don’t want to carry money card and get into the hassle of finding/withdrawing ATMs then there are certainly ways around it.

    3. Also, I didn’t take a sleeping bag. And this was September. I took some extra warm clothes and a warm shawl/stole that I sometimes used to wrap around me. This might sound strange, and I remember some girls thought it was weird, but at the end, I wasn’t the one shipping my gifts in expensive couriers while making room for silly sleeping bag in my suitcase. Again, with a bit of clever packing and planning you can actually do without a sleeping bag. And June should be easier than September for sure. There are mattresses in the cabins (except of course if you’re on the Camping tour).

    Hope this helps!

  • 25 Apr 2013 Chandre A said

    Chandre A

    Hi, i was also just wondering, a couple of people mentioned that June is really nice weather and that i will be able to do shorts and summer dresses? We doing the London & Paris tour and doing it from 8-14 June. Honestly i am a bit clueless as to what to really pack because i know i am going to shop there. i was thinking of taking 5 outfits that i can mix and match for the 10 days, my question is, can i do eg 2 summer dresses, 2 shorts, 2 jeans, a warm top, a cardigan, few summer tops that i can maybe layer? i really don’t want to pack too little clothes and end up not getting what i like in the shops, i think the ladies will be good at giving me advice on this :-)

    i feel exactly the same about the money belt issue isnt even an option for me, not sure what i will do regading the safe keeping of my money any other suggestions? i like the discreet purse idea but anything else perhaps?

    Any tips and advice for packign would be apprecaited! tx

  • 25 Apr 2013 raj864 said


    probably watch the weather leading up to when you leave, if its hot and they think it will stay hot, best to take their advice :)

  • 25 Apr 2013 Chandre A said

    Chandre A

    Thanks Raj864 :-) i just really do not want to pack too much things

  • 25 Apr 2013 itsagneshere said


    Wow, I’m a girl and CANNOT picture myself wearing a money belt. I was just planning on hiding my wallet with cash in it at the bottom of my bag and cover it up with my cardigan/water bottle/other junk.
    Maybe I’ll try what women used to do back in the day – stuff money in their bras. But this could get very uncomfortable..
    Guys could try to sew on an extra pocket on the inside of their pants? It’s not too hard to do. Just get a bit of material and the stitching doesnt have to be perfect, it just needs to hold together well.

  • 25 Apr 2013 RJ1817 said


    I never wore a money belt at all. Just keep your money in a safe place. As weird as it is, I just kept my wallet/money in my back pocket like I would do back home and nothing ever happened. The pick-pocketing in Europe is blown out of context. It could happen obviously, but just don’t let your guard down. I never once felt like I was going to get it or anything. Just be smart and you’ll be fine

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