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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
  • 18 Oct 2013 Ben said


    Did the European Vista, not really disappointed about anything and somethings were both good and bad but things that i did miss out on were
    -missed out on the heineken experience in Amsterdam supposedly amazing too.
    - got blinded at Oktoberfest don’t remember anything and struggled to find my way back to the hotel. therefore I didn’t get to experience Oktoberfest properly aka didn’t have any food or buy any merch etc.
    - didn’t buy many souvenirs til the last minute.
    - didn’t plan anything or organize anything.
    -doing all the optionals i didnt mind it doing them all but some were hit or miss and i’d rather have more free time than time wasted. aka: the bunker in Prague is a big miss and so were the italian walking tours.
    - not going to the meet up in London, missed my flight and had to meet up in Paris lol.
    -packing alot of stuff i didn’t need but just followed the guide: bug spray, sunscreen, swimmers.
    -left my vitamins at home probably wouldn’t of gotten this sick.
    - wish i got a gopro as well probably wouldnt use it much outside travelling but a couple of guys had them and they were awesome.
    - Paragliding was cancelled due to the rain, fog and wind.

    + some of the optionals were awesome: Monaco dinner was the best feed, Whitewater rafting was a great experience and excellent team building.
    + didn’t do all the pub crawls as i was tired enough as it was at the end of the day and i didn’t miss out on much from what i heard.
    + saw most of the big attractions at each place.
    + got blinded at Oktoberfest
    + high in Amsterdam
    thats all that comes to mind.

  • 29 Oct 2013 Samantha said


    I did the European Impressions in June 2013

    First thing i want to make sure people know if that you are on the coach alot of the time to get from place to place. When the itinarery says you have one night somewhere it really means one night. You drive most the day to get there have that afternoon/night to explore then leave the next morning for your next destination so if there was place you were hoping to spend more time in then make sure to choose a tour that has atleast two nights there as then you will get a whole day inbetween the nights!

    I went on this tour by myself, on my particular tour there were 5 girls on their own and 3 boys. If your not sure about going on your own dont be, after the initial first couple hours/day everyone is very friendly and people were sure to include me if they saw me on my own. I booked a twin room which is a great idea i think so that you have someone else who is on their own to get to know, i was lucky enough that i got along so well with my roommate and became really good friends.

    If your worried about the language barrier dont be, your contiki guide is very helpful and our guide handed out pages with phrases and words you need to know for each country we went too.

    I did the Hotel tour which I was very impressed with the quality of some of the places we stayed, the only hotels that were a bit dodgy looking were the italy ones however most italian hotels are small and old fashioned no matter where you stay. If your happy to go camping/hostels then go for it however if you are like me and feel more comfortable sleeping in a hotel then its definately worth the money to go that way.

    I read on here to pack good walking shoes however it wasnt really needed, yes you do alot of walking however a good pair of sandals or even just a pair of converse/ canvas casual would suffice.

    If your tour ends in paris I would recommend staying in paris a few extra nights as it really is an amazing city and there is so so much to do and see in such a short time. In my tour only 10 of us went back to london instead of staying but wish i had stayed!

    When it comes to optional activities I would suggest doing as many as you can, the optionals really bring everyone togeather as a group especially on the first few nights as it breaks the ice and after a few drinks people get more comfortable and chatty.

    It is highly important you pack a travel neck pillow for the bus as most bus days are spent sleeping as you can be on the bus for up to 4 hours at a time with not a whole lot to look at, i packed several books for me which were great to pass the time on trips. If you do get motion sickness quite easily i would suggest not having a massive night before a big day on the bus!

    I was very happy that I didnt overpack, there are a few places that let you do washing for really cheap about half way through the trip and ladies there are plenty of shopping opportunites for some new outfits so i would say underpack if you can. As i work in a pharmacy i took as many medicines as I could incase anything happened, and it is true about the contiki cough most people on my tour got it. Insure to take a dry cough syrup and some cold and flu tablets to kick it in the butt as soon as it happens! Dont bother with travel size shampoos and conditions as you go through them too quickly just get normal size toiletries and throw out whatever you dont use at the end of your tour.

    Last thing i can think to mention is, dont feel like your missing out if you decide to not go out a couple nights, me and my roommate had an early night in maybe every 3 or 4 nights and do not regret it at all. Usually the people that went out everynight had the same stories to tell the next day and half of them cant remember it anyway. Dont feel lame if you dont drink much as you can still have just as much fun.

    if you want to ask me any quesitons feel free to messege me!

  • 9 Nov 2013 Aleisha91 said


    Hi everyone,
    I have done three contikis now, if anyone needs some tips please let me know!
    I have been on the euro contrasts, mexican grande and costa rica unplugged :)
    Happy travelling :)

  • 9 Nov 2013 Sarah said


    I did the european trail august 2013.

    I wish I had brought some dressier clothes. Most the girls on our trip did and I ended up feeling so plain! Wish I had brought a backpack instead of a suitcase, we stayed at a lot of hostels that didn’t have lifts and I had to lug it up 3 or 4 flights of stairs, which as we went along, my suitcase got a lot heavier! I also wished I had researched destinations a bit more so I knew where to go to eat and see. When you usually only spend one full day in a city, you need to know what to go see! Also, really should have bought a power board! Spme places only had one power point and if there are 3-4 girls in a room trying to get ready….

    I’m happy I brought a quick dry towel, it was a godsend! Happy I brought tissues, mini hair dryer, dry shampoo and ear plugs!and my cashpassport card! Oh I love that thing. Some people that used credit cards etc had trouble getting money out of ATMs, mine worked everywhere! I’m sure that I’ll think of more!

    I am doing the Grand Southern in august 2014. If anyone had any tips for America, I’d love to here it!

  • 9 Nov 2013 annabel_walsh said


    @Kelsey thanks for the response! I’m going in the end of June till end of July then 10 days in NY :) yeah I’ve pretty much decided to try and budget for all of them even if I don’t do them.

  • 9 Nov 2013 annabel_walsh said


    @Kelsey also would you suggest anything?

  • 30 Nov 2013 Kelsey said


    @Annabel_walsh I did the helicopter flight over the grand canyon, snowmobiling (which you won’t cause its seasonal), v theatre (great show to see, its a variety act), hot air balloon (wasn’t impressed with this as our guide didn’t take us nearly as high as the other balloons- others really enjoyed it though. early wake up to do it!), the group photo, haunted house, dallas cowboys stadium tour (pretty cool going into locker rooms and through the stadium) and the river boat cruise (Everyone does this I believe anyway). I only regret doing the hot air balloon ride cause it was so expensive and we didn’t really see much cause we weren’t up high.. but it was still cool to do.

  • 30 Nov 2013 DAFINA said


    Attention All That Can Answer My Questions in addition to Trina**** Thanks :-) @Trina=Thanks Trina for all the great info. I’ll be going on my European Magic Winter Tour in exactly 5 Days!!! (12/5/13-12/15/13) I swear it hasn’t hit me yet that I’ll be going to 7 countries (London,England, Amsterdamn,Netherlands, Rhine Valley & Munich,Germany, Venice,Italy, Lucerne,Switzerland, and Paris,France)…yeah I think after I go out and buy winter clothes and have to pack all this shyt is when it will finally hit me! LoL. Anywayz I just have to ask when you or anybody else who has went on the European Magic Tour did u really go to all the places you had listed on your ‘Must-See Must Do List" Did U arrive early like a few days to see all things in London? If not, What would U suggest the top 3 or 4 things from each country to do? I’m also going during the winter time ( I know sucks) but as far as clothes, would u say u over packed? If u didn’t what did u take with U? What did U wish U had taken or not taken? I’m sorry I’m asking sooo many questions but I’m tryin to get a feel of what Important stuff I need to take & what stuff I shouldn’t take. I definitely want 2 make sure I have enough space in my suitcase for souvenirs. Please tell me if what I’ve purchased soo far is good. Mini First-Aid Kit, Allergy/Antihistamine, Naproxen, Bismuth or Pepto Bismo Tabs, Bisacodyl or Laxative, hey u never know!, Imodium AD or anti-diarrheal tabs, Simethicone or Mylanta Gas relief…Like I said U never know!! LoL. and Emergen-C or Airborne Immune packets (to add to water) and my usual multi-vitamins and personal wipes. I know I heard of the famous “Contiki Cough” that’s why I bought a lot of the otc products…a.k.a. medicine cabinet. Will Not forget the Hand Sanitizer…I heard U want to have that and is it true U want 2 bring toiliet tissue? I seen a lot of people say they wish they had brought that….hmmm?? Should I do all the optionals? Well if there is anything else I missed, Please do enlighten me. If I don’t get a response back from, I totally understand given I’m asking these questions at the last minute….LoL. :-) Fina

  • 1 Dec 2013 Jess said


    I am doing the London to Athens to plus Greek island adventure it’s 29 days in June .I am a first time traveller from New Zealand I was just wanting to know how many euros would you spend a day and what sort or bag do you carry in the day and what would you have in it ?

  • 1 Dec 2013 annabel_walsh said


    Thanks so much @kelsey, I’m so excited I’ve written everything down and looking everything up! My main concern is having that sickness everyone gets now blegh

  • 18 Dec 2013 Andy said


    Hey guys! I did European Inspiration in February of this year. I loved it so much I’ve booked another contiki tour for early next year! These are the things I learnt:

    I’m glad I:

    • Joined the contiki Meetup page and made a facebook group – We were able to arrange meet-ups before the tour and everybody got comfortable with everyone before they had even met in person – non of that awkward first meeting at the start of the tour!
    • Traveled solo – As somebody who can get complacent quite easily and had only traveled with friends or family before it moved me out of my comfort zone and made me rely on complete strangers which I think made our friendships stronger, traveling single is also a big plus ;)
    • Picked a tour that did hotels – This is a personal choice, I enjoy creature comforts and travelling Europe in Winter, I wanted to make sure I had a warm, cosy room I could crash in after a big day/night.
    • Didn’t have a big night every night – My body thanked me for this I was able to experience the rolling European countryside as we drove from city to city. I would try and stay somewhat coherant most drinking nights as being drunk in an unfamiliar city/country where they don’t speak English as a first language could end up getting you lost.
    • Stocked up on medication – I bought echinacea, Multi-vitamin tablets, Panadol Rapid, garlic and horseradish tablets, antibiotics (to fight against the dastardly Contiki cough) and finally Berocca (to recover from those big nights). I was one of the very few who didn’t get sick on tour.
    • Did every optional – Yes they can be expensive but it’s definitely a worthwhile experience. Some were much better than others but they were all worth it, going back a second time I know now which ones are worth doing and what ones I should ignore. If you have a limit on which ones to do, definitely aim to do the dinners and lunches – these are the better ones and give you a chance to talk to people in the group you might not have spoken to much on the tour.
    • Researched my tour – from Reading this thread, to checking out youtube videos and blogs, I tried to prepare myself for Europe and what the tour might be like (though you can never really prepare for something like this) I was able to see most things efficiently because I had researched where they were and how to get to them.
    • I took my laptop – This was a double edged sword, I’m glad I brought it when we were in the hotel rooms having down time where I edited our contiki group’s youtube video or watched movies on it, but I resented carrying it around and having it take up valuable storage room on the coach.
    • Bought a traditional Lederhosen – that thing came in quite handy for Oktoberfest.
    • Brought an international credit card – I got a 28 Degreees credit card before I left as a just in case, and it gave me a sense of security knowing even if my wallet was stolen I wasn’t doomed.

    I Wish that I:

    • Had been a bit more sociable during the tour – everybody forms their little social clicks by mid-tour, and I had found myself quite cosy with one of the girls I was travelling with, so I feel I didn’t socialise as much as I should have with some of the other quieter people on tour.
    • Didn’t have a space cake before the Canal cruise in Amsterdam, I’d never had weed before and mixing it with free beer for an hour gave me a bad trip, I felt like lead under water!
    • Had taken something like a go-pro instead of shooting videos from my iPhone which I almost lost up a mountain in Switzerland.
    • Had done this sooner!
  • 5 Jan 2014 Emily said


    Did anyone get a bad TM ? I’ve heard so many stories about good and bad TM. Like some that were fun and really helpful and others that were really strict and boring? Did this affect your trip? Or does it not really matter what your TM is like?
    Also I’m a bit worried as I am a keen party goer but I also get mad motion sickness so am worried about the ol tactical voms on the bus. Any tips to help my motion sickness or good stomach settlers?
    I’m doing the European ecspade in June 2014 and am stressing hard about almost everything! What to pack? What are the essentials? What type of budget to do? It seems like sooo much to organise and work out haha. It’s a 25 day trip and I’m worried I won’t have enough money or ill lose something haha.

    #stresshead !!

  • 8 Jan 2014 Ivie said


    Hi everyone! I’m doing the Spotlight on Greece plus 3 day Greek island tour in July and i’m wondering if anyone has some tips or stories about the tour. I’m so excited I cannot wait!!

  • 18 Jan 2014 allison said


    Hey guys! I’m going on the Italian Espresso and the Greek Island Adventurer tours in June. I have a few questions:

    - I was wondering what is the weather like in Italy and Greece during June?

    - How much money should I take out in cash? I understand that I can always get more at ATMs, but what is a good amount of cash to always have on hand?

    - Is the tap water there okay to drink? I was planning on bringing a water bottle (maybe one with a built-in filter) and wanted to know if that should be safe.

    - Is there time to change into other clothes when you get off the bus at each stop? I was planning on wearing more comfortable clothes on the bus and then changing into cuter clothes afterwards.

    - Last question! When and where do we find out about what specific hotels we will be staying at?


  • 20 Jan 2014 chrisb said


    Thanks to everyone for all the great advice in this thread. I’m heading out on the European Encounter tour on March 13th.

    I have read in the thread that dress is more formal in Europe and I was hoping to hear from some of the guys what they packed or wished they had as far as clothing. I imagine I’ll be wearing jeans most of the time, but should I pack a suit for some of the more upscale destinations like Monte Carlo or am I fine just a nice pair of slacks?


  • 20 Jan 2014 ChelsAc said


    Hey, I am going on the Western Rocker tour (Rome, Switzerland and France) and then heading onto England this April. Has anyone been on this tour and have any tips/travel advice or packing suggestions? This will be my first time traveling overseas, and I will be going alone. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me! :)

  • 21 Jan 2014 rachaelnhunt said


    Hi Allison!

    So I did the Ultimate European back in August – October and even in August the weather in Italy was incredibly hot, and by the time we got to Greece the weather was beyond amazing. Considering that’s their summer you’ll experience hot hot weather.
    I never really stuck to the same amount of money each day because there are a lot of atm’s around at most places, but usually I would have around 100 – 200 euros just in case.
    The tap water in Greece is definitely a no go, your best bet is to just buy bottled water over there, making sure you’re getting still water because it’s sometimes very hard to notice whether it’s sparkling or still (gas or no gas as they may ask you). I was really surprised just how much money I spent on bottled water but what a lot of people did was when you went to a shopping centre/grocery store/small store, if there were packs of bottled water, get them. It works out a lot better in the long run but I guess it just matters whether you can stand drinking room temperature water because majority of the mini fridges that were in the rooms (if they even had them) didn’t even work. But I prefer room temperature water anyway.
    By each stop I assume you mean arriving at the campsites/hotels/rooms then yes, usually you have enough time to freshen up and get changed. I guess every tour is different, but I found that we always had enough time to freshen up once arriving. Just utilise your time as best as possible.
    And finally, when you receive your Contiki Documents you will have in there everything you need to know including all of the hotel names, addresses and I believe there are phone numbers there too?

    - Rachael.

  • 23 Jan 2014 Ashlee said


    Hi Emily,

    Unfortunately it does matter what kind of TM you get. I did European Escapade in 2012 and our TM was absolutely horrible. He had a horrible group of people on one of his previous tours & thought because we were doing the ‘same tour’ our group would be the same. The first 10 days he was an absolute douche, didn’t care about what he was doing and didn’t help anyone if we had questions or anything (One of the girls had her passport stolen in Paris and his response was “Oh well, you should have been more careful. You will have to wait until we get to Rome to fix it and try to get a new one”. Our driver was great though. In saying all of that, we did run into a lot of other groups at different places and a lot of the other TM’s were great. They were out with there group and night and just seemed like great people. The only time TM’s should be strict is when the bus has to leave in the morning or at a stop during the day. It’s a really long drive between certain places and any delays in leaving will make it even longer.

    The European Escapade is a great tour! I really believe that you need to have at least 2 nights in most places as it gives you a chance to see the city better as you have a full day and sometimes even a few hours the evening before. I budgeted for about 100 euro per day while I was in Europe but I am a big shopper and knew that I would be buying ALOT. The days we travelled from city to city I barely spent anything as you don’t have anywhere to buy anything (except lunch when you stop for half an hour) but the days we spent in the city I bought whatever I wanted. I tried to have enough money so that I could do all the optionals and buy whatever I wanted, I didn’t want to be held back.

    I’m not to sure what the weather will be like in June as I did my tour in September but I’m sure it will be warm. I would still take a cardigan or Jacket for some of the nights that may get a bit cooler. It also gets pretty cold on the bus so I ended up using my sleeping bag as a blanket most of the time (I get cold very easily though). Make sure you take lots of Vitamins, cold and flu, panadol and anything else you may need in a first aid kit. Our entire bus was sick by the end of the tour and when I get sick now I still get the nasty cough I got over there.

    In regards to losing things, I lost my phone over there and was absolutely devastated. A couple of people also lost there camera’s or had them stolen. Make sure you back up your photo’s on the cloud or somewhere as once you lose them you wont get them back. Make sure you have great travel insurance that will cover you if you do lose anything.

    Try not to stress to much, you will have an absolutely fabulous time! :)

  • 24 Jan 2014 Courtney_H said


    I wish i had have known NOT to go the little lady who lived next door to the hostel that the tour guide recommended to wash and dry our clothes in Dubrovnik, Croatia. All my brand new clothes shrunk by about three sizes and I had to give them all away!

  • 28 Jan 2014 Emily said


    Thanks Ashlee! I hope my TM is good :/ but ill make the most of it regardless. That helped alot thanks heaps! Am I the only one who is OBSESSED with the tour? From the moment I saw the European escapade I was hooked and I’m on this website almost every day re reading forums and discussions and looking for more to read. I re read the tour details, day dream, everything it’s crazy! I just want it to be June already!!!

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