Let me tell you - the biggest mistake you can make on your Europe Winter Contiki trip is to overpack. I get it, you're excited. You plan what you’re going to take weeks before your trip and dedicate an hour from your day on what to wear for each city and so on. Believe me, I did it too. Yet this is your first mistake into having the next Nightmare before Contiki-mas and to not having a carefree and relaxed Winter...
There are 7 key elements for packing and planning ahead for your goose bumped winter in Europe and from my experience, you want to venture as lightly as you can! These are a few tips I found I wish I had known before departing for my trip…
1 – Don’t pack any “maybe” clothes
“I suppose, maybe, I might wear these shorts in Rome if we get a spot of sun.”
“Maybe I’ll get to wear my new heels in Prague on a night out.”
FREEZE. Drop everything. Stop. This is exactly why you are on the road to disaster. I found that even though it may be a little warmer in Rome compared to Berlin, where you had to wear all the clothes you had and then some, you won’t wear shorts. You will also never wear heels. You walk A LOT. Trust me, those streets aren’t made the same as where you’re from. The cobbles are your worst enemy in heels and even in a variety of boots. Don’t do this. Don’t be that person.
For God’s sakes, do yourself a favour and write a checklist. The best way to make sure you bring that adapter, throw in the extra pair of socks or even a beanie to keep your tiny ears warm on top of the Swiss Mountains, is to plan ahead and check off each item you bung into your suitcase. The amount of travellers I have come across who forget gloves and even enough underwear for the 19+ day journey is almost unbelievable. Be the smart one and write yourself that list!
Surprisingly and more often then not, a raincoat will become your best friend. Be kind to yourself as a raincoat will not only assist you in a flash storm but also keep that ice cold wind from blasting through your layers and to your skin. It’s a blessing in disguise and can also be thin enough to become an extra layer! They also come in handy when you’re hand feeding pigeons in Venice and one decides you’re their next toilet spot!
A common occurrence of winter in all countries is the flu. It’s a pain in the backside and can make or break your trip. Pack some Advil, Panadol and Berocca to keep you on your feet and away from catching any nasty coughs or colds that may surface during your time abroad. (Popping a clove of garlic at the first sign of a cold also wards it off – as well as vampires.)
5. Summer basics
I know what you’re thinking – you said no shorts? Well, I’m talking about sunglasses and a cap. Do yourself a favour and pop a pair of sunnies in your suitcase. It can be assumed that in winter, sunglasses aren’t essential and a waste of space, but you’ll be patting yourself on the back when everyone else is squinting to see the Vatican and you’re breezing your way through life. Caps also, as well as being great for those bad hair days, act as a way to keep your hair from whipping against your face. It’s uncomfortable and honestly, you just don’t need it in your life.
6. Correct currency
A travel card is such a useful invention and we are so lucky it exists as carrying around wads of cash isn’t ideal when you don’t have a safe place to keep it majority of the time. (Pocket’s aren’t great.) But some banks do not cover currencies in the Czech Republic and Switzerland as I found, so it was best to carry cash I could exchange or have it exchanged in my home country before jetting off to avoid those nasty exchange fees!
I was personally shocked at how many people had forgotten thermals on my tour as we were enduring negative temperatures in many of the countries we visited! Thermals will save your toes! They are light as a feather and provide you with that extra layer of warmth that may just keep you from catching a cold.
8. Neck Pillow
These will save your life! The buses on Contiki are comfy and warm but if you land yourself with that dodgy pillow at the hotel and your roommate isn’t going to swap, you will thank yourself by having this handy. Not only does it save your neck, you can always use it as a spare pillow or a rest for your journal/book.
With these handy tips and the basic knowledge of what to wear in winter, you cannot fail a Europe Contiki. I will definitely be using these on my next venture through Europe later this year.
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