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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::)-->
  • 3 Jan 2011 lolly_bee said


    i love this thread! it’s the only one i’ve read all the way through, though it’s taken me a while and i’ve done it in bursts!
    the things i’m taking away from this thread that seem to be important/recurring is extra camera battery/memory, cold and flu stuff, and power board. i need to rewrite my packing list!! can’t wait to go
    Winter Wanderer march 1st-24th 2011

  • 11 Mar 2011 Lindsey said


    So glad to find this thread again! Definitely love the advice about eating hot foods to avoid the cough. Something I’ve found useful in just general travelling is taking and using a sarong instead of a towel – lighter, smaller, and doubles as clothing :) I can’t wait for my contiki!!

  • 12 Mar 2011 KirrynA said


    Anyone got any more tips for America? I’m doing the Best of USA next month. This thread has been so helpful though! I wasnt planning on taking too many ‘going out’ kinda clothes, but it seems like you need them!

  • 12 Mar 2011 Mwarp said


    I did the Grand Southern in September/October 2009. Definitely take some dressy outfits and shoes for Las Vegas, the dress code to get into a lot of their clubs requires you dress up, plus it’s fun! I had a huge night out in Vegas on our first night so Berocca is a must for the hangover. Take a bottle of water to drink walking along the Strip – even though it was late September it was still 40 degrees and I was dehydrated after only walking a third of the way up!
    You will need a jacket and long pants for San Francisco, it gets quite cool there. My partner at the time and I did our own thing around SF, not with Contiki. If you have the time and are okay with doing a long walk, walking over the Golden Gate Bridge was one of the highlights of my time in San Francisco. The night time tour of Alcatraz was wonderful as well. If you like seafood try a bowl of clam chowder in a bread bowl, tastes absolutely divine!
    I don’t have enough words to express how AMAZING New York City is. I would’ve easily been able to spend another week or two there on top of the week I had there. The Empire State Building is crazy busy at sunset to go to the 86th floor observation deck, but well worth it for the view. Alternatively, the observation deck at the Top Of The Rock was far less crowded and the view was just as impressive.
    If you like Sex and The City at all, they don’t take you past Carrie’s front door on the Sex and The City tours anymore. Her front stoop is at 66 Perry St in the Greenwich Village, and the Magnolia Bakery is just around the corner on Bleeker St. The chocolate brownies there are the best I’ve ever tasted!
    If you have the time, see a Broadway show. I’m glad I waited so long to see Phantom Of The Opera in a beautiful old theatre right on Broadway.
    The subway is the best and fastest way to get around too, as I was there for a week I got a Metrocard which was $27 for 6 or 7 days. My partner and I did New York on our own too, and had a thing called the New York Pass – for AU $144 we skipped heaps of queues and got into so many places.

  • 12 Mar 2011 Dimplez said


    Does anyone have any london/paris tips? :)

  • 12 Mar 2011 Dimplez said


    Does anyone have any london/paris tips? :)

  • 12 Mar 2011 ChicagoJanice said


    Being American, I LOVE rue Cler, a typical Parisian market street. Pedestrian only, there’s the boulangerie for bread, fromagerie for cheese, etc. The big Parks are great to stroll through and the Place des Vosges a great park to sit and watch French life, surrounded by gorgeous architecture

  • 12 Mar 2011 Ren said


    Hi all! Does anyone know if I can check my bags at the Contiki Basement in Europe before my tour starts? Thank you!

  • 13 Mar 2011 Jennieva30 said


    this has to be the most informative and awesome topic ever!! Awesome job :) im booked for the European Inspiration trip departing on October 15th 2011 and i could not be more excited :) this has given me such a better perspective on what I should pack. Honestly I was still a little bit concerned about staying under the 44lb weight limit for my bag because i tend to over pack when i travel but this has really put me at ease and i cant wait to go on my trip!!

  • 16 Mar 2011 AussieAmy said


    Loads of websites say use a money belt strapped to your body worn under clothes. Is this really a necessity? I find the concept strange.

  • 16 Mar 2011 JerryLangers said


    Hey Guys, Im loving this thread also!!

    Hey im thinking of doing Grand Southern and Grand Northern Back to Back in June/July 2012.. Anyone have any suggestions or experience in preparing for these tours? Weather wise, What to pack, Budget etc…

    Any information would be awesome!!

  • 16 Mar 2011 cdm115 said


    Yes you can have a bag stored at the Contiki Basement during your trip. There is a weekly charge for it though.

    Money Belts – I have one and have used it. On my first tour I used it all the time, it found a way to wear it comfortably and it wasn’t a bother. Do you need it all the time? No, but it is good to have in big cities where pickpocketing and scams are common – Rome and Paris come to mind. I always kept my passport and my extra money in it. I would just keep about 100 euros in my wallet for daily use. But, don’t access the money pouch in public, then if someone tries to rob you they know you have it and you’ve lost one of the reasons you got it.

    For back to back tours I sugget having a few days of a break between the tours to recharge. But in June and July it will be hot pretty much everywhere. I would bring a pair of jeans or 2 and some shorts, stick with t-shirts and a sweatshirt/fleece/jumper for evenings or if you hit a cooler day.

  • 16 Mar 2011 Ren said


    Hello there cdm115, may I also ask I can leave luggage in the Contiki Basement before the tour starts?


  • 16 Mar 2011 cdm115 said


    The contiki basement has daily and weekly rates for luggage storage so you can leave a suitcase for a day or by the week. I think it’s a pound or 2 per day or a couple pounds per week, not sure the exact amount.

  • 17 Mar 2011 JerryLangers said


    Hey cdm115,
    Thanks for the tip, I see that there is like 3 full days inbetween the two tours so hopefully that is enough break. Yeah i was looking at going when it’s generally hot/best weather. Would that be around June/July or is that too hot? I went to Europe last year in July and the weather was amazing! especially in Rome and Corfu!

    Hey Ren, Yeah I think from Memory it was a pound per day but could be 2 pounds per day, but either way its worth it depending on how long you are storing it at the Contiki Basement. I arrived to London early in the morning so it was awesome to just leave my luggage at the basement for the day while I ran around London and then came back, pick up my luggage and check into the Royal National.

  • 17 Mar 2011 cdm115 said


    I guess it depends what you consider good weather. June and July will be hot and humid. A little milder on the grand Northern, but still warm.

  • 18 Mar 2011 lady_o said


    I wished I had let go of money converting issues while in Europe. I had saved $2000 to take and ended up coming home with half. If you saved money for the trip, go all out and SPEND it on the trip!! I will be sure to do it up right this time! =)

  • 18 Mar 2011 Kaz said


    I like your way of thinking. I’ve well and truly overbudgetted for the trip I believe.. But I intend to spend spend spend. If I’m spending all this money on a tour and visiting all these other countries then I’m not worrying and I’m splurging.

  • 18 Mar 2011 cdm115 said


    I agree you shouldn’t get too hung up on what a Euro is or how much you’re losing when you convert money, it will drive you crazy! It’s good to have a rough idea so you don’t get scammed. If you’re thinking of a big purchase – leather, jewelry, etc. Have a budget in mind before you go for it. Say 200 Euro on a leather jacket, if it’s 210 euro you might still go for it, but if it’s 400 euro you know it’s time to walk away.

    There no such thing as over budgetting, you just have more money saved for the next trip…

  • 19 Mar 2011 Earl Squirrelson said

    Earl Squirrelson

    Love this thread, has made my life way easier!!! Thanks all…

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