How to make the most of your Topdeck Trip


#21

@shikharb
It is free at pretty much all the places you stay. On check in your tour leader will tell you how it works and what the password is. Most places you stay it is different. some have no passwords, some have limited usage (florence i think),some you have to go close to the modem (plitvic lakes) and some have none at all (avignon). But for the most part the wifi is good. Or though it can slow down when a bus load of 40 people all try to get on at once. You will find that you will get in a habit that every time you stop on the bus you instantly switch wifi on and try and find a connection before everyone else does and it slows down. haha its pretty funny. Sometimes at cafes/restaurants you have to ask for the wifi password but if you are buying something then they will give it to you.

I didnt pay for wifi once when i was in europe. However sometimes you can pay for it if you want. like on the bus (rip off) and on the ferry’s (which were a reasonable price like 3 euro for two hours) but i didnt have the need to get on.

Yeah I paid cash for everything. I would go to an atm and withdraw a large sum of euro/pound (100-200) and then put most of it in a safe place and some in my wallet. Depending on your card company you can get charged a lot for every atm and eftpos transaction you do… like 5 -15 dollars a pop. I opened a Citibank account that gave me no charges overseas but you should look at what bank/card you are going to use and check the fees.
For the smaller countries where you are only there for one day and where their currency is worthless (so you cant exchange it in another country… eg bulgaria) i would just take maybe 10-20 dollars out and use that for the day.

Just using your card for most transaction will maybe work in the bigger cities and countries. Most places dont have card access available. Smaller businesses/ cafes/ restaurants/little shops/ souvenir places etc wont have card services available.

Im not a cash person at all either but I would recommend using it when you are in europe, its just easier and safer. I would have in my wallet probably 50-70 euro of smaller currency notes with a 50 euro note hidden away and one of my cards for emergency. With the rest of my cash and cards with my passport in my bag at the hotel.Also coins are very handy in europe. Most places you have to pay for the toilets (20,50 cents or more) and coins are the only thing you can use. Also tipping and splitting bills can be hard when you want to use card.
Anyway to answer your question, Yes it will work in some places in Europe, but you will probably find that you will be using cash for most things.

Accommodation: Some places were great, others were pretty average. You dont spend much of your time in your accommodation but most places you stay have everything you need. Some places might be not what you are normally use to but you have to remember that topdeck chose them for a reason (ie. avignon, close to the city centre, but pretty terrible accom). After a while all we really cared about with where we were staying was that there were plenty of power points to charge everything (tip. bring a power board), that there was good wifi, and good aircon. Just enter with low expectations and then be surprised at how good some places actually are.
Breakfast can be pretty crap at some places, mykonos springs to mind, but most places will have the basic bread, youghut, and 2 types of cereal. Most of the included dinners are good.
Laundry: Washing machines are sparse and hard to find at times. there will be a list on the bus with places that will have them and your tour leader will tell you about places that are good to do washing and ones that arent. Some places have no facilities and others only have a couple of machines. When I was in barcelona i decided to do some washing, and it basically took all my afternoon, waiting for a machine, washing, then drying. It can take a while. Other places you can take it to a laundromat but the tour leader will let you know where and when to do this. It can be a good idea to split it with a friend as well to save money and time. But you may, at times, go for a week or two without having a chance to do washing.


#22

#23

Really like your thorough response @caleb :smile:

Re money: I’ll get myself into the habit of using cash.

Re accommodation: So, basic it what I should expect and maybe be amazed - I’m cool with that.

Re laundry: I was actually planning on doing this clever little thing of washing in the bathtub / shower (https://www.drbronner.com/) and having a small portable clothes line (http://www.kathmandu.co.nz/travel-clothes-line-v2-black.html) and getting stuff sorted (where I can) - honestly cannot be bothered waiting around all day long or for weeks to wash a few pairs of underwear :smiley:


#24

Thanks @shikharb I just start writing and cant stop.

Accommodation: Yeah you will stay in some great places and hotels but will also stay in some average ones.

Laundry: Yeah that can be a good idea. We did a load of washing in Berlin one night and it didnt completely dry in the dryer, so we had to stick it all up in the room… so having a little clothes line will make it a lot easier. Just plan your washing out so that it can dry before you have to pack and leave (eg. wash on the first night you get to a place so it has 2 days to day).
Also bring washing powder with you in a ziplocked bag. Because it saves you paying a lot to buy some.
There are some places where you can drop your clothes off and get them washed, dried, ironed, and folded for you (Athens was one I remember) and that saves a lot of time. Costs a bit more but split it with other people.
If I remember correctly the camp ground you stay in Rome has great laundry facilities, plenty of machines and driers.
What I would recommend would be to give yourself a few options by bringing your own powder and line (like you were planning to), and using the machines when you can. This way you should be sorted no matter what. If you have any other questions regarding packing or anything just ask!


#25

This was a great read @caleb thank you!!


#26

Awesome, thanks once again @caleb!

Speaking of weather - what is the weather like? - again thinking about what I’m intending to carry.
Do I need to worry about rain gear at all?
Do I need to carry anything particularly warm (Jungfrau is up in the mounts but it will be summer so unsure about what to expect) :smile:


#27

Thanks mate @shikharb

Weather: I went from june 16th to august 5th i think, so during the middle of summer. The weather was really good, but hot, for most of the trip. From the start of the trip (excluding jungfrau and switzerland) and everywhere until Krakow in Poland it was really hot. Im talking like 30-40 degrees, and then once we reached the more northern (krakow, berlin, amsterdam) places it was a bit cooler probably around 20 degrees.
It only rained once, and it caught us out. We were out exploring Meteora in Greece and this storm rolled in and bucketed down in a matter of minutes, so much rain that streets started to flood. We ran back to the hotel but we were completely soaked by the time we arrived. So regarding rain gear from my experience, maybe bring a light jacket that folds up small or a small umbrella. But you have to consider is it worth carrying this thing for 2 months for maybe one or two uses, especially when you are planning on packing light.

I think i packed pretty well for the conditions but I wish i had taken more singlets with me. I spent most of the trip wearing shorts, t shirts, and thongs/jandals/flipflops. When It was a bit colder i would just put a hoodie on top.

Jungfrau will be cold, sadly for us when we went it was cloudy and a bitterly cold wind was blowing around, it might be warmer with no wind and clouds, but will still be cold. It was -20c outside when we were there. What i did was instead of packing a big jacket and heavy clothes and only wear them once I bought a long sleeve thermal top and a pair of skins (sport legging things) and wore those underneath a pair of long pants and a hoodie, and it was good enough and packed up small as well. Quite a few people bought big jackets that they only wore once and took up a lot of space in there bag. But just remember it will be cold, but you can go back inside and warm up in the restaurant area if need be.

So in summary, it will be hot most of the days, cold for jungrfau. Basically pack for three scenarios:

  1. Day time - Hot and lots of walking.
  2. Jungrafu - cold
  3. Night time/going out - nice clothes, long pants, collared shirt, shoes.

Hope that helps, Also to pack light, you dont need a sleeping bag for sailing, just use a sheet.


#28

Thanks, that’s very helpful!

So really I’m packing mostly for rather hot weather, a very small amount for cold and even less for wet.

Re the sleeping bag, I was in two minds about it but you’re the second person to tell me that it would be worthwhile just getting a sheet during the travels and using it there so I’ll do that and save myself the trouble of lugging a sleeping bag around for the 2 months.


#29

Glad it helped. @shikharb

Yeah, but thats just going off my one trip during that time period, but i assume it will be similar.
Yeah. Another tip with the sailing try and get a bed that is in one of the cabins. I was the captain of our boat and I had the bed in the kitchen, which is just a bench seat. Very small and uncomfortable and everyone walks past you on the way to the bathroom so you get a terrible sleep, plus i was responsible for the boat all day so i was pretty tired the whole time. But it was still amazing!

Have you booked your flights, if so what airline are you flying?


#30

Haha, thanks for that @caleb, I’ll keep that in mind! :smile:

Re flights, yes I’m booked. I’m flying with Emirates. In fact I’m fully booked - trip, flights, accommodation all paid :thumbsup:


#31

@shikharb Awesome mate, I flew with China Southern and it was cheap but wasnt the best. Good choice with Emirates.

Sweet, now you just have to wait… :stuck_out_tongue:


#32

Yea, I had a look around for available flights and while cheaper ones were available, dad recommended that Emirates provide the best service so you pay for what you get; so just went with it.

Re the wait, it’s agonizing in a way because I’m almost all prepared for the trip and time’s going by very very slowly! :stuck_out_tongue:


#33

Caleb honest option needed here :stuck_out_tongue: . I have been thinking and I’m unsure. In terms of a camera I was thinking I am due to upgrade my phone next year which I was thinking about the new iPhone. Do you think that would be OK for a camera and then. I was also just going to take my GoPro for any other photo?

Also what time did you roughly get back to the hostel when the trip finished?


#34

@maryanneeeee I had the same thoughts exactly 12 months ago. I was lucky in a way and my phone broke so I upgraded and thats all I used and it took amazing photos and videos. I have the samsung galaxy 6 edge, if you do go with the new iphone that will do a great job as well, it also allows you to upload straight to instagram and facebook without having to transfer the file over through a computer. If I had more money I would have taken a go pro as well, use that for videos and underwater shots etc… Having just a phone is good as well because you can just carry it as normal and dont have to worry about carrying it and or leaving it behind somewhere (like one girl did on my trip). Most days because it was so hot i would just carry my phone and wallet and a water bottle so I didnt have to carry a bag everywhere.

Regarding the return time,I cant quite remember what time we got back but it would probably have been around 5-8pm. we were lucky and thanks to our organised tour leader we got on the early boat, where as a contiki bus and another topdeck bus missed it and had to catch a later one. Hope that helps


#35

Oh I could never change from an iPhone haha.

It does big time, thank you so much!
I’m flying with Singapore airlines and they changed the flight time from the arvo to the morning and I don’t want to be rushed to say my farewells and then have to rush to get to the airport on time. At least this gives me an idea and I can change my flight free of charge to the following day :slight_smile:


#36

Yeah I would recommend giving yourself a bit of time with the flight, you dont want to miss it @maryanneeeee That would suck!


#37

Hi @caleb Just had a thought in relation to visas.
I know most countries are part of the schengen agreement, I then need a visa for turkey but there are countries where you don’t need a visa apparently you just need to let the police know where you are staying 24 hrs before. Is that something topdeck does or de we have to notify them?


#38

Hi @maryanneeeee, The only place you need to get a visa before you go is, as you said, for turkey, also you need a printed version. Besides that we never had to get any other visas. The only trouble we really had was the serbian/croation border where they wanted a bribe from us before they would let us pass. Thankfully the tour leader and the driver took care of everything. At most boarders all you need to do is to have your passport ready. I havent heard anything about notifying the police before but if it was the case then topdeck would have taken care of it. If you arent leaving the tour in one of those countries then you shouldnt worry about it.
Hope that helps :slight_smile:


#39

It does! Thank you!


#40

Such a good read, answered alot of my questions.
Tar :slight_smile: