Apologies for not responding sooner, got sick last week and have recently recovered to be active enough again.
Thanks for sharing your experiences and adding to the topic @leah_mh - sounds like you have had some amazing trips yourself!
@kaitsb - Leah summed it up quite well there. Also perfect age and attitude - you will fit right in and have a blast!
Don’t worry too much - what I shared was a rough guide per se, and that link that I shared is also a guide. To put things in perspective, my TopDeck trip was not only my first international but also my first solo trip of that magnitude. The only thing I did was open up my mind to carrying less and spending to buy more as (and if) needed - this worked out well and I never had to buy anything other than a daypack on the last day before flying out from London as i managed to tear my original daypack - that’s a story in itself!
- Yes €60-70 is good indeed, just ensure to factor in more for unexpected/spur of the moment expenses.
- $5000 per person budget is PLENTY! I don’t imagine you’d be touching it that far, but shopping can always rack up the bills
- Eastern Europe, and Greece in general, is mega cheap so yes you will save heaps!
Laundry pods - not required. I guess I should rephrase what I wrote to make it clear - you need to pay for laundry one way or another, but the detergent is always available when you need to do the washing.
Go travel agents - really do help take the booking headaches away. However, I would highly recommend having a few options, and researching their offers, before finalising everything. I dealt with Flight Centre and worked a treat - the agent herself (Hi Nicky - if you ever see this) had done a few trips of this kind and so had a few tips which have been covered off above.
Following on from what Leah mentioned, since we were aware of what was to come - we did do some planning amongst our little group but not to the Nth degree. Most of the planning that we did was the day before as we knew how we were feeling and what was taking our interest. For this we would gather in each others rooms and start flicking through the mini city maps (you get them along the way) and charted our points of interest. Sometimes, however, it was purely a spontaneous decision while we were up and about on the day itself. Overall, plan a little for yourselves, then talk with the group (clique) and mutually adapt your plans - it’s just like planning anything else among friends
FLIGHTS AND ACCOMMODATION
Long haul flights vary for everyone - it’s good that you have experienced them. Your partner will be in for some fun.
I flew with Emirates - dad used to fly with them regularly for work and recommended them to me; no airline choice regrets! They were relatively more expensive but the quality was worth it.
Major recommendation - book aisle seats for optimal comfort. In my excitement I booked window seats while going thinking I would get great views; that turned out to be the worst idea - the leg room even on an A380 cattle class is NOT good
Also me being me - I don’t really sleep while travelling - I stayed up from the moment I woke up to travel from Auckland through till the night before the trip. So that means 33hr of flying time and about 8hr either side of flights, and about 3hr of layover in Dubai, I was awake and excited. For most people though I imagine these long haul flights are the perfect time to sleep, catch up on movies and listen to their longest playlists.
Oh! I also ended up buying noise cancelling headphones at Heathrow for my return flight - made cabin noise, and (others’) children, so much more bearable; don’t spend money on these if you don’t plan on using them beyond the trip, they are not cheap!
Jetlag - yes, try to get in tune with the destination time otherwise your body clock will be way out of kilter.
Water - not just during the flights, but throughout the trip, with all the walking and the warmer temperatures, you will certainly benefit from staying hydrated.
Re accommodation, the reason I stuck with Wombats for my trip is purely convenience, though also timeliness as I landed the afternoon prior to trip day. Plus this meant I could make some connections before setting off for the fun times.
Phone and GoPro is a good pairing since you can take photos and videos with either. By the sounds of it you will be better off to not carry your DSLR but it’s your final choice of course.
Like Leah I am a hobby/enthusiast photographer (I have posted my (incomplete; I know I know!) travel photos from my trip to Facebook (me - https://www.facebook.com/chargedsynapse) so I did carry my DSLR, but the extra lens was just that, extra, and did not get used.
p.s. if you don’t want any “spoilers” then you can avoid looking at my travel photos
If you eat meat, you will be all good! Vegetarian food options overall were really good, and there was a much better selection and availability across the continent. Sure some places weren’t great - imagine getting a salad and piece of bread for lunch - but overall I did not struggle at all. In some places my friends were actually jealous of my food, so that says a lot too!
Yay for your partner to be celebrating his birthday during the trip! Let the trip leader know - one of my trip friends had her birthday while we were in Italy; the trip leader arranged for a mega serving of gelato for her!
Back to your question about special place - Jungfrau is really your only choice, as Leah has rightly mentioned that the skydiving experience is “at the same time”, but I’d pick Jungfrau any day. In saying that, Launterbrunnen (where your accommodation will be unless it has changed now) is a gorgeous place in itself. The views and the freshness of the place, the overall experience will make his day more than memorable!
Hope this helps. Again, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out!