Luggage on MegaEuropean!

Hey guys, I have booked my 2020 Mega European Trip and I am so excited!

When taking the luggage, you are allowed the 1 bag on the coach, but when you get to Greece, what luggage are you allowed to take onto the boat? Do I need to bring a smaller bag inside my suitcase to pack into for the sailing? What happens to your other luggage while on the boat?

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Hi Kaitlyn (@kaitsb) - I did this trip back in 2016 so I’m not sure how much it has changed but here are some details:

On the boat a mid-size bag with essential clothing and swimwear is allowed. Effectively think of it as a pack for 1-2 days worth of travel gear. I packed my 12L daypack and that was plenty sufficient for me - I am a very light packer though. This included a couple of shorts that doubled as swimming trunks, a couple of merino T-shirts, a couple of pairs of underwear, rain jacket and rain pants (yes it rained when we were sailing unfortunately!), quick-dry towel, essential toiletries. Don’t forget sunscreen!

Rest of our luggage was left locked in the bus and that was all good - you won’t need to worry about it.

Just remember that the sailing trip is a loop so you don’t return to the bus for a couple of days; so pack accordingly!

Lastly, we did a supply run prior to boarding the boats - which are plenty large and include a compact shower by the way - so don’t worry about food :slight_smile:

Hope this helps and enjoy your trip - it will likely be the most if not among the most memorable trips ever! :smiley:

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p.s. If you have any general packing or any other queries then feel free to reach out - I will try to help as much as possible! :slight_smile:

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Thank you so much! That is all super helpful.

I really appreciate you taking the time to talk about your experience.
Do you have any other tips or comments about the Mega European?

Glad to be of assistance! :slight_smile:

There are certainly tips and comments that I can share from my trip - get your coffee and cookies ready!

  • PACKING
  1. Travel as light as possible - refer to this for instance: https://www.tortugabackpacks.com/pages/travel-backpack-packing-list

  2. Effectively pack for 4 seasons - bulk of the trip will have you hot and sweaty, Switzerland (Jungfrau in particular) will be cool to freezing, rains can happen on random days (we had a few overall).

  3. Use a backpack rather than a roller bag/suitcase - Europe has too many stairs (gave us legs of steel though I tell you!), and some accommodations require you to walk a bit.

[new para] If I recall correctly it was Belgrade (Serbia) where the bus was parked opposite the hostel place. This meant walking from the bus, taking an underground walkway, into the hostel, taking a slow elevator or 6 flights of stairs to finally make it in.

[new para] When you’re tired, lugging a heavy suitcase or similar around is not fun. With a backpack I was quite happy. Some of us boys had to help some of the girls carry their almost 30kg suitcases up! :grinning:

  1. Forgot mention earlier, pain killers (if you rely on them), plasters, tweezer, mini-scissors are worth packing. I took a whole first-aid kit which ended up being overkill but a few things were certainly used from the kit (not by me).
  • MONEY
  1. Pre-budget, and budget! Pre-budget = plan how much you would want to spend a day on average. In my case I accounted for food and drink around €20-25 per day - which worked out really well actually! Budget = there’s a sheet that tells you of the optional activity prices (I think these are on the itinerary page of the trip actually), refer and budget for these; the most fun is had by doing as many of the paid activities as possible, but also plan out how much money you have remaining so that you don’t run dry when you most want to do something. It’s OK to go over-board a little on occasion though.

  2. For spending, take out a limited amount of cash in each country you visit where Euros are not the currency. While Euro is the most common currency, you do have others like Lira or Forint to name a couple.

  3. Put a (sensible) spending limit on your bank card/s in case they get lost. I think about NZD 250 a day worked out quite well for me, though NZD 300 could have been useful a a couple of times. Remember: You are in a different timezone to your country so transaction dates/times are relevant to your home country, so you could run into problems if you don’t factor this in.

  4. Talk to your bank up front about the countries that you will be visiting to avoid any unexpected transactions.

  5. Keep 50¢ coins handy! All public toilets require a 50¢ entry fee (used for maintenance purposes). No money, no entry! So definitely have a pouch full of them!

  6. Less drinking = saving heaps of money! Some people started running short quite early on as well and had to start budgeting more, or going over.

  • TECHNOLOGY
  1. Internet happens, but don’t rely on it much. There were places where the internet was either too slow, or choppy, or not there altogether. Live in the moment as much as possible!

  2. Back in 2016, the bus had limited wifi, not sure how things are now. I unfortunately found out that “downloading” music was a bad idea as I lost the 100MB or so of data within the first 10 minutes on Day 2 (we didn’t have bus wifi on Day 1).

  3. If you really care about data, get a roaming SIM in the UK from Vodafone or O2 - some girls on our trip had that and it seemingly worked out well for them.

  4. Don’t carry too much tech! A tablet, a phone, and a DSLR/action camera/tough point-and-shoot are all you should consider travelling with. Any more and it will just be added weight. Each of those items serve a purpose, but keep this appropriate for yourself. Tablet = to pass time watching Netflix or storing photos when your camera or something runs out of space; Phone = communication/GPS; DSLR = if you’re into photography and looking for more than just “snaps”; action camera = if you’re into recording videos/vlogging; tough point-and-shoot = if you want to capture “snaps” and want to ensure that you don’t have a dead camera part way through the trip.

  5. For navigation, or for when you’re feeling lost, “MAPS.ME” is a good app for your phone (iPhone anyway). Google Maps can be used offline as well: https://support.google.com/maps/answer/6291838

  • ACCOMMODATION
  1. Everyone finds their own place before and after the trip. I stuck to Wombats on Dock St in London. I was comfortable in being in an 8-share m/f - it was the cheapest option and the hostel itself is fantastic!
  • FOOD AND DRINK
  1. Eat little bits of lots - their is so much food on offer through the trip and each cuisine is different. Despite being vegetarian, I had lots of delicious meals to dig into!

  2. Go nuts on the included breakfasts. You almost always get a full, continental buffet, and frankly some of us were hooked on them! The reason for going nuts on the breakfasts is because the stops on travel days (particularly) are few. So unless you have lots of snacks handy, breakfast is your saviour!

  3. Have your dietary requirements known early - that way the trip leader, and even your friends, will look after you better

  4. I don’t know about you but I’m not that much of a drinker. This meant that while I didn’t refrain from drinking per se, not getting wiped out meant staying awake during travel days and taking in more of the scenery and being more social in our small group. Half of the bus however decided to party hard on the nights before, therefore sleeping during travel days (or feeling sick). Your choice and balance at the end of the day :slight_smile:

  • HEALTH AND SANITATION
  1. Most times toilets are not a problem, but there are certainly times when the toilets aren’t the best at your accommodation. In these scenarios, accept and adapt, and then move on. Seriously, crazy as it sounds, it’s better to be forewarned than surprised!

  2. Greece has introduced a lot to the world but toilets are not their strong point. Used toilet paper goes in a bin, DO NOT FLUSH otherwise you WILL block the pot.

  3. On a related note, a few on-the-go toilet stops in Greece would be squat style (for ladies). Again, accept and continue :slight_smile:

  4. Hand sanitizer will save you on some days

  5. Be prepared to get sick (like cold sick) at least once, if not twice!

  • LAUNDRY
  1. If you pack light, you will need to do laundry relatively more often but it’s worth it. Laundromats are reasonably readily available so you will be fine - just plan accordingly i.e. if laundry day is 1-2 days away for you but laundry possibility is a few days away, best to wash early.

  2. When in a tight-spot, do small laundry washes while you shower. Quick-dry clothing (especially underwear) is super useful!

  3. Laundry is paid for even if it’s at your accommodation - again budget for this accordingly.

  • SAFETY AND SECURITY
  1. While generally safe, it’s best to stick with your group unless you’re an experienced solo traveller/lone wolf. There were a couple of places (unfortunately cannot recall exactly which ones) where our trip leader explicitly told us to stick together, and requested us boys to divide ourselves a little if an all-girls group existed. Don’t be alarmed or worried though, it’s just a safety precaution.

  2. Beware of potential pick-pockets. We never had any issues but we were certainly told about a couple of stories. I would recommend not keeping valuable content in your pockets.

  3. In relation to the above, keep valuable items in your daypack in a raised internal pocket if possible. Again, we were told that pick-pocket groups exist and that one would distract while the other/s would slash the bottom of the bag to take the contents. Yet again, nothing like that happened to us but we were indeed warned. In my case, I was carrying an extra camera lens that was always hung via the drawstring, through a carabiner - just in case. Other gear was just a towel, water and snacks that I wasn’t terribly concerned about.

  4. This can vary but I actually got a travel wallet that I kept latched to my shorts or pants belt loop with a carabiner. This ensured that I had ID at the ready, and no-one could get to my passport or money. Travel Wallet: https://www.kathmandu.co.nz/travel/transit/rfid-wallets-bags/small-departure-rfidtech-wallet.html

  • SOCIAL
  1. For many it’s a first-time experience, so be friendly and move around - cliques indeed get formed but you will figure it out yourself.

  2. Talk to others about the places and activities they want to experience - that way you can form groups who do similar things and similar times, which eases the pressure of solo planning.

  3. Look out for each other - sometimes people might get drunk, or feel lost etc., always lend a helping hand; if nothing else you will feel good about it :slight_smile:

  4. Share resources where applicable - it just adds to the fun and experience

  5. People will drop off and others will join - welcome them all, they all become like a happy, youthful family; a band of brothers and sisters if you will.

  6. You will observe (or even experience) a change in cliques and dynamics as the trip carries on - it’s a part and parcel of the journey.

  7. Some people sleep around - no advice or anything here, it is what it is. I kept it clean and came away with good friends :slight_smile:

  • ROUTINE
  1. Get into a routine and stick to it, regardless of whether its a travel day or an exploration day.

  2. Breakfast is usually around 07:00 and you’ll be on the road by around 08:15, 08:30 latest.

  3. Per point 1, stick to this timing even on exploration days as you won’t need your body clock to keep re-adjusting.

  4. You WILL lack sleep - I averaged around 5-6 hours of sleep daily, either because I had a long day, or people would come in late from drinking and potentially stir you awake.

A lot of content there but hopefully it is useful. Wise words from our trip leader:

"It’s not wrong, it’s different"

"Have a plan, but if it changes, don’t stress because some of the better stories come from when things don’t go to plan!"

In the end though, be aware of the things that I’ve mentioned but don’t get too hung up on them. It’s an experience in more ways than one, so go ahead and just enjoy! I would do it all over again if I could! :grin:

Happy to answer further questions.

Where are you from and how old are you? Have you done anything like this before, or have you travelled much before?

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Wow @shikharb thank you again so much. Your replies are so detailed and more helpful than anything that I have found yet!!

Myself and my partner (21 & 26 currently) are doing the trip together next August. We are from Auckland NZ. I have been travelling with my family around the US, some of the islands and Australia. We have done campervan type trips and hotels, and I have done two solo trips across the ditch, so not very experienced. My partner has been to Australia and Rarotonga - so this will be a new experience for the both of us.

I am looking forward to doing this trip with him especially since we are both really fun loving and both people oriented. This is why I’m not too worried about being “that” couple on the tour that don’t mingle.

We enjoy drinking but I don’t see myself taking it overboard as I have seen threads where people can join the group in going out even sober some nights and it’s still plenty of fun.

Thank you for your luggage tips - I’m hoping that since we are travelling together we don’t have to double up on some items that we can share and will save us space together. He will pack rather lightly as he isn’t fussy, I on the other hand will have to learn to leave some things behind haha.

Our budget currently is $5000 NZD each for our spending money, including food, shopping, optional extras ( we have been through the list and budgeted for all of the ones that we would be interested in, which is the majority). We worked out between €60-70 each day, which we have seen we will spend more in the first leg of the trip rather than Eastern Europe like Poland.

Would you recommend taking laundry pods? They are cleaner than powder to carry around?
We are wanting to get as much planned now as I am a PLANNER, and enjoy knowing I’ve worked things out. Our travel agent is sorting our flights and accomodation in London before and after, but I am guessing we will do a hostel too as we are on a budget as young people are.

We are both planning to bring phones & a GoPro between us, I am in two minds about bring my camera (canon DSLR, however I don’t use it a lot currently and fear I will just use my phone) so probably will just save the space and the worry about having it. I don’t have any spare batteries for it or much gear. We don’t have tablets won’t be carrying those.

Did you do much prior planning before going to each city. I have read posts about planning out your free days when you know where you’re staying etc.

How did you find your long distance flight? My partner hasn’t flown longer than 5 hours before and I have only done the 12 hours to LA.

We are both meat eaters, and don’t have dietary requirements, however you mentioned you were vegetarian. How much did you find yourself spending on eating out, did you enjoy the vegetarian options?

My partner will also be celebrating his 27th birthday on the , what I have worked out that it will be while we’re in Switzerland. We really want to do Jungfrau, but was there anything else in the place where you stay which could be special for a birthday?

Again, really appreciate your help and assistance on this topic!!!

Hi @kaitsb
You will have an epic time.
I haven’t done this tour but have done Topdeck in USA and lots of travels throughout Europe on my own/with friends/contiki etc

Here’s a few tips for you :slight_smile:

MONEY

  • 60 - 70 Euros each a day is a great place to start
  • I did $70 in USA - I found a few days I went over that but other days I was way under
  • Travel days on the bus - you will barely spend anything - mainly just food.
  • Overall it all evened out for me! :slight_smile:

FLIGHTS
Long Haul flights are what they are unfortunately…its all personal opinion but I prefer an aisle seat. Esp after one of my flights London to NZ I got stuck …the little old man was actually asleep on my shoulder! can only laugh about it now haha!
If you are on the aisle at least you can get up and about whenever you like.
If you want more leg room - pay the seat selection price for an exit row seat.
Have you heard of seat guru?? you can check which aircraft you are flying on and see the pros/cons of each seat - www.seatguru.com

  • You get your own TV so lots of movies to watch.
  • Have a warm jumper or scarf to keep warm - the air con on plane can get chilly.
  • get up and walk around as much as possible.
  • Some people get sleeping pills - if you want to go this road. try them at home 1st so you know of any side effects etc.
  • To recover from Jet lag - when you arrive at your destination, Sunlight is the best thing.
    If you arrive early morning, stay awake as long as possible ( at least till 8/9pm ish)
  • Drink LOTS of water, you get very dehydrated on long haul flights.

On my trip I planned a few of my own activities for my FREE days which was great and no drama with other tour ppl.
The optional activities - def budget for all of them just in case - you decide a few days prior (each city) if you want to sign up for them and usually pay your tour guide cash.
Your tour guide will have more info on these and will let you know which are the better ones to do - but if you have budgeted for them all then at least you know you have the $$ for them
Our tour guide also offered us a few others to do - eg: baseball game was on the night we were in town - we all signed up so got group discount.
There is usually no pressure to sign up for any of the activities - so if you aren’t keen, no drama.

I have also done Contiki in the past and found with Top deck you definitely get more free time and also less pressure to go out and get drunk every night.

I took my DSLR on my trip - but I am into photography though , so it was a must pack item for me!
If you barely use it at home then probably best to save luggage space.

I have been to Switzerland and done Jungfrau - its awesome!
Will be an awesome place to celebrate your partners birthday.
we got offered an optional of SKY DIVING when i went, (2nd trip there so had already done Jungfrau) I signed up to do it but the weather didn’t play ball.
Only downside is there may not be enough time to do Jungfrau and the sky dive!

I hope that helps :slight_smile:
any questions, let me know

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@leah_mh Thank you for your reply! I really appreciate your help and assistance.

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! :slightly_smiling_face:

@kaitsb - Leah summed it up quite well there. Also perfect age and attitude - you will fit right in and have a blast!

LUGGAGE
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 :sob: - that’s a story in itself!

MONEY

  • 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 :smiley:
  • Eastern Europe, and Greece in general, is mega cheap so yes you will save heaps!

LAUNDRY
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.

BOOKINGS
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 :wave: - 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.

ACTIVITY PLANNING
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 :slight_smile:

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 :disappointed:

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.

TECHNOLOGY
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 :stuck_out_tongue:

FOOD
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 :face_with_raised_eyebrow: - 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!

SPECIAL TIMES
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!