Questions, Tips & Advice for All Tours - ASK HERE


#61

Hi Brenton,

In regards to good clothes for going out in Monaco most of the guys just had jeans and a nice’ish shirt. There was a couple of us guys (including me) who bought a nice pair of slacks and a button up shirt (I’m an accountant so it was one of my work shirts) to wear. You can get let into most places with jeans but they did stop a couple of guys who had the daggy jeans from getting into some of the casinos. I glad I brought a pair of slacks and button up shirt because not only did it fit the theme of being in Monaco but I also used them for a couple other occasions during the like for nice dinners and especially for the dinner and concert in Vienna as that was nearly a black tie event. It also helps to have some nice shoes as it’s like going out in Australia to fancy clubs, you need to have nice shoes or else you wont get let into the casinos. For all the rest of the clubs and pubs in Europe I got in with just normal lace up shoes (they’re like converse but nicer). All the girls had some nice dresses and heels for Monaco.

There are many occasions where you can go out drinking and partying during the night on the trip but you aren’t forced to do so. There are quite a few times where people just wanted to explore the city’s by night or just have a easy night without drinking and partying and everyone was cool with that and there was never any pressure to go out if you didn’t want to which was great. There was no pressure to go out and get smashed every night however I went out nearly every night but never got too drunk because I wanted to be fresh for the free exploring days. I more went out to see what the European night life was like and to have a bit of fun. There was the occasional night that I did only get back at about 4:30am and was quite “happy” but me and a friend always backed it up got up at 7am that day to make the most of out free time. The places that didn’t have the great night life meant that we would just go exploring the sights at night which is a great idea because a lot of churches and buildings get lit up a night and look completely different. Just make sure that you are able to get up on your free days and don’t waste them :slight_smile:

We had our Toga party in Rome which was a blast. I advise that even if you aren’t a big drinking you should go out once or twice in the trip as it’s still a good way to explore the city and I found that there was no pressure to drink if you didn’t want to on my trip.

I hope this helps and if you have any more questions just ask ;D

Cheers,

Coggo


#62

Hi Coggo,

Just wanted to know if there’s washing machines and dryers at the hotels we stay at? Do we have to hand wash most of the time?

Thank you :slight_smile:


#63

All good Coggo just read previous posts :slight_smile:

Great posts btw


#64

Hi Coggo :slight_smile:
I’m heading on the Mega Euro trip next month and just have one query after reading all your advise.
For the bike tour in Paris what do you get to see?
Do you go past Sacré Coeur or the Paris Opera House by any chance?
FANKS


#65

Hi kiwiblondegurlio,

From what I remember of the bike tour we met at the Eiffel Tower and road to Napaleon’s Tomb, Alexander III bridge, the Louvre, Musee D’Orsay, the Tuileries Gardens, Place de la Concorde, and I think a couple of other places. Sorry I can’t remember them all. I really enjoyed the ride because it was a nice sunny day and we covered a lot of ground and saw a heap of places I otherwise probably couldn’t have made it to on foot. It also was helpful that me and a couple of others got up really early and were in the city by 7:30ish so we got all our other sight seeing done before the ride. It’s not for everyone as you don’t actually go into each place you visit but I really enjoyed it and everyone who went on it gave it positive reviews. I hope this helps!

Oh I just remembered that we went past the Paris Opera house on our bus tour of the city as well as the Sacré Coeur. You get some time to walk up to the Sacré Coeur and have a look around and take some photos and enjoy the view.


#66

Hi - I’m just going on European pathway tour soon ad this thread’s really helpful!
I just had some questions regarding money/creditcard.

Did you use credit card much during the trip? if so which one did you use?
I currently just have ANZ VISA debit card (used it couple times overseas) but I seem to be charged a lot of fees and I don’t really know if other cards don’t get charged these fees.

Also did you withdraw small amount at each city or big chunks at once?

Thanks!


#67

Hi Kylin,

I took the MasterCard Multi Currency Cash Passport http://www.cashpassport.com/multi/. I loaded up all my spending money on those cards before I left and looking back at my statements now I didn’t get charged any withdrawal fee’s at all while over there. I got my card through Flight Centre and it took 1-2 days to set it all up and have it working which was really handy. They give you two cards in case one gets lost and I think my cards didn’t work on only one really random ATM over there. It worked on every other ATM I used. I didn’t take any credit cards with me.

Also I withdrew money in larger quantities (around 400-500 Euro lots) and then only kept however much I needed on me for the day and the rest I kept locked in my bag back in the hotels. I found it was a lot easier this way as I wasn’t always looking for ATM’s in every city and I could pay by cash for all my food/souvenirs/optional activities. This also meant that I had sufficient cash to pay for any optional activities when they came up on the bus trips and didn’t waste my free time searching for ATMS. I also note that when I did these big withdrawals it was either at the end of the day right before I was heading back to the hotel or on the driving days so I wasn’t carrying this money around for a whole day.

In a lot of Eastern European countries they don’t all use the Euro so having spare cash (Euro) makes it easy to go to currency conversion stores and get however much of the local currency you need by just converting your Euro.

I also want to note that my Multi currency card was last year (June through to August) and they may have changed terms and conditions/fees of the card. I still highly recommend the Multi Currency travel card I used and from a quick look the fees haven’t changed. Here are it’s fees: http://www.cashpassport.onlinetravelmoney.com.au/media/123011/mcp_generic_au_pds_apa1110c_20_mar_2013_low_res.pdf

From a quick look at the fees they only charge you for the initial start up fee which I didn’t have to pay because when I got it, if you went through flight centre you would just bpay Flight Centre however much money you wanted to put on the card and they would set it up for you and you wouldn’t get charged the fee. Also it looks like all international ATM withdrawals outside Australia/New Zealand are free if the ATM have the MasterCard logo on them. There are some currency conversions fees but I didn’t get those because I had most of my money set as the Euro currency and some British pounds on the card and used cash to transfer into other currencies besides the Euro and the pound.

I hope this helps and I recommend that whenever you decide which cards to take, go in to the banks or call up whatever company it is and get them to explain the fees as that can save you a lot of trouble in the future.

If anything didn’t make sense or you have any other questions just let me know.

Cheers,

Coggo


#68

Hi guys,

There seems to be a lot of questions about ‘washing clothes’ on your trip. I found that the majority of places had washing machines and dryers in the hotels with all the machines and dryers being coin operated. You also have to provide your own washing powder/liquid. If you are worried about running out of clean clothes just ask your tour leader which places will have washing machines and then you can plan ahead on when you want to do your washing.

In case some of the places didn’t have washing machines I had my own little washing kit which included washing powder, sewing kit, plug and a bar of “Sard stain remover” soap. The Sard stain remover soap was very handy if you got wine/food stains and you could just throw some sard on it overnight and wash out the stain the next morning in the bathroom sink if it wasn’t a big stain.

If you are planning on doing some hand washing in the hotel/hostel sinks I recommend buying a universal plug as I don’t remember any places we stayed at having a plug which makes it hard to hand wash your clothes.

My friend had a travel clothes line which came in handy however we also used chairs and curtain rods from the rooms to hang out clothes on to dry when we were off on our free days which worked just as good.

Another tip for when you are doing your washing in the washing machines is to stay in the vicinity of the washing machines and dryers. There are a lot of people who will open up washing machines half done and just put their own things in and leave your clothes half done and still wet. Also if you leave your clothes in the washer/dryer and it’s done and you aren’t there to collect them people will take your clothes out and dump them on top or on the ground which could make the dirty again so it’s best to hang around while doing your washing. It can also be hard to get a washing machine/dryer as there might only be two so hanging around makes sure you get a machine so you don’t waste hours trying to do your washing/drying.

I hope this helps with some questions on doing your washing on your tours. Any other questions about washing feel free to ask.

Cheers

Coggo


#69

Hi Coggo,

Thanks for all the great tips. It’s really been helping with me plan my trip. I’m planning on travelling in 2014.

I was just wondering you decision/s on choosing a longer tour like the Mega European and not something shorter. I’m worried that if I choose a big tour I might not enjoy it and then I will be stuck on it :S

I’m tossing up on doing something large like the Mega European or the European Pioneer at the moment but would just like to get a general review/thoughts on your tour and longer tours in general.

Thanks a heap!


#70

What an awesome thread!!! Thanks so much for all you advice!

For those in Australia going flotilla sailing during summer and are in need of a sleeping bag I picked up a very light one at big w for $16. I plan to just chuck it once I have finished with it.


#71

Hi! I am doing the Eatsern explore trip which joins up to the mega European in Turkey.
The tour I’m doing is EuroClub. Thanks so much to all posting tips and advice! I have read it all and it’s very helpful.
One question I have, is when you are on your free days, are you able to leave your bags and things ‘locked up’ at the hostel?
I haven’t stayed in too many hostels before and I was just wondering about the security and safety of belongings there.

Thanks
Kate


#72

Hi Karen,

Sorry about the slow response. I guess my reasoning for choosing a longer tour was that I knew I wanted to go to Europe and see all the main things like Paris, Rome, Greek Islands etc but to be completely honest I wasn’t sure what else I wanted to see beside the main attractions and I wanted to get out of my comfort zone a bit. Choosing the Mega European meant that I got to see so many different countries and places I never usually would have thought about myself and to be honest I enjoyed those places more than the main cities like Paris and Rome. I really enjoyed Eastern Europe and the coast of Croatia.

I also feel like going on a bit of a longer tour gave you more time to make friends with the people on your tour and you got to become really close to them by the end of it. The time fly’s by so quickly and I don’t think I would have made such good friends having just spent a week or two on a smaller trip. That isn’t to say that you won’t make good friends on a smaller trip though :slight_smile:

Another reason why I’m glad I chose a longer tour is that it probably isn’t going to be a common occurrence of me travelling to Europe so I decided that if I’m planning the holiday I wanted to make the most of it and see as much as I can. My personal thoughts were that I couldn’t justify flying over to Europe for just two weeks to just head back home. I know that a lot of people can’t get that much time off but I had been working for 3 years and took a lot of unpaid leave to do my holiday but I’m glad I did it. It will probably be one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ trips that you do when you are young so I wanted to go big and not regret anything. I now know for the future where I want to go back to and spend more time at certain places. There is also a very good chance that I’ll end up doing another Topdeck tour around Europe again and one for America as well.

I guess a quick review for longer tours would be that I 100% enjoyed myself and would do it again in a heartbeat. That being said, if you choose a longer tour you have to be prepared for the long haul. There are a lot of long days and you will be with the same people for 49 days (which I really enjoyed). It isn’t for everyone but it is probably the best way to see Europe if you are hesitant to try an organise a trip yourself. I did the Euroclub Mega European and my tour leader (LaLa) was absolutely amazing and really knew her facts/history/tips for Europe and was always there when you needed her. Our bus driver (Ali) was also amazing and was such a pro driver. The food 99% of the time was really good and the accommodation was a lot better than I was originally expecting. Once again, don’t expect 5 star hotels and fancy 5 course meals. It’s a 18 to 30’s budget tour and for the money you pay I thought the value was really good.

I hope this helps and I might update my review later if I think of anything else.

Cheers,

Coggo


#73

Hi Kate,

I’m glad this thread has helped some people. The Eastern explorer trip is a really good trip. I really enjoyed all over Eastern Europe so you are going to have an amazing time.

In regards to leaving your bags in the hotels/hostels on free days you are definitely able to do this. As you will only be sharing rooms with people from your tour you can leave everything locked up in your room while you are out exploring and not have to worry about strangers being in the room with your gear. You should be given a key each or a key to share between the people in your room so no one else can get in there (except for cleaners). I still recommend that you have a lock on your bag and that you keep things like your passport/extra credit cards/extra cash or any other valuables locked inside you bag during the days when you are out exploring. Definitely don’t leave any valuables lying around in the open and always have them hidden in your bag.

The hostels/hotels are very secure and no one on my tour of the 49 days had anything taken from their rooms except for maybe one instance in Amsterdam but I’m pretty sure those boys left their room unlocked for the whole day. So long as you keep your room locked during the day and keep your valuables also locked and hidden in your bag you should be fine.

If you have any other questions just ask away B-)

Cheers,

Coggo


#74

Thanks Coggo!
So would you say it would be better to leave your passport in your bag locked in your room as opposed to carrying it around with you during the day?

Kate


#75

Awesome thread. I check each post made here! I’m going on the 24 day Spirit of Europe in August and must look into sorting out my cash. Is it best to take some of each currency, or just Euros and change along the way? I obviously want what’s best for convenience sake, and safety sake.

Cannot wait for the trip. Booked months ago, final countdown is almost here! !! :smiley:


#76

Kate,

It is definitely better to leave your passport in your suitcase during your free days as I don’t remember needing it once during the day for my free days. You are more likely to have it stolen during the day by a pickpocket than by someone breaking into your room and then breaking into your suitcase. Keep it well hidden in your suitcase and lock your suitcase as well. You only really need it for drive days and border crossings. You may need a copy of it for skydiving but they will let you know beforehand.

My tip is before you head off scan TWO copies of your passport. That way you can have a paper copy with you during your free days (I just folded it up and kept it in my wallet) just in case and I kept my other spare copy in a friends suitcase in case my suitcase/passport was lost or was stolen and that way I had a copy of my passport if I needed to go get one from the embassy.

If you are worried about leaving it in your suitcase or think you might need it during the free days make you keep it in a secure spot with you. Some people had those bum bag type things that you put on under your shirt but I never used one but they are supposedly good for hiding stuff like your passport if you are worried. Also if you aren’t sure if you’ll need it during the day your trip adviser will be able to let you know if there would be anything you need it for in that city.

I hope this helps :slight_smile:

Cheers,

Coggo


#77

Nicole,

Thanks, hopefully this thread is helping a couple of people! The Spirit of Europe tour looks amazing! You are going to have so much fun.

Depending on whether you are flying into London and starting your tour there or if you are starting your tour in Paris I recommend just withdrawing some pounds and some Euro before you head off. It’s really hard to get all the different currencies out before hand.

There were two ways I did it one my trip. I found it very easy to just get a decent amount of Euro out before getting to the non euro countries and then in each city/country that doesn’t use the Euro it is really easy to find a currency exchange shop and just exchange my euro for the local currency. Alternatively I would just got to an ATM in the countries which didn’t use the Euro and just withdraw enough cash for the one/two days from the ATMs. At the start I would exchange my Euro but after a while I would just use the local ATM’s and withdraw what I thought was enough money. At most border crossings you have currency exchange places as well so the money that you didn’t use you can exchange it to the next countries currency before leaving. I was quite worried about the exchanging of money but it turns out its really not a big hassle at all.

I guess in regards for convenience I recommend just using any local ATMs or exchanging your money at the border crossings before you get into each country. In regards to safety if you were to get out a certain amount of money for each country before the tour then you have to carry all that money around with you before you get to each country and if your bag is stolen/lost then you could lose all that cash. You’ll also have to carry all that cash around with you which is pretty risky. I think it is safer to withdraw the money once you get to each country rather than having to carry so much cash with your for the whole tour. Looking at the Spirit of Europe the places you needs different currencies for is later on in your trip which are Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Reading what I have wrote above seems a bit long winded so to sum up I felt like for safety and conveniences sake it is a lot easier to get a decent amount of pound and euro before the trip and then withdraw however much euro/pound you need as you go. Once you get to places that don’t use the Euro then you can exchange some Euro if you have a fair bit left over other wise I found it easier just to withdraw money from the local ATMs. That way you aren’t carrying large quantities of cash with you for the whole tour and then exchange those different currencies once you get to the next country.

Another handy tip is that most currency exchange stores don’t exchange coins so if you have any left over coins use them on your drive day out of the country to buy some snacks or some little souvenir like a magnet/shot glass as you wont’ be able to exchange the coins. I ended up with way too many coins from difference countries at the end of the trip and couldn’t exchange them but then ended up keeping them as souvenirs.

Hopefully that makes sense and helps you.

If there is anything else don’t hesitate to ask.

Cheers,

Coggo


#78

Hi Coggo,

Really sorry if you have already answered this…

During the day did you just have your wallet (with cash, card, and ID) in one of your front pockets? This is what I was planning to do but have since heard some stories of people getting their wallet taken form out of their pockets by pickpockets, and suggesting me to have a money belt on me (which in my eyes would be uncomfortable). They may not have been taking good precautions but I just wanted to know if you had no dramas just having it in your front pocket while you walked around?

Thanks in advance!

Jeremy


#79

Hi Jeremy,

I kept my wallet in my front pocket of my shorts or jeans pretty much every day of the tour. I had what I thought was enough cash for the day, my travel card, ID and that’s pretty much all I had in my wallet. I’ve heard of all the stories about pickpockets but I didn’t have any trouble at all for my whole 56 days in Europe having my wallet in my pocket.

It comes down to a bit of common sense and awareness I guess. When you are on a train/bus or in a crowd which is shoulder to shoulder switch your bag/backpack (if you have one on) onto your chest and just put one hand on your wallet in your pocket for the train/bus ride.

I also found that while out walking usually you are with one or multiple people. When you are walking next to someone it is quite easy to see behind them in your peripherals or when you turn to talk to them so whoever I was with on my free days would tell me if someone was too close or looked suspicious and I would do likewise.

My only other real tip is that when you stop to watch street performers you can then be part of a small crowd and I saw some pickpockets who worked those crowds so if you are watching a street performer or something like that just be wary. It just became habit for me to have my hand hovering over or on my wallet in crowded places. It also became a habit that after every meal/sit down I would just do a pat down of my pockets after getting up to make sure I hadn’t dropped anything or left anything behind but I think a lot of guys do that already in their day to day lives.

I had one of those money belts and found it really uncomfortable so I never used it. Also make sure that you have a couple of copies of your emergency numbers in different places to cancel and cards in the rare case that you do get pick pocketed.

I think you should be fine so long as your wallet doesn’t stick out the top of your pockets or anything and you are aware of your surroundings.

I hope this helps.

Cheers,

Coggo


#80

Hi Coggo, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts, you have given me so much information over the past few months. I just wanted to clarify with the washing, I am planning on taking 2-3 pairs of jeans and was wondering whether dryers are readily available when you have washed your clothes? or is this rare and I would have to wait for them to air dry??
I am doing the 20 European getaway followed by 4 weeks of travel in other places, in Oct.Nov so I am trying to work out what is best for clothing. I am so use to wearing jeans that I want to take a few pairs but the washing thing is bothering me… any info would be greatly appreciated :slight_smile: Thanks Heaps!! Amy…