Questions, Tips & Advice for All Tours - ASK HERE


#81

Hi Amy,

I found that pretty much every place that had a washing machine also had dryers. I can’t remember any places not having dryers. There was one instance in Barcelona where I used the washing machine but could not get a dryer so I hung my jumper and jeans over the curtain rod in the room for the free day. Luckily it was a super hot day and the sun shined straight through the hotel window so my jumper and jeans were pretty much dry but the next day when we had to leave.

I think I have posted above somewhere the places I could remember that had washing facilities if that helps. I also highly recommend that when you plan on doing washing, either do it very early in the morning or pretty late at night because they are always being used. Also, when you are doing your washing, stay in the laundry! So many people would put a load on and just leave and not come back for like an hour. If you left your clothes in the washing machine or the dryer and its finished most people will pull it out and either dump it on the ground on top of the machine which usually dirtied your clothes again. I also saw cases when people would just walk in, take out whoevers clothes are currently halfway through their wash/dry cycle and put their own stuff in so it’s always good to be there to stop those things from happening.

It makes it so much easier if you just stay with your washing until it’s done. That way no clothes are stolen/lost/not properly cleaned. I met a girl in Prague who went mental because she couldn’t get a dryer and had been trying for the last 2 hours. This was also because she would only come in every 45 min to check if there was a free dryer. I washed my clothes and got a dryer in that time and watched her come back every 45 min and throw a fit. If she just stayed there for 30 min or so she would have gotten a dryer no problems and would have been done.

Also most washing machines/dryers are coin operated so save some coins for that during your tour. And be very wary of hotels that will do your dry cleaning for you. They can charge by the item of clothing and be REALLY expensive so check prices.

I hope this helps Amy and enjoy your tour!

Cheers,

Coggo


#82

Thankyou very much Coggo! Have enjoyed reading your tips and tricks!! 😃


#83

Thanks Amy, I’m glad it’s helping some people.

Just another quick thing with the drying of clothes. You can also pick up one of those internal clothes lines fairly cheap now-a-days and they can be pretty handy if the dryers don’t dry your clothes completely. You can pick them up for pretty cheap and try and find one that can be tied/stuck to most surfaces as some I’ve seen only stick to glass and they aren’t that handy as there aren’t always a lot of glass surfaces. Also test them out before you go because someone on my tour had one and the clothes line stained a big green line down their clothes where the wet clothes were touching the line the first couple of times. (the line was a green material of some sort). It’s been to test them out or give them a wash first before use.


#84

Not sure if someone already said this…but bring a variety of change! Some places will take a ten cent, but not fives or vice versa. Be careful too and slowly putt in the coins - sometimes if the machine is old or well used it will take your money but doesn’t count it as you already paid that amount. Also try to give only the exact amount - some machines wont give you any change back and you’ll end up leaving some credit for the next person to use.


#85

Wow, what an amazing thread! The tips are fantastic!!

I have a quick question about Switzerland. You said you managed to do both the Jungfrau excursion and the Skydiving. Did you pay to do the TopDeck Jungfrau tour or did you just catch a train up there by yourself? And with the skydiving, does the 430 francs include video/photos? If not, how much extra does this cost?

Thank you! ;D


#86

Hi Peta,

I paid to do the Topdeck Jungfrau tour as well as the Topdeck sky diving. It was a lot easier as our Tour leader got us on a earlier train up and had the tickets all ready for us. We had about 3-4 hours up there and then headed back down. From memory I think the 430 francs is just the skydive and it costs another 100-150 francs for the photos and DVD (but I can’t exactly remember). I went the whole package as I now have a video of me jumping out of the helicopter and they make a really good DVD with music and great footage. I really comes down to your budget but if you can afford it, it is definitely worth getting the DVD.

Once again usually you can’t do both Jungfrau and skydiving so ask your tour leader if it is possible. If you can it is definitely worth it ;D

I hope this helps!

Cheers,

Coggo


#87

Hi Coggo, another question…

When you went up to Jungfrau - what kind of shoes did people wear? is it easier to simply hire a pair when your in Switzerland or does it not matter what shoes you wear? I have never been in snow and have no idea - but figured shoes would get wet?

Thanks :slight_smile:


#88

Hi Coggo,

We’ve heard there’s a more formal dress code for going out in parts of Monaco. Can guys get away with something casual like a tshirt, or do you need a shirt/shoes etc?

Thanks, Amy


#89

Hi Amy,

In regards to shoes at Jungfrau I just wore my normal day shoes (kind of like volleys or vans). They weren’t the best shoes for getting traction when walking on the ice/snow but were still fine. Because the soles were made of rubber the shoes didn’t get too wet at all. Most people just wore their joggers up the mountain. You definitely don’t need to hire a pair of shoes. Your shoes will probably get a bit wet if you walk in the deep parts of the snow but there isn’t much you can do about that. Just make sure you waterproof all your shoes before you head off on your trip. Also you are eventually going to fall over in the snow or at least sit down so you are going to get wet anyway. I good idea is that if you are planning on being there the whole day, take a small backpack with an extra pair of socks and maybe pants in case you want to get changed quickly before you head back down or if you get too cold/wet up there. Also try to wear more waterproof clothes (life a spray jacket and track pants) because you can get pretty soaked having a snowball fight or making snow angels. A fair few people wore jeans but they get wet really quickly and don’t dry that easily so the people who wore jeans had wet bums for most of the day.

In regards to the dress code for Monaco it’s not too bad. It would be the same as some of the more fancy clubs in any of the Australian cities. They won’t let you in to the Casinos with shorts and everyday shoes and a tshirt. So long as you have a nice pair of jeans and a dressy shirt (preferably button up) you should be fine. A nice pair of shoes helps but you can be lucky sometimes. It depends on the security guard on that day but because Monaco is a fancy place the more fancy Casino’s are more strict. I specifically brought some slacks and a nice button up shirt for Monaco and some dressy shoes. I thought I was only going to wear them in Monaco but ended up wearing those nicer clothes in other parts of the tour as well (like the Vienna concert and some fancier group meals).

For the girls, a lot of them had brought with them on the trip one or two fancy dresses and just wore that. Some had heels and some had nice flats and they were all let in. A fair few of the girls did some shopping bought nice dresses in Nice that day before we headed off into Monaco so you can do that as well.

I’ll try and find a picture of what I wore and see if I can post that if that helps.

Keep the questions coming everybody!

Cheers,

Coggo


#90

Oh I just realised that there was two different Amy’s who asked the above questions. Sorry about that. Hopefully you both see the answers relating to your questions.


#91

Thanks, that is certainly helpful :slight_smile: I did have the same question as the other Amy too so you answered them perfectly :slight_smile:


#92

Just another couple of quick tips, it can be really handy to take a hat with you on the trip as some days get really hot and walking around all day in the sun without a hat can get you super sun burnt/sunstroke and just tire you out. A hat can be very handy on those really hot days and preferable one which can be folded/scrunched up in your bad when you don’t need it.

I’ve also read in a couple of threads that having a small container of floss can be pretty handy. For people who hate having something stuck in their teeth all day then a small container to take in your day pack can be pretty handy.


#93

Hi Coggo

First off, I’ve read this entire post and really appreciate you taking the time to help everyone!

Just wondering (this may be a dumb question), you mentioned having the Cash Passport and using ATMs to make withdrawals in countries with currencies other than the pound or euro. I presume if you are doing so in Switzerland for example the ATM asks your for the withdrawal value in Francs and gives you Francs, though if you’ve not got Francs loaded onto your card (which it sounds like you didn’t) what fees apply? I seem to make out that if using a Mastercard signposted ATM the withdrawal should be free, though do you get hit a 5.95% currency conversion fee for withdrawing currency other than on your card?

I can’t seem to see anything specific about this on the websites I’ve tried. I would’ve preferred to see it in black and white there than worry about bothering you.

If there was a fee, would you not be better off just doing the conversion of small amounts at the borders (if it is in fact easily done as you move across borders)?

Also, I’m wondering what the likelihood is of needing cash over using a credit card? I will carry some euro and pounds and could easily withdraw those, but is it naive to assume I could mostly just pay by card (28 degrees mastercard, with no international conversion fees) for any other currency transactions to entirely avoid needing to change to the other currencies at all? I understand Topdeck mentions some optional activities eg for Swiss Alps for me are to be paid to the operator in cash, but this seems to be the only one they list.

Thanks again for all your help to everyone!


#94

Hi Tira,

No question is a dumb question :slight_smile:

This was a good question and I’ve actually had to go back and re-read the fee’s PDS for my travel card. To make this easy we’ll stick with the Euro to Swiss Francs example. First of all I did try to use only MasterCard ATM’s and this wasn’t hard as pretty much every ATM over there is affiliated with MasterCard so I think I may have been slapped maybe once on my whole 56 days over there with a withdrawal fee.

In regards to the currency conversion fee I don’t remember getting charged the 5.95% and that didn’t come through on my statements anywhere. What would happen is when I was at a Swiss ATM it would just use the actual conversion rate between Euro and Swiss Franc on that day and then withdraw it from my loaded Euro on my card so I was just like withdrawing Euro. It would show me how much of my Euro would be Swiss Franc and confirm that the spot rate was okay. I can’t see anywhere that I was charged the 5.95% for these conversions but I can’t give you a definite answer for that as that may have been included but once again, looking at my statements I can’t see it was.

Some borders (like crossing into Switzerland) we didn’t even stop and just drove through so we didn’t have a chance to go to a currency conversion store as I would have withdrawn Euro and then converted the cash into Swiss Francs. I’m not 100% sure what you mean about being better off doing smaller conversions at borders. I would try to see what would be planned in each upcoming city/country and try to have ample cash to cover my time in the country/city before hand so I didn’t have to spend time looking for currency conversion shops or ATM’s in the city’s. I preferred to do relatively big conversions so I didn’t have to keep going back and get more money. You will always be hit with the conversion spot rate on the day you are converting you money and you just have to be lucky with those rates on the day.

To answer your next question about being able to use your credit card instead of cash I guess depends on your cards term and conditions. I’m not sure but some cards like 28 degrees master card may (but I’m not sure) have a limit to how many uses per month before they charge you for transactions or something crazy like that. They were very vague on the 28 degrees website from my brief look so it would probably be best to call them up and get a straight answer. Thinking about it though you should be able to pay for entry into most museums, attractions, food vendors and souvenirs.

As the travel cards usually only state about withdrawal fees from ATM’S I don’t know what the go is for paying for things with your credit card and whether there might be a credit card surcharge for each transaction in other countries. I found using cash a lot easier as you end up eating with friends all the time and splitting the bill and paying tips is easiest when you have cash as well as some attractions don’t accept credit card and you need to pay cash.

I can’t really remember but from memory I think a lot of little stores and trinket shops may not have had card machines either but I didn’t do a heap of shopping (I was out seeing the sights) so I could be wrong. It was always handy to have some cash to pay for train/bus tickets or grab and ice cream on those hot days. Places also might have credit card limits (e.g. you need to spend at least 10-15 Euro to use your card) so you may have to be careful with that. I personally preferred cash as that seemed a lot easier (and fun to use different notes and coins) and I was a bit paranoid using my credit card all over Europe in case someone took a copy of it and I didn’t notice. Then you could be in a lot of trouble.

From memory you have to pay for all the Topdeck optional activities in cash prior to the event. You would usually pay the tour leader on your drive days on the bus and they would come around and get number and cash from people who would want to do the optional’s for the next couple of days.

I guess it will come down to whether you feel confident enough to use your credit card for most things and so long as you have some spare cash with you for emergencies then you should be fine. It really comes down to personal preference and I preferred using cash for most things as I knew that vendors would also accept that. I did use my card for the occasional larger purchase like special Schnapps’ from Vienna and renting a motor bike on Mykonos but I used cash for pretty much everything else.

Looking above I have again wrote a fair bit so if anything doesn’t make sense or you want clarification on anything I said, or just have more questions, just let me know. I hope that helps Tira.

Cheers,

Coggo


#95

Thanks very much for your reply! I’m now considering the Cash Passport. My Harvey World Travel agent supplies these as well and she mentioned something I would’ve never thought of. Apparently she has had several clients and another of their travel agents realise that for some reason they can’t use their iphone (which I have) to login to check balances etc. They’ve said that logging in from a computer is fine, just not iphones. So in your experience (and I realise on the Europe Uncovered I’m probably at nearly all different hotels) were there computers available (and free to use) and your accommodation?

Thanks.


#96

Hi Tira,

Actually I have completely forgotten about that but I did have an Iphone and I don’t think I could check the balance on my phone because I think you required flash or something like that. Luckily for me a couple of people on the tour had laptops with them so I got to use them real quickly to check up on balances.

I’ve had a look at the Europe Uncovered tour and the only places that are different to mine are Pag Island, Ljubljana and Salzburg. From memory not a lot of the places we stayed at had computers, just free Wi-Fi. If you stay at the same places I did on your tour then you should get some at Florence, Prague and Berlin. The computers were free to use as well if I remember correctly. If you are desperate to check your balance or emails really quickly there are always internet cafe’s around the city’s which you can jump in and use quickly so it won’t be a big deal.

If you know how much money you had at the start and keep a rough estimate of how much you are spending you won’t have to worry too much and check your balance every day.

Thanks for pointing out that tip though about the Iphones. That is very handy to remember.

If there is anything else just ask :slight_smile:

Cheers

Coggo


#97

How do you waterproof canvas shoes to help in the snow? I found spray stuff but I’d have to reapply it every 3-4 wears and really don’t want to carry around a huge thing of spray in my suitcase. Do to have the option to hire shoes if you want to?


#98

Hi padfoot,

I just did 2-3 coats of the spray waterproofing stuff before I went on my trip. I never re-applied after that and I was fine. I didn’t take the can with me either. It depends on how deep you walk into the snow but no matter what your shoes are probably going to get a bit wet. Once I got back after the mountain and skydiving my shoes were slightly damp so I put them on top of the heating vent in our cabin and they were dry by the next morning.

No one on our tour hired shoes up there and I didn’t actually look to see if you could hire shoes. I never even considered it. You might be able to but it seems like a waste of money. 99% of people just wore their running shoes/joggers/converse up on top of the mountain.

Cheers,

Francis


#99

Just booked into the mega european for next May - very excited!

How did you guys usually entertain yourselves on the log bus rides? besides sleeping :stuck_out_tongue:


#100

Hi eljohnston,

Very exciting! You are going to have a great time. I wasn’t aware next years tours were out yet!

Some buses were different and it will depend on the Tour Leader and bus driver but this is pretty much how our bus days went on my tour:

Morning Sessions (7am or whenever we started to about 10am)
LaLa (my TL) would usually have the morning sessions as soft music playing and most of the people would sleep on the bus.

Mid Morning - Lunch Session (10am - 1pm)
We would all vote as to whether we keep the music going and people can play their own music for the bus or vote on a TV show or movie to watch. Or we would end up playing some games like trivia or something like that.

Afternoon Session (1pm - whenever we arrive at our destination)
We would again vote to either watch movies/TV/listen to music. (LaLa had a great collections of TV shows like Game of Thrones, Sherlock, Rome etc. She also had Schindlers List which we watched on the day we went to Auschwitz) When we got closer to our destination LaLa would tell us the history of the place, pass out the maps, collect money for optionals and tell us what is good to see/visit and any tips we should know and answer any questions we might have. We would also then decide the rooming list in the afternoon on the bus.

Bus days went surprisingly quickly and we had a book exchange on our tour where people who had brought books and finished them would put them up the front of the bus so other people could read. I can’t really sleep on buses so I spent the mornings writing my journal, chatting to people or chatting to LaLa and the bus driver. Some people has little computers with movies on them and watched that or listened to their ipods. I highly recommend bringing a neck pillow for the bus trips which is really handy if you want to try and sleep. A book, or iPod is also really handy to have. I enjoyed writing a journal as I use that to remember where I went and what I enjoyed seeing and helps me to give advice now to other people. There were also little stops along the way where we went and visited Roman Aqueducts, perfume factories and other things on our way to our next destination.

Sitting with different people occasionally on the bus is a good way to get to know everyone quicker. A lot of us would switch who we were sitting with so it was a good way to meet everyone quickly. I think I’ve also mentioned this before but on the drive days you stop at a lot of service stations. If you want to save some money try to avoid buying snacks and drinks from them all the time as service station snacks are really expensive. I would grab some fruit from breakfast and have my water bottle with me and that would last me through the bus day. I ended up saving quite a bit of money by the end of the tour which I used on optional activities or souvenirs.

Finally it’s super important to have “Gastrostop” tablets (or something like that) with you for bus days if you get sick or get the runs. I fortunately didn’t need it but a couple of people on my tour said it was a lifesaver.

I hope this helps!

Cheers,

Coggo