Questions, Tips & Advice for All Tours - ASK HERE


#101

Hi Coggo,

Thank you so much for this thread - it’s so good to see this discussion of things I wouldn’t have even thought of.

I am planning to do a top deck tour next year but will be looking to do a shorter one and do some parts of Europe on my own. I do have a couple of questions though:

  1. Were there many couples on your tour? Did they have any trouble making friends/talking to people on the bus? Do you know what it was like for them/travelling with them? I’m going with my partner so it would be useful to know any tips for couples travelling together.

  2. Thanks for that tip about the gas station snacks guzzling away money - my partner would have been a sucker for that so its good to be able to warn him in advance! Do you have any other money saving tips? I am worried about accidentally spending too much money on unnecessary things :S

  3. I think you briefly mentioned something about iphones - I hope to take mine but I’m worried about all the extra charges giving me a scare when I get back to Oz (I’ll probably be gone for 3 months). What did you do about calling home, texting, internet etc. Did you just use your Australian Sim or did you unlock your phone and buy a Europe Sim? Or did you just get a Europe phone and sim for the trip?

  4. Other than the neck pillow, what was something that a lot of people forgot that they should have brought? And what did people bring that they realized they should have left at home?

  5. Was there an issue with the language barrier for any/all places?

I’m sure I’ll have more questions but I’ll stick with that for now.

Thanks once again!

Simone.


#102

Sorry Coggo - I just realised you answered the question about couples about a year ago :slight_smile:


#103

Hi Simone,

Hopefully I can answer your questions:

  1. I see you have seen my response about couples travelling but I can’t really remember what I said last time so I’ll give you a quick answer for this question again :slight_smile: There were 5-6 couples on my tour which is a decent number. I didn’t see nearly any of them have any trouble making friends and talking to other people as it is always going to be easier if you talk to new people together. They all got along really well with everyone and even though the majority of the free days they would go off and do their own thing it wasn’t a big deal because realistically you will be usually with only a couple of people each time you have a free day as you don’t walk around as a big group of 30-40. We would occasionally bump into a couple and would go see things together and then would break off when we were off to see different things.
    The main tip if you are in a couple is to really make an effort to try to talk to other people on the tour as it is very easy to just only talk amongst yourselves and rely on your partner as your ‘safety blanket’ as such.

  2. I guess some other money saving tips and budgeting advice I can give you is once you get your list of optional activities before the trip work out which ones you really want to try and have those amounts already budgeted in and accounted for. That helps with making sure you money lasts the whole trip.
    Depending on whether you are going to be using a credit card for most purchases or cash be well informed of any fees your cards can charge you. I mostly did big withdrawals from ATM’s that accepted MasterCard’s(which was what my card was) which meant I didn’t get charged nearly any random fees any didn’t get charged a heap of transaction/withdrawal fees.
    Another tip is if you aren’t rushed for time in places and you are looking for a specific/particular souvenir then it’s always good to do a bit of a shop around. I found some centrally located stores on the main tourist drags can try to rip some tourists off. For example in Barcelona I really wanted a Barcelona soccer jersey and stores on the main strip were selling them for 80-90 Euro and some even seemed poor quality. I went literally one/two blocks over to another store and bought the same jersey for 40 euro and to this day it hasn’t faded or anything so it was a good quality jersey. Be very wary of street vendors trying to rip you off as well but you can also pick up a lot of fun stuff from them as well.
    I guess the same goes for food. Some restaurants can have some really crazy prices if they are on the main tourist drag and if you go one or two streets over you get the same meal for half the price. Me and a couple of friends always had fun getting off the main drag in a lot of places and finding some small family owned restaurants and got some really great meals for good prices.
    I also found that some restaurants would bring out bread and sparkling water to your table right when you sit down and being Australian you just assume that they are complimentary. Most times they ARE NOT and they will charge you for the bread and sparkling water when you go to pay your bill. We would usually ask for tap water (which was usually free) or just get a soft drink and not touch the bread unless everyone was going to chip in for the bread.
    Last money tip I guess (and this won’t relate to everybody) but try not to go shopping in every city/place you go to. There were a couple of girls and one guy on my tour who would spend 80% of their time in EVERY city/town we visited shopping for clothes or getting massages/manicures. The ended up filling up their bags really quickly and sending a lot of stuff home via the post which was pretty expensive. Now I’m a big believer in “each to their own” but I couldn’t work out why they would spend thousands of dollars on plane tickets and a tour to just spend most of their time in clothes shops or getting massages. They missed seeing a lot of cool attractions/buildings/museums/culture/architecture (like the Colosseum which was I remember them missing) which is usually the reason you go on a European holiday. If that is your kind of thing then have it and go shopping but you will also end up spending a lot of money and missing out on a lot of cool things.

  3. I took my IPhone and turned all data and roaming off and only used free Wi-Fi while I was over there. I didn’t buy any European sim cards or anything like that as I wasn’t really planning on making that many calls. Most places you stay in have free Wi-Fi and I used that to send/check emails, Facebook and bank accounts at night. I also used the Wi-Fi to Skype call people back home. Skype is free and generally worked pretty well in most places so that is how I contacted family back home. I was over there for 2 and bit months in Europe and just let my family know that if they needed to contact me then they should email me and it worked out really well and didn’t cost me a cent. If you will need a phone to call people back home or during your trip then I know you are able to get pre-paid Sims through Topdeck or travel agents. You can probably get one easily enough in Europe but I’m not sure of the cost to call internationally. It would probably be easiest speaking to a travel agent about which international sim to get and get a list of the charges. Just be sure to let them know that you have an IPhone and require a micro-sim and not a usual sim card as most people will send you just a normal sim card.

  4. I wish I brought my IPod with me as my IPhone didn’t have a lot of music. I should have left one of my two jumpers at home as it wasn’t really that cold and if you really need a specific piece of clothing then just buy it over there. A lot of the girls wished that they brought more summer dresses and less jeans. Girls also said that they wish they brought their cheap jewellery instead of their expensive stuff as they didn’t really wear it that much and things got lost/broken in bags while travelling. I wish I brought more washing powder and cold and flu medicine with me. I should have left most of my maps/travel guides at home because I didn’t use them once because you can pick up local guides for free in most places. A lot of people didn’t bring two camera batteries and regretted that and have heaps of spare memory chips for your camera. I’m glad I brought a small wide brimmed hat. If I think of anything else I’ll let you know.

  5. Aaahhh the language barrier, better known and playing ‘stranger charades’. There was definitely times where locals didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak their native language but you would be surprised how easy it is still communicating what you want. There are a lot of places in Europe where people can speak English or at least part English and can help you so don’t be too worried about the language barrier. It just adds to the fun. My best experience with not being able to speak the local language was in Greece right before our flotilla sailing and I was pretty crook with the flu. I attempted to use sign language to act out needing “cough medicine” and “antibiotics” for the “flu” to the chemist which the chemist though was absolutely hilarious. After much fun was had one of the nurses from my trip came in and said “amoxicillin” which is supposedly antibiotics in “every language” the nurse told me while stifling her laughter. The moral is don’t be afraid to try and talk to the locals as its a lot of fun and you can meet some really awesome people.

If you have any more question’s I’ll gladly try to answer them.

I hope this helps

Coggo


#104

Oh one last money tip Simone, try to avoid getting taxi’s to most places or getting taxi’s home late at night as they are pretty expensive and a lot will take you home on the long route and try to rip you off. The public transport like buses and trains are pretty simple to work out and are really cheap.

Sometimes taxi’s can’t be avoided though but be aware of where they take you and sometimes organise a price before you head off.


#105

Hi Coggo!

Yeah I know! I think got the early early early bird special, which I am very happy with :slight_smile: I was too excited to wait!

Awesome! That sounds good!! Were their outlets etc on the bus where you could charge stuff?

Thank you once again for all your advice on this forum!!

eljohnston


#106

Hi eljohnston,

The early bird special is awesome and you can save so much money by booking early. The only problem is now that you have to wait what will seem like an eternity until your trip :stuck_out_tongue: It does give you a heap of time to plan and research things though which I highly recommend you do. Nothing too in depth if that isn’t your thing but at least have a bit of a look at each place you are going to and what might interest you there. Read your trip itinerary and optional activities list as well (you may have to look at last years if 2014 isn’t up) because that will also give you an idea of what you can do in each place.

There were two power point/outlets right in the middle of the bus so usually there was a IPhone charger in there and everyone would take turns charging their phones/iPod’s/iPad’s and there would also be camera chargers being used as well. It was really handy and people would just take it in turns charging their stuff if it needed it.

It’s good for those long drive days where you might not have had time to charge both of your camera batteries the night before or if your iPod is running a bit low.

I’m glad I can help out some people with this thread and everybody, keep the questions coming. No question is a dumb question.

Cheers,

Francis


#107

Haha yeah there is definitely a very long wait, it’s driving me crazy! But the research is all pretty exciting/interesting anyway so that’s okay :stuck_out_tongue: you said you used the bus trips to plan your days, how detailed did you go? Or did you just browse?
Did you ever pre-book anything while on tour?

The outlets would definitely be pretty useful! Especially considering the crazy amount of technology nowadays!

Thanks Coggo!!


#108

I didn’t pre book anything and you probably won’t have to either unless it’s a specific tour or something like that you want to do in one of the cities which you know gets booked up in advance.

I didn’t do a heap of research before my trip. I just read the tour itinerary and then read up about each place a little in a lonely planet guide but didn’t go too in depth.

Before you get to each city you get a map like this from your tour leader: http://lonexplorer.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Topdeck-Paris-City-Guide.pdf

We would look at that map on the bus and see which places we wanted to see and what would be the best order to see them in so we could cut down on distance travelled. That way we maximised our time and saw a heap of things. It was always good to have a bit of a plan for your free day so you don’t end up missing out on something like the Arc De Triomphe, The Colosseum or the Grand Bazaar in Turkey. As you can see on the map they have a key showing distance and that way you can work out how long it will take to walk from once place to another and how long you might stay at one attraction to the next.

Once again we didn’t go too in depth, just had a general plan for the day which we tried to follow. Part of the fun of being in new cities and travelling is running into something you didn’t even know was there. That will happen plenty of times and makes it that much more awesome. Don’t be afraid to get off the main tourist strips as well!


#109

I’ve been getting a couple of PM’s asking me where I stayed before my trip and if the Clink78 was a good place to stay beforehand.

I stayed at the Clink before my tour for about 4 days and had a twin room with a mate and then stayed there again for 3 days after my tour. It was pretty cheap compared to most of the other places we looked at and had everything we wanted. Our deal was like 45 pounds a night (which you obviously split between two) and included breakfast each morning. It suited us perfectly because we got to meet up with some of the people from our tour beforehand and it was close to the underground if we wanted to go anywhere. We were actually able to walk to a lot of places from the Clink as well so didn’t always have to use public transport which was also handy.

I’ve had people telling me that they have heard that it’s a dangerous area but I had no trouble at all. I wasn’t roaming the street too much after midnight before my tour anyway because I was catching up on sleep from my flight and wanting to be well rested before my tour anyway.

I’ve also had questions about the noise levels of that place. You can get the occasional group of people coming home drunk but usually they move by pretty quickly and don’t make that much noise. If you are in a dorm room you may get people coming and going at different times which is why we got the twin room.

My overall experience of the Clink was a very good one and would recommend it if you wanted to meet up with some people beforehand from your tour. It also helps staying there the night before you leave so you don’t miss you departure time. Topdeck also put notices/news up in the lobby about the upcoming tours which is also handy.

The place also has a great computer room with a heap of computer and wifi which was handy. They have a big lounge, a bar downstairs if you don’t want to head out around the town and it’s good for having a drink and meeting people from tours just finishing and people about to leave on tours. There are washing machines and dryers which we used right before our tour. Once again for the price you are paying it’s pretty good quality and don’t expect the Hilton or anything like that. Each persons experience will probably be different but I would recommend staying there if it’s only for 3-4 days.

If there are any other questions about the place just ask.


#110

Hi Coggo,

This thread has been SOOOOO helpful. I check this thread all the time for any updates. I’ve booked the Mega European for June next year and was wondering if you have any tip for the sailing portion of the trip? I’ve heard people saying that you need to bring a sleeping bag and other say you should be fine with out one.

Another question I have is whether there is an expected ‘dress code’ for females in Turkey? I’m not sure what kind of clothes I should be wearing in the city.

Any other tips you can think of for the tour would also be greatly appreciated :slight_smile:


#111

Hi Jessica,

Sorry for the late reply. Because you are starting your tour in June you will probably be doing your sailing around the end of June or start of July. From my experience it was really nice weather then and it was so warm at night that you didn’t need anything except for maybe a light sheet to cover you. I just used my towel if I got cold while sleeping on the boat but they didn’t happen. If you feel like you might get cold just take a pair of track pants and a long sleeve shirt just in case but you should hopefully be able to tell what kind of weather you will be getting by seeing what it is like on the first day. Other than that, take some bug spray, a HEAP of sunscreen and some sunnies and you’ll be set for the sailing portion. Also take some throat losingers or something like that because a couple of people got sore throats while sailing from either accidentally drinking seawater or getting a bit sick.

They are very lenient in Turkey with the dress code for women. They don’t mind what you wear but I would recommend wearing a shirt that covers your shoulders and either pants that come down to your knees or a skirt that goes down to your knees. I wouldn’t recommend wearing short shorts or a mini skirt and a revealing top or anything like that. A lot of the girls on my tour just wore sarongs when walking around or pants. When you go into the mosques there you have to make sure you are wearing clothes that cover up your shoulders and to below your knees. That’s the same thing for guys as well. Once again the sarongs came in very handy for that for the girls. You tour leader will give you a heads up on what you should be wearing for those excursions though.

Finally a lot of the girls who went shopping in the bazaar found it easier to walk around in small groups because some of the vendors can be quite pushy and in your face. Also if you have blonde hair they will pick you out and try to sell you things. I was told that being in a group helped if you fell like that are being too pushy although most of the vendors are fine.

I hope this helps and once again sorry for the late reply. I’ve been looking at doing the European Pioneer myself for next year and got a bit distracted.

If you or anyone else has any other questions just ask.

Cheers,

Coggo


#112

Hi there, not sure if this has been answered yet, but with the optional extras - do we have to pay for them in that particular currency?

Like, if I wanted to skydive in Switzerland, could I only pay for it in Swiss Francs?

Thanks :slight_smile:


#113

Hi Bianca,

It may have changed since I was on my tour but we usually had to pay for the optional activities in the local currencies. Most of the time you can just find a local ATM and withdraw the cash but for the instance of skydiving in Lauterbrunnen I think I was able to pay by card at the skydiving office as it’s quite a large sum of cash and not everyone will be carrying that amount of cash. It’s best to bring it up with your tour leader a couple of days before you get to Lauterbrunnen and ask if you can pay by cash or if it’s possible to pay by card. We did have to pay in Swiss Francs though but it wasn’t a drama.

There may be some eastern European countries who will also take the Euro instead of their local currency but most times you’ll have to pay in the currency of the country you will be doing the optional activity in.

Hopefully this helps and if you have any other questions just ask :slight_smile:

Cheers,

Coggo


#114

Hi Coggo,

I seen your post earlier about luggage, I also have a 75 litre back pack but considering using a backpack with wheels included? I noticed that they can weigh around 3 or 4 kg’s on their own. Did many people use them on your tour? I am just worried that If my luggage gets a tad heavy I will be stuck carry it on my back the whole time. I’m doing the 24 day Spirit of Europe tour but in Europe for 2 months in total.


#115

Hi Mandy,

I’m a bit confused with your question. Are you tossing up between a backpack (without wheels) and a backpack (with wheels)?

People either had backpacks or the normal suitcases with wheels. I don’t remember seeing any backpacks with wheels. It should be fine and if your backpack has wheels because if it gets too heavy I guess you can just wheel it around. I don’t see why you would have to carry it on your back and not wheel it unless you are carrying it up stairs. Remember to try and pack light to start with because you will probably end up buying more clothes than you expected and anything you forgot you can always pick up along the way.

If you just take your backpack (without wheels) and think that your bag will get too heavy and you might struggle then definitely take your backpack which has wheels. I found that the backpacks (without wheels) were quite easy to carry as the straps around the waist and chest really negate a lot of the weight if tightened correctly. That being said, because you are going to be travelling for two months it might be easier on you to take a backpack (with wheels) which you can pull around in case you hurt yourself and can’t carry your bag due to weight. That way you can carry it if you feel up to it or need to move fast and if it gets to heavy you can always switch over to pulling it. The extra 3-4 kg’s are worth it for the option of being able to pull your bag around.

I suggest packing both backpacks with what you plan on taking and walk around for like 5-10 minutes around your house/yard to see how heavy it is. Then go back and pack in and extra 5-10 pieces of clothing and maybe some little knickknacks to symbolize clothes and souvenirs you’ll buy and see the weight difference when walking around with that. Then imagine having to carry that around for maybe 10-30 min every couple of days for two months. That should hopefully help you make your decision and also give you an idea of what it’s going to be like.

Remember that you do a lot of walking on these holidays so it’s good if you can go for a 30-45 min walk every afternoon for a couple of months leading up to your holiday. That should also help your stamina and with being able to carry your bag if you need to.

I hope this helps and if I haven’t answered your questions just let me know.

Cheers,

Coggo


#116

Wow! What awesome info! I’m currently planning on doing a tour of Europe and your info has been invaluable! I know it’s a weird question but do you get to shower daily? Lol. Everything sounds awfully tiring! Did you live on coffee???


#117

Hi Brooke

You definitely get to shower every single day as many times as you like haha. The places you stay are really quite good and the facilities were also great. I think maybe the only time you might not get to shower properly is when you are doing Flotilla sailing. There is a shower on the back of the boat which is fine though. If you are doing a camping tour you will probably be using communal showers everywhere you go but I’ve heard that are fine as well.

Travelling can be very tiring but it’s definitely worth keeping on going and not slowing down. I actually don’t drink coffee and to be honest you won’t need it. Being in new places and seeing awesome stuff with really great friends gives you a weird adrenaline which keeps you going!

I’m glad my thread has been able to help you. If there is any other questions you have just ask away.

Cheers

Coggo


#118

Hey all, what a great thread!
I’m doing the grand European tour departing June 10th, travelling solo from nz :slight_smile: couple questions…
-what’s the clink hostel like to stay at.?
-how how much spending money do we need to take?
-I’d like to travel up north of London and to Scotland prior to departure, can anyone who’s done this recommended the best way to do this? A tour perhaps…

  • what are the must see things In london? Anyone used the hop on hop off bus, if so how’d they find it?
    -do coaches or most of places we stay have wifi?

Thanks :slight_smile:


#119

Hi Bonnie!
I’m not sure if I can help with your other points, but I’ve heard the ‘British Isle’ tour isn’t too bad! that might be a good start!
Good luck deciding! :wink:


#120

Wow! All this advice is so helpful! I’m doing the European getaway in August for 20 days and you have answered pretty much all my questions! main one being spending money! I want to make the most of it and don’t want to miss out on anything :slight_smile:
Thanks again so much, Ill definitely be coming back to have a couple more reads before the trip :slight_smile: