I just got back from my School of Rock Topdeck tour in USA. I LOVED every minute of it!
If anyone is reading this and thinking of doing a Topdeck tour - JUST DO IT - you will not regret it one bit!!
• who cares! I think 90% of my tour were solo travellers
• You will do some sort of ‘get to know you game’ on the bus day 1. Where are you from? What do you do ? etc
• Going solo is the best thing
• You will soon make amazing friends and have the trip of a lifetime.
Worried about your age or am I too old??
• again who cares and no you aren’t! (I believe cut off for Topdeck is 40yrs old)
• I went solo and I’m 34!
• We had 28 travellers on my tour and the average age would’ve been mid to late 20s but a lot of people on my tour were around my age. The oldest guy was 39 (he was living like he was 21 again haha)
Want to find people on your tour before departure…?
• Join the Topdeck app and start chatting.
• In the end we made a facebook group, as it was easier to chat and add website link, photos etc.
• It kinda felt strange actually meeting everyone on day 1 because we had been chatting for about 6 months
• Find out what people are doing before the tour starts. Will they be in the departure city a few days early? Or do you live in the same city – catch up for a coffee before you travel.
• I was in NYC for a week before the tour. One of the other girls arrived in NYC a few days prior to tour and was also staying at the departure hotel. We met for breakfast, hung out for the morning and wandered to Times Square. We parted ways for the arvo and met up again for dinner and vino. We did the same the next day too. was great!
• The night before our tour started, a bunch of us decided to meet up for dinner at Shake Shack, again great to put faces to names and everyone be super excited for the adventure ahead.
• Definitely budget for all of them, just in case. I didn’t do all of the ones we got offered but the ones I did do were all amazing
• Your tour guide will let you know - usually on bus days a few days prior - what is coming up and give you more info….you have time to decide and ask for more info if you aren’t sure. They will be super excited about the good ones so they are definitely worth signing up for!
• Our tour guide also offered us a lot more optionals than what was listed in the brochure (this could depend on the tour and your guide) EG: baseball game was on in Cleveland the 1 night we were there – we all were keen so our guide did a group booking
• There is no pressure to sign up for the optional activities so it’s no drama if you aren’t keen
• sleep on the bus if you need to, movies can be played and of course music (don’t start the karaoke if people are sleeping) – we made a Topdeck playlist on Spotify which everyone added songs too. I still listen to this since getting back home.
• Take a jumper/cardigan or large scarf on the bus as it can get a little chilly.
• Buses have power and USB ports in each row of seats. This is amazing!!
• If you want music though and have a phone with the one port for charge and headphones – I highly suggest getting the double port adapter so you can charge and use audio at the same time! The one I got was Belkin for around $35-40 USD
• Always, always thank your bus driver – they do an amazing job getting us from A to B. They magically get those big buses around some tight corners and narrow streets.
Portable Battery pack
• Extremely helpful, esp if you are taking heaps of photos on your phone when out and about sightseeing and listening to music.
• There are tonnes of different versions of these depending on how much recharge you want – cheaper ones start at $30
• this is down to personal preference. Some like back packs, others on my tour had the small handbags
• I had a big day bag – well it was more just my bus bag, as I had my DSLR camera and laptop. This also help my bus jumper, travel pillow, big water bottle, snacks.
• I then had my handbag for when we got off the bus for the everyday things - phone, passport, wallet (could also hold a small water bottle) etc
• A lot of people were worried about the size and weight of their bags – we did the USA school of rock tour. They didn’t weigh our bags for this trip – but that could be different if the tour is full and in other countries.
• We have all sorts of size bags/suitcase etc. – if you are worried about your bag, I would suggest double checking with Topdeck agent.
Group Drinks and Dinner
• go on them! Some dinners are included and are a great way to get know everyone.
• Try sitting with different people each time there is a group dinner. A lot of the included dinners are in the local cuisine, so get stuck in and at least try it.
• Drinking – I found on my tour there was no pressure to go out partying/drinking everynight. (some people did) Even if you aren’t a big drinker, still go out. You might have the best night. There were always people in the group going back to the hotel at various times throughout the night. Some walked or depending on the time of night and area you are, get taxi/ubers back to hotel.
• I never used this at home in New Zealand but used it sssoooo much in USA and was so cheap. Most of the trips being around $7-8 USD
• Sometimes it was just too hot to keep walking and my little feet wouldn’t carry me any further, quick Uber to where I needed to go, was so worth it.
Free time – you get tonnes of free time even if you do the optional activities.
• Everyone is keen to see different things on these days but chat to our fellow travellers, as you may have the same ideas on what you want to see/visit.
• Don’t worry if you end up exploring by yourself….this can be just as fun and you can do whatever you want when you want to.
• Topdeck offered us a drop off/pick up service into town on our free days if the hotel was a little far away to walk – this is optional. Some of the hotels we stayed at also offered hourly shuttle services which was super handy – and free!!
• Some days (mainly travel/bus days) there is a schedule to stick to Eg: breakfast times, luggage to bus, departing hotel, lunch etc
• Please don’t be late – in some cases you will be left behind!! Esp. if you arent on the bus when its ready to depart the hotel.
• Snack/toilet stops – usually 20 mins, enough time for the bathroom stop and to get coffee etc.
• Lunch – generally an hour
The School of Rock tour itself was amazing
If you love music – then you will love this tour.
Chicago – I fell in love with instantly and wish we had 1 more night there for us to explore.
All out hotel accomodation was great – some fancier than others but overall, they were all fab. Some were closer to town than others but Topdeck would offer a dropoff/pick up on our free days which was very helpful
Otherwise Ubers were cheap enough and if there is a group of you it makes it a couple of $$ each.
Graceland in Memphis – I’m not a huge Elvis fan but thoroughly enjoyed my time at Graceland.
NYC – amazing city!! – will be back for sure! Very happy I have 6 full days there to explore.
Since being home - everyone keeps asking me what my highlight was – my reply – EVERYTHING!!
I think I have covered most things, if you have a question – post a reply and try my best to help you out.