Part 3, Why Contiki?: What to Pack

So if you’re planning on travelling this year, you’re probably wondering what to pack. I learnt the hard way what I needed and what I didn’t need. But hopefully this post can make your packing stresses disappear.

  • Get a real Camera
    Listen, I know your phone camera is great, but you don’t want average pictures to look back on after your trip. I took ALL my pictures on my phone, it was only recently when I got a real camera that I realised how shitty cell phone camera quality is. You get cameras these days with wifi that connect to your phone, so you can easily share your pictures and keep your instagram alive. If you have a GoPro, pack it. There are tons of adventure activities you’re going to want to capture. Also, don’t forget your Polaroid/Instax camera, Europe is so photogenic.

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  • Leave your stilettos at home
    Listen, Europe is nothing but cobble stone streets. EVERYWHERE. Babes, I almost broke my ankle 20 times in Paris. You don’t need the world of shoes with you. A good pair of sneakers, (Because you walk A LOT.) cute sandals and/or flip flops and maybe a nice flat shoe to wear out to clubs at night.

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  • Bikini time!
    If you’re going to somewhere sunny in Europe, like Greece, definitely pack your bikini, actually pack five. But if you’re going into the main cities, you’ll be fine with one swim suit, most of the hotels do have pools, but you don’t have much time to enjoy them. But after a hot day in Berlin, that indoor pool was everything I needed and more.

 

  • Pack a Towel
    The nice hotels have towels and that’s pretty great. But we got to some of the hostels and they didn’t provide towels and when they did there where two towels for four people in the room. Unless you’re a fan of air-drying, this is a must.

 

  • Winter or Summer?
    So consider what time of the year you’re going. May- July you’re bound to experience a great European Summer. Outside of those months it gets cold fast. But even in summer, the weather can be unpredictable. I was caught in the rain in Amsterdam, Venice and Paris. Pack a light raincoat, which you can squash in your bag if you need it later in the day. Don’t pack a hoodie, you’re most likely to buy a Contiki hoodie on the trip- which is great to wear on bus rides.
    Pack a warmer jacket just in case, one that won’t take up too much space in your bag. You’re going to want a lot of shorts, I lived in my running shorts during the day because it was comfortable to walk in. You only need one pair of jeans and a pair of tights. Pack some cute dresses in too. Contiki throws a lot of themed parties in a few cities. In Austria we had a lumo party, Venice was a nautical party, Rome was a I love Roma party etc so think of where you’re going and pack some cute outfits to dress up in.

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  • Pack Enough Underwear
    This goes without saying, but still. Most girls on my trip didn’t pack enough underwear, so they spent a good part of their trip doing their laundry. Which is usually 1-2 Euros a pop.
    Just take a little laundry bag with for your dirty stuff and do all your washing when you get home.

 

  • Make Up and Sunblock
    Australian girls love their make up. They had fully made up faces at 7 am every morning before we got on the bus. So you’re going to want to keep up. My trick? My Avene Tinted Moisturiser and some eyeliner and mascara, the two minute make up look that left me looking fresh all day.
    For your nights out you’re going to want to wear a bit more make up. So pack your essentials, you don’t want to be travelling with Twenty different eyeshadow palettes. Sunblock is your best friend. So many of the girls on my trip looked like roasted tomatoes after a day in the sun. It’s harsh and intense no matter if you’re in the streets of Berlin or on top of the Swiss Alps. A lot of the girls used Dry Shampoo on the trip, this might be something to add into your bag if need be.

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  • Bags?
    Besides your suitcase, you need a backpack for all your shit on the bus- usually a change of clothes when changing cities etc. Then you also want a good handbag to use during the day, when you don’t want to carry around your backpack. I just got a cute little bag that went on my back and carried all my daytime essentials. Just be aware of pickpockets at all times and you should be fine.

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  • Medication
    The last thing you want is to get sick on your trip. Make sure your stocked up on the following:
    – Nausea Tablets
    – Tummy cramp tablets
    – Headache tablets
    – Allergy Tablets
    – Sleeping tablets
    – Viral Choice (I popped one a day to stay healthy)
    – Corenza C (If you feel sick, just take two immediately)
    – Rehydrate (I got heat stroke in Berlin, you’re going to want a little pick me up after a day in the sun.)
    – Any medication you need or use etc.
    Better safe than sorry.
  • Activities! 

You’re going to want things to do on the bus! Pack in a portable charger to keep your phone alive and make sure you’ve got loads of reading material or even a colouring book for those long bus rides!

Okay, thats all I can think of for now, I hope that helps! Please do not hesitate to ask me any questions you have and tell me what you’d like future posts to be about!

Happy Packing!
Nadine

 

Part 1, Why Contiki?: Solo Travel

Hi there guys!
So I’ve had a lot of people ask me questions about my Contiki Tour last year. A lot of people want to know if it’s worth the money, what to prepare for, what to pack etc. So I’ve decided to start a blog series about why My Contiki changed my life and why I’ll be doing more in the future.

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Me in Prague 

I travelled alone on my European Whirl Contiki, which was 18 days in Europe, starting in Amsterdam or London and ending in Paris. I often get asked why I went alone, firstly, travelling is expensive for South Africans and not accessible to everyone. I did ask a few friends to join me, but they couldn’t for their own reasons, which bummed me out at first- but it actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

It’s great fun travelling by yourself on a trip like Contiki, because you’re not actually alone. Only for the first day, when you meet your group, after that, you’re travelling with a group of friends you just met, having the time of your lives. A lot of people like to do Contiki’s with their significant other, which is cool. Personally I’d prefer to do it by myself. Travelling solo forced me to get out of my comfort zone and meet new people (something I struggle with, I’m an introverted extrovert).

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My group was made up of mostly Australians, Canadians and Mexicans, three of us were South African. Everyone was extremely nice and keen to make friends. We partied so hard together on our first night in Amsterdam. Our night was kicked off with a Sex Show in the Red Light District. Like if you can’t make friends with people after something like that, you never will.

If you’re travelling with friend, boyfriend or group of friends, make sure you are not cheating yourself out of the full experience. People who came with other people tended to exclude themselves from group activities and thus missing out on all the fun because they had their own agendas.

If you want to go off and do your own thing on your trip, Contiki gives you the freedom to do that, but honestly, If you’d rather plan your own trip and stick to your own agenda, you shouldn’t book a Contiki. Contiki trips are designed to ensure everyone has the time of their lives, your tour leader will ensure that you see everything you need to see and experience everything you need to experience. And doing things with the group is where all the best memories are made, if you’re going to leave the group for half of the day, you’re gonna have serious FOMO later at the group dinner when everyone is speaking about their adventures.

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Living our best life in Switzerland

For those worried about getting alone time or getting annoyed by being surrounded by people 24/7. Relax. The bus rides are long, I often just got a seat at the front away from the group, popped in my earphones and gave my social brain some rest between stops.

So Although I was TERRIFIED of travelling alone, I’d do it over and over again without hesitation. Travelling alone builds character and maturity, not to mention it’s an adventure. And now I’ve made friends from all over the world who I still speak to all the time!

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I found out new things about myself, I felt lighter and carefree, a thousand miles away from my problems and by the end of the trip I did not want to leave Europe. I found myself over there and the chances are you will too.

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Until Next Time,
Nadine

Eurotrip: Paris

We all know Paris is a dream city and it didn’t disappoint me one bit when I arrived there. I knew I loved the city, the moment I stepped foot in it.
We had some time at our hotel to get ready before we went off to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, which sits on top of a hill overlooking the entire city. It’s views for days guys. It’s a great place to watch the sunset while drinking a beer or some wine on the hill.


We then walked down to the Cabaret area of Paris, basically Paris’ own red light district. We got to watch a traditional French Cabaret, which blew my mind. If you’re in Paris, it’s just something you have to witness for yourself. Girls in can-can skirts, men kicking their legs past their heads! And special effects acts that will knock your socks off. And this is all accompanied by a bottle of Champagne for you and your company. We watched a show at a theatre called La Nouvelle Eve. Of course there’s the Moulin Rouge, but tickets are insanely expensive, so be ready to pay if that’s what you’re after. 


We ended our first night there at an Irish Bar called O’Sullivans. It gets very crowded on a Saturday night, but the music is really good. 


We woke up to a city tour, on our bus because it was raining. We then visited a traditional French perfumery, where we found out how Perfume was made and got to do some perfume shopping. 


We then had some time to explore the city and get some shopping done. We then went to the Arc De Triomphe, you can go up to the top for €8 and get an amazing view of Paris. Then if you walk down that road (Champs Elysées) you will see some of Paris’ main shopping spots and cafes. This street has everything you need to get through a full day of Paris shopping.


We then had a traditional Parisian Dinner, where we were served French wine and Escargot. We watched the sunset behind the Eiffel Tower. If you hang out by the Eiffel Tower around 11 and 11:30PM you’ll get to see it light up and sparkle for a few minutes. It’s beyond amazing. 


For more shopping, there’s a huge mall called Galeries Lafayette that houses all of the world’s biggest brands in shopping.


I had two extra days in Paris, I got to explore a bit more and take in more of the beautiful city. I left my heart in Paris. It was the perfect way to end off the trip of a lifetime. Thank you all for following my journey. I can honestly say this trip has changed me for the better. 

Until my next adventure!
Nadine 

Eurotrip: Swiss Alps

Next stop on my journey was the Swiss Alps in Switzerland. Where we would spend the next two days nestled in between the beautiful Swiss Mountains and waterfalls.
On the way we stopped in a city called Lucern, where we got to do some shopping and attended a Swiss Army Knife and watch demonstration. If you’re planning on going to the Swiss Alps but wanna stay in a city, then Lucern is a great option!


We then began our drive up a few more meters above sea level to reach our destination: Camping Jungfrau, Lauterbrunnen. What a beautiful little campsite, it’s walking distance from the train station that takes you up into the mountains and it’s close to town.


The day after we arrived, we went up the Jungfrau mountains, where we would stand at the top of Europe and get to play in the snow. I promise you, this is one of those places you have to see before you die. The pictures do not do it justice. 


Once you’re at the top of the mountain, there are loads of activities to take part in, there’s a zip line, tubing, skiing, an ice sculpture museum, souvenir shops, exhibitions and you can go up to the top of the sphinx for the view of a lifetime.


We spent our time up on the mountain, throwing snowballs, playing in the snow, taking topless pictures and just enjoying having our fingertips freeze off!

A group of us went tubing down the mountain which was lots of fun, it’s just a bit of a bumpy ride, but oh my goodness- is such a rush! 


The train ride up and down the mountain is quite long, I caught a nap on the way down! This might sound weird but, wear sunscreen! You may be in the snow but the sun is still harsh up there and a lot of people came down with red noses and foreheads! Not a good look at all. Don’t forget your gloves and a warm jacket because it’s freezing up there. 


We ended our time in Switzerland with a party in a bomb bunker, underneath the campsite! It was such a good time!
The final stop on the tour was Paris and I could barely contain my excitement!