Road Trip Through Norway

Hey 20 Somethings,

So for those of you following me on Instagram, you’ll see that I have been doing some travelling lately. I’m currently in Norway, more specifically doing a road trip through Norway, which has been quite eventful. So I thought I’d do a little post about my trip so far and let you know how it’s been going.

First of all, Norway is beyond beautiful. Like when I say views, I mean VIEWS. Everywhere. Every town, every city, every corner. I’m staying in a different hotel every night, some have been really awesome and some have been below average- but it’s all part of the adventure I guess.

Norway is known for it’s immense greenery and fjords (lakes but like, bigger.) It’s summer here at the moment, so that means in the cities its very hot during the day, but what’s amazing is that like an hour or two out of the cities, you can see snow on the neighbouring mountains. It’s beautiful.

Yesterday I saw one of the most magnificent waterfalls, I’ve ever seen in my life. Norway is covered in the type of beauty that takes your breath away. And what annoys me most, is that the pictures just don’t do it justice. So like, just picture everything I’m showing you but like 1000x better.

So far I’ve visited Oslo, Geilo, Bergen and Sogndal. I’m on my way to a town called Alesund as we speak. Oslo is lovely, it’s got the typical buzz you expect from a city, but it’s still pretty laid back. Actually, the entire country is extremely laid back- Norwegians are super chilled. I fell in love with Bergen, it’s the cutest little city with something to see around every turn. I took a walk down the Bergen fish market, which isn’t for the faint of heart, and saw some fish I never knew existed. The city is the perfect combination of past meets present.

The problem with road tripping in a place like Norway, is that there are just so many amazing sites, we can’t help but stop. We turn 2 hour drives into 6 hour drives because we stop every five minutes to take photos. (Also can I just say how great it is travelling with my family. They’re so down for pictures all the time. I don’t have to beg to get content for my Instagram, actually my dad is the one calling me over every five minuets because he found a new backdrop that I have to pose in front of. Its pretty great. – Take notes Boyfriend.)

The hardest thing about this trip is waking up every morning, because our days are filled with travelling and activities and by the evening, I’m poofed. Also, the sun doesn’t completely go down before 1 am, So I accidentally stay up all night thinking it’s still early!

But I am having a great time, I’m in Norway till Saturday and then it’s off to Sweden. I haven’t really been doing much shopping, because I’m saving that for Sweden, when I’m in one place for a bit longer. Which is actually a good thing, if there was a Sephora in Norway, I’d be broke in a matter of seconds.

Okay, Well I’ll write again later this week. Send me any questions in the comments section!

xx

Nadine

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 2, Why Contiki?: Money, Money, Money

What’s up Somethings!
Today I’m talking all things Money when going on a Contiki Tour.

Let’s be real, travelling to Europe is expensive, especially with the Euro to Rand exchange rate. So if you’re going to be travelling, you’re going to want to take a good amount of money with to ensure you get the most out of your trip.

It’s really depressing when you get your money exchanged for Euros, you go from being really rich as a South African to being really poor in Europe. Meh. So let’s talk about expenses and what you’ll actually be spending your money on.

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Nautical Party in Venice!

You’re not going to have time to go shopping. There is a lot of time to do what you want on a Contiki, but if you’re going to spend that time inside H&M in Paris, you’re going to regret it. There’s so much to see and do in Europe, and shopping there really isn’t a must. The prices work out the same as they would be here, sometimes even more expensive. If you’re travelling to Asia then by all means, shop till you drop. But Europe, I’d advise against it.

On a Contiki, they give you a list of added on extras, which you can pick from. This ranges from activities and dinners etc with the group. Doing everything on the list (Which is what they suggest you do) is quite expensive, and it would have taken up a bulk of the money I’d saved. So I left a few things off the list. Which I now regret. So this is what I’ll do on my next trip: I’ll work out how much money I’ll need to do all the added extras, and ensure that I’ve saved enough to get all of those. I suggest that you do all the activities but leave off some of the traditional dinners. There’s no need to spend R500 on a meal you might not even like, unless you’re a foodie, which I am not.

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You get breakfast included in your Contiki price and a few dinners, other than that, you’re going to be spending a lot of money on food – Pasta is expensive in Italy. My advice is that you stock up on food at breakfast, grab some fruit and croissants to eat throughout the day. You’re also going to spend a lot of money on snacks for the long bus rides, like be prepared to spend R40 on Pringles like every day.

And last but not least, Alcohol. You party a lot on a Contiki. A lot. And drinks are expensive AF, but luckily the Europeans are generous with their alcohol. They were free pouring for days, so you don’t have to buy too many drinks to get a buzz. But I suggest before a night out, you take only the cash you need or are willing to spend, so you can avoid over spending while you’re drunk.

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Bike Tour in a Beer Garden in Munich!

So how much should you take?
Listen, between R20 000- R30 000 should be enough to ensure you have a good time. If you can take more, do it. The more money you have the better.

There are lots of ways to have a good time on your Contiki without spending money, I spent a lot of my time just walking through the streets of the cities. I put myself on a daily budget – which was cool because if I didn’t spend all the money I had budgeted for the day, my daily budget increased for the rest of the trip. If you control your money and keep track of what you’ve spent, you can make any amount of spending money work.

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Bidvest has a great option called the World Currency Card, which comes with an app, so you can always check your balance and expenses wherever you are in the world.

Feel free to post any other money related questions below! I’d love to help out! Also ask me your Contiki questions!

Okay, I’ll let you go start saving now!

à bientôt!
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