Hello! I’m back from what felt like an absolute whirlwind of a trip! As per my last post, I was in Helsinki, Finland for four months as part of an exchange programme for university. But before I get into that (watch out for future blog posts) I wanted to share my wonderful experience of travelling through 7 incredible countries in Europe with Topdeck! Before I left I was well prepared for the European Wonder trip thanks to my sister and friend who had both done it before me, so I thought it would be more than appropriate to pay it forward with my own advice on bus tours, packing for two weeks and living in hostels.
The tour I did is called European Wonder and it covers six countries, eight cities and two weeks worth of Instagram material! My advice for anyone looking into doing bus tours similar to this and have some qualm about food, partying etc then here’s some light on that:
- Keep it short: Be weary of the length you spend on this trip, after seven days people (including myself) started to get quite irritated with the whole idea of packing, unpacking and repacking bags every other day. Fortunately I had a lovely bunch of people on my tour but you may not always be so lucky, so again two weeks can feel like an eternity – also because you’re packing SO much in one day! If I were to do this again I would definitely keep it shorter than seven days and spend at least 2 nights in every destination. But if it’s your first time, and you are travelling to Europe especially from somewhere as far off as New Zealand and Australia I would most definitely recommend a 10 day tour – it’s just the perfect amount of fast paced travel that makes the the thousands you spend on travel worth it and you can always re-visit places you liked for longer since flights within Europe are super cheap (I’m talking 15 euros cheap!)
- Bon Appetit:If you’re not a fussy eater don’t worry about the food at all! Every night the Topdeck team cooked us dinner and prepared lunch everyone loved it! The food’s super filling and they always make sure to keep the culture of the city or country you’re in as inspiration for your meal!
- Partying myth: It depends on your group but even though I went in the middle of summer and we had one of the largest groups (nearly 50 of us) no one was rowdy or crazy. Everyone partied together but knew their limits. Also the 7am early morning call times were good motivation to stay in control!
- Easiest way to learn how to compromise: Hostels aren’t that bad! Almost all the hostels I stayed at during Topdeck were fantastic! Some of the cottages in the Roman cities weren’t the best but Paris, Amsterdam, Austria and the Rhine Valley were incredible! Especially the Austrian villa we stayed at was this beautiful bed and breakfast home in the middle of nowhere surrounded by scenery straight out of the Sound of Music! Also because you’re sharing it really teaches you how to compromise time and live with others – although mostly everyone is super respectful.
- Don’t be scared to say Hey!: You’ll meet the amazing, friendly and the most like-minded travellers from all over the world, add them on Facebook or any form of social media ASAP because you never know when you’ll get to visit them in their home country! Also, if you’re travelling solo, don’t fret! It’s really easy to make friends! I went alone and was a bit apprehensive about making friends but I met other solo travellers who said they felt the same but did the tour anyway – it’s amazing to find people similar to you in ways both small and big!
- Pack light – A backpack or a carryon size bag is all you need! Yes, even for two weeks! You honestly don’t need to take a suitcase and I wouldn’t recommend that anyway because some old hostels you may stay at such as the 12th century castle in the Rhine Valley may not have an elevator! Also every hostel we stayed at had a laundry so I did mine twice and was set with three tops, two tanks, two dresses, one pair of shorts and one pair of pants! Oh and don’t forget to pack comfortable shoes! There’s a lot of walking ahead of you!
- Sleeping essentials: Carry a neck pillow, eye mask and ear plugs because you’ll spend A LOT of time on the bus!
- And just last few reminders: Don’t get too drunk! Just live it up! DO THE OPTIONALS – even if it means you have to borrow some money from fam back home!
No doubt, you’ll have an amazing time! I too was guilty of Googling all this but sometimes the surprises are what make the trip memorable! Good luck, and have the best trip ever ❤