Let the Journey Begin
Cleveland Travel Blog› entry 1 of 26 › view all entries
A brief introduction to this travel blog. I went to Europe with a tour group called Contiki last summer. I had just graduated from college, and I really needed a break before starting work full time, so as a present to myself, I bought a trip to Europe... a tour called "London to Athens." I had read several journals about others' experiences with Contiki, so I thought I knew what to expect. While reading what others had done helped a little, there's nothing that can prepare you for the experience you will have. That said, this blog shares my experiences on the tour (with some embarassing details left out,) and it covers everything I wish I'd known before I left.
I don't think most of you are interested in my flight from Cleveland to London, so I'll make this day brief. My parents took me to the airport about three hours before my flight was scheduled to leave. 3 hours prior is the recommended time for international flights, but I think I could have shown up an hour and a half before and been just fine... then again, security is a little more strict now, so maybe 3 hours is appropriate. I wore the most comfortable outfit I could find... a blue jogging suit. I figured that if I was going to be stuck on a plane for eight hours, I'd rather not be wearing clingy jeans. My suitcase was packed to fit the weight limits for Contiki (44 pounds max). Rather than telling you what I packed, I'll tell you what I wish I'd packed:
- At least five casual tank tops
- At least three dressy tops (there are nights when you go out and are expected to be dressed up
- A couple of longer-sleeved shirts if you're going in the early summer, as it can get chilly at night
- A jacket or sweatshirt
- 2 flowy skirts that can be paired with several different tops
- 1 denim or khaki skirt
- 1 or 2 pairs of shorts
- 1 or 2 pairs of capris
- Maybe 1 pair of jeans, but if you're going in the middle of the summer, you won't need them
- One "smart" dress
Use your discretion when it comes to underwear-- you'll have opportunities to do laundry along the way
Another thing I learned quickly was that there is plenty of shopping along the way, so if you're luggage is getting close to the weight limit, just stop packing and pick up more clothes on your trip... your suitcase doesn't get weighed after the first day in London.
Back to the plane ride: I should have worn a skirt and a comfy tank top on the plane instead of the jogging suit-- i never wore it again on the trip (though I did wear the pants on a couple of the bus days-- you'll want to be comfortable on those). I had one outfit in my carry-on bag, just in case my luggage got lost in transit. About two or three weeks before my trip was to begin, I got a call from my travel agent letting me know that my contiki documents had arrived. Contiki sent me my plane tickets, my transfer passes for the Gatwick express train, and all the documents I'd need to get into the hotel and aboard the coach in London. They send all of it in a really ugly green "contiki document wallet," which is big enough to hold all that stuff plus your passport. On the plus side, I had it with me in the airport and met another guy going on a Contiki trip, so we got to talk while we waited for our flight. Flight to London was pretty painless. Because I'm from the States, I was able to book my plane ride through contiki for a discount... highly recommend doing this if you can. I slept a bit during the flight, and the next morning, woke up in London.