Cleveland Travel Blog› entry 26 of 26 › view all entries
I've gotten several e-mails from people curious about this tour. So here's a list of FAQs and my answers.
How much money did you spend? I spent about $1500 US. I didn't buy much in the way of souveniers... most of my money was spent on optionals, museum entrance fees, food and alcohol. There's a lot of shopping in Europe, so if you're a big shopper, plan on spending more.
Was there a party every night? If you wanted to party, there was a party to be found. A lot of times, it was at the campsite bar. There was aways someone who wanted to drink into the early morning hours, so just find those people and be social with them.
What was nightlife like? The one thing that sucks about contiki is that almost all of the campsites are really far away from the city centers. Unless there's an optional excursion, you're pretty much stuck at the campsite after dinner. If you choose to stay out in the cities to party at night, you can take a cab back to the campsite (just make sure you have good directions to give the cab driver). The cabs can be expensive, but if split between several people, it's not too bad. I recommend staying out in Barcelona and Florence (after Space electronic).
What are the campsites like? Nothing fancy at all. You get a mattress, a clean sheet, and a pillow. You need to bring your own sleeping bag (unless you're from the US-- in which case, they provide one for you when you get to london). Some campsites have bathrooms in the cabins, others are communal. I recommend taking a shower at night so you beat the morning rush. Also, girls take forever in the showers, so if the boys showers are empty, use them. No one will say anything to you.
Did you bring cash, travelers checks, credit cards, or debit cards? I brought some cash, and only used my debit card. I made sure I had enough money in my checking account that I could take some out without having problems. For me, it was easier to take out large amounts of cash all at once, and only get charged the ATM fee a couple times, rather than having to pay a foreign transaction fee every time I used a credit card. Not to mention, merchants can basically choose when to charge your credit card, so if the exchange rate is better for them the day after you make a purchase, they can wait to charge you until then. With cash, you know exactly how much you're paying.
Where did you store your money, passport, etc? I kept my money, debit card, ID and passport in my money belt. Some people think a money belt is dorky, but I never had any problems with anyone trying to get money from me. I only wore the money belt in Barcelona and Rome (where robbery is most prevalent). The rest of the time, it was just in the bottom of my purse, making it hard to access. I kept just enough cash in my wallet to pay for daily expense, and then refilled it each night. I wouldn't leave anything valuable in your suitcase in your cabin... it's likely that nothing would happen, but it's not worth the risk.
What about plugging stuff in? I didn't take anything that needed to be plugged in. I put my vanity on hold and let my hair go curly, even though I'd rather straighten it. For me, though, it wasn't worth the effort of bringing a straightener, plus a converter. Some people did, so if you can, just borrow someone else's. There really aren't a lot of electrical sockets to plug things into anyway, so if you can avoid bringing anything that needs electricity, that's your best bet.
Any other advice? Make sure you always have hand sanitizer, toilet paper or tissues, and spare change. These three things will make public bathroom experiences much more pleasant. Also, bring bug spray and lots of medication just in case. I took "airborne" every morning, and only felt sick one day. Allergy pills, pepto bismol and hangover medicine is also a good idea.
I hope this travel journal has been helpful for those of you who are thinking about going to Europe, and especially those considering a contiki tour. It really was the best time of my life, and I can't wait to go back. If you have any other questions, please e-mail me here.