This past summer, I went to Europe for the first time, and decided to join a Contiki group tour for ten days. Specifically, I did their Mediterranean Quest starting in Barcelona and ending in Rome. Since coming back, I can’t stop talking about the trip and recommending it to everyone (and sharing my 10% off DISCOUNT CODE – CONTIKIPATRICIA)
The main question I’ve gotten about the trip is what to bring?! Going to Europe with Contiki was one of the best things I’ve ever done, and hopefully this packing list will make your trip just that much easier!
You’ll thank me later for this one. Some of the places we stayed in were located right in the heart/middle of the cities! While the location is prime, sometimes you have to walk a bit from the bus since it can’t drive in the historical centers. Having something on wheels definitely lightens the load for these moments!
I bring one with me everywhere I go! I find it’s a lot easier to have one that fits multiple countries. This one is only 12$ on Amazon and has worked for me in over 20 countries so far with no problem!
While the accommodation is lovely in Europe, I found that there is a slight shortage in actual outlets! So when you have 8 different things you want to charge at night (phone, battery pack, camera, laptop, etc) it’s an absolutely lifesaver bringing a power board along, and your roommates will love you too 🙂
One of my favorite things about Contiki is that they are a very environmentally conscious brand and are actually getting rid of plastics on board in the next year! Bringing a re-useable water bottle is just one way you can do your part! Looking for more ways to be a sustainable traveler? Check out my Amazon List here of products and ideas you can use both at home and on the go. #zeroplastic
5. Basic Medications
Simple pain killers (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc), Emergen-C + Hydradation, and a Multi-Vitamin. These will be hard to find overseas and are nice to have handy when you need them.
You will be spending a lot of time going from one place to another on the amazing coach bus. You get 100MB free of Wi-Fi, and if you sit near the middle there are outlets (each seat has USB plugs). But most of our time on the Coach bus was actually spent SLEEPING! If you’re someone who likes to snooze on long bus rides, I’d definitely bring something to make it a little comfier.
I averaged 15,000+ steps a day while on our Contiki trip to Europe. Make sure you have something both comfortable and stylish (every moment is a potential photo op with your Contiki group).
On the busier days, you might leave early in the morning and not get back until much later in the day, so it’s always good to have a bag with the essentials! Also, pickpocketing is big in Europe (but much less in groups. No one in our group had anything stolen.)
For those long bus rides again. Although most of the time you’ll either be socializing or sleeping, it’s always nice to be able to listen to some tunes. I carry a pair of noise-canceling headphones that help me sleep or focus when I’m trying to do work when I travel. Otherwise, you could always be fashion-savvy with the latest pair of airpods (which you’ll notice are quite popular over there).
10. Camera (no tripod)
The good thing about traveling in a group is that you always have someone you trust to take your photo, and trust me you’re going to take A LOT. Contiki does a great job of bringing you to both iconic places, and not so known places (which usually sport some amazing views). Here are a few of my favorite snaps from my last Contiki trip to Europe.
**If you’re someone who has a drone please be very careful, the seagulls in Europe are vicious. You’ve been warned.**
Click here for a full list of our camera travel gear.
Long days call for long battery life. Whether you need to charge your phone or camera, it’s always a good idea to bring some extra juice with you. My favorite is this one, as it can actually last a couple of full days.
12. Tip Money
The guides are absolutely amazing and really make the trip special. For the European tours, it’s recommended to tip 2 Euros per day if you feel they did a good job (which they will!). You’ll have one guide and one driver, so plan for about 4 Euros a day in tips!
Travel-sized toiletries are always a good idea, but you can find some provided by most of the accommodations we stayed at. HOWEVER, they never seemed to provide conditioner! (only shampoo and soap!). For some people this is fine, but I have quite thick hair so I was thankful I had brought my own conditioner.
14. Visa Card
Almost everywhere we went accepted credit card, however, some places ONLY accepted Visa! (no Mastercard). Just be aware of that when traveling, and make sure to let your bank know you’re headed overseas before you go!
Hostels won’t provide hairdryers (if you’re staying in a hotel they will, but I found them super weak). One thing that really helped me save time was bringing a small travel hairdryer.
Please be aware that the voltage is different, so make sure you get one with double voltage capabilities.
I usually travel with this hairdryer, and it’s worked all over the world!
Whether you want to or not, travel insurance is one of those things you think you don’t need.. until you do. Most people shy away from travel insurance because they think it’s expensive, but there are some budget options!
Our favorite travel insurance company is SafetyWing because of how cheap it is! For about $40 a month we get the absolutely essentials covered (along with a peace of mind). Since we travel so often we have a monthly subscription, but you can also pay-per-trip too!
If you’re looking for something that covers a little more (bungee jumping, skiing, etc) our second choice is World Nomads! They are a little bit more expensive than SafetyWing, but have options that cover both extreme sports and equipment! Make sure you have a good look at the terms of your travel insurance so that you know EXACTLY what you are – or aren’t – covered for.
17. Good Attitude
I can basically guarantee that you will have the time of your life on this trip. The people you meet can become life-long friends, and the memories you make will last forever (and don’t even get me started about the FOOD you’ll eat).
My one piece of advice is to make the most of it. You probably won’t sleep anywhere near as much as you should, but it’ll all be worth it (especially after that extra 10% discount using code ‘CONTIKIPATRICIA’) Enjoy the trip, you’ll LOVE it!
While I went on their Mediterranean Quest trip, most of their European tours have similar vibes. Other ones you might want to look into include their European Highlights tour, Spain, Morocco & Portugal, and Simply Italy. Don’t forget to get an extra 10% off ANY 7+ day trip using code ‘CONTIKIPATRICIA’ or ‘CONTIKITOM’ (www.contiki.com)
See more of our journeys on Instagram at @simplysantos and @tomstrickland. Follow along our current Sailing Trip through Indonesia on YouTube.
**Disclaimer. We were awarded this trip as part of the Contiki Travel Ambassador program. However, all thoughts, photos, and opinions are our own. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, in which we earn a small percentage of each sale.**