Things To Pack When Going On A Tour
These are the items I brought with me on my tours and some things I wish I brought last time. It's an ever growing list.
• day pack
• hip bag
• change purse (I'd get one with at least two pockets for multiple currencies)
• money belt
• health card
• hostel card
• driver's license (even though you're not driving,
• Is used for security deposit on keys, etc.)
• ATM, credit cards with cash advance PINs
• currency for first three countries
• traveler's checks in foreign currency for countries you'll be most
• 2 small locks
• bungee cord (for wrapping around door and rack on trains)
• binoculars (small pair for seeing frescos)
• large envelopes for important documents in your pack (I mailed these
• home from different cities)
• small light
• pocket knife,
• eating utensil
• 1st aid kit with Band-Aids, tape, and antibiotic ointment
• cold medicine
• vitamin C
• batteries (camera, recorder)
• small bag of detergent
• Recorder, tapes (I made audio tapes that were great to send home.)
• plastic bags (sandwich size, ziplock, 5) -
• separate currencies, leaking
• Items, etc.
• book to read
• Language ref.
• Plenty of contact solution, holder, etc.
• toothpaste, brush, floss
• nail clippers
• ear plugs
• hand wipes
• hair ties
• fem stuff
• sleeping sheet (thin and light)
• two pairs of pants (jeans/a pair of kaki pants)
• six pairs of socks
• 6 pairs of underwear
• three bras
• two pairs of shoes (hiking boots/tennis shoes)
• a pairs of light cheap thongs (need to dry quick
• on the pack)
• two T-shirts (you will buy more as needed)
• one sweater
• ear/headband or hat
• one pair boxers/shorts
• 1 Pair Of Jeans
• 1 Pair Of Khakis 3/4 Length
• 1 Pair Of Shorts
• 1 Pair Of Sandals
• 1 Pair Of Thongs
• 1 Snow/waterproof Jacket
• Thermal Underwear
• Thermal Socks
• 3 Pair Of Underwear
• 1 Pair Of Gloves
• 1 Beanie
• 1 Pair of sunglasses
• 1 Sweater
• 2 Dress Shirts
• 1 Quick Dry Towel
• 1 Large Backpack
• 1 Day Bag
• 1 Hip Bag
• 2 Small Locks
• Bungee Cord
• large envelopes for important documents in your
• small light
• Anti-Diarrhea and anti-Nausea tablets
• Needle and thread
• toothpaste, brush, floss
• Anti Inflammatory Tablets
• Hand wipes
• Rubber Bands
• Water Bottle
From a seasoned Contiki Traveller
PACK LIGHT!! I cannot reiterate this enough! Popular advice says to pack and then take out half. It is good advice, follow it! In some of the hotels there are no lifts, so it’s up to you if you want to drag an extra 10 kilos up them. Most of the campsites have gravel so it would be hard to drag a suitcase across them. Think about investing in a backpack. Afterwards when you find you have no space for all your souvenirs the plastic bags you use will eventually cut off the circulation in your fingers. No one is going to care that you’ve worn those jeans 3 days in a row, everybody else is.
There are few laundry services on the tour. But when they come up, DO YOUR WASHING! You never know when your next opportunity will come up. Find out beforehand from your Tour Manager where the facilities are, then when you come to the campsite jump off the bus, run for the laundry and sit on that washing machine. Then bribe your friends to bring your washing with the promise that they can go next. When 50 people decide to do their washing all at once you will be thankful for this advice, especially when there is only one machine working. (Note: The dryers in Florence won’t dry properly if you pack all your washing into it. Put in half, then about 20 mins later put in the other half.)
I shouldn’t need to tell you this but when on the ferry STOCK UP ON DUTY FREE. Upon deciding, take into consideration “Can you drink it straight?” You may not have access to mixers, coke, milk etc. Remember vodka can be hidden in water bottles (Beware: The Apple Sourz on the ferry may be cheap but is shit quality and the bottle leaks!)
Take GOOD WALKING SHOES and wear socks. There is a lot of walking and you need shoes that won’t give you blisters.
Take bandaids all the same because you’ll still probably get them anyway.
Take a mini FIRST-AID KIT. This should include Berocca, pain relief pills, cold & flu tablets, bandaids, tissues and multivitamins. Start the vitamins course before you leave. It is very easy to get sick on that bus.
Buy souvenirs, you may not go back there again. Maybe go with a theme, buy a shot glass from each country or something, spoons are for old grannies.
The Diamond Factory in Amsterdam is only good for one thing. Go straight to the exit for free drinks!
The optional meals are worth it. Especially the first and definitely the last one. First dinner is good for getting to know everyone. Last dinner, hey you’ll probably never see these guys again, great for photo ops.
Take the optional cultural entertainment in Amsterdam, funniest thing ever!
If in Austria you are asked to “Go Around The World” - do it!!!!!
Pringles and coke do not maketh a meal, vary from this option at the pit stops.
Metro systems are easy - use them!
If you plan on going up the Jungfrau or will be travelling at the start of the tour season (March-May) take gloves, scarfs, warm jacket etc. When going out onto the Plateau on the Jungfrau wear all your socks, pj pants, jeans, 5 tops, jacket, scarf, beanie, balaclava and buy the gloves on sale at the campsite supermarket. Normal gloves will not cut it.
Take CD’s and discman. Chillout is good for bus trips.
Buy film at home and take with you. Film is ridiculously expensive in UK and Europe. Better yet take a digital and if you can’t upload at Net Cafes take to photo shops and they will burn pics onto a disc for you. Take big memory card for convenience. Also, take your camera with you at all times.
Do not plan on flying out the day or even the day after you get back from tour. One, you’ll want to have drinks with your new buddies back at the London Pub and two, you will be buggered. Spend the money and pay for a night at the Royal National when you come back.
You cannot control the weather, live with it.
Don’t expect everyone in Europe to speak English, that’s just ignorant. Try and learn a few phrases in each language; Hello, Please Thank you etc, people appreciate it. Even better take a language course before you leave. French and German are widely spoken in Western Europe.
Learn about Contiki time. They can be late (they usually aren’t), but you can’t. They will leave you behind!
Take a diary, writing in it passes the time on the bus trips and it allows you to remember things when your long term memory has mysteriously vanished when you return home.
When you come home, keep in touch with everyone.
If you get asked to buy stuff from Louis Vuitton on Champs Elysées in Paris, remember to keep money and use a credit card. The store will not accept cash and will only allow you one item. They are onto this scam so you will have to play the part, don’t just walk in, pick up something, take it to the counter and shove them a wad of cash with a timid look on your face. They will be onto you! Plus if they are suspicious a security guard will follow you outside to see if you give the bag to someone else. Plan ahead!
If you go to Monte Carlo, check out the toilets in the Grand Casino, do it, trust me!
When in Pisa, watch your pockets. If anyone throws a baby at you, don’t catch it! It’s probably just a piece of rope anyway….probably. Basically don’t let strangers, especially dodgy looking ones, into your personal space. They are there for a reason.
When you see the “Dancing Mickey Mouse”, look closely and use your common sense! Cmon!
If you are a girl, don’t wear a bra to the Fusina Bar. Or should that be; wear a bra?! You’ll find out. (Oh, take your camera to this one!)
Good places to send postcards from are; Vatican City - They have their own stamps and postal system, different from Italy. Jungfrau in Switzerland - Highest Post Office in the world. Liechtenstein - Stamps may be worth something one day.
When in Liechtenstein you can get your passport stamped for about 2 Euro at the Tourist Office.
What to pack is always a big concern on everyone's mind before they leave the country. After all, the stuff you take will have to last you for as long as you're away, and if you need that one little gadget late one evening and you don't have it with you, you're stuck. On the other hand, if you're carrying that three volume dictionary with you that you never end up using, that is a waste of space and energy.
I guess it all comes down in a large part to philosophy, and how much you can put up with inconveniences and how much you are willing to carry. My philosophy, let me be up front, is minimalist: take half of what you think you will need. If you run out of something, unless you're in Siberia, chances are you'll be able to buy it. Yes, they do have razor blades and contact lens solution in Europe...
I'd have to agree with most of what Carol suggests, with a few notable exceptions.
First of all, a good, comfortable backpack is a must. A daypack -- a little bag you can take out for a day hike -- is almost as essential.
Good shoes are another priority -- I learned this the hard way. What makes the choice harder is that you're not likely to be taking two pairs of shoes with you (not counting sandals/flip-flops, which I found less useful than I expected), so these things had better do everything you want to do. I ended up being very happy with a pair of black, low cut shoes (made by Cat; the style is similar to Doc Martens). What made these shoes nice was that they were very durable and comfortable, but cleaned up a little bit in the men's room they looked entirely adequate for a night on the town. Not that as a back- packer you're ever going to be fashionable, but freshly washed jeans and a clean t-shirt and decent shoes go a long way to making you feel a part of society again.
The crappy weather I experienced in Europe this summer has made me a bit biased on the part of warm clothes, but I think a waterproof jacket -- Gore-Tex is heaven-sent -- and a thick fleece or sweater are essential. A woolen hat, or something that covers you're ears, is also very useful -- ounce for ounce, a hat keeps you warmer than any other piece of clothing you own.
I had two pairs of jeans, though I probably could have done with one pair, and of the three pairs of shorts I brought, I only used one pair, exactly twice.
Good socks are important, and carry exactly twice as many socks as you carry underwear (I won't go into the duality of feet here, but having everything run out at once spares you the agony of deciding if you can wait with laundry until tomorrow) I carried five pairs, and this was adequate. Light laundry is very conveniently performed in just a sink and hung on a string which you shouldn't forget. Don't, for god's sake, bring powdered laundry detergent in a little sandwich bag. After the third wash it will be a monstrous mess. Better use bar laundry soap, or just plain regular soap.
A few t-shirts that you know are going to put up with a bit of abuse, a shirt you can put on to perhaps go out, and that should round out the minimalist wardrobe that should see you for a few weeks of summer travelling.
A first-aid kit with the normal bandaids, etc. is very important, and put in it some pain medicine, antacid, and a needle and thread (just get a very small piece of cardboard, wrap the thread around it, and stick the needle through everything so the point is hidden. Guys, ask your moms how to sew on buttons). A swiss army knife is very useful -- I got mine in Switzerland!
An alarm clock, the smaller the better. Sunglasses, a flashlight, a lighter. Rubber bands, safety pins, those little cable ties that go click click and that you can't open. They're good as locks.
Everyone says to bring a sleep sheet, but I'm a bit ambivalent on this point. True, some hostels require them but in my experence, many didn't. I think this is a regional thing. And at any hostel that required them, you can rent them. I brought my own and a few weeks later lost it to an overzealous cleaning lady and never got it back. For the remainder of my trip I was sleepsheetless and happy for it. They are surprisingly bulky and heavy, and over the course the remainding six weeks I might have spent $5 renting sleep sheets and not having to worry about carrying one. Your call. If you do decide to take one, just fold an old bedsheet in half and sew with a sewing machine (while asking mom about the buttons) the bottom and 2/3 of the way up the side (so you can stick your arm out while having your head on the sheet still).
Indispensible is a water bottle. Keep it filled at all times, because you never know when on a train you'll be parched and not have 28 kronar for a bottle of water. I had one of those water bags (MSR Dromedary?) that I use for hiking. It is wonderful because it holds a lot of water, but collapses when empty to take up hardly any space. Take a towel!!!
I disagree strongly about taking cash for the first umpteen countries you're going to visit. First, if you're anything like me you don't know which countries you're going to hit. Second, the exchange rate is the most favorable 1) out of an ATM or Credit card (if you buy something. If you use credit card for a cash advance you'll be paying through the nose), followed by 2) cash exchanged in the country you're in (rates vary, and watch the commission) In other words, don't buy Deutche Marks in Britain. Since there's always the frightening scenario that you arrive at a country and the ATM doesn't work, bring US dollars with you. I had a $100 bill tucked in somewhere for just this case, but I never had to use it for emergency reasons (unless you call beer an emergency...) The US dollar, along with the GB Pound, German Mark, are among the most easily exchangable currencies in Europe.
All the stuff I mentioned here should fit easily into a medium-sized backpack, and it should be enough to last you for a long time. You will want to, of course, bring a few more personal things, but remember, keep it light and keep it small. I have seen people with huge packs on their backs and their daypacks, also filled, on their stomachs. In my opinion, they have way, way too much stuff -- carrying around so much is just punishment.