10 Ways to Make the Most of Your College Experience

0395AUSD2013

Much like travel experiences, your college years influence the rest of your life. During these formative years, you meet new people, form new opinions and ideas about the world, and you are tasked with finding your passion (as well as your future career path). Here at Contiki, we think that traveling the world also helps shape the type of person you are, so we’re sharing our 10 ways that you can make the most of your college experience…and adapt this to your travel life as well!
1. Join a Club or Group
Whether you decide to go Greek or want to join the local group representing your chosen major, associating with like-minded individuals helps you better socialize with people later on. You’ll get the opportunity to go to fun social events and parties (or even plan them!) and perhaps discover a group of friends to travel with on your next adventure.

2. Take a Public-Speaking Course
We’d all like to charm the socks off everyone when we have to speak in public. Sometimes, getting out of your comfort zone and taking a public-speaking course not only helps you get rid of your stage fright, it helps elevate your inner extrovert–you’ll be more personable, open, and engaging with all different types of people around the world.

3. Learn a Language
Knowing a second language (or being multilingual) is hugely beneficial once your college days are done. It is a marketable skill that is great for your resume, but can also expand your horizons to different cultures. Plus, when you decide to travel the world, you can use your language skills to tap into undiscovered gems that non-native speakers may not know about.

4. Invest in Meet-Ups
There are plenty of off-campus opportunities to meet with people who share your interests and hobbies. Maybe you enjoy cosplay and Comic-Con, or you need a language buddy (see Tip #3!). Investing in a meet-up group (see Meetups.com) will help you meet new people and keep you busy in projects that are unrelated to required classwork.

5. Do Things on Your Own
Learning to be independent–from parents, friends, classmates–and doing things on your own around campus will give you a greater appreciation of the time you get to spend with friends having fun. If you’re comfortable being alone and doing things on your own, you’ll be able to adapt that to many aspects of your life–perhaps even solo travel!

6. Network, Connect, then Disconnect
Networking is essential–we use sites such as LinkedIn to connect with potential employers, colleagues, and future business partners. Start building your network while you are in college–you never know how those people will help you. Also, don’t limit yourself to those online connections–make sure to disconnect and get the chance to meet these people in person–who knows, you may create long-lasting friendships, too.

7. Shop Locally
It’s easy to get sucked into the convenience of the big retail stores we know and love. But it’s good to get to know your campus surroundings and boost the local economy by shopping locally. Maybe you’ll discover a new favorite pub or the best place for a good sandwich. You’ll be exploring the local culture, which is a great way to explore a city abroad, too. (Who wants to eat macarons from McDonald’s in Paris when you can have them at LaDuree?)

8. Discover New Foods
We all know what the “Freshman 15” is. It is usually attributed to college life + lack of options. Don’t get bogged down by the sea of fast-food chains that have made a homestead on your campus. Instead, gather up those newfound friends of yours and explore the different local cuisine hotspots. Develop your palate with cool plates of sushi, get a taste for some spice at a Thai restaurant, or cool off with a strong and sweet Vietnamese iced coffee. By diversifying your diet, you’ll also keep your diet varied enough that you’re not craving greasy cheeseburgers all the time.

9. Participate in Cultural and Special Events in the Area
Expand your horizons by visiting local festivals or going to cultural events with your friends. Whether it’s the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California or an Oktoberfest festival at your local German village, going out and exploring cultural traditions that are different from your own will make memories from the event and also expand your horizons.

10. Travel
It goes without saying, but here at Contiki we think you should make the most of your college experience by traveling every chance you get. Whether you’re looking for choices for spring break getaways or you want to explore the architecture in Spain or Prague, getting away from home and taking time to explore the big wide world will reap you rewards when you come back–and the best time to do it is when you’re young!

Want to make the most of your college experience with an epic trip abroad? Contiki and Follett have teamed up on the “Adventure 101: Win an Epic Trip for Two” sweepstakes– enter now for your chance to win! (If you reside in Canada, please click here.)

 

15 Travel Tips You Shouldn’t Leave Home Without

2876EURS2013

Sometimes we can get so excited before vacation that we forget the most basic travel tips. Never fear! Contiki is here to make sure you’re prepared with these 15 tips that no traveler should leave home without. Save time, save money, and make your trip as great as it can be by taking our advice. (We are professionals, after all.)

    1. Ear plugs will be your new best friend. No matter how many best friends you make while traveling, you will not want to hear them snore. From flights to train rides, ear plugs are one of the most valuable and cheap things you will need during your travels.
    2. Don’t over pack. If you think you’ve packed enough, you’ve probably packed too much. Think about the room that you’ll need for souvenirs, like that “Czech yourself before you wreck yourself” shirt that you can’t live without.
    3. Look into bar shampoos and conditioners (Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics has some ). There’s nothing worse than liquid soap exploding in your bag.
    4. Every day, send yourself a postcard with your favorite memory from the day. When you get home, you’ll get to relive your experiences.
    5. Avoid massive cell phone fees while traveling by turning off your data and texting! WiFi will become your best friend. Check out apps like WhatsApp, Voxer, and Viber to keep in touch with friends and family.
    6. Bring a small medicine kit including Advil, Band-aids, moleskin, and some allergy medicine. It’s much easier to pack a few of these than going to a pharmacy in a foreign country and trying to figure out what you need. (Note: some countries do not allow certain over-the-counter prescription pills, so check in advance.)
    7. Keep your passport, IDs, travel documents, and money safe. Never put them in your pocket or in your backpack (unless they are at the very bottom). Investing in a money belt is worth every penny. Scanning copies of documents and leaving them with your family members is also a great idea. They can email them to you if you lose them.
    8. Whether it’s an eBook or real book, don’t forget to bring one for the plane ride. You are basically captive for hours, so why not catch up on some reading? Pick a travel-themed book to get you amped for your trip!
    9. Don’t miss the iconic experiences. Sure, the gondola ride might cost more than you thought it would, but if you go to Venice and don’t do it, you’ll end up regretting it. Experiences are worth the money.
    10. Don’t be afraid to travel alone. You will meet other travelers who are going at it alone and then you’ll no longer be a solo traveler.
    11. Make a travel playlist and put it on your iPod, not phone (why? See #12). You can’t travel without music, so don’t even try.
    12. Clear your phone before you travel. You want room for pictures that you can Instagram to make all of your friends jealous.
    13. Be prepared to walk… a lot. Break in your shoes before you head out on your adventure.
    14. Check the weather in advance. If you’re heading to a different city in a few days, check the weather and plan your wardrobe accordingly.
    15. Save luggage space by buying souvenirs that you can wear. You’ll want that Parisian scarf or Italian leather jacket anyway, so why waste the space?

Want to use these tips on your own epic adventure? Contiki and Follett have teamed up on the “Adventure 101: Win an Epic Trip for Two” sweepstakes – enter now for your chance to win! (If you reside in Canada, click here.) Good luck!

Follow Your Favorite YouTubers: The Contiki RoadTrip 2014 Kicks Off in Barcelona

roadtrip2014

Today’s the day!

The RoadTrip, powered by Contiki, is back for a third year and this time, 13 of the world’s hottest YouTubers will be cruising down the European Riviera on Contiki’s Mediterranean Highlights tour.  The first RoadTrip began in Europe and last year, YouTubers took over Australia.  Now they’re back in Europe and it’s even more exciting!

Kicking off today in sunny Barcelona and culminating with a massive fan meet-up in London, The RoadTrip (www.contiki.com/roadtrip) takes 13 of the world’s biggest YouTube stars on a Contiki trip through the European Riviera, creating a daily video series highlighting their experiences as they explore the continent’s diverse cultures and iconic sights. Along the way, the YouTubers take part in fast-paced and highly competitive RoadTrip Challenges to battle it out against each other and win Contiki trips for their fans.

The trip wraps up with a FREE Gathering in London on August 3rd, giving lucky fans the chance to meet their favourite YouTubers, take some snaps and win some awesome prizes throughout the day. To register for the Gathering, fans can head to www.contiki.com/roadtrip-gathering and get ready for once-in-a-lifetime photo ops with YouTubers like Joey Graceffa, Jesse and Jeana from Prank vs. Prank, and even the face of our #EmptyTheBucket campaign, Justin James Hughes!

Are your favorites on The Roadtrip this year?  Visit www.contiki.com/roadtrip for more information, subscribe to Contiki’s YouTube channel to follow all the action, and follow the hashtag #RoadTrip14!

Travel Tip Tuesday: Charge Your Phone Before You Fly

phoneIt has become standard practice to bring your cell phone with you on international trips – there are selfies you need to take, music to listen to on the long flight, and travel apps you can use to organize your trip, right? Well if you haven’t heard the news,  The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced on Sunday that they will begin to ban battery-dead cell phones on certain international flights back to the United States.   That means, if you plan on returning home and your cell phone battery is dead (and you can’t prove that it can turn on), the TSA can confiscate your phone.  So charge your phone before you fly!

How can you prevent this from happening?

For starters, you can charge your device prior to getting to the airport. If all your electronics are fully charged, you won’t have any problems showing TSA that your device is working properly if you are questioned about it. Having fully charged electronics also helps when you are at an airport and your fellow passengers have hogged all of the available electrical outlets – yes, even in the ones in the bathroom!

I’ve been sightseeing all day! My battery is on 10% – I didn’t get a chance to charge!

We know that there will be times that you won’t have a chance to fully charge your device before you get to the airport.  Maybe you’ve been sightseeing prior to your flight home and you’ve been snapping pics and making phone calls.  It makes sense to bring your cell phone charger in your carry-on so if you need to add some juice, you can try your luck at finding an outlet.  Just make sure if you’re at an international airport, that you have a travel adapter (most cell phone chargers have built-in voltage converters, so just make sure your plug fits into the international outlet!)

What if you can’t find an outlet at the airport?

If you’re traveling with multiple devices, a travel hack to get some juice back in your phone is to plug in your USB charger to your laptop. If you fully charge a device that you know you won’t be using until you get on the plane (and whose battery won’t drain quickly), you can use your laptop as an outlet and get some charge into your phone.  Try turning your phone on airplane mode when charging - this will stop any data-reliant programs running in the background of your device and may help your phone charge a bit faster too.  Most airplanes have charging outlets and you can get a full charge on your laptop and other devices before you return home.

—-

What are your travel hacks to have a fully-charged phone when traveling abroad?  Tell us in the comments!