Taking Europe By Night

Here’s a the latest guest post about the magic of Europe when the sun goes down, written by Kelley Last!  She and her husband recently returned from Contiki’s Eastern Road trip, their fourth Contiki!

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As the sun begins to set, the tourists retreat to their hotels and street vendors shut down their stalls for the night. That’s when Europe becomes the most magical to me. There is something about seeing a medieval city lit up at night and abandoned by the masses that pulls me in every time. I crave those moments when we have entire city centers to ourselves, so we can explore, photograph and experience them without distraction.

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Prep Your Papers

Guest Blog Post by Contiki traveler, Kelley Last

When preparing for a big trip, most people will spend some time creating a packing list, acquiring extra camera memory cards and buying last minute toiletries, flip flops and trendy sunglasses (ok, so maybe I don’t exactly have trendy sunglasses, but some people might!) But one of the most important things you can do before you leave is create an “In Case of Emergency” travel document.

This document should contain all important relevant information and should be stored in your email inbox for easy access in case you run into trouble. We also forward a copy to each of our parents so they know where we are and how to reach us in the event of an emergency. Sending it to someone else is also helpful if you don’t have immediate access to email; you could call them and have them reference your document if you needed to.

So what should be in this document? Here’s a rundown of what ours usually looks like:

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Turn Your Trip Pics Into Fun Holiday Cards

Guest Blog Post by Kelley Last, Contiki traveler

Seeing the world with Contiki is an experience like no other. The days are jam-packed, and the fun sometimes goes long into the night. Each moment is so exciting that it’s not until you’re on the plane heading home that it all sort of sinks in. Each of our trips has had so many memorable experiences that sometimes it’s hard to convey to family and friends just how awesome your vacation was.

We decided a few years back to get creative and stretch the wonder of our trips as far as possible. Now, we create an annual holiday card that celebrates our favorite destination of the year. Everyone loves being surprised by them each year and it’s a fun way to show off your adventures.

I know it might seem silly to think about Christmas in the summer, but planning ahead can pretty much guarantee that your card makes it to the front of the fridge when the holidays roll around.

Tip #1: Bring Props! We travel EVERYWHERE with our Santa Hats. They fold up small and they are light to carry. You could even get creative with garland, candy canes or even a funny holiday sweater if you can fit it in your suitcase. Find something that is uniquely you and run with it!

Tip #2: Look for iconic landmarks! You never know when you’ll find the PERFECT backdrop for a killer photo opportunity. Do some research before you go and look at your Contiki itineraries to scout out key places ahead of time. And don’t worry if people look at you funny when you’re snapping away (they’re just jealous they didn’t think of it too!)

Tip #3: Line up the shot! When you’re prepping the shot, make sure to frame it so that both the background and yourself stand out. And try to avoid too much headspace, background clutter and poor lighting.

Tip #4: Get creative with the message! You’ll probably sack these pictures away for a few months until it’s actually time to order the cards, but when you do, make your message as creative as the picture itself!  For example, when we went to the Grand Canyon, our message read “Happy Holidays… from a hole in the ground”.

Tip #5: Keep it a Secret! Don’t post these special pictures on facebook or in an album until after the holidays. Believe me, your family will get a kick out of being surprised.

And don’t worry if you get funny looks from people when you’re snapping away – they’re just jealous they didn’t think of it first!  People in the past have actually asked to borrow our hats for their own cards! We’re always happy to oblige.

It’s time to raise the bar on holiday card expectations! Enjoy your trip and get creative!

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Kelley is a self-proclaimed world traveler.  She is originally from Boston, but now calls Los Angeles her home. When she’s not traveling, she’s running marathons, watching soccer games, eating cupcakes or planning her next trip. You can follow her adventures (both big and small) on her blog: www.kelocity.com or on twitter:@kelocity.