Vagabonding Gear 101

We’d like to welcome a new guest blogger to Contiki’s blog!  Justin Troupe will be going on the 48-day Ultimate European Contiki and he’s going to keep a travelogue of his adventures on his blog – along with tips and advice such as this post – as he makes his way through Europe.  Check out his post, as he prepares for his Contiki adventure, complete with video reviews of some items that he plans to use.

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A Wish List for Long Term Travelers

My name is Justin, I am a writer and photographer who is taking a Contiki trip starting on July 3rd for 47 days. I will be taking HDR photos and HD video and sharing them on the Contiki blog as well as my website The Endless Weekend.

After spending 4 months of research, I put together 10 of the neatest things I discovered for long term travel. If you want to save yourself a ton of research and money check out these companies first. If you find something better, please let me know in the comments.

This year, I am beginning my goal of photographing every country in the world. To get things started my wife and I will be visiting 30 countries this year. The first 6 weeks we are traveling with Contiki, the rest of the trip we are going solo. I did my first Contiki tour many years ago and have wanted to go on another one ever since.  Contiki tours are fast-paced; however I had a blast and think they are an insane value.

Contiki was started in 1961 by a guy from New Zealand who bought a bus and toured Europe for a summer with several random people he had just met. Fifty years later, they offer worldwide guided tours for 18 to 35 year olds. They not only provide transportation between countries but also accommodations and most of your food. We will be traveling with a group of around 25 people to over 17 countries on  The Ultimate European tour. The total price for 48 days of travel is about $6,000 per person. I know that traveling with a group is different from going solo, but if you like variety it doesn’t get any better than Contiki. The shorter tours start at about $1,000 for 2 weeks. They offer payment plans and will even let you book a tour on layaway with $200 and make payments. This company completely removes the excuse that travel is just too expensive. The accommodations are basic, but they are clean and comfortable. You also spend very little time in your room on one of these tours.

Ok so here we go:

1)   Eagle Creek suitcase: They come in many different sizes, but I decided on the  Tarmac 25 inch. These things are indestructible, lightweight and have highly reinforced corners. The wheels are huge, indestructible and will roll over anything from dirt to cobblestone. You can watch a video review (below) or by clicking here.

2) Pack it: They also have a unique packing system called PACK IT that keeps your stuff organized. It allows you to keep your clean and dirty cloths separated and fit a lot more in the same amount of space.You can watch the video (below) or by clicking here.

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5 Fresh Items For Summer Vacation Packing

Tired of your suitcase or backpack always looking like a hot mess?  We’ve given you the lowdown on whether you should bring a suitcase vs. backpack, and you’ve already checked out the Europe summer packing list, so now you’ve got to figure out how to bring all that stuff… and keep it looking good through your trip.  Packing is like a game of Tetris – how can you maximize all that space in your suitcase, and still leave room for souvenirs and other goodies?  Here are 5 items to consider when you’re packing (and later repacking!) your bags for your summer vacation.

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Packing List – Europe in Summer

Heading to Europe this summer? Check out this awesome packing list from our Contiki Marketing pro, Heather Metcalf!

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Summer Europe Suitcase

Telling someone what to pack for their trip to Europe is a touchy subject.  It’s just so personal! Everybody has their own clothing and packing style.  This list is meant to be a general guideline.  If you are a fashionista, I’m sure you have already glanced at this list, scoffed, and thought of 20 things you would add. But before we get into it, there are a couple of things worth mentioning:

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5 Style Must-Haves On the Road

Guest Blog Post by: Tricia Craft, past Contiki staffer

As a former Contiki staff member, and a current slave to the fashion industry, I spent a lot  of time in a trial and error process attempting to have fun with fashion and express my style, while adapting to the necessary function and ease of dress necessary for travel. Here are my top 5 travel lessons on what to pack and why I think you will be glad you did.

Win the war on cobblestone roads:
Europe is full of charming cobblestone roads. This poses a problem for a fashionista traveling in European cities. While there is definite temptation to wear fabulous shoes in fabulous places, the high heel is a terrible mistake. In my experience, if you choose to wear your stiletto, kitten, or pumps while wandering these centuries old accident waiting to happen streets – you will hate yourself for it. I know because I attempted it one magical night in Florence, and I truly regretted it. However, I was just as appalled at the idea of showing up for a night of dinner and dancing in frumpy shoes. The best option if you’re looking to wear a shoe with some lift is a wedge style. SO much more comfortable and SO much easier to maneuver on the those tricky roads. I’m a huge fan of a wedge bootie/boot or sandal for a night out while traveling. It’s just not worth missing the sights and sounds around you, or the embarrassment of your tour manager pausing the group, because your high heel is jammed in a rut in the road.

Pack a Gold Star item:
In my opinion for the ladies, this would be a little black dress. All hail the LBD! I guarantee you will wear the hell out of it while traveling. Contiki Lifestyle offers a Hurley solid tank dress – made of viscoe/spandex, which won’t be as easy to wrinkle, that I would take with me on my next trip. I had a friend who had her luggage misplaced by the airlines, and she bought a simple cotton LBD. I watched her create about 20 different looks anchored by this dress over the course of 4 days. It works for a fun night out, and you can day time it up with a tank top or tee underneath, wear it to the beach, or if it gets cold add some tights. I say pack it in your carry on just in case of the unlikely event that the airlines “misplace” your luggage as well.

The power of the pashmina/scarf:
On my Contiki tour, I took a pashmina (i.e. an oversized thin knit or cashmere scarf) with me everywhere I went. I could jam it into almost any size bag or tie it to the handle of my purse. It’s lightweight and another great multi-purpose item: wrap it around your hair in the rain, use it as a shawl in the cold, ball it up as a pillow on the coach, sit on it for a picnic in the grass at Le Eiffel tower, or the obvious use, a simple and warm scarf. I always pack a pash.

Learn to love layers:
If my boyfriend came to me and said, what should I pack for 2 weeks of travel? There are 3 items I would say for sure: collared shirt, sweater, t-shirt. Here’s why: the idea is to get the most use out of every garment you pack. Garments you can wear individually, and again with something else to totally change the look. Layer the sweater over the collared shirt, the collared shirt over the t-shirt, the t-shirt over the collared shirt (my personal fave), the sweater over the t-shirt, the collared shirt on its own….and so on. You might think you’re okay treading around in an old college hoodie and New Balance tennies but trust me you will care when you’re in Italy and a well-tailored Romeo is smooth talking the ladies.

A bold colored flat for daytime:
Poppy Red FlatsI touched on this before but I can’t stress it enough – don’t be your own worst enemy and pack shoes that hurt 45 minutes into your walk down Las Ramblas. However, I hate to see people fall victim to the idea that to be comfortable you can’t express your style. I took my first trip to Paris with a newly recovered broken foot. My doctor was very specific about putting comfort and support above style and flash. Unfortunately, I wasn’t about to spend 3 days in Paris, one of the fashion capitals of the WORLD, in Skechers. So, I found a great pair of flats in a poppy red color that sassed up my outfits and were also comfortable enough to survive 8 hour days on foot. The stories those poppy red flats could tell…..

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Tricia currently works in Product Development for a fashion design house in Los Angeles, CA, and formerly worked for the Contiki groups department in the US. She escaped from a small town in Idaho to live the dream in New York City before finding a resting point in Huntington Beach, Ca. Follow her blog at openeyefashion.blogspot.com.