How to Stay Fit on Your Vacation

Today’s post is a guest post by Kardena Pauza, an adventurous traveler and personal trainer

Getting in some push ups on a vacation to Thailand and Vietnam

Have you gone on vacation only to come back feeling more flabby and out of shape than when you left? It’s a disappointing feeling and a frustration because now you have taken two steps back and have to work hard to get back to your physically strong self again and maybe drop those couple lbs. you gained during your vacation.

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7 Essential Items You Never Thought to Pack

Today marks Harry Houdini’s 137th birthday and Google honors the magic man with a very cool Google Doodle.  Coincidentally, our superstar Online Marketing Specialist Del celebrates her birthday today as well!  You may know her from our Facebook and Twitter pages, so send her a shout-out or leave us a message! Happy birthday Del!

Yesterday’s Daily Post asked, “What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?” It got us thinking – what about ways to avoid some big risks?  In the spirit of Houdini, a man whose name comes up in daily jargon to mean ‘getting out of a tough situation,’ we’ve compiled a list of 7 essential items you should consider packing so you don’t find yourself in a bind.  If you’re prepping for your vacation, keep these in mind!

Contact information in your luggage

Waiting at the baggage claim area can be a pain, and what makes it worse is that cute, stylish suitcase you bought to set yourself apart happens to be the same exact suitcase that someone else brought as well.  Never fear, you have a luggage tag! Oh wait…it broke off.  Hmm… which suitcase is yours?  Tuck away a tiny piece of paper inside your luggage with your contact details (First name, last initial, mailing address or phone number), in the event that your luggage gets lost, mixed up, or simply – your luggage tag falls off.  This will help to prove that the cute stylish bag is yours.

A Copy of Your Passport & Visas


It’s a no-brainer that if you’re traveling abroad, you need your passport – they won’t let you on the plane without one!  Yet have you ever thought to bring a photocopy of your passport and visas with you as well?  You won’t have to “Houdini” out of a bad situation in the event that you lose your passport and need to get a new one.  Plan ahead to avoid that headache!

Hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes

There’s nothing worse than being sick while on vacation – and keeping your hands clean plays a major part in making sure you stay healthy.  Many destinations, including Asia and Europe, have restrooms that may not have running water or soap dispensers.  Avoid getting sick on your trip by keeping something on hand to keep the germs away so that you can play!  Antibacterial wipes are great too because they are easier to pack, don’t count against your liquid count on your carry-on, and can refresh you after that big nap you’ve taken on the plane, train, or coach.

An extra memory card



In every day life, a 2GB memory card sounds like it will take forever to fill up.  Yet one wrong setting on your camera, dozens of new friends, and the desire to capture every sight and sound on your vacation can fill up your memory card in a snap (no pun intended!)  While you may remember to bring extra batteries to keep your camera juiced up and ready to click at a moment’s notice, once that memory card is full – you’ll either have to purge some photos or forfeit the photo altogether.

Insect Repellent

On your travels, you’ll most likely be getting up close and personal with some of the local insects and wildlife while you’re out exploring.  Packing insect repellent keeps the pests from turning you into a hot mess of itchy and scratchy.  You’ll be a lot more comfortable, and you’ll thank your lucky stars that you could commune with nature, but not become a bug’s breakfast buffet!

First Aid Kit

Okay, you don’t have to be a Boy Scout – but bringing a few essentials like hydro cortisone cream for bug bites, band-aids for minor scrapes, and some pain medication or cough drops for any signs of a cold trying to ruin your vacay.  If you’re prone to allergies due to dust and pollen, throw in some allergy medicine too and avoid the achoo!  No need to rely on the pharmacy in a different country when you’ve got all the goods in your pack. 

Books to Exchange

Magazines, books, a Contiki brochure (wink, wink) – these items don’t need to be  recharged and can keep you entertained for hours on end.   We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again.  And don’t fret if you don’t want to lug all those books across town.  Many local hotels and coffee shops around the world participate in the book exchange program where you can leave a book and take a new one on your journeys with you.  If you don’t come across any of these, try Book Crossing – a cool way to share your books and track where they go around the world!  Many locals also enjoy having US versions of magazines and books without the import prices.  Just another great reason to grab something to read, to go!

So start planning for your summer vacation already!  GET PACKING!  Feel free to leave a comment about items that you didn’t realize you should have packed!

Travel Tip: How Much Moolah to Bring to Europe

Planning a trip and have absolutely no idea how much moolah to bring?  Yep, we know planning for spending cash can be pretty tricky, but don’t fear – we’re here to help.

With ample time to explore the cities and countryside or embark on optional activities during your Contiki trip, you will need to plan for spending money. The first question you have to ask yourself is: what kind of spender am I?  Do you shop like a pop star or party like a rock star? If so, you might need to take more spending cash with you to satisfy your awesome lifestyle.

Partying in FlorenceWhen it comes to the dough, the Contiki general rule of thumb is to plan on spending a minimum of 45€ per day.  Now when we say minimum, we mean minimum.  If you plan on doing some major shopping or sightseeing you may need to increase this.  Past Contikians recommend bringing 70-100€ per day in spending money.  This way you usually end up with a little extra cash at the end to put toward your next trip or go out with a bang. Remember the wise words of the boy scouts. . . “Always be prepared.”

What can you expect to spend your money on, you ask?  Well, there are three basic categories you will need extra cash for: optional activities, some meals and personal expenses.

You Got Options

On every Contiki tour, every day, you’ll experience lots of included highlights like seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, visiting the Acropolis in Athens, relaxing on the beach in Barcelona, or cycling through Amsterdam. You will also get plenty of free time every day to do your own thing.   One of the most popular ways to explore on your own in Europe is to visit museums and major sites.  Entry fees vary from the free museums of London to 14€ for the Vatican Museum in Rome.  Contiki also offers a variety of optional activities that are handpicked to turn a great trip into an unforgettable one.  Try a gondola ride in Venice, nightclubbing in Florence, whitewater rafting in Austria, a Moulin Rouge dinner in Paris and parasailing in Corfu.  Best of all, Contiki has negotiated great prices and already organized everything for you.


All Contiki tours include breakfast every day . . . it is of course the most important meal. We don’t include every meal, (especially lunches) because we want to give you flexibility.  Go off and explore, take the opportunity to meet cool locals and try all kinds of European delicacies.

It’s Personal

Counting on winging it with the hopes of finding stacks of cash strewn about on the streets of London? Probably not the most solid plan.  It’s always a good idea to plan ahead for personal expenses.  Some common items people spend their money on include: shopping, drinking, souvenirs, phone calls home, recreational activities, transportation in cities. Chances are you already know what kind of spender you are… so always be prepared!

Advice from the Road

Michael Thomas, Tour Manager, Europe: “Money? – bring lots! And spend it – you should go home broke!! You can pay off the credit card when you get home – it is as shame to travel all this way and go home with regrets.”

David Hackett, Tour Manager, Europe: “Work out prior to the trip what sights & excursions you are most keen on and then include some extra cash for a few nice lunches, some quick food stops and all that shopping you can do in Europe. Expect to spend 50 Euro per day on average but always plan to spend more, you may only ever be able to go inside the Colosseum once in your life and this could be it!!!”

Stella Hritis, Tour Manager, Europe: “I’ve have had people not realise that they have to pay an entrance fee into museums.”

Matt Vernick, Tour Manager, Europe: “I’d budget for about £75/100€ a day. Some days you might spend 200, other days 20. At £75/100€ a day you’ll probably go home with some left over to take home or spoil yourself with towards the end of the tour.”