This post is brought to you in partnership with Albatross Tours who specialise in Europe tours for travellers from Australia and New Zealand
You’ve always dreamed of travelling to Europe and romanticised about travelling by road through snow-capped mountain ranges, roaming wine regions or along sunny Mediterranean coastal highways. Though, you want to do it all with as little hassle and planning as possible. If you ever considered taking a tour of Europe, then here are some helpful hints to consider along each step of the way.
Arrive well before your tour starts and depart well after your tour ends
There’s nothing worse than arriving into the country you’re starting your Europe tour after your tour starts. In many cases, if you’re late in making it to your starting point you have to make your own way to the next destination in order to catch up with your tour. It’s a fact of travelling life that flight delays will occur so it’s best to arrive a couple of days before your tour starts and depart a couple of days after your tour ends. This will eliminate or reduce the chances of something going wrong and less stress for you. You should always plan for travel insurance and the right level that covers your trip and the duration. Then, you can claim back those unexpected expenses once you’re home.
Choose a Europe tour company that specialises in small groups and trusted guides
The bigger the tour, the more likely you may not get along with everyone. This not a travel disadvantage – this is a basic, human truth. Be sure to choose a reputable Europe tour company that specialises in small group numbers, tailored to your age group and uses trusted guides that understand the areas you’re travelling to, for example Albatross Tours. Your guides should know how to speak the local languages too. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn a couple of key phrases before you go and you’ll no doubt learn a few words from your guide along the way. This is also a fabulous way to add more fun to your trip and you’ll definitely earn respect from the locals.
Factor in a few destinations and break up your Europe tours with days in between
Australians and New Zealanders are accustomed to travelling long distances internationally so you want to make the most of those many hours you spend travelling to Europe. If you can, incorporate a few destinations within your travel plans and plan more than one Europe tour to cover these destinations. Not only will you be able to visit countries you’ve always wanted to visit, you’ll be able to make the most of the time flying.
Being on a tour can be fun though remember that you’re most likely travelling with the same people for the duration of your tour. If you’re one who needs a break, factor in a couple of days in between each tour so you can recharge before your next journey begins. Your tour company can help make a booking at the hotel you’re leaving from and you get extra time to wander like a local. Your tour should also offer ample amount of time in each location and time for you to wander or explore without feeling rushed.
Book well in advance if you time your Europe tour around special once-in-a-lifetime events
If you have always wanted to travel to Turkey for ANZAC Day or celebrate a white Christmas in the Swiss Alps, then consider planning a Europe tour to factor in such a special occasion. Many Europe tours offer tours planned around these types of special events and it’s ever so easy to make your travel wish come true. Just remember that special events also mean high peak times of the year so expenses like air flights will be more expensive than off-peak times. If you factor this into your budget, or ask your travel for any available discounts, then you’ll succeed in experiencing a life-long travel wish. Just make sure you make your bookings well in advance, say at least a year beforehand, so you don’t miss out.
Book with a friend or relative to avoid the single supplement
If you travel solo and want your own room at each stay, you may need to pay a single supplement. This is the more expensive way to travel on a tour. Consider taking a trusted travelling friend or relative you know you can travel with. The other option is sharing a room with another solo traveller on your tour too. You’ll then pay the twin share price.
…and try to avoid any hidden expenses
Look for almost all breakfasts included in the cost of your Europe tour as well as some, if not most, dinners. Lunches may not be included as you’re either on the road or sightseeing; a great opportunity to sample the local cuisines. Make sure you understand the tipping etiquette in each country you travel to, and what gratuities are expected for your tour guides and bus drivers. Some tour companies include gratuities though make sure you read all the documentation and budget accordingly before you pay a deposit and balance. Make sure you research which visas you may need, whether you need to organise these at a consulate or embassy in your country of origin before you leave and the subsequent costs. If you don’t have the necessary visas and paperwork in place, you won’t be allowed entry into the country you’re heading to!
Pack appropriately and plan your laundering days
While touring around Europe with your tour group, you’ll be seeing something new and exciting every day. There’ll be limited times to do a load of washing, so plan your laundering days when you have more than one day in one location. Check with your tour guide and the hotel to ensure that you have ample time for your washing to be turned around before you move on to your next destination. Remember that some hotels may charge higher laundering fees, so perhaps ask your tour guide for a local laundry tip that could work out to be a fraction of the price.
Keep in mind that the weather you'll encounter will be the opposite to home so pack the appropriate clothing. Take heavy garments like a jacket on the plane with you to save on weight in your suitcase and consider layers which can add up to a fraction of the weight while keeping you warm at the same time. When on your Europe tour, pack a small day pack with snacks, umbrella or hat and sunscreen, chargers for electronic devices with region-specific adaptors plus a compact shopping bag for any goodies you buy along the way. Avoid the temptation of packing up to your weight limit as you may need the extra space to pack those goodie purchases!