First of all welcome to a new series – Topdeck Travel Tips. This is going to be a series of posts consisting of advice and tips from my experience organising and going on a Topdeck tour. I can’t wait to share all my tips with you and please feel free to ask any questions you have!
I had only been overseas once, a trip with my grandmother, mother and sister to Thailand’s capital Bangkok. I was twelve and of course everything was taken care for me, from the checking in luggage to finding the gate in a colossal airport.
Europe and the cities called to me to visit for numerous years. But having just graduated from high school, working part time and no previous solo travel experience under my belt I looked for answers on how to travel through Europe – While feeling safe, seeing as much of Europe as I could to discover the cities I would love and perhaps loathe and doing it as cheaply as I could.
I ended up turning to Topdeck, a tour company specialising in tours throughout Australia, Asia, Americas and Europe. Getting two of my friends onboard, friends I have been close with since grade one we ventured to a travel agent. Numerous tours appealed to us, sorting through the list of places each one went to. It became more and more confusing and this was just the start. Slight variation in the cities they went, amount of days spent in each city, total traveling time or the accommodation styles all contributed to utter confusion.
Here are my tips (or what I wish someone told me) for finding that perfect tour!
1. Make a list of the cities you want to visit.
Whether you are venturing by yourself or with friends, sit down and write a list of the cities you want to visit. Once it is completed, compare the list with your friends and determine the same cities you have on your list. This will make it easier to determine which tour best fits each person’s cities that they want to see most.
2. Deciding on the time of year.
The time of year determines the overall experience of your tour, and Topdeck runs different tours throughout different seasons. Deciding on the time of year you go may come down to your weather preferences, when you are able to take holidays or Uni holiday scheduling. An example of the different tour experiences depending on the tour can be seen on Topdeck’s website, they offer such tours within the European summer of Greek Sailing and in the European winter you can take a try at skiing with the Iceland Explorer.
3. Duration of tour.
Two days to forty-nine days, and everything in between is the duration of tours you have to select within Topdeck. There is factors that alter the duration of the tour including how many countries it visits, how many cities and how many nights spent at each city. An example is the California Calling, a total of seven days where you start in Los Angeles, spend three nights in Las Vegas, one day at the Grand Canyon, two nights in Yosemite and one night in Napa Valley and you finish in San Francisco. On the other hand a longer tour fittingly called Mega European because it is mega! In a total of forty-nine days, you will visit twenty countries. Deciding on the duration comes down to how long you personally have to travel or want to travel for, whether it is the amount of time you can get off work or the amount of weeks your uni holidays go for. Once you have decided on the amount of time that is suited to you, it is great to go into the destinations section of Topdeck’s website, select your destination and change the view drop down menu to duration: low to high or duration: high to low. This allows you to easily see the tours available to you in the time frame you are after.
4. Type of Accommodation
Topdecks range of accommodation comes in four different categories being club, explorer, hotel and camping. Club being the most popular option includes a variety of different accommodation types including modern hostels, bungalows, cabins and yachts. Explorer allows you to feel as if you are living like a local in three star plus accommodation close to the action. Hotel, the title really says it all. You will be staying in three star plus twin share accommodation, close to the action or conveniently located near transport. Camping is for the adventurer, where you will sleep on air mattresses and pitch yourself a tent. This is for the budget friendly traveler and a unique way to experience your destinations.
5. The $ sign
$ or on the other scale of things $$$$, no matter your budget there is a tour for you! Deciding on a price point that you feel comfortable with and believe that you will be able to save towards, as well as making sure you take into consideration flights and spending money is a start. However, having an understanding and narrowing your decisions in regards to the above will assist in deciding on the price you are willing to pay considering accommodation style, duration of tour, time of year and the cities visited. Another tip is to research the amount of meals you are given, compared to the amount of days you are traveling and look into the extra activities you can do which may not be included in the price. A major plus with Topdeck is that you don’t have to tip! Compared to their competitors, seeing you with more money to put towards experiences that you will never forget. Make your way to Topdeck’s website and like the duration change the view drop down menu to price: low to high or price: high to low, allowing an easy view of the tours prices depending on your budget.
Stay tuned for the next post on preparation before departure!