You’ve stepped off the plane at Heathrow Airport, London, just a bewildered face in a flood of people. This is it – congratulations! You have successfully made it to the other side of the world and now it finally hits you. How are you going to survive a month long European Contiki? Well don’t fear – with these few tips you will have the time of your life in your new summer playground, Europe!
Rule number one: Be outgoing! You have just landed in one of the oldest cities in the world. Do not give in to the temptation of resting your pretty little head on that warm and comfy bed. Jet lag is a bitch. Stay strong and awake. Get out in the city and meet people. Say hello and talk! Keep an ear open for that familiar Australian accent. It is an unwritten law that when in Europe, meeting a fellow Australian seems like meeting a long lost friend! Staying awake is key to adapting to your new time zone.
Be prepared to share. You may be sitting at the back of the bus thinking what the hell have I done. I will never become friends with half of these people but give it two days and you will be having ‘deep and meaningfuls’, and sharing secrets that not even your closest friends know back home. These people become your family whilst abroad.
Free pour in Europe can be your best friend and worst enemy. The European bar tenders have yet to discover the use of a shot glass and instead just pour straight spirits into your cup, not taking care to measure or consider how strong they may be making your cocktail. Think of this as your number one ‘frenemy’. Sure, it is all fun and games when you’re having a drink or two with your new friends and yes, you are saving money as the drinks have more alcoholic content – just keep your wits about you. One minute you’re having a quite Sunday afternoon session in Paris, the next you are stumbling through the dark streets at 4:30am carrying what remains in your wallet and dignity, ready to welcome on a three-day hangover.
Have a night off! Your body is adapting to a new climate, new foods and new drinking habits! There is absolutely nothing wrong in having an early night because when it comes time for you to fight the dreaded Contiki cough, my friend, you will need all the strength you can muster.
CONTIKI COUGH IS REAL. The virus will work its way slowly around the bus and one by one, you’re Contiki mates will fall. Don’t think you can avoid it. One day you will be sunning in the French Riviera and there will be a little tickle in your throat. You will sip on your strawberry daiquiri and ignore it. That night however, the beast will raise its ugly head and you will be dragged into the fiery pits of hell. What will follow that week will be a series of unsuccessful attempts at communication to foreign pharmacists for drugs and cries of mercy for the end to be near. Forget your new friends, the only friendships you need in your life right now comes in the form of Panadol and throat soothers.
Then finally a miracle occurs. You have survived the Contiki Cough and most likely passed it on to the person you’ve been hooking up with. Oops. But hey, you’re healthy and ready to get back out there and live it up in Europe!
Hostels in Europe are great, but try not to spend too much time in your room! You’re now in Venice for God sakes, go and have a drink or two with your friends! Go down to the local bars and talk to the locals. Try your best Italian accent and convince them that you’re on a visit from Rome. Warning: the more drinks you have, the less appealing and realistic your accent will become. You didn’t just have a drink or two, did you, as you realise looking at the lack of Euros in your wallet. Don’t worry. Today is a bus day and you get to sleep for a solid six hours.
Learn to love bus days. These are the days where you can find out the most recent gossip, learn about your new friends and become familiar with some local lingo, ready to slip into your everyday conversations as you enter a new country.
With all this being said, just remember to have fun and appreciate your time overseas! The world has so many beautiful things to offer you, from seeing the sunset over the Eiffel Tower to a small Italian lady offering you a free piece of home made pizza. Relish your time on the tour and I can promise you that if you follow these points you will have the time of your life and will most definitely look back in years to come with the fondest memories and the largest smiles Life is short and the world is wide. #noregrets