Matt's Trip to Europe

The Planning Stage

After initially looking to go to Alaska and Western Canada and being put off by the cost, I started to look at going to Europe. Having been on two previous Contiki tours to Western Australia and Queensland and having had a great time on both, Contiki looked like a good option for me travelling alone. Trying to decide on which tour to go on was harder. I liked the idea of the Great Britain and Ireland tour as I wanted to see Scotland and thought I might take one of the short tours on the continent afterwards. Then I thought if I was going to the continent I would need to see the major sites as well. However, the short tours left some of them out and before I knew it, Great Britain and Ireland was off and I was heading off on the Contiki European Encounter tour.

After deciding on which tour it came down to when to go. As I was sick and tired of work already (this was in January) the European summer was looking a long way off. So looking at the amount of leave I had and the amount of time I was intending to be away (around a month) that made the end of June/early July the earliest I could go. Having worked out my schedule in my mind and knowing that I was going to the Netherlands, I decided to email my Dutch mate Edwin from the Western Australia tour and ask him whether this was a good time of year to visit Europe. He suggested that August was probably better weather-wise (and it was - more later). More importantly, he offered to take some time off work and show me around (thanks buddy) and organised our Danish mate Steen to come and join us as well.

So now the itinerary looked like this

Date Details
July 24 Leave Sydney
July 25 - July 27 The Netherlands
July 28 London Stopover
July 29 - August 13 Contiki European Encounter
August 14 - August 16 London Tourist Thing
August 17 - August 19 Fly home

My past Contiki trips had been booked through Thomas Cook in Westpac Plaza and I had been dealing with a very helpful lady. Unfortunately, she moved to another office and the new lady there who always seemed to promise to call back with details and never did, so I looked for alternatives.

Being a 'net geek, I thought I would try one of the online agencies. When dealing with a company on the net, I like to test them by sending an email and seeing how quickly they respond. I tend to give them two working days to respond or they don't rate. Traveland responded the very next day with a quote which met my criteria and I am happy to say that my trip went off without a hitch. However, I missed being able to drop in and get feedback on how things were going instead I had to do the asking. Also, every time I rang them I spoke to someone different whereas I prefer to deal with the same person each time.

frogdream.com is the personal web space of Matt Jackson (mjj at frogdream.com).