If you’re thinking of travelling but find the idea of doing it with a tour group kind of daunting, you might be a bit like me. I love my independence and generally being by myself, so the thought of doing a 28-day, 14-country tour through Europe with a bunch of strangers made me feel pretty uneasy. My husband, Sam, and I had never done much travelling before, especially not for such a long period and really had no idea what to expect. Doing it with a group, where everything was organised for us, seemed like the easiest and least stressful option. So, we decided to book the Topdeck Winter Expedition that ran from mid-December to mid-January, and absolutely loved it!
So many people have been asking me about Topdeck since we got back, so here’s my review.
The Louvre, Paris
T H E P E O P L E
I can honestly say everyone on the tour was so lovely, and I still keep in contact with a few. We were just like one big family. When I was bedridden in Rome (had gastro, ugh), so many people were messaging me asking if there was anything they could do, and this was only about a week into the trip—so nice! I was so unwell that we had to stay an extra night in Rome and meet the rest of the tour the next day in Venice, and one girl even offered to stay with us just to keep an eye on me and hold my hair while I vomited. That’s true friendship right there, and I was practically a stranger to her. My heart melted!
Mount Titlis, Switzerland
T H E A C C O M O D A T I O N
Topdeck booked everything for us. It was so relaxing knowing we didn’t have to organise any hotels while we were away. We just rocked up at the hotel and were handed a key—pretty easy. The tour we did was a three and four star-hotel stay. In saying that, a three-star hotel in Europe might be considered two-stars here in Australia, but even so, we thought all the hotels were great. We always had our own room, and they were clean, pretty spacious and all the hotel staff were friendly and accommodating.
Don’t worry if you’re travelling by yourself. Topdeck always put solo travellers with someone of the same sex. Nothing creepy going on here.
Every single place we stayed was either smack-bang in the middle of town or a two-minute walk from public transport. Topdeck even provided us with the tickets we would need to get around, and our tour guide always told us the times and locations of different stops.
The Louvre, Paris
T H E B U S
Okay, I know it sounds dramatic but the idea of travelling on a bus really put me off. I get super duper motion sick, especially in buses, and the thought of vomiting nonstop made me feel crazy embarrassed—mostly because when I vomit it sounds like a cat being run over by a lawnmower.
However, I didn’t puke once! The bus wasn’t cramped and it had curtains, air con, a toilet and Wi-Fi (although you do have to pay after you use up your allocated amount). Our bus driver was a self-proclaimed neat freak and he made a point of giving the inside a thorough clean after every travel day, so our bus was always spotless.
The bus stops every three hours so you can stretch your legs and grab a bite to eat. It really breaks up the trip, and even the longer travel days (some were around ten hours) didn’t seem like much at all.
T H E F O O D
Breakfast was included every morning at the hotel. Everywhere we stayed had pretty much the same options—a continental breakfast which usually involved pastries, baked goods, yoghurt, cereal and fruit. Some places had hot options too.
Every second or third night we had dinner included at a local restaurant. The wait staff are used to working with Topdeck, and most of them enjoyed putting on a show for us while they served. The food itself was pretty tasty and I don’t remember having to wait more than ten or so minutes for our meals. Most dinners also included a drink. Not bad, eh?
T H E A C T I V I T I E S
Every city included a guided walking tour except for Paris and Budapest—they had a sightseeing bus tour instead. Usually, we’d have one free day in a city and one day which involved an activity of some kind. Some were optional ones we had to pay extra for, while others were included. Most of the time we chose to do the optional activities, and we were never disappointed. Amongst many other things, we saw countless museums, monuments and landmarks, walked around for hours in the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland, went to the top of Mount Titlis in Switzerland, had a sobering tour of Auschwitz Concentration Camp, rode bikes through Amsterdam, explored the Swarovski Crystal Museum in Austria and went skiing and paragliding in Austria too.
Before we left, so many people were saying to me, “It’ll be a whirlwind—you’ll hate it,” or “You won’t get any time to yourself”, which is a strange thing to say to someone after they’ve told you they’ve booked a tour, right? Weird. But Sam and I didn’t find that at all. It does seem jam-packed, but most days we actually had a lot of free time and would go back to the hotel for a nap!
S O, I S T O P D E C K A N Y G O O D?
Yes! I strongly recommended Topdeck as a tour choice. I know Sam and I will definitely do another one in the future. There are so many appealing aspects: It’s a great way to meet people and you get a little taste of so many different countries and cultures. You hardly need to organise anything, just kickback and have your fun handed to you. It’s easy to do our own thing, or you can band together with the rest of the group.
We made so many good memories and lasting friendships through this tour, and hope there will be many more to come!
Planning on travelling alone (or spending any time alone while you’re overseas)? Check out my tips for keeping safe when travelling solo!