So you have decided on the trip – Europe 2012. But what’s the best way to get around the vast continent without all the drama? Contiki? Eurail? Combi van? Don’t worry, I’m here to help. I’ve created a simple guide on five alternative ways of travelling Europe tailored for the beginner to the seasoned traveller.
Top Deck vs. Contiki (coach tours)
The great debate. They both offer similar tours, similar prices, and they’re targeted towards the 18 to 30 something’s. But which one suits you?
To start, you have to be willing to see Europe on a regimented schedule because both companies pre-plan what to see so there’s limited flexibility. But the good news is that you can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Contiki tours are slightly larger and more party-oriented than Top Deck tours, which tend to be a bit subdued (but not short on adventure). Contiki tours can range from 1-46 days in length, whereas Top Deck Tours can offer three more days to the hungry traveller.
Honestly, if you are after an organised tour I think you will be happy with either company. Prices and packages do differ for both, but the larger tours generally range from $4000-$7000. It’s perfect if you’re travelling independently or in a group, especially if it is your first time in Europe.
Worried about being stuck with the same people? After some structure but also a little independence? Bus-A-Bout is for you.
Bus-A-Bout is a hop-on, hop-off travel service. The company offers specific routes and as a traveller you can design your own trip and just hop on and off as you please. Though the company offers some organised tours, it is primarily a service designed to help you get from point A to point B.
This option is perfect for independent travellers or groups that are after guidance but also a little flexibility. The main routes cover the majority of Western Europe and prices range from around $700-$1500.
Take the trains around Europe for flexibility and a chance to see some breathtaking landscapes along the way. Rail passes enable you to visit around 30 European countries, ranging from England all the way through to Finland. Discounts are often offered to youth and groups travelling in two or more, so make sure you look into this before booking.
Though this is probably the most old-school option, I personally envy all who have done it. Who wouldn’t want to travel Europe in a beat-up van?Driving gives you the ultimate flexibility – no timetables, no organised tours, no compulsory stops.
Yet one of the biggest problems with this option is getting your hands on a vehicle. You can hire (which could be costly) or take the risk of buying a car and then selling it to another group of budding travellers when you’re done.
All in all, this option is for those who want to have full control of their holiday.
If you would like to find out more, Google the modes of transport mentioned in this article to plan your destinations and read testimonials about each of the great services.