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Seven Things To Take With You on Contiki!

 

Hey y’all!

Sorry, I’ve defo turned more American since I’ve got back from the States… I NEED TO START BEING MORE BRITISH! As you all know, my recent Contiki Grand Southern American adventure was like totes amaze (is that British enough?!) and I had a ball, but one thing I wish I knew before I went is what on earth to bloody pack for 28 days on the road! I’ve had so many messages from fellow travellers, bloggers and friends asking what items I took, what clothes I wore and what shoes I packed. Now that I’m home I thought I should share my new found wisdom with you all in the hope that it may help those looking to book a Contiki trip, or any other kind of long-haul month long vacation, when it comes to those packing dilemmas!

1. Take a goddamn neck pillow – ESSENTIAL!!!

I literally cannot stress how important this is, and how much I relied on this thing EVERY SINGLE DAY whilst on tour! This neck pillow literally saved my life, well ok it didn’t save my life but you know what I mean, it was that good it has to be top of this list.. So I made the mistake of NOT buying one of these before I went (don’t do it people) and spent my 11 hour flight from London to LA being stupidly uncomfy and wishing I had bought one of the neck pillows that everyone on my flight had! Luckily BA were on hand to give me a tiny baby pillow but it just wasn’t the same.. thanks tho guys, you tried 😉

 

 

Anyways, I couldn’t wait for my first Walmart stop so I could run in and pick up a pillow and I was so relieved to find one at our first stop for the tiny sum of just $9 – best $9 I’ve ever spent! I can fall asleep literally anywhere, but it sure does help when you’ve got one of these round your neck and you’re sitting/sleeping on uncomfy bus seats for up to 9 hours a day! Don’t do what I did and forget to take it with you though.. pack it before you go and I promise you’ll be using it every single day!

2. Use a wheely suitcase, not a backpack!

Okay this is an absolute must – I cannot deal with backpacks and I’ve never attempted to carry one in my life BUT a wheely suitcase is sooo much more practical for Contiki and 99% of my tour-mates thought the same (see, I’m not alone). The suitcases are off and on the bus every day, shoved underneath in the storage space and then pushed into hotel room after hotel room for 28 days – poor things – but it’s so much easier to move them around when they are on WHEELS! They make such a difference and, although I still struggled cos I’m tiny, I know having my suitcase was ten times easier than trying to hoist a backpack around 24/7. Trust me – suitcases FTW.

 

 

If you’re not sure what bag to take during the day I’d recommend a decent sized rucksack that you can just shove on your back and carry around with you. I found this helpful during the days when I was taking water bottles, food and sunscreen etc with me but during the evenings I’d bring a small over the shoulder bag or a clutch bag depending on where we were heading off to!

We're going on a #riverwalk ⚓️ #Savannah

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3. Bring sensible footwear

Thank God for Primark! I took two pairs of cheap canvas shoes with me and they were a godsend – I was able to walk around Vegas, hike in the Grand Canyon and stroll around Savannah in these lil beauties without my feet blistering to high heaven. At the end of the trip I chucked my shoes away as 1) I didn’t need them again and 2) they were damn filthy! I’d also recommend taking flip flops/sandals with you for beach days and the long bus days when all you wanna do is kick off those shoes. I actually bought two pairs of flip flops at our various supermarket stops (love you Walmart) they were the comfiest things ever and an absolute steal at just 98 cents each! Say whaaattt…

Trekked halfway down to the canyon and then back up again today 🏃🏃 @contiki #grandcanyon #USA #noregrets

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One thing I also wish wish wish that I bought with me was a pair of HEELS! Girls, you’re going to want to take at least one pair with you as you’ll get plenty of opportunity to wear them on the trip. On the Grand Southern we partied in places like Vegas, Miami and New York and, although I had nice dresses to wear and I did my make up and hair, I felt sooo under dressed in my Primark sandals!! It wouldn’t matter so much if you were a normal height and not conscious about being under 5ft but this is me we’re talking about and I am TINY so, naturally, I wish I took just one pair of heels with me to give me a bit of height! It isn’t essential and clubs generally didn’t look at what you were wearing on your feet but, if I could do it again, I’d def take some heels to make me feel more glam!

Miami rooftops 🎉🇺🇸 #saturdaynight

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4. Remember your evening wear

This is juuuust as important as your day wear – okay so you’re going to be spending more time wearing your tops, shorts, skirts etc but your night time wear is crucial depending on where you are going! As I mentioned above, on the Grand Southern we clubbed in Vegas and Miami where the dress code is super strict; boys – you won’t get let in wearing trainers or flip flops! Girls can pretty much wear anything but most wear dresses or skirts and tops whilst boys are encouraged to wear tops/shirts (not tank tops) and generally speaking trousers rather than shorts. The clubby places were strict about their dress code but most of the other cities we visited, like Durango, Savannah, New Orleans and Dallas, are much more relaxed so you can kinda wear whatever you want!

 

 

5. Take a credit card & a photo identification card

Probably essential to bring your ID card with you (driving license only) as you’re not going to be wanting to carry your passport everywhere you go! If you’re buying alcohol remember that America operates a strict over 21 policy so you won’t be served or allowed entry to any clubs/pubs if you aren’t over this age limit. Again, it depends where you go but we experienced this and they were pretty strict with everything – rules are rules, right?!

 

Ahhh my last day at home before my big American adventure tomorrow!! ✈️🇺🇸@contiki #noregrets

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A credit card was essential for me – it totally helped when I extended my stay and paid £471 in airline fees for the privilege!!! (I wouldn’t recommend doing that btw). In all seriousness though, credit cards a really useful thing to take with you. Depending on who you bank with you can use them like you would do at home and you don’t normally incur charges either. I took a prepaid card with US Dollars but also took my UK credit card for emergencies; I knew it would come in handy in case any of my money got lost or stolen (or in case I gambled it all in Vegas..) or if I was in a sticky situation and just needed more money. As credit cards are separate from your current account/debit card/pre paid card they are really handy to take with you, even if you don’t need to use it it’s nice to know it’s there just in case.

6. Bring at least one jacket/coat

I guess this depends on the destination(s) you’re travelling to, or the season you’ll be away for, but it really is useful to take at lease one form of jacket/coat with you! I was boiling hot in Vegas but flipping freezing during the evening at the Grand Canyon the next day and wish I had something to keep me warm, although I did take a thin hoody which kind of helped (almost). When we were in Savannah there was the thunderstorm of the century and we got soaked all the way through so I was glad my pac-a-mac came in handy! If you’re travelling across the States be prepared for ALL types of weather – it could be beautiful sunshine one minute and then pouring with rain the next, depending on where you are of course!

 

Got well and truly caught in the storm in #Savannah today… Knew that pacmac would come in handy dad 😉 ⛈⛈ #rainraingoaway

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7. Take a camera!

I normally wouldn’t ever travel without taking a camera anyway as I LOVE taking photos of just about anything, but having one on Contiki is a must! There are sooo many photo ops, from famous landmarks and tourist attractions to the incredible optional extras and even silly selfies on the bus with your new friends! Lots of people on my tour were really into their photography and had expensive cameras with their kits and tripods, but I just took my digital camera and my iPhone and flitted between the two when I was taking my snaps. Don’t forget your SD card(s) and your chargers though!

 

When my cameras in my hand that's all I need 📸 #Vegas #america #USA #contiki #grandsouthern #noregrets

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So there we have it, my top tips on what to pack for Contiki! Obviously you’ll need to remember the basics like toiletries, any medication, sunscreen etc (duh), money (bring lots) and your travel documentation including your visas, ESTAs, passports and insurance stuff (goes without saying). Maybe invest in a US sim card as well for your phone as it can get ridiculously expensive contacting home unless you stick to the free WiFi! Once you’ve packed these items along with the other essentials you should be just about ready to jet off on your new adventure- eeeek! To anyone that’s going in the next month/year/decade I am INSANELY JEALOUS and might just book myself on another trip pronto…

Hope this helps a little, if any of you have found this list useful/insulting or if you just generally have any comments at all please do pop them in the box below – I’d love to hear what you took/are thinking of taking on Contiki!

Love Jess x

NB. Please remember that I visited America during the middle of summer when I did my Contiki tour, but if you’re travelling around Europe, Asia or Australia, or you’re travelling during autumn or winter as opposed to spring or summer, you’ll need to pack according to the weather and local climate! I’m sure you knew that though 😉

 

I left my heart in #Savannah 💖 @contiki @statravel_uk #contiki #grandsouthern #america #USA #noregrets #wanderlustwednesday

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