Eli Orzessek finds the answers to your travel questions.
I am aware this is coming into winter and wonder whether someone could advise as to appropriate clothing necessary for her to enjoy an Eastern Europe winter. She is prepared for several days in London when warm clothes and a waterproof coat are essential — but as I have travelled in Europe only in summer months I'm not sure just how much suitable clothing is necessary for what I'm told will be really, really cold months.
She will be travelling with the Contiki regulation large backpack.
When the tour ends she will then travel to Marseille to spend Christmas week with her French relations when the temperature should be around 10C — no problem there. Her flight home is London to Auckland on December 28. Any tips or information would be gratefully received.
Sounds like a great way to celebrate graduation! I've never been to Europe in winter, but I've always wanted to — somehow it seems more atmospheric. Or maybe I'm just romanticising things, as I've never really experienced a true winter. My contact at Contiki has some good recommendations on what to expect and what to pack for an enjoyable trip.
"The perks really do outweigh the cold — winter is a beautiful time of year to visit Europe, with the opportunity to explore Christmas markets, drink mulled wine, relax in cosy cafes and even head up a snowy Swiss mountain.
"The best tip for travelling around Europe in winter is to pack layers rather than too many heavy items, as the weather varies around the continent and most places are very well heated indoors. A few thermals to act as a base layer are key, with thinner shirts and sweatshirts on top, then a winter coat with plenty of room underneath. A rain jacket, scarf, beanie and gloves will also come in handy for venturing outside, as well as plenty of pairs of warm socks. A sunhat and sunglasses are a good idea too, as although it's cold the sun can still be strong.
"Amsterdam is the first stop on the European Trail, which is one of Contiki's most popular trips, with daily highs in November of around 8C falling to between 2-5 degrees. The temperature is likely to drop below zero in Berlin and some other parts of Eastern Europe with daily highs of around 4-5C. As your granddaughter heads further south she may be able to put some layers at the bottom of the suitcase (pulling them out again when she gets to the Swiss Alps which could reach lows of -10C!) as Italy will reach highs of around 13C."
Since there's still a bit of time to prepare, this would be a good time to keep an eye out for sales at places like Kathmandu and stock up on thermals and warm socks — it definitely beats leaving things for the last minute.
I hope your granddaughter has an amazing trip! I've done a Contiki before — but to Vietnam, so a completely different climate. I met some really cool people from around the world and had a blast. I'm sure she will too.