When I graduated high school back in 2012 I had my sight set on two things. To make money and to travel. That’s what gap years are all about, right? Time was ticking by before I had to start my university degree and I needed a job that would make enough money to pay off my travels. Alas, I began work in a cotton factory performing 12 hour shifts doing 7 days straight and although it wore me out and I will never want to look at cotton again, I can gladly say it paid for my holiday to Europe.


After hours of research and flipping through travel brochures my friend and I settled on doing a Contiki tour called ‘European Panorama.’ What grabbed our attention was in the 28 days, 12 countries would be visited and I knew I wanted to see as much as possible. All I can say it was the best decision I have made to date. I know that organised group travel isn’t a lot of people’s forte, however for a first time traveller like myself, it provided everything I needed.


The tour began in London in late September where we met our Tour Manager and Bus Driver that would guide us through Europe. The days always began early with a history lesson on the respective city and a debrief about the culture, what foods the locals eat, what sport they play and a quick sample of the language so we didn’t quite stick out like sore thumbs! That way we had some sort of insight as to what the city would hold for us.


The wonderful thing about Contiki’s European Panorama tour was that it was perfect for someone totally new to Europe. Getting between foreign countries can be quite daunting for an 18 year old with no prior knowledge or experience. But I awoke every morning with not a worry as we boarded the coach for the next country. In terms of activities, Contiki provides an option called ‘ME Time’ and I loved this about the tour. Some days we were given the choice to wander off and explore the city on our own terms and would meet again at night to see a show or to have dinner together.


We were taken to all the great monuments and main attractions that you must visit being a first time traveller like the Eifel Tower in Paris (I shed a tear when I first saw it!), the famous Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam and we even spend a few hours at Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Austria en route to Oktoberfest in Munich.


To shake things up more adventurous activities were thrown our way like White Water Rafting down the freezing Austrian rapids and bungee jumping from a platform amongst the Swiss Alps. Things I probably didn’t know were available to us if not for Contiki.


We stayed mostly in hotels that were clean and well equip for the one or two nights stay. Most were around 3 star and had a standard breakfast, which was nothing more than toast, a selection of cereals and if we were lucky some eggs. A common misconception when regarding to Contiki to your travels is that you’ll spend most of your time either in a pub or nightclub in a town you’ve probably never heard of. Can I just say this is not entirely true! However, I will say the social aspect of the tour plays a strong suite but it’s all optional and I have made friends that 2 years later I still keep in contact with.


For someone who went to Europe knowing nothing, I’ve come home learning so much. In a short time I retained more information than I had in school I think. Thanks to Contiki, I now know where I would love to return to in more depth and places I am not so keen on going back to. My European Panorama tour had such a vast array of countries and cities. It gave me the opportunity to cycle through the streets of Amsterdam and stroll down the De Champs Elysees. It’s the small things that make it unforgettable.


The European Panorama is perfection for first time travellers like I was and I highly recommend it if you’re looking into travelling Europe. Contiki are world leaders in group travel and the amazing crew will give you the time of your life. I can guarantee you that. Your safety is their first priority as well as having the best 28 days possible. At the very least you’ll see some amazing sights and come home with heaps of new friends. Their slogan couldn’t be more true, live with no regrets!


My name is Tayla White and you can normally find me with a camera in hand and daydreaming about my next destination! I am 20 years old and from sunny Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. I’m a passionate foodie and I have a wanderlust filled heart. I love the excitement travel brings and how travel and enrich your life. Eat Lots, Travel Far is a blog I’ve created to document my adventures and I can’t wait for you to read it!