I recently took a 17-day trip with EF Ultimate Break all around Europe. It was a dream and I am so blessed to have been able to go with such an amazing group and organization. As with any trip, there were some bumps in the road, preventable and unpreventable.
EF Ultimate Break offers many different trips, at many different prices for those aged 18-35. The trip I booked through EF is called the European Road Trip. In 17 days I went to London, Amsterdam, Paris, Lucerne, Venice, Florence, Orvieto, and Rome. For never being to Europe before, I was able to experience and enjoy so many cultures and places in so few days. This trip cost me about $4,500, but I had added on extra excursions and insurance. The time of year and where you’re flying from will determine the base cost of your trip. The European Road Trip ranges from $4,100 to $4,800 to fly out of Detroit. I would recommend adding on the insurance and any excursions that sound appealing to you. Be aware, though, that by adding on extra excursions, it slims down your free time to do other things not in a group.
Transportation from place to place, hostels in each city, two dinners, breakfast every morning, and tour guides are all included in the price. To have traveled on my own to each of these locations would have cost me a lot more so that is one of the reasons I am so grateful to have seen so much in so few days at a reasonable price.
A con of this trip, and I don’t know if it’s like this with every EF trip, but there were about 45 people in the group traveling. This added on a lot of wasted time loading and unloading suitcases onto the buses and subways and going through TSA with a large group. Doing our walking tours and navigating public transportation was also a struggle. If the group was less than 30 people, that would have been more ideal.
On the note of public transportation, that was our main way of getting from place to place. Just about every city that we went to had a great public transportation system and we were given a card to get us onto the subways. Gia, our Tour Guide, also gave us apps that we could download to help us navigate the public transportation on our own. EF makes sure you have the resources you need to be independent if you want on your trip. While we did utilize public transportation, there was a lot of walking, which was to be expected. We calculated about how many miles we walked over the 17 days and it was about 80+ miles in total to give you an idea of how much walking to expect. EF offers many different trips at different paces, though, if you wouldn’t prefer a trip as high paced as the European Road Trip.
I was originally a little nervous about having to stay in hostels just because I had never stayed in any prior. EF rooms you with 2 to 6 travelers of the same gender. I wasn’t sure if the room arrangements were picked at random or if you gave preferences. Our Tour Guide, Gia, was very accommodating with our preferences so my cousin and I stayed with girls we had already made friends with. By the time we all got to our hostels and settled, it was time to go to sleep most nights, but when we did have a bit of energy, it was fun getting closer with the girls and sharing stories with one another. Two of the locations, my cousin and I had a room to ourselves and the other nights we were rooming with 2 to 4 other girls. All rooming situations were totally fine.
However, a couple of the hostels were pretty far away from the downtown areas and where all the major landmarks were. There were a couple of them that we had to walk quite a bit to a subway entrance or from a subway exit. This added a lot of extra time traveling from place to place. Our hostel in Rome and Paris both took about 45 minutes to an hour to get to and from the downtown area to our hostel. London and Amsterdam were fairly close to a subway entrance which was super ideal. If all of the hostels locations could have been as convenient, I wouldn’t have had any complaints. When we’re in each city for a short amount of time, it’s important to cut down as much as possible on travel time because it’s wasted time navigating and walking.
One thing I was a little naive about was our travel days when traveling from city to city. I was assuming it would take about 4-6 hours to get from city to city but because we were traveling in such a large group and had bathroom stops and food breaks along the way, it would take almost all day to arrive. Checking into the hostels was a long process as well. We lost about 6 days of our trip just from traveling in between. However, the bus and train rides were fun and a nice break from the walking so it wasn’t all bad, it was just something I hadn’t exactly expected.
Finally, my last bit of experience and advice if you choose to book an EF trip would be to not plan anything on your own ahead of time. My cousin and I had both booked things ahead of time that we wanted to do, but we ended up having to rearrange both because we didn’t get our official itinerary/plan until the night before each destination. We got lucky that we were still able to do the things we booked that weren’t EF related.
Once I let go and accepted that the trip wasn’t as organized as I would have preferred, I was able to enjoy it more. I realized that most things were out of my control and that at the end of the day, I was in Europe and should be lucky to even be there. Ultimately, just book the trip! I’m looking into one of the Greece options as we speak.