The summer after I graduated college, I took the Ultimate Europe trip with EF Ultimate Break (previously called EF Collegebreak) that lasted 35 days. This was in every way the trip of a lifetime. You can see the route we took in the map below. I’d like to give you an overview of how EF works and the pros and cons of using them for your vacation, so you know whether this company is right for you.
Why EF Ultimate Break?
Before I chose EF, I did an incredible amount of research on whether to go by myself or with a tour group. My family played a big part in my decision to go with a group because they were helping me pay for part of it. They were very worried about me taking a solo trip, especially since it would have been my first one. So I did my research and narrowed it down to EF and Contiki which I think are the two major tour groups for people in their 20s. I chose EF over Contiki because it seemed EF stayed in better quality locations and it was less of a “party trip.” Not that I didn’t want to drink, but I wanted to focus on other things also. The price was comparable and EF had more items included like tours, subway tickets, and some meals. I do not regret this decision at all. They had great customer service, were very responsive, and gave me all needed information at the very beginning. They were a great company to work with.
How It Works
For those of you who aren’t familiar with EF, I’ll give a short overview of how booking with them works. They offer a large variety of trips with different lengths and to many different countries in six different continents. You can filter the trips based on these categories plus when you want to leave. Once you figure out which trip you want to take, you choose your airport and pay the deposit. I believe the deposit is typically $150. They set up a payment plan for you based on how many months you have left until your trip.
Once you send in your deposit, EF books your plane tickets, hotel rooms, and works out any travel between destinations. We were on a bus most of the time, but we did fly between Athens and Rome, took a ferry to Paros, and took trains in Germany and France. Other items that are included in the price are walking tours of each city, almost all breakfast meals, a couple dinners, and subway tickets in most larger cities.
Another helpful inclusion is a tour guide that stays with you throughout the whole trip. My guide was awesome and gave us great insider tips for each location and it also felt safer when I had someone to check in with each day. This was a huge plus for my parents and it helped their peace of mind.
- You have very little, if any, of the logistics planning left to do. They plan all of the transportation and accommodations.
- You get to see many of the big-ticket items, aka Eiffel Tower, Roman Colosseum, and the Acropolis. The best part is you also get to stop at off the beaten path places that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise. A couple small towns that we stopped in were Dresden, Germany and Verona, Italy.
- In the Ultimate Europe trip, I got to see 14 cities in 35 days. This doesn’t include the smaller cities that we stopped over in during our travel days. This type trip is a chance to see so many different cultures in a short amount of time.
- If you want to go check out a different city or a special event that’s in the area, then you have the chance to do that. While we were in Paros, Greece there was a group that took a ferry over to Santorini for the day. In Belgium there were two girls that rented a car and drove to a music festival in the area and then met us in Paris.
- There are about 30 to 40 people in the group so every day there is a good chance that someone will be doing something that you’re interested in. If you want to go off and do things by yourself though that’s fine too.
- This was my first trip overseas and it was so easy to let someone else plan everything. It made for such a smooth trip. I felt safe with a group and I had a great guide who was very knowledgeable about each city that we visited.
- There is no way to “make your own trip.” You have to choose from the options that they offer and sometimes you have to sacrifice a few things you wanted to do or places you wanted to go.
- You are with the same group of people for 35 days. A majority of the group is girls so there is always the possibility of cattiness and cliques.
- This is a very fast paced trip. You get to see a lot of different places, but you don’t get a deep connection with any of them. This trip barely skims the surface of what is out there.
- Depending on the group, it could be a party centered trip. But depending on who you are that could be a pro or con. I wasn’t interested in partying when I went and by that I mean going to a club until 2am. I definitely did my share of drinking there. It all depends on what you’re looking for.
Once I started writing out the pros and cons, I realized that this trip was a no-brainer for me. I didn’t have time to plan a month-long trip to Europe myself. I didn’t know the first thing about taking a solo trip. My family didn’t want me going by myself and they were paying for half of it. EF Ultimate Break made it possible for me to see Europe without all the hassle of planning. If you have the time and money then I definitely recommend this trip, especially if it’s your first time going abroad. Do you have any experience traveling with groups like this?