Packing for a Group Tour

Thoughts from Alanna…

Contiki, TopDeck, Intrepid Travel, you name it: youth travel tours are fiercely fun.

But what do you pack? Here are some of my favourite packing tips and additions from fellow travelers to make your packing a bit easier!

Check Your Season & Location

Are you going for a winter trip around the Swiss Alps? Are you hitting up the Greek islands in the summer? Are you travelling around Germany for Oktoberfest? Wherever you are going, make sure to research what the weather will be like and plan accordingly!


Visiting Venice in July? Make sure to bring a sun hat and sunglasses – you’ll need it!!


When packing, I always use the motto: keep it simple, stupid! Do not pack clothes you know you will not wear. Even if it’s that really pretty dress but you know you can’t be bothered to wear it, don’t pack it. Wear clothes that you can interchange with others. Those shorts that only match that one shirt? Don’t bother. You will be dragging your suitcase all over the world and space is valuable.

Other than the obvious stuff, bring:

  • more underwear and socks than needed (you’ll thank me)
  • lightweight waterproof jacket
  • obviously decent walking shoes, but don’t forget sandals or comfy shoes to wear when you’re on the coach bus. You’ll be on it for ages so be comfortable!


There’s a 90% chance you’ll get sick on a group tour, no matter where you’re going (I am a proud survivor of the “Contiki Cough”). Always bring a decent supply of your most needed meds:

  • cold & flu tablets
  • allergy pills
  • sore throat lozenges and/or spray
  • band-aids
  • Polysporin or equivalent
  • lip-chap
  • sunscreen
  • water bottle (It’s a miracle to have when you’re sick with a sore throat)
  • tissues
  • Vitamin C tablets/powder

You should be able to buy supplies in the countries you’re visiting, but if it’s not in English, it can be difficult to get what you need and you don’t want to spend all your time trying to find a pharmacy.

Important Documents

I’ve been on a few tours where people have had their passports stolen or forgot a purse during a pit-stop. Make sure to leave photocopies of all your important documents with family at home (passport, health card, flight details, tour details, etc) and keep a photocopy with yourself. Just don’t keep your real documents and photocopies together. That way, if you lose one, you’ll still have another!

Suitcase or Backpack?

I’ve heard conflicting debates about whether it’s better to bring a suitcase or a giant backpack or even a massive hockey-type duffel bag. It really depends on whether you’re comfortable rolling/dragging a suitcase or strong enough to carry it all on your back. Whatever you chose, make sure it’s as lightweight as possible. You do not want to be person falling behind because you can’t handle your bags.

Either way, I strongly suggest bringing a small-sized backpack for trips during the day. Make sure it’s only big enough to fit your essentials: umbrella or waterproof jacket, water bottle, snacks, wallet, maps, sunscreen and such. If it’s too big, you’ll overfill it and end up with an angry back.


A typical hostel room in Germany

Don’t Forget Towels!

If your tour is staying at higher-end places with their own towels (how lucky!) then skip this part. For the rest of us, make sure to bring a towel as not all hostels provide them (and throw in a plastic bag in case you have to pack your towel when it’s not dry when you move to your next location). I also love to bring my own pillowcase when I’m staying at lower-end places because of obvious reasons.

Stay Entertained

Unless you’re sailing around the Mediterranean, you’re going to spend tons of time on the coach so bring things to keep busy! I always use a travel journal when abroad so writing while on the bus is the perfect time. Cards or small travel boardgames like Bananagrams or Cards Against Humanity will help you keep your sanity on the long drives and make new friends.

Neck scarf

I always bring this on flights but it’s extra useful when travelling. It works both has a scarf and a blanket for cold flights or bus rides. It really comes in handy if you’re a female visiting certain churches and cathedrals, you’ll need to wrap it around your shoulders to cover up if you want inside.

If you follow these simple tips, your packing should be a breeze! Have a favourite tip I haven’t mentioned? Please leave it in the commons below and share with fellow travellers!

Enjoy your trip!