Posts Tagged ‘Youth Tours’

5 Great Summer Experiences!

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

The history books are strewn with people who have made terrible decisions. Here’s a few examples -

  • Adam and Eve, the first two humans ever, deciding to eat an obviously-delicious forbidden apple. I therefore hold them personally responsible for all the idiocy which follows then!
  • Nero, the insane 1st century Roman Emperor, deciding to burn down his own city while singing happily and playing a fiddle. Not surprisingly he was killed by an angry mob.
  • Napoleon invading Russia in winter.
  • Hitler invading Russia in winter (can anybody spot a theme?).
  • The nine publishing companies who rejected JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book. Oops!

Don’t add your name to the above wall-of-shame! Make a great last-minute decision and join Topdeck for the trip of a lifetime this summer. Half of the fun is deciding where to go, but here are five of our favourite experiences for summer 2013 to inspire you…

Experience the thrill of the ‘Running of the Bulls’

The ‘Running of the Bulls’ in Pamplona is definitely one for the bucket list. Topdeck has lots of superb-value trips to take you to the heart of the action in sunny Spain, including budget trips staying at our gorgeous lakeside campsite with swimming pool from £179 (less than £36 per day!). For something a bit different, our awesome 14 day Spanish Sun & Fiestas trip combines a trip to Pamplona with the quirky ‘Wine Battle’ Festival in Haro, the cultural cities of Bilbao and Madrid, and the beachside paradise of San Sebastian.

We’ve got a great range of Running with the Bulls trips. Check them out here.

Paint The Town Red at La Tomatina

The Spanish tomato-throwing extravaganza may be one of the most eccentric festivals in a country which is renowned for eccentric festivals, but that’s what makes it so much fun! The world’s biggest food fight is a blast, quite literally! To make it even better, all of Topdeck’s La Tomatina trips offer central accommodation in the vibrant beachside city of Valencia – home of paella.

You can check out all of our trips to La Tomatina here.

Live like Marie Antoinette and Spend the Night in a French Chateau

Take a trip off the beaten track through fantastique France and realise why 80% of the French holiday in their own country! This 14 day Explorer trip travels through vibrant cities, gorgeous wineyards (with plenty opportunities to taste!), historic medieval towns, and perhaps best of all – spend the night in an opulent French Chateau in the Loire Valley. Sacré bleu!

We currently have 10% off our Discover France 13th July 2013 departure!

Stay Overnight With The Navajo Tribe in Monument Valley, USA

The breathtaking natural beauty of the USA will blow away the most cynical of travellers. Our 19 day Great Parks of the USA trip will take you back to nature, combining staggeringly beautiful national parks, the Grand Canyon, and an unforgettable overnight stay with the Navajo Native American Tribe in Utah, where you’ll also get a guided jeep tour of Monument Valley. If all the beautiful natural landscapes get too much for you, we’ll also take you to the awesome cities of Reno, Salt Lake City, Jackson, and Sin City itself - Las Vegas!

Take a look at our Greatest Parks of the US here.

Take a Party Bus Down the Las Vegas Strip

Our epic road trip across the USA from New York to Los Angeles (or reverse) is the definitive summer experience for 2013. There are too many highlights to name – Cajun cuisine in Louisiana, a visit to Elvis’s home Graceland, country music in Tennessee, a guided tour of the illuminated Washington D.C monuments, a visit to Death Valley (the hottest place on earth!), and so much more. But in my humble opinion, there is nothing in the world more fun than taking a party bus down the Las Vegas Strip, complete with mp3 dock and state-of-the-art audio equipment … Viva Las Vegas!

Read more about the Vegas Party Bus & the Coast to Coast trip here.

Come and join Topdeck for a fun-filled summer and take the hassle out of travelling. It’s a far better idea than invading Russia this winter!

40 things to do before you’re 40 - Number 18!

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

18. Hike on a Glacier

It’s a question as old as time: if Oprah Winfrey was a geological formation, what would she be? Let’s list her traits – extremely powerful, influential, and probably very slow moving. “Glacier”, I hear you say? Correct!

Cast your mind back to joys of high school geography. For me, it’s hard to remember anything apart from my teacher Mr Gordon’s questionable fashion sense and offensive breath. However I do remember that glaciers are huge bodies of ice which, with the help of gravity and their own sheer weight, carve out U-shaped valleys through mountains. Thanks Mr Gordon!

Unless you have enough free time on your hands to sit and watch a glacier for a couple of months - you probably won’t see much happen! Most move at a rate between zero and half a kilometre (0.3 miles) per year. The appeal of hiking on a glacier is the sensational surroundings of snowy peaks and epic, eroded cliff faces. The thought that a pile of snow and ice has cut through something so strong like a hot knife through butter is mind-blowing! There is something about being surrounded by the immense power of nature which puts things in perspective.

The Fox Glacier deep in the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s South Island is one of the most astonishing in the world – being one of the only glaciers to begin in a snowy Alpine peak and end in lush rainforest. The diversity of the scenery between the top and bottom shows you first-hand why New Zealand is one of the most spectacular countries in the world.

Topdeck’s new Canadian Rockies trip will take you to the Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefield. This is the most visited glacier in North America for good reason, and we do it in style with an included ‘Totally Topdeck’ guided hike onto the glacier. Because of a warming climate, the Athabasca Glacier has been receding or melting for the last 125 years – leaving a surreal moonscape of rocky debris in its wake.

The Pyramids, Eiffel Tower, Great Wall of China – there are many immense man-made attractions in the world, but there’s something quite special about seeing one of nature’s own attractions. A hike on a glacier is a thrilling and oddly moving experience, and takes its well-deserved place at number 18 on Topdeck’s list of 40 things to do before you’re 40!

Topdeck Top Tip: Glaciers may be icy but don’t let that deceive you – UV rays are intensified when reflecting off the ice so you can become sunburnt very quickly. Make sure to wear high-factor sunscreen, along with decent footwear and warm socks!

Video 1: Helicopter ride over the Fox Glacier, New Zealand

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland: Tips from a Topdeck Trip Leader

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Carl Smith, one of Topdeck’s expert Trip Leaders, has been around the European block a few times, but he never gets tired of a certain mountain range.


Ah Lauterbrunnen, it never fails to make my heart leap!

I still remember the first time I saw the valley on my training trip a few years ago. Sleep deprived and mentally overloaded I may have been, but as soon as I stepped off that coach all was forgotten when I laid eyes on the most breathtaking place I had ever seen.

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

The quaint Swiss village of Lauternbrunnen was nestled in a green valley flanked by towering cliffs. There were waterfalls tumbling all around and the snow-capped mountains in the distance completed the picture.

It was (for want of sounding soppy) magical and no matter how many times I come back it never grows old!

I am a sucker for mountain scenery and, personally, the only places I have seen that can compare with the Swiss Alps are in neighbouring Austria and on the South Island of New Zealand.

I have a little routine in Lauterbrunnen. After arriving and getting the group checked in I head straight to the site cook tent to catch up with my colleagues, help with dinner and try to sample some food.

Fondue night is my personal favourite; I can’t get enough of Switzerland’s national dish!

There’s a Topdeck tradition we have - if you drop your piece of bread from your fork as you’re dipping it into the pot of melted cheese you have to kiss the person to your left. This is where I make my experience count by strategically positioning myself away from any hairy Topdeck drivers and wedging myself between some more agreeable neighbours.

The other bonus of this is that I can avoid any ‘driver talk’. Our Drivers are amazing and they love their job, which is all very commendable, but if they start talking about the best angle to reverse into a coach park in the French Riviera I’m liable to nod off and fall face first in to a pot of molten emmental and gruyère.

Anyway, after we’ve cleared dinner away and washed up I’ll generally pop into a nearby cosy, wood-lined bar. It’s a cool place for the group to get to know each other a bit better and most people usually head in for a while (some longer than others!).

Sometimes we’ll sit and play cards and relax, other times the night goes late and we bust out our best dance moves – I like to see where the evening takes us!

Carl in his happy place: Jungfrau

Carl in his happy place: Jungfrau

Next morning I’m up early and on my way to the cook tent for breakfast, stopping to appreciate the view on the way (minimum 5 minutes).

After fuelling up for the day, I’ll meet up with the passengers who are heading up Jungfrau Mountain and walk them down to the train station.

The Jungfraubahn (railway) celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2012, which is incredible considering the engineering challenges of carving through the side of a couple of Alps a century ago.

At least once a year I’ll make sure I go up myself - it’s an amazing journey to the top of the mountain and back, and I’ll be honest, I’m no mountaineer, so it’s generally the only time I’m likely to make it to nearly 4000m above sea level.

On a clear day the views are spectacular, but there’s also guaranteed snow year-round and I do love a good snowball fight (the secret is to throw one and then blame someone else). What’s more, the Swiss swear that chocolate is a cure for altitude sickness so I see it as an excuse to eat lots of Toblerone. I’ve never actually got altitude sickness, but you know, better safe than sorry!

If I stay in the valley I’ll sometimes go for a short hike down to Trummelbach Falls, a series of waterfalls set inside a cliff towards the valley end. The Falls themselves are pretty spectacular, but for me the walk is just as nice.

Topdeck Crew at the top of Jungfrau

Topdeck Crew at the top of Jungfrau

Along the way I often see my passengers who are skydiving circling down under canopy to land in the valley. It’s always amusing to see people after they’ve just jumped from a helicopter at 12,000ft over the Swiss Alps – I swear that some look like they’ve just inhaled a sack of coffee beans. But the smiles take longer to wear off and showing their DVDs on the coach the next day always guarantees a laugh!

It is great catching up with everyone at dinner on the second evening, seeing their photos and hearing their stories from the day. It makes me happy to see people enjoying Lauterbrunnen as much as I do - it blew me away when I came here and continues to blow away everyone who I come back with.

I know exactly why Tolkein (author of Lord of the Rings) was so inspired when he visited Lauterbrunnen – It’s definitely somewhere that I’ll still be talking about when I’m old and grey, one of those special destinations that reminds me why travel is so amazing.

Want to see the breathtaking sights of the Swiss Alps? Check out one of Topdeck’s many trips that visit Switzerland.

Why You Should Travel to Europe this Winter!

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Baby it’s cold outside… and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Here at Topdeck we simply love the winter months – the frostier the better – because quite frankly, Europe never looks better than when wearing its winter coat.image of youth tour group in Europe in winter

Snowy streets, a festive atmosphere, fairy lights and fabulous comfort food are just the beginning. You can also look forward to fewer crowds and lower prices that come with travelling in the off season.

With that in mind we asked our Topdeck experts to share their favourite winter experiences:


  • My favourite winter destination is skiing for the entire day in the gorgeous Austrian Alps. Then coming back to my hotel in the evening in Salzburg and going to enjoy a traditional meal and beer stein in a local brewery. -Leticia
  • Salzburg is the perfect winter city. Festive Christmas markets, cosy pubs with warm fires, and mulled wine stalls everywhere you look to warm you up! -Scotty
  • My favourite winter experience is spending as much time as possible browsing the beautiful Christmas markets with a cup of mulled wine in hand. No matter where you are in Europe the markets are simply amazing! -Kara
  • Being cosy indoors sharing a delicious cheese fondue with new friends and then stepping outside to a breathtaking view of the Swiss Alps. -Meg
  • Visiting Rome’s impressive monuments and the Vatican museums are truly memorable experiences. A traditional fiery diavola pizza and espresso are always hard to turn down, well when in Rome… -Sean
  • Waking up in the morning in the Alps with a fresh blanket of powder snow at the front door ready for a full day of skiing and boarding, followed by a Jagertea (or Jacuzzi) to warm the bones and relax the muscles. -Simon
  • Explore the Christmas markets in Brugge - the medieval town that looks like a fairytale come to life. If you’re getting chilly in the snow, warm up with some delicious hot frites and treat yourself to dessert in the countless exquisite chocolate shops! -Courtney
  • Skating at a leisurely pace around the frozen lake near Vajdahunyad Castle, City Park in the heart of Budapest. Complete the day with a steaming cup of forralt bor (mulled wine) and roasted chestnuts. Pure bliss! -Anita

If the unique experience of a European winter sounds like you make sure to check out our winter trips and let us know your favourite things about winter!

Topdeck Travel has released its first ever winter pre-release brochure. Book now to save up to 10% off your winter experience.

TOP TIPS: Staying Healthy in Africa

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Blessed with epic landscapes, famous wildlife, friendly people and diverse cultures, Africa truly has something for everyone.

Part of what makes Africa such a sought after destination is its raw and wild charm, but this does mean you need to take a few extra steps to stay happy and healthy on your trip.

Gail Graham from the 1st Contact Travel Clinic tells us how to keep fighting fit on safari in Africa!


Heading to Africa? Want to stay healthy while abroad? There are many things you can do to keep yourself healthy while travelling around Africa.

Where ever you travel to in Africa the recommended vaccines are: Typhoid, Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria and Hepatitis A.  Depending on where you are and your itinerary you may also need Meningitis ACWY, Rabies, Hepatitis B and Yellow Fever (Yellow Fever can be compulsory in some countries).

Majority of time most travellers have no problems while abroad but that does not mean you should become complacent in preventing any unwanted incidents.

Reduce your risk of consuming contaminated food and drink. It is the most common reason for travellers to become unwell. You can do this by:

  • Always washing your hands before eating
  • Only eat meat that is cooked all the way through
  • Avoid salads and shellfish; you never know where they are from
  • Only eat fruit that you can peel
  • Avoid ice in your drinks

Some other basic tips for staying healthy abroad include:

  • Cover up! This not only helps protect against sunburn, but helps against mosquito bites – those bugs can carry nasty diseases such as Malaria
  • Don’t approach or pat any animals unless you guide says it’s okay, you don’t know if they carry rabies or not
  • Take a sterile medical kit with you
  • Use an adequate mosquito spray

It is recommended that most vaccinations are given 4-6 weeks or more prior to departure. Our nurses will be happy to advise you on appropriate vaccines and Malaria tablets for your journey.

1st Contact Travel Clinic can provide expert advice on vaccinations, medical kits, anti-malarial medication and general safety tips.

If you are planning a Topdeck Africa trip and have any health related questions please feel free to call the 1st Contact Travel Clinic on  0808 141 5506 (UK Free call) or +44 20 7759 7574 and book a free travel consultation.

Topdeck Down Under: The New Zealand Adventure Part II

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Part II of sales manager Aaron’s New Zealand Adventure


After a day of culture and learning it was time to shake things up a bit!

For a little adventure, Az’s next stop was the Agrodome, also in Rotorua, famous for its giant swing, bungee and of course, the Zorb.

For those of you who don’t know what Zorbing is, it involves climbing into a giant clear plastic water-filled ball in your swimsuit and rolling down a hill. Simple!

Az says once you start rolling you have no idea what’s going on.

“Zorbing is the funniest thing I have ever done!”

Once his head had stopped spinning, Az found himself strapped into a hang-gliding harness and winched up 50m in the air before pulling a rip cord and swinging down to earth.

Az getting ready for some extreme swinging!

Az getting ready for some extreme swinging!

You’ll be glad to hear he made it out in one piece and was able to catch his breath on the next excursion – Milford Sound, in New Zealand’s South Island.

Az is a true blue Aussie, but even he had to admit it’s impossible to beat New Zealand when it comes to natural beauty.

“As a country that’s visual spectacular, nothing compares,” he says. “It’s absolutely amazing.

“One minute you’re driving through rolling hills, the next minute mountains. It just feels good to be there, really clean and fresh.”

Cruising overnight on the Sound, Az says it felt peaceful like no one else was around.

“All around you are sheer cliffs coming down into the water. Forests and waterfalls are everywhere.”

Milford Sound is also home to families of seals, penguins and dolphins and even whales can be seen on the odd occasion.

From the ship passengers can kayak, take small boats or even swim into little bays around the Sounds.

Beautiful Milford Sound

Beautiful Milford Sound

“When it comes to natural beauty you can’t beat it!”

All this from an Australian.

HURRY! 20% Off Selected NZ Trips Ends 30 November 2011!

New Zealand: World Champs

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

by Kara Segedin

Ten minutes from full time and I couldn’t bear to watch! Peering through my fingers, this was scarier than any horror movie!

Would they, wouldn’t they? One tiny mistake and the hopes of a nation would be dashed.

And there it was, 80 minutes down and the whistle blew – the All Blacks were the 2011 Rugby World Cup champions and the crowd in our little London pub went wild.

We managed to show a little decorum and shared words of commiseration with our French friends, but it was near impossible to wipe the smiles from our faces!

The Rugby World Cup has been the perfect showcase of New Zealand’s all-round greatness (no bias here of course!). With matches played the length and breadth of the country, visitors to NZ’s shores were treated to the stunning and varied landscape of this small island nation. Not to mention the world class Kiwi hospitality.

Take a dive in Queenstown

Take a dive in Queenstown

With this being NZ’s first Rugby World Cup win in 24 years, the celebratory mood should last throughout the summer months!

When you grow up in New Zealand it’s easy to take its natural and cultural wonders for granted.

Watching matches with mates from overseas, the World Cup has given me the opportunity to see my NZ through the eyes of a visitor and it’s been a great excuse to brag about my home town and country to my Aussie, British and North American friends.

“Yip, the North Island is awesome. Beaches, bush, vineyards, world class restaurants and nightlife – what more could you want.”

Check out the Bay of Islands

Check out the Bay of Islands

“Oh, and the South Island – heaven on earth springs to mind topped off with some of the warmest people on the planet.”

If I was going to describe New Zealand to someone who has never visited I’d say it is a land of contrasts.

Sunny, sandy beaches, snow-topped mountains, lush bush and chilly glacial drifts – NZ has it all.

It is home to both extreme, heart pumping adventures like skydiving, bungee jumping and jet boating and more leisurely activities such as horse riding, kayaking and tramping.

Mouth-watering food, beer and wine found in even the smallest town and a unique Maori heritage that goes back hundreds of years, this small island nation at the bottom of the world doesn’t lack culture.

Spend the night on a traditional Maori marae

Spend the night on a traditional Maori marae

Topdeck trips take you right across the country from North to South and vice versa or focus on one of the two islands.

Experience all sides of New Zealand with an overnight stay on a tradition Maori marae, get your thrill fix in the adventure capital Queenstown, sample life on a sheep farm and take in the scenery on a cruise through Milford Sound.

And who knows, you may even spot an All Black in the flesh taking a much deserved break on one of the country’s beautiful beaches.

Fancy your own NZ adventure? Visit Topdeck’s website & get planning!

Cruise the beautiful Milford Sound with Topdeck

Cruise the beautiful Milford Sound with Topdeck

Europe 2012 – Pre-release Madness

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

By Kara Segedin

This blog post might be a tad late, but you’ll soon see why….


The Topdeck office is insane at the best of times, but this part of the year is even more hectic than usual.

Not only is it the peak of our European summer travel season, but our operations team is flat out putting together all the bits and pieces to organise our trips for 2012.

Then our design and marketing team work day and night cramming all this information into a sparkly, new brochure for your hot little hands.


But there is no rest for the wicked and thanks to popular demand for the first time ever we have created a special 2012 Europe pre-release!

This means our faithful Topdeckers can starting planning and saving for their European escape earlier than ever before.

We have released dates for 18 of our most popular trips at 2011 prices and as a rew

ard for being an eager beaver you will save 10% off the base trip price if you book and pay in full before 30 September 2011.

You can also get an additional 5% off if you have travelled with Topdeck or Connections Adventures before or are booking multiple trips from the brochure for a total saving of 15%. (To download your own copy of this e-brochure, just visit

Get right into the heart of a country with our regional Explorer trips, travel with your creature comforts on EuroHotel. Mix it up on EuroClub or get back to basics (and more bang for your buck) with EuroCamping.

Was your favourite trip missing from the pre-release? Not to worry, our full 2012 brochure isn’t too far away.

We made it through to the other side and can breathe a little sigh of relief.

Until the next brochure release that is!

Where will you be in summer 2012?