Planning a European Summer Vacation with Contiki | #BagTagContest

Away We Go: Packing Our Bags for Europe

[shareaholic app=”share_buttons” id=”20872686″]
This post is brought to you by Contiki and Travel Mindset.

Every year or two, my family and I go on an epic summer vacation in Europe. In 2012, we road-tripped through the countryside of Scotland and Ireland. In 2013, we canvased Western Europe, starting in Barcelona, zipping over to Monaco, then sailing down through Southern Spain and Morocco, up the coast of Portugal and on to northern France. In 2014, we went the opposite direction: We kicked off our three-week follies in Rome, sailed south to the Amalfi Coast and around the boot of Italy, then did some island-hopping in the Adriatic, hitting up Greece, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia.

Planning a European Summer Vacation with Contiki | #BagTagContest

Planning a European Summer Vacation with Contiki | #BagTagContest
Planning a European Summer Vacation with Contiki | #BagTagContest

Planning a European Summer Vacation with Contiki | #BagTagContest

In 2015, my sister decided to get married, so we put our annual vacation on hold and decided to plot an even bigger, better one for 2016. This year, our trip plans for three weeks abroad in August are well underway. Instead of hitting up some of the more well-known spots, we’re going off the beaten path this time, way down into the belly of Southeastern Europe.

Planning a European Summer Vacation with Contiki | #BagTagContest

We’ll be starting in Budapest—one of my all-time favorite cities—then hopping a river cruise down through the Danube, making our way through former Yugoslavia and the Iron Gates, ending our journey in Istanbul.

I can’t wait to soak in the baths of Hungary, marvel at the mosques of Turkey, explore Serbia, a new-to-me country, and revisit the Transylvania Mountains of Romania, where SVV and I spent our first Christmas together 11 years ago. It’s going to be magical.

And as you can imagine knowing the level of Type A I am, I’ve already started packing. Four months in advance. That’s totally normal, right?

Planning a European Summer Vacation with Contiki | #BagTagContest

I’m a bit of a hybrid packer, walking the line between casual and dressy: i.e. you won’t find me wearing jeans—sundresses all the way, baby—but you also won’t find a pair of heels in my suitcase (it’s flip-flops and sandals for this well-traveled gal). Here’s what my bag holds—so far:

  • Eight sundresses
  • One cardigan
  • One light jacket
  • Three bathing suits
  • A cute beach cover-up
  • Two pairs of sunglasses
  • Two pairs of flip-flops
  • One pair of nice sandals
  • One pair of Tieks
  • One set of workout clothes and running shoes
  • Underwear and bras
  • An emergency kit of medical supplies
  • My Kindle, pre-loaded with several vacation reads
  • My laptop, a charger and a converter
  • A carry-on holding all of my camera gear

Pray tell: What am I forgetting?

Planning a European Summer Vacation with Contiki | #BagTagContest

On that packing note, Contiki has launched a new Bag Tag campaign that links your packing style to which Contiki tour is best for you—and they’re giving away a lot of fun prizes, too. Are you a sundresses-in-Benelux type of traveler who likes to mingle with nature and frolic among the tulip fields? Maybe you prefer the pub culture of Britain with his fish and chips, haggis and kilts aplenty. Or are you most inspired by the culture of ancient architecture and big cities?

Planning a European Summer Vacation with Contiki | #BagTagContest

Planning a European Summer Vacation with Contiki | #BagTagContest
Planning a European Summer Vacation with Contiki | #BagTagContest

Planning a European Summer Vacation with Contiki | #BagTagContest

All you have to do is take the quiz and try to match each bag with the correct trip. What can you win? A number of premium prizes like an iPad, travel vouchers, the bags of goodies themselves and—for one lucky human—an actual Contiki trip.

I poked around the contest page a bit and tried to determine which of the six was the best fit for me. The problem? I identify with them all! But if I had to pick just one, it would be Bag #5.

Planning a European Summer Vacation with Contiki | #BagTagContest

Bikinis and boat shoes and nautical wear all day every day, please!

The only thing is, I’m not quite sure which trip it links up to. If I had to guess, I’d go for the Turkey & Greek Island Odyssey, which is funny as that is the very Contiki tour I’ve had my eye on for years now.

But I can’t be certain that I’m right—and I’d love for you to weigh in, take the quiz and tell me which bag and trip are best suited for your travel style (and also help me cheat a little and tell me if you think I’m on the money when it comes to my own trip). After all, you never know—you might just win one of those dreamy vacations for yourself.

Planning a European Summer Vacation with Contiki | #BagTagContest

In the meantime, while you do the hard work for me, I’ll be over here creating spreadsheet after spreadsheet in preparation for my own Euro trip this summer.

Planning a European Summer Vacation with Contiki | #BagTagContest

Note: While the Contiki Bag Tag contest is only for U.S. residents—sorry, Canada—all of you international friends can still take the quiz to find out which bag (and therefore tour) best matches your personality. And who doesn’t love a good interactive guessing game?

All bag images provided by Contiki.


  • April 7, 2016

    You have to use the go pro for some hyperlapse of the cruise!!

  • April 8, 2016

    How exciting!

    You are soooooo going to have a great time!

    I went on a Contiki trip when I was in my 20’s and did the Med. Highlights through Spain, France, Italy, and Monaco. It was so much fun and the trip you chose is pretty brilliant! We went to Budapest last summer and had a blast. I’ve only been to Istanbul once so “real” Turkey, Serbia and Romania is going to be a fascinating eye-catcher for ya!

    Take meeeeeeeee!!!! 🙂

    Even though I live in Germany, I nevertheless, did the quiz and surprise! My bag tag is the European Discovery!!

    Honestly, I wouldn’t mind travelling with Contiki again, but this time I would choose either Russia, Scandinavia, Greece or the Balkans!

  • April 8, 2016

    All your family trips look amazing! This year you’re going to a lot of countries I never been so I can’t wait to read about them! The only European gateaways I’ve confirmed this year are a weekend to Warsaw, and of course the Netherlands and its surroundings (Belgium, Germany). You never know what the future holds though ?

  • April 8, 2016

    You are crazy! I won’t even start packing a day before leaving. I hate packing so much that I always procastinate. As for your trip – it sounds fantastic! I haven’t been to Serbia, though I would love to. But Budapest and Istanbul are fantastic!

  • April 10, 2016

    I absolutely LOVE seeing photos of what people are packing for trips. I don’t bring a pair of jeans, either (unless you count a pair of old cutoffs for the beach!)! I love comfy harem pants, tees, dresses, and bikinis all the way! 🙂

  • April 10, 2016

    You will absolutely have sooooo much fun! You chose really beautiful and exciting places to visit. Definetily I would prefer visiting Turkey and Odyssey! I wish I was there too, so I can’t wait to read about it!

  • April 13, 2016

    Eastern Europe is a nice part of the world to visit, I should know, I visited most of the countries around and you can find a lot of good places to entertain yourself and your family around.

  • April 15, 2016

    I totally start packing weeks in advance of a big trip! Short trips, on the other hand, I’m known to be doing laundry in the wee hours before departure!

    I haven’t been to Europe in ages, and if my Yosemite permit doesn’t come through for this summer, Europe just might be my Plan B!

  • April 20, 2016

    Vacations with family sounds fun to me and I think you are forgetting some comfortable shoes

  • April 15, 2017

    Good to know the bet times to visit those countries! It is nice to see what is best at what time of the year. It allows you to be more decisive with trip planning.

Leave a Comment