DISCLAIMER: This post is based on a trip from 2014 that EF COLLEGE BREAK no longer provides, it is possible some things are inaccurate or outdated. (They have since changed their name to EF ULTIMATE BREAK).
Let’s get straight into the nitty and gritty. Most of us want to travel and see the world. Especially when you’re young you want to get out and explore, make memories, and get a feel for other cultures.
Chances are, if you’re in your early twenties, it’s hard to set up a long trip with friends. Some can’t take the time off work, can’t afford it, or simply have a different sense of what a vacation should look like. A lot of my own friends would rather go to resorts and lay on the beach while I love the hustle and bustle of cities, museums, and cafes.
So what can you do?
There’s two big companies that dominate the market when it comes to exclusively 20 year old trips – Contiki and EF College Break.
I have yet to travel with Contiki so I owe you that review, but I have taken a trip with EF college break in the summer of ‘14.
At the time I was 22 years old and looking for a solo trip to Europe (my first solo trip AND time in Europe actually). I could only take two weeks off from work and wanted to get the absolute MOST of those two weeks, so after weeks and weeeeks of looking at different trips and options, I landed on the EF College Break European Roadtrip tour! It was perfect! Started of in Amsterdam, made its way down
through Germany towards Italy and then came back up through Switzerland to Paris and the trip ended in London.
It was two very full weeks of some of the most amazing cities Europe had to offer!
Before you go off on a European dream trip, make sure you do your research!
A big mistake I made was assuming the climate would be warm because it was summer. Nope! Definitely bring shorts and skirts but some high quality sweaters are a must! I can’t tell you the amount of times I was shivering in my cute (but annoyingly thin) sweatshirt. A lot of people on the trip did come down with a cold, so DON’T neglect warm clothes. There’s nothing worse than having the sniffles and watery eyes while trying to enjoy your trip.
Also, COMFORTABLE SHOES! Your feet will absolutely hate you after a whole days worth of walking in sandals. Bring comfy tennis shoes you can wear all day.
That’s it. That’s my two cents on prep. Every other google search will tell you about converters and electrical outlets, so I won’t get into it.
I left Miami on a Saturday and, thanks to the world of Facebook, met a girl from my trip at the airport before take off. We went from Miami to New York and then to Amsterdam.
After customs, you get picked up with a small portion of your group at the airport. From there, you are taken to your hostel and meet up with the remainder of the group.
If you’re concerned about solo traveling, don’t be!
Even the people that came with friends or siblings are very kind and trying to make friends just like everyone else. You will have a group to explore the cities within the first two hours of arrival. I promise!
Now, I will not be going in depth about the cities we visited (perhaps a separate post later on) as this is a review on the actual company.
For the most part, I loved EF College Break! Truly. You just pay and bam! you don’t have to worry about anything. Coordinating flights, tours, transportation is a thing of the past! Everything is handled for you.
There is plenty of free time on these trips. You don’t have to be with the tour guide the whole two weeks, as a matter of fact, except for the bus rides and some guided tours, you are off adventuring with your new group of friends on your own.
Your guide will most likely give you some suggestions on what to see and do in each city and at what time to meet back. You won’t feel like some stranger is babysitting you the whole trip, and in my experience, the tour guide is pretty cool and young so he gets that you want to do your own thing.
You will be staying in hostels with anywhere from two to six roommates at a time. Your roommates change around as you travel so you get to know all the girls (or guys) as you go.
The quality of the hostels vary greatly from location to location. I didn’t find any to be dirty though! That’s the most important part (in my humble opinion). But many of the rooms are extremely small to the point you don’t know how you will manage to fit your suitcase in the room.
EFCB offers breakfast at all the hostels and again those vary from hostel to hostel. Some were pretty great with an array of options like a regular hotel. There was one in particular (in London) that only had cereal! I don’t know about you, but cereal only fills me up for abut half an hour. But that was the only place I encountered a lack of variety.
EFCB does a great job of scheduling all the transportation in a timely manner. They also provide you with metro cards and city passes for whichever city you arrive to. You won’t have to fret about any of the that.
Now, it’s not all roses and butterflies. There are some cons. Well. Only one really. But it’s a big one. The bus rides! In Europe, you can move quickly by train and even more so by flights (that are pretty cheap compared to US domestic flights ), but EF needs to make a profit right? And the way they keep their prices low is by using buses. The buses aren’t bad at all. They’re modern, with good amount of leg room, and rather comfy. My problem with the buses is they are sloooooooooooow. You can waste a whole day going from place to place if the traffic is bad.
I remember we left Munich at 7 AM and didn’t get to Venice until that night. That trip, by train, is no more than 3 hours, tops! Research this. Spending a whole day on a bus is mentally exhausting. It’s such a waste of valuable exploration time!
You could be out eating gelato, walking through a museum, or finding your new favorite cafe! But you are on a bus with no control over when you’ll arrive.
And the later you arrive, the less time you have in a city.
HIGHLY RECOMMEND: Depending on the tour you want to take, call EFCB and ask how long the bus rides are between cities on those tours.
Quite honestly, if you want to take advantage of every minute of your trip, DON’T book EF College Break. Plan out your trip yourself with planes and trains and take full advantage of all your days.
But if you want to not have to worry about planning things out AND meet a group of pretty cool people along the way, EF is a great option!
Would I do it again? If I was traveling alone, YES! A guaranteed group of fun loving individuals and great cities to explore. Why not?! Plus, it makes my solo trip extremely safe.
But if I am traveling with a boyfriend or group of friends, then no. I would definitely plan out my every detail of my trip myself and take full advantage of the time I have.
Overall, EF College Break gets a solid A and I recommend it to most prospective travelers.
The trip I took with them was life changing and one of the absolute most exciting trips of my young life.
I would gladly book with them again.
Have you traveled with EFCB? Or how about another tour
What was your experience like?