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Advice for a first time traveller?

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Hi there! I'm a 20 year old student planning to travel to Europe in Jan-Feb 2014 for a month with a friend, and as it will be my first time travelling without my parents (and being a bit of an organization freak), I hope to get some wisdom and advice on here to make the planning a little clearer and easier for me. I know I'll be asking a lot so it is VERY appreciated for any little or long advice you can give :)

This might get a few rolling of the eyes but the base of the plan is to start on a Contiki tour for no more than 2 weeks then start exploring countries in Europe on our own for the remainder of our trip. I know there are a lot of people who don't see Contiki in a very positive light but as it's our first trip away on our own, I feel with everything being planned and being with a group of people, it'll help us ease into the whole travelling by ourselves thing.

This brings me to the weeks after our Contiki tour where we'll be travelling without a tour group, just ourselves. I honestly have no idea where to start, where to go - where is good to go, how to get to one country to the next (obviously plane, but more of the process of it all?).. basically I'm on a clean state. So please, any advice, tips and recommendations or anything at all would be greatly appreciated :)

If you recommend any places/countries to visit it'll also help determine which Contiki tour we'll want to take seeing as tours don't particularly allow you to fully appreciate the places you get to see due to time limitations.

Looking forward to any replies!

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