- Excellent Route, Average Accomm, Poor Food & Guide21 November, 2013
So I took this tour a few months ago after getting a pretty deep discount on it by a stroke of luck. My trip was quite vast and this Topdeck tour served as the "middle" in a 7 week long trip across North America which consisted of travel with friends, group travel and travelling alone. I started in Montreal, spent 10 days in NYC with friends, did this tour, then went back up to Canada, then Seattle before going back to LA and heading back home. I'd never taken a group tour before this one so was a bit nervous about the dynamics involved and how I would deal with it as I had never traveled with more then a few people at a time before. Below is my general re-count of it for those that might be considering taking it.
Bus: Outstanding. Brand new, comfortable, power in most seat backs. Excellent journey considering the sheer amount of driving time this 3 week tour takes. Plenty of space for luggage, unless the group is very large the luggage suggestion by Topdeck is on the low side, there were people on the bus with 2 or 3 full bags of luggage with no issues. A
On the Road: The driving itself was fine, however the rest breaks (mandated?) were extremely long and very tedious. We stopped at Walmart over 10 times over the course of the trip for Lunch, other times stops were strip malls with fast food joints only. Rest breaks were almost always an hour to an hour and a half. Absolute worst was having to spend an hour each at tourist trap souvenir stops twice within a few days. This is definitely a big problem, and as much as I appreciate their is a lot of driving and the driver does need to take a break, surely they could plan these a lot better. In many cases the excessive rest breaks caused us to arrive late to our destination. D
Guide & Driver:These guys, as is the operations of the tour are outsourced to another company under contract from Topdeck (PEAK). The driver was top notch, however knew more about the general trip than the guide, which was of concern. Drove very well however. The guide was below average, though was very easygoing and great to deal with. I'm going to take a guess he was working seasonally as he was actively looking for jobs on the bus as we were travelling. Played music on the bus during times where the majority either wanted quiet, or played music that nobody wanted to listen to. Knew some information about the route but not much.
Bar and restaurant suggestions outside of the included meals were hit and miss and clearly received kickbacks for recommending certain restaurants. Towards the end of the trip the guide tended to hang out with only a few members of the group which would have made some people perhaps a bit alienated. While he was a nice guy I wouldn't rate him very well on the job he did. Also be aware that this guide and driver also "suggested" that you tip them at the end of the tour between US$2-3/day, despite this been in contrary with information given from Topdeck that this practice generally didn't occur. Driver A Guide C-
Group: The group that I traveled with consisted of quite a variety of different people. One flaw with the setup that Topdeck use is that 3 tours are combined onto the one route... i.e the Coast to Coast does the whole route, then you have the Southeast States group for the first week and the Southwest States group for the last two weeks. The way this is set up, while clearly done to make the tours viable for Topdeck does mean that the group dynamic isn't quite as fluid as tours may be with competitors that have the same group on the whole time. Average age was quite high, I was close to the youngest and I myself am 22, I'd say the average age would have been Early 30s. Their was one instance even of people above the age limit on the tour, which while it didn't bother me personally may have bothered others. Group was about 90/10 Australian to everyone else (NZ, Britain). Almost everyone was single, there was no couples after the first week. Unfortunately the age gaps and some of the other dynamics did make things a bit cliquish, and in my opinion the group didn't really meld together that well. There was to some extent pressure to drink, and drink a lot and if you abstained from this you didn't have many options. DO NOT do this tour if you are under 21 as you will find it very difficult to blend with most groups unless its a daytime activity, even if you get a group that doesn't drink as much thanks to the archaic laws the US has on drinking age. You can't really control the group you get and of course its going to vary from tour to tour. By all means the majority of the people on the tour were fantastic to be around and there was no real negatives apart from the cliques formed by few. Your Mileage May Vary.
Route: The route taken is actually generally very good, despite some complaints from other travelers in the group. The accommodation in DC is actually in Maryland, on the outskirts of the DC metro area in College Park. The amount of time in DC is very sparse considering the sheer amount of museums and things to see and do in the capitol and the travel time back to the accommodation made things a little restrictive. Be aware that the "Appalachian Mountains" day is literally a driving only day - you get to see the mountains as you drive past in the bus, but you stop at a tiny town for the night. Many in the group suggested that Nashville be increased to a second day but in my opinion this would be completely unnecessary unless you really, really like country music. The route is designed quite well to appeal to those who like to do daytime activities, as well as see the nightlife. Be wary that the tours tend to be timed that you come into major cities during Mon-Wed most of the time (I'm guessing to avoid peak accommodation pricing on weekends), so don't expect the nightlife to be lively everywhere. I'd recommend making sure you have some form of 3G internet connection with you so you can plan stuff on the fly or research towns and cities prior as Topdeck gives out AWFUL reference material. The guide generally indicated the maps were incorrect, and the information was generally vague and in some cases wrong. Overall the route for this tour is something they have right - despite the large amounts of driving it's set out to make the most of the areas traveled. B+
Activities: Included and optional activities were all excellent and worth the money. I'd recommend doing as many as you can afford, as many of them are things that you wouldn't be able to do on your own or without being in a larger group, or without it being logistically difficult with transportation and such. Topdeck does not overcharge for activities as the major competitor is generally said to do, what you pay is what it would cost if you did it yourself. Ensure that if it's something you don't have experience in or are not sure about, ASK! Their were people on my tour who couldn't swim who then proceeded to go out into the water... oops... A
Accommodation: Accommodation was quite puzzling as it varies so much. I was quite surprised considering the endless amount of Motel Chains in the US with locations everywhere that they don't arrange with one company as to provide some consistency. Varied from 2 Star to 4 Star. The worst ones, while old and musty were still clean and without issue. Amenities varied heavily. I think Topdeck should focus on providing some consistency in this area, as much as I appreciate them trying to keep costs down having such disparity between accommodation reflects poorly. B-
Included Meals: Everywhere from awesome to down right disgusting. For those looking for a more nutritional focus, or with special dietary requirements it will be a struggle. I easily gained 5kg on this trip in a matter of a few weeks, and that was being somewhat conscious of what I was eating! People could easily put on 10kg+. Chain restaurants shouldn't be permitted (i.e Applebees, Golden Corral), neither should cheap and questionable buffets which made up half the included dinners (in which one made me ill for a week or two after the trip). Other places were awesome and very well chosen (i.e Salt Lick BBQ in Austin). Be advised that the included breakfast is whatever the hotel happens to have in it's lobby - this is extremely hit and miss and I chose to not bother most of the time. The budget used for the allocated meals seemed to be very inconsistent. This is an area that definitely needs some work. C-
* Washington DC - Awesome, though you must plan the day out well to see as much as you can. * Memphis - Nightlife was great, attractions very interesting even if you have just a general interest in music. City however is very run down, but this does give you an insight into how many places in America are Post-GFC. * New Orleans - awesome city, lots of things to do day and night. Be wary of Bourbon St as much of it is a Giant Tourist Trap. * Austin - Very cool, hipster city. Very cheap drinks, great nightlife. Not many daytime attractions. * Carlsbad - A surprise as I'd never heard of these underground caves before. While the night stop is at a small town, the tour through the Caverns is something that's quite unforgettable. * Grand Canyon - While this stop is logistically difficult (You stay in Williams, about 100km from the Canyon), there is a lot to see and do during the day. Try and make the most of the scenery, the optional helicopter trip is well worth it too if you can afford it. * Vegas - The accommodation chosen is very good considering the type of tour, right on the strip. Be wary this is where the group divide is probably shown the most due to alcohol being everywhere and definitely not a good stop if you're under 21 as you practically can't do anything. Over 21? Possibilities are endless. Do your research on what you want to do while you're here if you aren't the party type. * Activities - as mentioned. Almost all the activities were worth the time. Don't change your mind on them, as you won't get your money back from the guide once things are booked. * Bus - excellent fitout, very comfortable. Stayed cool despite 40+c temps throughout a lot of the journey, plenty of space. * Accommodation - Though the standards varied, it was generally clean and tidy. Probably worthwhile to pay the extra if you can afford it to get your own room however as while I didn't have an issue, many people on the tour had issues with their roommates doing things they perhaps shouldn't have been doing in a twin room situation.
* Nashville - Boring unless you love your country music. One day of it and I'd had enough. City is rather derelict and very little to do during the day. * Santa Fe - This could have been an up however Topdeck do not schedule this stop well, you get in very late afternoon and then leave early the next morning so you can't really do or see anything. Tour guide was cagey on going out here despite research showing there was plenty of places to go. * San Antonio - Not much to do during the stay apart from the Alamo visit, city is very run down. Timing is also a problem here as there is maybe an hour or two at best to look around the place after going around The Alamo. Tour guides nightlife suggestions were awful here so this may be a plus if you know where to go. * Guide - This obviously varies from trip to trip, but the guide on mine was sub-par. * Topdeck Information - The information given out for many cities was awful, inaccurate and in some cases completely wrong (maps). I'd highly recommend you get a SIM card/smartphone to help you out on the tour as you go around the country. * Many Meals - American chain restaurants are awful and a poor representation of the cuisine in the country. So many other local places that could have been utilised. Be prepared to gain weight even with all the walking, etc. * Rest Breaks - SOMEWHERE OTHER THEN WALMART PLEASE! This was very tedious and after the first week or so everyone had had enough. Surely their is a better way to manage rest stops/lunch breaks than stopping at Walmart for an hour to an hour and a half. Its just lazy. * Tipping Suggestion for Driver/Guide - Topdeck must communicate with PEAK in the US to not allow this. We all know about tipping service staff in the US however their shouldn't be a suggestion to tip the driver and/or the guide for their services considering the amount already paid for the tour.
Overall: The trip itself was well worth the money I paid at the discount I got. At full price, I'd perhaps be questioning it. The experience will vary heavily on who your guide and driver are, and the type of people that you have as fellow travellers on the bus. The route itself is superb, as are the activities available. Be savvy and research cities and towns, and don't expect the guide to recommend places that are very good, nor there to be many good suggestions. Be very wary of the included food, it might almost be worth saying you have a dietary requirement even if you don't to see if you're able to get better options. In conclusion, Topdeck have done some things well but still have a very long way to go before they perfect this particular tour. I don't see myself using Topdeck again however for many of the reasons I've stated. B-
- Topdeck; Never Again!27 October, 2013
22 days of regretting traveling with Top deck unfortunately. Seriously people they were hopeless. I always felt like I was not getting value for money. I found that the accommodation was always in a location far away from the main sights of each city. Most hotels were standard at best and a few were small and filthy. The tour guide didn't give us the time of day and it was more or less a case of 'here is the city guys, see ya later!' That was disappointing as I expected an actual tour guide to be 'guiding' us through the city. Don't get me started on the included dinners and breakfasts on this tour. Me and a few on tour literally skipped a few dinners and went to other restaurants when we found out where our 'free' meals were they were so bad. Overall experience was MISERABLE!!!
Response from Topdeck Travel
We are sorry to hear about your disappointment with Topdeck. We don’t have a record of your complaint or from a 22 day Europe Uncovered trip. We do take all complaints seriously and so please send us full details of the trip you were on so we can investigate and give a full response.
We are committed to delivering for our customers and are proud of our 97% customer satisfaction rate. These ratings are taken from post trip questionnaires that are moderated by an external company and so if you can get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org we can isolate your trip and investigate fully.
- Wonderful24 October, 2013
This is the longest Topdeck tour in Europe (49 days), so it can be testing at times being on tour for this long, but I give major credit to our tour leader and driver who where nothing but professional and up-beat the entire trip. On a trip this long the staff can make or break the experience, and in my case they made it amazing. I was also really happy with the accommodation, prices and activities on offer. My favorite leg of the tour was through Eastern Europe (cheaper and full of intrigue), and our time in Greece and Istanbul were nice relaxing breaks from the hustle of this tour in general (there is a lot of early mornings and late nights), but it was all worth it given everything I was fortunate to experience, and Topdeck was a great choice. I would travel with them again.
- Amazing Guide!Moroccan Explorer28 August, 2013
Went on this tour in August 2012, and was blessed with an incredible group (mostly aussies and kiwis) and an exqually amazing guide. Sure, a lot of sitting on a bus, but what do you expect? The days that we weren't travelling were packed full of activities, and our guide was mindful of finding us food we all wanted, having enough toilet and photo stops, and explaining the more sensitive parts of Islamic and Berber culture to us! Amazing to see Morocco in Ramadan, totally recommend it! My only complaint about this tour would have to be that some of the hotel accommodation in bigger cities (esp. Marrakech) was really below par. Pretty dirty, unreliable staff, stale bread at brekkie and no wifi although they advertised it. I would say our guide Abdou really made the trip amazing for us, but we have remained friends, and he now works for Intrepid! What is that saying?
Either way, good itinerary and reliable tour provider!
- Topdeck was very disappointing7 August, 2013
I booked a tour around Europe for 28 days in 2012 and totally regretted travelling with this company. The accommodation was sub-par, the itinerary was lacking, the meals were often terrible and the tour guide couldn’t care less about the tour group.
Expectations and disappointment:
For me the whole point of paying a tour company is that they take the fuss out of travel. I expected that you would be given updates everyday about weather conditions and what should be worn (i.e if it was forecast to snow or rain). I expected to be told what the itinerary was for the day or given guidance and information on the ‘free days’ to make the most of the time spent without a tour guide. Instead of the expected service, the tour was pretty much left up to yourself. Every day I had to do my own research of the sights in each city because we were rarely given quality information about the city and its sights. We all had to plan the logistics of what to do on free days because the company does nothing for you on these days. Every day you would have to look up what the weather would be and constantly ask the tour guide what the following day would consist of. In a major city like Rome, we weren't even given maps. There were also no maps given on any of the short stopovers where you had a few hours to explore a city/area. Every day it felt like I was missing out on something as our tour group was given minimal information at every stage of the tour. Overall Topdeck was terrible with their service. Even when they book you in to begin with they couldn’t even attempt to understand who was booking the tour. Unfortunately for me I landed on a tour of 90% couples. Do you think that would have been something a solo traveller would have liked to know Topdeck? The answer is yes. If they had have informed me of this I would have just asked to be put on a tour with more solo travellers.
Roughly 7 out of the 28 days were spent on the bus from about 8am to 6pm. Most of the time the only stopovers were highway rest areas. If you were lucky enough to get a stopover in a city, the bus would drop you off and the information you would get from the tour guide would basically be ‘Here's the drop off point. Do whatever for a few hours and make sure you’re be back here on the bus at this time'. Little to no information would be given on things to do, no city tour….this meant no clue at each stop. This company also stated in their itinerary there were 2 night stopovers in many cities. This actually meant arriving at the new destination around 6pm with the next day usually being a ‘free’ day. You have to get to the sights yourself from the poorly positioned accommodation (meaning public transport or cab) and then fork out even more money for lunches and dinner. Don’t expect any info on good eats or the best sights either as it’s something Topdeck just doesn’t do for you.
Accommodation varied with Topdeck. Sometimes it was good, sometimes not so good. The disappointing thing with this company is that they specifically stated in their itinerary things like in Krk Island, Croatia we would be staying in a beautiful resort. Reality was it was an old Villa type building from the 70s that was nothing like a resort. They talked it up like it was a 5 star resort however it was just a run down building with nothing you’d expect from a resort. No pool, no luxury rooms, no spas, no beach. In Nice, France the room size was comparable to a large walk in wardrobe. Accommodation was usually so far away from the city centre so you would spend a fair amount of time on public transport getting to where you wanted to go. In Switzerland we had to walk through the snow for quite a distance to even reach cabins we were staying in.
Meals were good at times but more often than not they were terrible. In Bordeaux, France we were served a dish of a small portion of white rice and what appeared to be a fillet of chicken with disgusting custard Tiramisu that felt like rubber. That was the meal...I kid you not. I’d rather have just paid for my own dinner… I’d even rather a greasy Big Mac over that meal.
The tour guide Justin:
The tour guide was inattentive, he had a very poor work ethic and he just didn’t care. Every so often we would be given a vague itinerary of what we were doing over the next 2-3 days. Most days he didn’t even give us a rundown on what we were doing that day. He hated people asking him questions and would answer direct questions with a vague response i.e Q: 'Do you recommend any restaurants in this area as you said you have been here many times?'...A: ‘All the restaurants are good, just choose any of them.' Q: What’s the best thing to do in this city? A: I can’t answer that. Everyone is different.’ Q: ‘What sights are a must’? A: ‘All the sights are good; it just depends on what you like.’ This guy was so incredibly frustrating to talk to. I know that everyone is different and we all like different things but when you ask for an opinion or want a recommendation from someone who has been to these cities before you expect to be given an answer. All we were ever given was a run-around.
Wrapping it up:
I have travelled all over the world and each time I travel I usually have the time of my life and I try to enjoy every second. I wish I could say that I had the time of my life with Topdeck but I just can’t. They were a terrible company to travel with.
Response from Topdeck Travel
We are sorry to hear about your disappointment with Topdeck. We don’t have a record of your complaint or from any other trips that had departed in October 2012. I know it has been some 9-10 months since you travelled with us but we do take all complaints seriously and so please send us full details of the trip you were on so we can investigate and give a full response.
We are committed to delivering for our customers and are proud of our 97% customer satisfaction rate. These ratings are taken from post trip questionnaires that are moderated by an external company and so if you can get in touch with us on email@example.com we can isolate your trip and trip leader and take action.
- Short Days30 April, 2013
This tour is good for someone who has never been to Europe. It goes to so many places, and we pretty much didn't have to do any pre-planning before we got on the tour (good for us since we booked pretty late).
The people we traveled with were fun, and the bus wasn't completely full, so it was nice to have extra room on long driving days. I also thought that the hotels we stayed in were decent, mostly because of the location. I wasn't a huge fan the cold weather and the fact that the days were so short (not Topdeck's fault I know), but this trip would be much better in summer or spring. The scenery was really amazing with all of the snow, and given I had never seen snow before it was a pretty big novelty.
Prague was my favorite city, there was lots to see, and the pubs and restaurants were really cozy and perfect for winter. I recommend traveling with a friend since all of the accommodation is shared with one other person, and it is better to share with someone you know than someone you don't.
- New Zealand is Beautiful3 February, 2013
The Pure Adrenaline trip introduced me to the true beauty of New Zealand’s South Island. Our tour guide Tara took great care of us and was able to share with us a ton of history of New Zealand. She had family from New Zealand and the bus driver was also from New Zealand so it was great to get the insight of real Kiwis.
The highlight of the trip by far was Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. I went Bungy Jumping, which was far and away the scariest moment of my life. Queenstoqn also had a killer nightlife with lots of bars and pub crawls going on. Make sure that you get a Fergburger when you are in Queenstown. It has been voted best burger in New Zealand numerous times. It would have been nice to stay longer but the other stops on the trip were worth it.
I enjoyed the trip to the Fox Glacier which is one of largest glaciers in the country. It was incredible and strange at the same time to see the glacier turning into a river in real-time. We also went on an incredible overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound. The group was able to jump on kayaks and see the waterfalls and rare birds only found in this part of the world. We were able to get up close and personal with penguins.
Overall, the trip definitely exceeded my expectations and provided me with some phenomenal pictures and memories that will last for a long time. I’d definitely recommend this trip, and wish I went on a longer trip that went up through the North Island.
- Well rounded tour31 January, 2013
If you want a good mix of relaxation and sight-seeing, this is a good itinerary. You spend 3 days on Corfu island in Greece, which is relaxing, and Eastern Europe was equally great (Slovenia is divine). The accommodation was clean and comfortable, but nothing I would rave about. Our guide was friendly and knew a lot about the history of most places, which I appreciated. The only big downfall of this trip is that it is half of a longer tour. You join a tour 'half way through'. Most of the people on the tour have traveled from London for about 2 weeks prior, so I felt like a total outsider for the first few days, which was pretty sucky. I made some really good friends in the end though.
- Disappointing2 November, 2012
Top Deck says you'll spend the night in the cities you are touring...this was really important to me because I wanted to experience the nightlife in Rome, Venice etc. However, many of the so-called hostels or cabins are actually just trailer parks located miles away from the city.After the tour bus had taken everyone back to the campsite for the day, it took a 45 Euro taxi ride to get back into the city at night. Since people didn't want to mess with taxis or public transportation, everyone just drank at the campsites. I'm not saying that can't be fun..but honestly I didn't go to Rome so I could party in a trailer park with no Italians in sight! Our guide wasn't particularly helpful either. She didn't seem very concerned when 2 girls got placed in a smoking room, when 75% of the tour came down with a nasty cough that turned into pneumonia for at least one of us, or when a girl asked her for help booking a train ticket. Guides are not suppose to be moms-i do get that.But since they had time to party every night, it would have been nice if they could've found the time to give some group members extra help. Also, the itinerary for the European Wonder tour just tried to cram too many places into too few days. We spent a large part of our trip on the bus-if you added up the hours spent driving, we literally spent days on the road.I don't blame top deck for that, I knew the itinerary before I signed up. But for anyone considering a tour, take into consideration the 6, 8, and even 10 hour bus rides. I think one of their explorer trips would have been better.
Response from Topdeck Travel:
We strive to provide our passengers with a great experience and are sorry to hear that you rated yours otherwise. Your feedback is important to us, so we'd like to address your points above.
Accommodation: you refer to the European Wonder staying outside the city at campsites in Rome and Venice on the 14 day itinerary. Getting accommodation in Venice could really hurt your wallet and logistically it is impossible for coaches to get in and out of Venice as it's a vehicle-free zone, so as all companies do, we stay on the mainland. Camping Roma is the closest campsite to the city centre of Rome, with good public transport links, en-suite twin share cabins and superb facilities which are far better than most hostels in Europe. It is a very well-equipped budget accommodation with a good reputation so we feel that 'trailer park' is not really an appropriate description.
Guide: we have passed your comments on to our crew department.
Itinerary: the European Wonder is a trip which appeals to travellers who want to see as much of Europe as possible within a limited amount of time. As you know, Europe is pretty big so long drive days are sometimes necessary. However the actual time spent on the coach is broken up regularly for comfort and lunch stops. We also aim to include interesting day stops where possible, such as your visit to Pisa on the way to Florence and the visit to the former concentration camp at Dachau upon leaving the Austrian Alps. We do understand that some days are unavoidably long, however the contrast between the destinations you visited in Europe is remarkable. For instance, we feel that given a magical city like Paris and the stunning village of Lauterbrunnen in the Swiss Alps are within a day's drive, it makes the journey more than worthwile.
We hope that our reply addressed your issues. Please feel free to contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to discuss this matter further.
Best Regards, Team Topdeck
- Very Impressed30 October, 2012
This was a well-rounded tour, which I would do again. Our guide and driver were great, they had so much energy the entire trip I don't know how they were both headed back to London to do it all again after it was over. Our guide asked everyone what our favorite part of the tour was at the end (on the bus into the microphone), and pretty much everyone's answer was different. The itinerary was perfect for someone like me. It was my first time to Europe, travelling with my boyfriend. We had free time explore in each place, which I liked because I am always on the lookout for great food, but a lot of other people on our tour weren't really interested in spending a lot of money on food. Rome was by far my favorite place for food. I was also surprised with the restaurants we ate at with the group. They were mostly authentic to the area, and they were a lot better than what I was expecting. Breakfast isn't anything great, but that was expected. If you like ham and cheese and bread, then you will be fine! At least the bread rolls at breakfast were always fresh. Also if you are travelling with a partner you will get your own room. Only thing is that most of the time the rooms have two single beds. It didn't bother me and my boyfriend, but it did bother some other couples.
- Don't do it! Book a hostel!27 September, 2012
We were searching for last minute cheapish accommodation for Oktoberfest Opening Weekend and decided to camp with Topdeck. Well. That was a mistake! Upon checking in I informed the staff that a friend of mine would be arriving late and could she be assigned my tent. No Dice. We were both placed with random girls. Even though prior to booking I had rung Topdeck and queried this and they said it would be fine, we would get a tent together. The weather was a large contribution to my misery. It rained for almost 24hours from friday night to saturday night. Our tent flooded, saturating all of our clothes. It was cold and wet and I was wishing I had spent the extra money for the Hostel tour. Topdeck provided a bus to and from the event. The first bus in the morning was at 8am. I was under the impression that over opening week you had to get there early to secure a spot! We arrived at Oktoberfest at 9am. By the time we fluffed around trying to decide which Hall to go into the lines were massive - most people had been there since 7am! Needless to say we missed out on a table inside. It was still raining, making the tables outside very undesirable. So because we got there so late we missed out on getting into a hall ALL DAY! Ended up heading to a nearby pub instead to drink away our sorrows! A cooked breakfast was supplied daily, but if you wanted to get to the Halls in time you had to skip it. I found the staff very unwilling to help. It was freezing camping and the line for the showers were just stupid. I know I sound like a moaning whiner but really... Spend the money and get a hostel or a house or a hotel - Anything! You'll enjoy your weekend so much more!
Response from Topdeck Travel:
We are sorry to hear that your weekend was not what you were expecting. The management and staff on site were aiming to provide the best service possible in order to not let the weather hinder our passengers' enjoyment. Let us address your points one by one:
As per your post, Oktoberfest opening weekend was stuck with heavy rain unfortunately, something I am sure you can appreciate is out of the control of our team. The team based at the campsite prepared the tents and camping area as best as possible to handle any heavy downpours, and were ready to respond to any problems with tents when reported, to handle the weather. We are very limited however in consistent days of heavy rain in an outdoor environment. Opening weekend is a demanding time to get entrance to the beer halls every year. As much of the outdoor seating was not in use this weekend, it increased the demand even more. We were unable to reserve spaces in tents for people who did not arrive together on this weekend due to volume of passengers we had checking in on one day.
We appreciate your feedback and if you wish to discuss this further, please contact us directly at email@example.com
- Would do it again tomorrow13 September, 2012
We have just left our tour group earlier today but whilst I had some free time thought it would be fitting to reflect on the trip and share with others looking to travel Europe with a tour company. Call me lucky but I was very hesitant about the age of other tour members after being told tours are just massive piss up's where everyone sleeps with everyone... Not something you want to do for a honeymoon?. Well it was our honeymoon and it was a great trip. We had an awesome group of people, average age would have been late 20's and mostly Aussie couples. We had a great tour leader Matt, he was nothing short of amazing with all of our group. We were always on time he got us best seats, meals etc wherever he could and generally made it easy for us all to relax, enjoy and experience the trip. I would highly recommend the Hotel trip option to all as good value for money, a few less desirable rooms but on average across the trip not too bad. Meals they provide are above average in general and the optional activities are well spread and great value for money. I hope all others are as pleasantly surprised as I was and a big thanks to Matt, Rae and the Top Deck team for a great trip!
- Time of my life9 September, 2012
Man, I had such a good time on this trip. Our trip leader Dan was so great. I am still trying to figure out how he had so much energy and enthusiasm the entire trip. He was always happy to answer questions, and always got excited about everywhere we went (even though he had probably been to all of them so many times before). Our bus driver, Damo, was also great, and always did his best to get us everywhere promptly and safely (but just so you know you do spend a lot of time on the bus). I made some amazing friends and would do it all over again if I could! I plan to book another trip with Topdeck again soon
- TOPDECK = AMAZING!!!30 August, 2012
I did the Topdeck Spirit of Europe tour in Septmeber/October 2011. It was honestly the best time I have ever had! Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and professional whilst also making the trip loads of fun. Whatever we needed he tried to help us out, we were never left not knowing where to go or how to get home and always felt safe. Whilst the trip was fast paced and you didnt spent a lot of time in each place, it was exactly as I thought it would be. I felt like i saw soooooooo many beautiful places in each city. With these kind of tours you can't expect to have all the time in the world to explore, you have to take every minute and use it wisely. AND if you do you will get the essence of each city and have the best trip.
Topdeck knows their food!!! I thought if there was going to be a problem on tour it would be what we eat. BUT i was wrong, the food we were given in the topdeck tents was seriously good food. Traditional to the areas, plenty of it and usually wine to go with it. Sure there were some strange breakfasts as we got further east, but hey its expected. Our driver was great! Very experienced, knew some local languages, always safe and always joined in our fun. All in all the whole Topdeck team we experienced was fantastic!! Overall the accommodation was great. Few funny showers and such, but nothing that couldn't be handled/laughed about and forgiven. If you want luxury, don't go on a whirlwind tour. Spirit of Europe was a great choice to see the highlights Europe has to offer. I have recommended both this tour and Topdeck in general to many people and will continue to do so. Thanks Topdeck!! Amazing company :) Amazing trip...cant wait to do it all again!
- Top Deck is a WASTE of money. Read before booking!!22 August, 2012
I attended a European tour this summer. I have broke down a detailed review based on my experiences. I know it kind of wordy, but the most important thing to know is that I was incredibly uncomfortable and found the company's laziness put the entire tour group in danger. BASICS First off, I was under the impression that the group size would be 30. We were nearly 40. This meant that we lost precious sightseeing time on our fast moving tour because there were more people to wait around for in the morning or at rest stops, check in times were extended at the hotel, dinners took longer, etc. It just wasn't ideal. ACCOMMODATIONS I read we'd be staying at 2-3 star hotels, but this generally wasn't the case. I was also subjected to being put into a triple share (despite the fact I paid for a twin share and made the tour leader aware at check in). If you have issues with any of the following, you may want look to into booking elsewhere: -No free wifi -No air conditioning -No blackout curtains -Bathtub only (no shower) -Broken shower heads -Mold (like a lot, and on the walls) -Dirty sheets with random hairs upon arrival -Walls cracking, paint chipping, mystery stains on the walls, bedspreads and towels -Location was typically 30-60 mins away via public transport from the actual city you are touring -Bugs on the food at the breakfast buffet It was so bad in Berlin, I actually booked a hotel room 3 blocks away that had a/c and only cost 1 euro more then the hotel they chose for us (which was a mere 55 cause they are so cheap!). On a side note, I passed by several hotels that had Contiki passengers and they were usually nicer and had a/c. BUS -I think it's important to know that the bus will stop every 2 hours and it is mandatory for you to get off. Breaks will last for 15 or 30 minutes. It's impossible to get any decent sleep because of this. -Our bus broke down at a rest stop in Italy. Luckily, we only had to spend 90 minutes in the sun before other arrangements had been made. There were no reparation for the inconvenience, but I think that just may be a European thing. In the states, they would have at least given us a bottle of water or something to make us more comfortable. TOUR TEAM Several members of the tour group had come to the conclusion that we may have drawn the short end of the stick when it came to leaders, so I don't know for sure if this would apply to them all. I do know I paid the same amount as someone departing on the same trip at a different time, so you should just be aware of what your money is getting you. Here are some of the major issues I encountered: -Day 1 a sheet containing all of our personal information (full name, passport info, emergency contact details) was left on display at the front desk of the pick up location for anyone to see. Then, it was left behind and we had to go back to retrieve it. That was the first sign of what was to come. -It seemed as though we were always missing or getting on the wrong public transport (ferries, trains, etc), it's like nobody was calling ahead to confirm departure information or directions. These weren't cases of "last minute changes" or "force majeure." It was simple laziness. -Crew members are not required to know any of the local languages. For the most part, they can help you no more than you can help yourself. -Communication was rubbish. For example, we had a group dinner in the evening. So, I would stop by the hotel at noon to check and see if the meeting time/location had been posted. It had not. How am I suppose to know when to return to from the city? I was forced to track down the leader to ask but simply got a vague response of "maybe 6, maybe 6:30." Ok, I will just put my vacation on hold until you figure it out. These kinds of things happened on a daily basis (of which there were 18). -We were forced to buy optional activities through our leader. Yet, somehow the details of the product would be unknown. If you sell me a ticket to a boat ride and drop me off in the city at 9:30am, shouldn't you be able to tell me when the first cruise leaves? But instead of just admitting they didn't know, it once again would be some vague information like "usually 10:30, or 11, but I cannot guarantee." Didn't I pay to have someone to help me figure out this stuff? I would expect for them to say they would make an attempt to find out. -The tour leader didn't know squat about history. If you ask them questions, most of the time the answers will be made up. Thanks google! -There was one particular safety issue that came up due to employees negligence. When arriving at a concentration camp, it was raining, so it was asked how much time we would be spending outside because it may be necessary to get supplies from under the bus. The tour leader responded that it wouldn't be too much time spent outdoors. At the conclusion of our tour we had to walk down what was know as the "death stairs." It was 200 stone steps without railing. Most of us were in flip flops in the pouring rain and there was no other option to get back to the coach. I slipped on the cobble stones leading up to the steps and came close to taking off my shoes all together. It is a miracle nobody died. For the record, my driver was amazing! He was way more knowledgeable and actually spoke most of the languages. If you wanted something done we all knew to go to him. OPTIONAL AND INCLUDED ACTIVITIES -Be aware that Top Deck sometimes marks up the optional prices. For example skydiving through them cost 125 euro's, but when you arrive at the facility they advertise it at 110. However, there were times when it did work out in our favor. In the end, I found most activities were worth the value. -Included activities were questionable. For example, I'd read in the itinerary that a visit to a museum was included, but upon arrival I was told that if I want to actually to go in I will have to pay. My only other option would be to wait on the bus for 2 hours. Really? INCLUDED MEALS -For the most part the dinners were good. They always took you somewhere that displayed dishes of the local culture. The tour leader never knew what we were having or if any drinks were included. Only once did they cover a cocktail. -Breakfast was bread, meat, cheese and boiled eggs... Everyday! Not great. Bottom line is that I think I could have done a better job on my own. I have also traveled with Intrepid, which was a WONDERFUL experience. I suggest you look into them, or anyone else really.
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- Amazing12 June, 2012
Topdeck i had the most amazing time ever everyone had so much fun! The places we stayed at where beautiful and everything else was amazing. Will recommeded it to everyone. Had the time of our lives we had an awsome tour leader Brent and driver Brian they showed us loads of fun and learnt lots. Thank you for a great experience !!!!A+
- I love Australia18 April, 2012
I had a wonderful time on this tour! I was surprised when I arrived on the first day because the tour was actually run by TOPDECK. I guess both companies are the same? None the less, 'Topdeck' and Adventure Tours ran a fantastic tour. I am from the USA, and I was blown away by how beautiful Australia was. It is one thing to see it in pictures and on TV, and another thing to see it for real. I was very impressed by the accommodation, and our guide was very animated and down to earth. Most of the people traveling on the tour were in their 20's and we all got along well. I am already planning a tour to New Zealand, and I will absolutely be booking my tour with Topdeck. I know this review is about Adventure Tour Australia (and I wrote the review about them because I booked with them), but Topdeck appear to be much easier to book from the USA, and they are essentially the same company.
- huge rip off, false advertising14 February, 2012
this trip was a bust. Stayed in unsafe sections of the cities we went to in accomadations that were 1 star or less. Came home with bed bug bites and many things stolen from my belongings. Most of our time was spent on a bus severly limiting any touring of the actual places visited. tour guides "clocked out" at 5 and you were on your own in places you have no knowledge of and have difficulty communicating due to language issues. the brochure is very misleading...BEWARE!
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- Good but not great17 January, 2012
Traveling with Topdeck was fun, but there was a lot about the tour that I didn't know about before I left. This is why I am writing this review. The tour is really fast. You are pretty much on the bus more than you are sightseeing. Sometimes we would get to our destination before the sun went down, and then we would leave again about half way through the next day, so we pretty much saw nothing. The Topdeck staff were friendly and the accommodation was fine, but I would not recommend this tour, because I did not see as much as I thought I was going to. I wish I did my research on the distance between each destination, and the time we actually had to sight see in each place, because the itinerary on paper is deceiving.
- Short and sweet14 December, 2011
I had a great time with Topdeck. A warning though to people thinking about booking the European Wonder tour, 14 days across Europe is not a lot, and I felt we were rushed pretty much everywhere we stopped. I was disappointed with stops like the Rhine Valley where you only got to see the place driving in and out. Topdeck in general was a great company to do a tour with. The tour guide and driver were organized, friendly and compassionate. They genuinely cared about our wellbeing, and were responsible. As a 20 year old traveling overseas on my own for the first time this was a good choice for me. But I recommend to others to take a longer tour if you can and spend more time in each place.
- A good time6 July, 2011
I am an Australian so it probably sounds weird that I went on this tour, but I have always liked traveling with tour groups and I have always wanted to travel along the Great Ocean Road. I was highly impressed with the way the tour was run. The information from the staff was fabulous, the food was much better than I expected, and the accommodation was good. There were a lot of Europeans on the tour, so it was also nice for me to meet lots of people from other parts of the world, and they loved hanging out with me and asking me funny questions about Australians as a people. Good times.
- A wonderful time!2 July, 2011
This 18 day trip was absolutely fantastic! And also relatively affordable since I did the one where we stayed at hostels and cheap hotels, which were really not bad at all. The trip did all the European highlights, making a point to stop at places like Pisa to take a picture of the tower, even though we weren't staying the night in Pisa (moved onto florence). My tour guide was so ridiculously knowledgeable about the countries and cities we went to. He would explain to us the low down as we entered each new country or drove to the next city, and would give us tips regarding currency and such so we never felt overwhelmed. He was completely helpful whenever we had questions. What I liked about this tour was that there were plenty of activities set up for us but we never had to do any if we didn't want to (most did since they all gave us a taste of wherever we were). And in addition to that, we had free days in each place where we could go off on our own and choose what we wanted to do. It never felt too structured to me, but just enough structure that it was organized and allowed us to really see a lot for such relatively little time. I felt like there was no need to go back to any of the cities (though I may choose to for the ones I really liked) because even though we had less than a couple days in each one, I really saw a lot-all the main stuff. That said, if you have the time and cash (I didn't), I would recommend a longer trip. Really, you have less than 2 days in each place because you don't arrive till afternoon and then you only have the next full day so keep that in mind. Also, I have to mention that the hostel locations weren't always great. They were sometimes far from the city center, and you had to take transportation to get in which was a pain especially when you have limited time. All in all though, a great trip!
- I love Australia22 June, 2011
My dream destination was always Australia, so I straight away I traveled there when I could. I travelled on my own. This is why I decided to travel on a tour. I liked this tour very much. I spent a lot of time swimming in the ocean, and I learnt how to surf well. The people from Top Deck were very friendly, and I saw all of the things I dreamed of seeing. I flew to Australia alone, but I never felt alone on this tour.
- I saw everything I wanted to see16 May, 2011
The itinerary is what sold me on booking this trip. It went to all of the places in Europe that I had on my 'must see list'. I don't think I could have seen all of these places traveling via the Eurorail in only 4 weeks, but 4 weeks on a Topdeck bus is a long time. I made some really awesome friends, but there were also times when people annoyed the hell out of me, and on Euroclub you sometimes have to share a room with people you might not necessarily like. I also felt that this trip was too long for one tour guide. Our guide would get tired and snappy sometimes, and I understood because we were all tired, but it is not necessarily professional to burn out someone to the point where they cant give 100%, especially everyone on the tour has paid a lot of money to be there. You will see a lot, meet some great people (and probably some annoying ones too), and you will at the end of the day go home with some great memories of Europe.
- I had the best time16 February, 2011
I chose this trip because the itinerary looked really cool. I liked the fact that it saw some historical parts of Europe, but also spent some time lazing in the sun. I made so many great friends on this trip, and I have since been to Australia and stayed with some of them! The tour guide was awesome and knew so much about all of the places we visited. The sailing in Greece was my favorite part of the trip, and Paris was my favorite city. All in all, I had an amazing time and would travel with Topdeck again for sure.
- I made some great friends9 February, 2011
This tour is a very fast preview of Europe. I knew this trip was going to be fast, but I wanted to see as much as I could while I was in Europe. It is only a 12 day trip that goes to 8 countries! It sounds great on paper, but looking back I wish a chose a trip that only went to Italy and France, and go back to Europe again to see the rest. But Topdeck as a tour company were great. The guide and the driver were always doing their best to make sure everyone was happy. You spend A LOT of time traveling on the bus on this tour, but our guide did her best to entertain us and she always had interesting facts about all of the regions we drove through. The accommodations were nice for the most part. The hotel in Paris was disappointing. Our guide hyped up the positive of the location, but I would have preferred to stay further out of town and in a safe area. Two girls on our trip had their room broken into and all of their valuables stolen. Also the hotel in Amsterdam was pretty run down. But the rest of the accommodation was great for the value. I would travel with Topdeck again, but next time I would do a longer tour that doesn't spend as much time on the bus:-)
All in all, the best part of the trip was that I made some really great friends that I still keep in touch with.
- Great trip!24 January, 2011
I was sceptical about doing a tour in Australia, because so many people told me I could do it myself, but I was traveling alone, and I wanted to travel with other people. The guide was great, the accommodation was of a high standard for a budget trip, and I learnt a lot about Australia that I am sure I would not have learnt traveling by myself up the east coast in a van.....nor do I think that the one lane highway you have to travel on is safe for people who don't typically drive on the left side of the road. All in all a great trip. Good to see they have made booking easier through a website like travaddict.
- Not a pleasant experience19 January, 2011
We decided to take this trip mostly for the price. We spoke to a TravAddict rep before we booked it who warned us about the camping and that it was not luxurious, but I thought I could put up with anything with a price as good as this! The TravAddict rep was great about explaining what we were in for....but it didn't seem like it would bother me until I actually lived it! We were meant to camp for 5 nights, but we only stayed for one of them. The night we camped with Topdeck was bad, but we figured out right away that it wasn't for us. We ended up going into the city and finding a hotel with availability. It didn't in anyway ruin our experience at Oktoberfest. We actually had the times of our lives at the festival and in Munich in general. To explain why we didn't like it. The campsite was a shitshow. People yelling and screaming and getting wasted all night. These guys were stepping into our tent, shining a flashlight in the tent, throwing up and pissing all over... we tried to booze up enough to where we'd pass out, but it was pretty uncomfortable. Topdeck said they had staff patrolling to help control loud people in the tent area, but there was no staff to be found. Yep, not something we wanted to deal with. I understand that some people could have a good time in this environment, but if you are over your 18-19 year old days of not caring about anyone else around you when you are drunk, it is best to stay away from this camping environment. I recommend paying the extra cash for a tour that stays in a hotel or a hostel.
- running a muck on the east coast19 December, 2010
When i booked this tour I didn't know what to expect. I had heard lots about the east coast of Australia and different ways to do it, such as Greyhound, or a camper van. So I took a punt and chose Topdeck and paid the extra 200 bucks over Greyhound. This experience was unforgettable, I am going to try and make it brief but i don't know where to start. By choosing Topdeck I got a tour guide for the whole trip who built a story up the whole east coast. Knowing that every morning i hoped on the bus i would be in for an adventurous day of games, movies and stories and knowing that there was only going to be other backpackers like me on the bus was nice. After hearing nightmare stories about Greyhound leaving people behind, being stuck next to crying babies for 8 hours etc, I knew that I had make the right choice, not to mention most places we went to the driver took us to fun bars and hooked us up with so many free beers I think I drank 200 bucks worth just in beer. Kind of made me feel like a bit of a celebrity getting all this special treatment and by the end of the trip I had met soooo many people and had the time of my life. Definite must do's are the Whitsunday island sailing, Fraser Island, random times amongst the elements, skinny dipping drunk on goon, and sleeping with nothing but the southern hemisphere stars as a blanket in the Whitsundays. Too much else to even begin. To sum it up PERFECT.
- Time Of my life5 September, 2010
I just did a spirit of Europe with 2 great crew. Had the time of my life. The first part of the trip was Western Europe and then we headed east!!!!!!!! Budapest, Krakow and prague and berlin.What a Blast! Loved it and would do it all again with Topdeck!!!!!!!!
- Kakadu and Litchfield = must see23 August, 2010
Kakadu and Litchfield is a must see for any trip to Australia. This was my first tour and I was extremely impressed. Topdeck are extremely professional and lots of fun, their trip offered plentry of walks, lots of swimming and I learnt alot about Australian flora and fauna and Aboriginal culture. My favourite spots would be Florence falls because of its stunning waterfalls and Ubirr with all its aboriginal culture and views over the wetlands. My trip was in the wet season so I didn't get to see Twin and Jim Jim Falls (probably the most famous) but it really didn't matter instead we got to avoid peak tourist season and could get off the typical tourist track and in most places we got the falls to ourselves.
- Tassie is now one of my favourite places23 August, 2010
This trip was excellent! The tour was extremely well run, organised, informative, good food and accommodation and a lot of fun. Tassie is now one of my favourite places in Australia and if you only have a short time I highly recommend you make the trip here. The scenery is absolutely beautiful from the rainforests, mountains and waterfalls on the West Coast to the beaches and National Parks on the East Coast. I had so many highlights whilst on this trip. My favourite place was the Bay of Fires which is one of the most pristine beaches I have ever seen, blue water, white sand and red rocks and what made it even better was that itâ€™s really secluded, so youâ€™re not fighting for spots on the beach. We spent 2 hours here walking along the beach and climbing rocks before myself and a few of the girls settled on a rock with a 180 degree view of the ocean. We did lots of excellent walks on the trip and one of the best things about the tour was that we were given lots of options, so we could tailor our trip according to our individual fitness levels. The best of the walks was in Cradle Mountain National Park, especially around Dove Lake. Port Arthur was another of my favourite places and despite its horrible history itâ€™s extremely beautiful. On the Ghost tour we got to walk around the site at night hearing vivid stories of strange sightings and occurrences documented from the convict era until the present day. Whilst it wasnâ€™t scary, it was really cool to see Port Arthur at night and hear different stories or different versions of stories (all with a spooky angle) to what you hear on the day tours. During the day we did another tour of Port Arthur, learning more about the history and punishments, and also a boat cruise around the harbour. I will also never forget the night at Cradle Mountain when on my way back to my room a Tassie Devil walked in front of me. Even though we went to a Tassie Devil park on the last day, seeing one in the wild was pretty awesome. All up I highly recommend this trip!
- What an amazing trip12 August, 2010
I did the European Getaway trip which is a 20 day action pack adventure of some of the most amazing places in Europe, we explored all places from Paris to Rome to Prague and many more. Topdeck provided one outstanding service the tour guide we had was full of knowledge while the driver got us there on time everytime, the cook we had was just a laugh a minute he was by far one of the highlights of my trip. I am a male who did this tour on my own and it was be far the best way to see Europe and meet new people all in one while have a blast doing it. The accomadation was really good everywhere we went too I have nothing but good things to say about Topdeck I have managed to get my brother and a few other friends to do one of Topdecks tour and they have all come back 100% satisfied. If your after a tour to meet new people have one hell of a party while seeing the most amazing places in Europe then book a Topdeck tour right now.
- It was everything we hoped it would be6 August, 2010
Our Topdeck experience was everything we hoped it would be. Not only did our particular tour cover all the places we especially wanted to see, but it did it in style. Camping was never 'my thing' before our Europe camping trip, but Topdeck really shows you how to camp with all the creature comforts of home. What we loved most about Topdeck was that it gave you a tour of each new place as a group but then it gave you a day to explore on your own. During travel days we were amazed by our tour guide's comprehensive commentary on local history and culture. Finally, the other great thing about Topdeck tours is the range of options it provides; you never find yourself doing something you don't want to do. We really can't speak highly enough of our Topdeck experience.
- Perfect for a student with a short break11 July, 2010
Topdeck's European Wonder is perfect for university students wanting a quick squiz at Europe in the short mid-year break. Topdeck offered so many activities that I loved, and the best part was I didnt even have to think, they took care of everything. I loved the stein challenge in Munich at the beer hall, and the skydiving in Austria. I had never been to Europe before, and to be able to squeeze this trip into my Uni winter break was perfect! To top it off, our tour guide was a repository of interesting and accurate historical facts and could always recommend a great place to eat.
- Never a dull moment11 July, 2010
I really enjoyed absorbing the diversity of this tour as we toured through eleven different countries. I enjoyed getting a taste of the different European countries and seeing some of the worlds most famous place like the Eiffel tower and the Coloseum. There was never a dull moment and different activities and social events were always on offer.
- We were glad we did it11 July, 2010
For our first trip to Europe EVER, my friends and I had a very hard time settling on which tour group to go with or if we even wanted one. We decided on Top Deck and we are all glad we did. We didn't know what to expect with Top Deck so we went in with an open mind. For me personally, I wanted to tour Europe for its history and just to have a great experience for my first trip there. We had an awesome tour leader Candice. She was extremely knowledgeable of all the different locations we went to. Top Deck gave me what I wanted, the education and the great experience. I met great people that were apart of our tour group and locals as well. Because of the experience Top Deck provided me, I have a base knowledge of Europe and have the option to travel on my own if I wanted to or go with a tour group again. One thing I will say is that with a tour group of any kind, you are on schedule so if you do not have a problem with that then it's the way to go. Bottom line is, you will have fun, you will learn a lot, and you will have a great experience with Top Deck.
- I made friends for life on this trip11 July, 2010
I did a mega european (7 week camping) with Topdeck and I loved it. The trip gave me a taste of a lot of European countries so I could make some decisions on what I wanted to see more of. As a female travelling on my own it also gave me a chance to meet some people to do some further travelling with. It was comforting to know the crew were taking care of the border crossings for me, and speaking of the crew, they were amazing. They all got on so well and it really set the tone for the trip. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to handle so many weeks of camping but the trip flew by so quickly and the matresses provided are pretty comfortable. I made friends for life on this trip.