Pros and Cons of EF Ultimate Break

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Ultimate Europe Trip Overview

The summer after I graduated college, I took the Ultimate Europe trip with EF Ultimate Break (previously called EF College Break) that lasted 35 days. This was in every way the trip of a lifetime. You can see the route we took in the map below.

I’d like to give you an overview of how EF works and the pros and cons of using them for your vacation, so you know whether this company is right for you.

A map of Europe showing 14 destinations for the Ultimate Europe trip with EF Ultimate Break.
A map of the EF Ultimate Trip with EF Ultimate Break.

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Why EF Ultimate Break?

Before I chose EF, I did an incredible amount of research on whether to go by myself or with a tour group. My family played a big part in my decision to go with a group because they were helping me pay for part of it. They were very worried about me taking a solo trip, especially since it would have been my first one.

So I did my research and narrowed it down to EF and Contiki which I think are the two major tour groups for people in their 20s. I chose EF Ultimate Break vs Contiki because it seemed EF stayed in better quality locations and it was less of a “party trip.” Not that I didn’t want to drink, but I wanted to focus on other things also.

Related: 72 Hours in Athens, Greece

The price was comparable and EF had more items included like tours, subway tickets, and some meals. I do not regret this decision at all. They had great customer service, were very responsive, and gave me all needed information at the very beginning. They were a great company to work with.

I haven’t personally taken a trip with Contiki so when comparing EF Ultimate Break vs Contiki I can’t say much. But I do know that I had a great experience with EF.

The colorful houses of Manarola perched on a cliffside. The ocean is crashing into the rocks and cliff. EF Ultimate Break offered an optional excursion to the seaside village of Cinque Terre.
EF offered an optional day trip to Cinque Terre that I chose to opt into.

How It Works

For those of you who aren’t familiar with EF Ultimate Break, I’ll give a short overview of how booking with them works. They offer a large variety of trips with different lengths and to many different countries in six different continents.

You can filter the trips based on these categories plus when you want to leave. Once you figure out which trip you want to take, you choose your airport and pay the deposit. I believe the deposit is typically $150. They set up a payment plan for you based on how many months you have left until your trip.

Once you send in your deposit, EF books your plane tickets, hotel rooms, and works out any travel between destinations. We were on a bus most of the time, but we did fly between Athens and Rome, took a ferry to Paros, and took trains in Germany and France.

Other items that are included in the price are walking tours of each city, almost all breakfast meals, a couple dinners, and subway tickets in most larger cities.

A plate of falafel, pita, hummus, and french fries provided by EF Ultimate Break.
The welcome dinner included local fare from Athens.

Another helpful inclusion is a tour guide that stays with you throughout the whole trip. My guide was awesome and gave us great insider tips for each location and it also felt safer when I had someone to check in with each day. This was a huge plus for my parents and it helped their peace of mind.

Pros of Ultimate Europe Trip

  • You have very little, if any, of the logistics planning left to do. They plan all of the transportation and accommodations.
  • You get to see many of the big-ticket items, aka Eiffel Tower, Roman Colosseum (one of the top things to do in Rome), and the Acropolis. The best part is you also get to stop at off the beaten path places that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise. A couple small towns that we stopped in were Dresden, Germany and Verona, Italy.
  • In the Ultimate Europe trip, I got to see 14 cities in 35 days. This doesn’t include the smaller cities that we stopped over in during our travel days. This type trip is a chance to see so many different cultures in a short amount of time.
  • If you want to go check out a different city or a special event that’s in the area, then you have the chance to do that. While we were in Paros, Greece there was a group that took a ferry over to Santorini for the day. In Belgium there were two girls that rented a car and drove to a music festival in the area and then met us in Paris.
  • There are about 30 to 40 people in the group so every day there is a good chance that someone will be doing something that you’re interested in. If you want to go off and do things by yourself though that’s fine too.
  • This was my first trip overseas and it was so easy to let someone else plan everything. It made for such a smooth trip. I felt safe with a group and I had a great guide who was very knowledgeable about each city that we visited.

Cons of Ultimate Europe Trip

  • There is no way to “make your own trip.” You have to choose from the options that they offer and sometimes you have to sacrifice a few things you wanted to do or places you wanted to go.
  • You are with the same group of people for 35 days. A majority of the group is girls so there is always the possibility of cattiness and cliques.
  • This is a very fast paced trip. You get to see a lot of different places, but you don’t get a deep connection with any of them. This trip barely skims the surface of what is out there.
  • Depending on the group, it could be a party centered trip. But depending on who you are that could be a pro or con. I wasn’t interested in partying when I went and by that I mean going to a club until 2am. I definitely did my share of drinking there. It all depends on what you’re looking for.
Girl jumping in front of the Eiffel Tower on a bluebird day. EF Ultimate Break made it possible to see this.
Can you tell how excited I was? And how odd the guy on the right thought I was?

Once I started writing out the pros and cons, I realized that this trip was a no-brainer for me. I didn’t have time to plan a month-long trip to Europe myself. I didn’t know the first thing about taking a solo trip. My family didn’t want me going by myself and they were paying for half of it.

Related: Why Visit Florence, Italy and Explore From There

EF Ultimate Break made it possible for me to see Europe without all the hassle of planning. If you have the time and money then I definitely recommend this trip, especially if it’s your first time going abroad. Do you have any experience traveling with groups like this?

Have you taken a trip with EF Ultimate Break before? What was your experience?

About Me

Anna Cook

Hey Guys! I’m Anna, a small town girl from North Carolina with a passion for exploring this beautiful world. I work a fulltime job, so I make the most of my weekends and 15 vacation days. I created this site to inspire people like you to make travel a bigger part of your life and help you figure out how to do that. If you like what you see be sure to follow along on social media.

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Anna

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Anna was born and raised in North Carolina and spent her childhood traveling the southern US. She loves helping people plan efficient itineraries especially with a focus on outdoor adventure and food & drink. You can typically find her on a hiking trail, kayaking, or searching for the best meal in town.

50 Responses

  1. Hi!! I am actually looking at doing this trip next year sometime (once covid-19 has been handled lol) and was wondering if I could pick your brain about your experience! I want to go once I graduate college as well, and I am planning on going alone in hopes to make some new friends! Do you feel like you got a good amount of time in each city to explore and enjoy your time or do you feel like you were more often rushed while you were travelling? I have never traveled outside of the US and I am debating between doing the full month in Europe or picking a shorter trip where I can spend more time in the cities that we go to. And how tired did you get on a daily basis? I’m sure travelling for an entire much is exhausting, but would you say it’s totally worth it? Also, did you stay in more hotels or more hostels? If you stayed in hostels, how were they?

    1. Hey! I would highly recommend this trip! Sorry COVID is putting a damper on your plans for the time being lol. I thought it was the perfect balance of time in each city. It is super fast paced, and no you don’t get to see everything but you would be surprised how much you can see in 2-3 days. It was nice though because the travel days are broken up by staying in one place for a few days so it doesn’t seem like you’re constantly on the go. If you’ve never been outside the US this is an incredible introduction to Europe. On a daily basis I didn’t get too tired, but by the end (for me it was Barcelona – I think they’ve updated the cities this year) I was a little worn out. Just plan some down time in and you’ll be okay. If you take anything away from this: YES IT WAS SO WORTH IT!!! Those are some of my best travel memories. We stayed in a mix of hotels and hostels and you couldn’t tell a big difference between the two. I actually came to prefer the hostels because the rooms were the same, but there were more community spaces to hang out in. I’m happy to answer any other questions you have!

      1. Hi, I’m also looking into a trip next summer as a post grad student but for about 2-3 weeks. I was wondering if you felt like the EF service was bad? And if you had any trouble with the flights. I read some pretty bad reviews that mentioned 2 flights booked with only 1 hour of sleep in between and lack of help with EF. Or, waiting hours for a bus and missing their day trip. Wondering if that’s typical or not. I know a lot of it had to do with covid but I’m nervous to book this and then get a huge cancellation fee or not realize how disorganized the program is. Did you feel like there was anything “scam” worthy?

        1. I can only speak from my experience and say that I had absolutely no issues and was super happy with how everything was handled. But that doesn’t mean that nothing could happen while you are on your trip. To me, the difference is that if you book the trip with EF then they are the ones figuring out a solution when things go wrong instead of you having to figure it out on your own. That was one reason I chose to go with EF since it was my first time out of the country.

          1. The average age on my trip was probably 23-25 I believe. There were outliers but that’s what I remember.

          2. Hey, I’m going along for 11 days to egypt how we’re the people that you traveled with was it any bonding with anyone or was it awkward most of the time?

          3. It wasn’t awkward! Most people go on the trip expecting to make friends and are pretty outgoing.

    2. i went on my first solo trip last year, October 2019, to Egypt for 2 weeks. for the experience- well i have 2 trips book when them already. have to move them to 2021 due to Covid. my Egypt trip felt like a once in a life time experience. love it. made a lot of friends that i still talk to this day.

      1. A couple of friends and me are looking into booking the Egypt trip now! Did you do the Egypt Expedition or the Cruise? Would love to hear about your experience!

    3. I actually went on their ultimate europe trip 2 years ago as well as a shorter trip to Costa Rica. I would highly recommend the longer trip. The community you get with your fellow travelers is insane. I definitely made lifelong friends with my tour guide as well as fellow travelers and saw so much. The shorter trip was still super fun but didn’t allow for those close friendships. It was also way more geared toward people who just wanted to party as opposed to people who want to see the world. (Not that I don’t like going out a few nights, but I can do that at home in chicago)

      1. Hi! I’m 28 and am looking at an EF euro trip this summer. I’m wondering what the age range was when you went, and around how many people were in your group. I’m very close to the cutoff age so I’m worried I will be with mostly college students!

        1. It was mostly people who had just graduated college or people in their mid-20s in my group and there were around 25 – 30 of us I believe. There were a few in their late 20s though so I would go for it!

    4. Omg, I am thinking of doing the same trip! And I want to go solo to go on a self-discovery trip I guess. It just seems like the safe way to go aboard.

  2. Are these trips only to go and be with a group of people you haven’t met before or can you plan to go with a friend?

    1. With EF Ultimate Break you would be with a group of people that you haven’t met. If you and a friend chose to go though you could actually choose to do your own thing in each city. The trip and guides are pretty flexible. Another branch of their company -EF Go Ahead Tours – offers private/customized tours but I think the group has to be of 7 or more. They also have options for solo travelers if you wanted to do a solo trip.

  3. Hey, thank you for this, this is soo helpful. I am planning a trip for Europe for next summer. It will be my first time traveling alone and traveling to Europe. Do you have any tips? Also, I am planning on getting a single room, I was told I’d have a roommate. I do have my doubts and fear of having a roommate but also I’m very introverted so I don’t know what to choose, what would you recommend?

    1. Hi, thanks for commenting! 🙂 When I took this trip it was my first time traveling alone as well. My biggest tip would be to do a bit of research before you get to the cities so you know what you’d like to do when you arrive. You don’t have much time in each place. If you’re nervous about going places by yourself then there will likely be someone in the group who shares at least a few of your interests. Go a few places with them until you work up the courage to explore a city on your own. As for the roommate situation – I totally understand that. In a way I wish I had gotten a single room, but it isn’t bad staying with other people and it’s much cheaper. They let people take turns signing up for roommates so sometimes you will be with people you’ve made friends with and other times you’ll be stuck in a room with whoever you get. If you REALLY don’t like dealing with other people, I would get a separate room but many of us on the trip that I took were introverts and we were fine rooming with other people.

  4. Hello, thank you for posting this! I am worried about going on this trip as a plus size woman. It has caused fear or weight limits or activities or feeling “ostracized” from the group. Do you think this is an issue with EF or that I should worry about?

    1. Hi! I don’t think it would be an issue at all. Everyone is usually very welcoming and nice. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think there were any weight limits on any of the activities that we did.

  5. I don’t drink and as a result I don’t like to hang out in bars. Did you find that there were people who did things at night other than drinking?

    1. Hmm I will say that the majority of people on my trip did drink so that was the most common thing to do. There are all kinds of things that you can do that don’t involve drinking though. If you do choose to go on the trip I would just try to find a buddy or two who isn’t into drinking either. There are about 30 people total who go on the trips so there should be someone else who isn’t that into it.

  6. Hi did you ever worry about your safety while staying in the hostels? Did you ever feel unsafe at any point on the trip?

    1. Personally, I did not. Our trip leader was fantastic and gave us lots of great tips. The majority of the time I was with another person from our group but I did go off on my own a couple times and never felt unsafe. EF also chooses hostels/hotels in great locations so I was never staying in a bad part of town.

  7. Hello, so me and my girlfriend are interested, and although we like to think we are pretty flexible, we do like our privacy… How did the whole accommodation stage work? Did you guys share rooms? Or did you have the option to be alone? Also, how do the prices work exactly? Do you pay by month? Got a bit confused when I went in the website and saw “as low as $117” For a 35 day trip of Europe.

    1. For the package that I chose, I shared rooms with other people. We passed around a sheet of paper to sign up to be with the people we wanted. I believe that there is an option to get a room to yourself. Their customer service is fantastic especially with answering any questions you have before your trip like this. Depending on how far out you book your trip you can either pay the full amount up front or pay by month.

  8. Hi I want to plan a trip next year for my birthday but I have seen some comments on Instagram how they been taking people’s money and not returning them. I want to make sure it’s not a scam because I really want to do this.

    1. Hi Jada, it is not a scam – I’ve traveled with them before. My guess is that there have been some issues recently with how COVID-19 is impacting travel with them and refunds related to that.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your experience!! I am looking at honeymoon options for summer or fall 22. Would this be something good for a honeymoon? Or is it more for solo travel?

    1. Personally, I wouldn’t do this as a honeymoon. It’s a great thing to do solo or with a small group of friends. There was one couple on our tour but they didn’t get much alone time and I don’t know that they got a room to themselves.

  10. Hi! I’m thinking about going on an EF ultimate break trip fresh out of high school next summer when I’m 18. What is the typical age range of people that go? Are there many college students? I’m worried I’ll be stuck with a majority of people in their late 20’s and will have trouble making many friends.

    1. Hi! I can’t remember exactly how old most people were but I believe it was mid 20’s leaning toward early 20’s. It was a lot of people who had just graduated college but there were a few who were still in college on my trip.

    2. hey! i booked the ultimate europe trip for 2023 and i’ll be 20 when i go, i was worried about a similar thing being around a bunch of people quite a bit older than me so if you’d like to coordinate trips, if that’s something you wanna check into let me know:))

  11. Hi!! I am thinking about doing the Ultimate Europe trip as a solo traveler. I am just super nervous about making friends, and having people to go out and explore cities with. Would you say it was pretty easy to make friends with other people on the trip as a solo traveler? Thank you so much for writing this article, it is super helpful!

    1. Yes! I found that if you wanted to make friends and hang out with people then it was super easy. Probably 1/3 or a little more of my group went solo and the rest came in groups of 1 or 2. It’s all about what you want to get out of it but most people go into the trip wanting to make new friends I think. So glad you found this helpful!

      1. Hi! I’m going on a EF long trip this summer and was wondering what you/people found to be the best type and size of bag to pack in?

        1. Most people on the trip took a checked bag but I had the Osprey Farpoint 40L backpack for a carry-on and loved it. I didn’t have to wait on checked luggage and wasn’t dragging a bag across uneven sidewalks. Highly recommend going carry-on only but that’s not for everyone, I know.

  12. Hi, I’m looking to travel with EF next summer. But I’m on the older side (28). I know summer is usually when all the younger people travel lol, since school’s out. However summer’s the only time I will get to travel. Do you think age would be an issue?
    Thanks

  13. Hello!! Your review has been so helpful to read, so thank you for taking the time to do this for people looking into this trip.
    Im trying to budget & see how much I would need to take on the trip as well aside from the overall costs. I read that breakfast is given daily & some meals that are on the itinerary are included. So how would you go about the other meals? I also read that you tip the tour guide, how often were you tipping them? I also heard that if your the last person to show up to dinner, that you’d be responsible for the tip… etc. What other additional costs/expenses did you have aside from doing things on your own & souvenir/personal shopping???

    1. Hi! Thank you, I’m glad you found it helpful! Yes, when I went breakfast was included daily but only a few of the other meals were included. There probably weren’t even 5 lunches/dinners included. So you’ll need to budget for most lunches and dinners and that number really will depend on the type of places that you go. You can find cheap places but just to be on the safe side I would budget €15 – €20 per meal. You tip your tour guide at the end and I believe the standard was around $100 maybe more if they are really good. You could ask your contact at EF Ultimate Break though and they may be able to give you a better idea on what the right tip is. I haven’t heard that rule about being the last person to dinner and that isn’t how we did it. Tipping in Europe is different than tipping in the US so you may just want to search Pinterest for those rules. Other than meals, additional activities that you are interested in, and souvenirs I think that was it!

  14. Hello and thanks for a great review! I’m looking to do one of the EF trips, specifically the Greek Island and was wondering if there was decent amount of people in their late 20s? I’m about to turn 29 but still love going out to the bars and having fun and want to be able to travel with a big group to meet new people. However, I don’t want to be that one old gu when everyone else is 24. Thanks!

    1. I can only speak for the tour that I went on and I will say the majority of people were in their early to mid-20s. Don’t let that discourage you though! There were still a couple people in their late 20s and no one thought it was odd.

  15. Hello! I am worried about not being able to exercise while on the trip. What time of day did the day of travel usually begin? Did you feel you would have time to exercise or drop into gyms while in cities? Thank You!

    1. It’s been a while since I went with EF so I don’t quite remember details about the itinerary. I believe 8 or 9 but like I said I’m not positive. Thinking about how fast-paced this trip was, I don’t think I could have fit exercise in. However, that wasn’t something that was important to me personally so it’s all about what you prioritize. There is a good bit of free time but I always spent that exploring the city. I will say – I walked an average of 6-7 miles most days so I considered that my exercise.

  16. Thank you for all the informative insight on what EF has to offer. Just out of curiosity, I was wondering how many guys went and also, are you able to do your own personal itinerary or do you have to stick with the group at all times? I’m thinking about doing the Barcelona, Ibiza, and Valencia Trip this summer 2022, and it’s only 10 days. The itinerary that they provide, doesn’t really match what I’m looking for and wanted to know if there’s a bit of leniency with free roam. Thanks in advance!

    1. There were significantly less guys that went on my trip and I think that’s common for many EF Tours. I think there were 5 guys out of 25 – 30 people on my trip. The itinerary is flexible and a few people did go off on their own for a couple of days but honestly if the itinerary doesn’t fit what you are looking for then I would plan your own trip or find a different company that does offer what you want. You are paying for many daily activities in the price you pay EF so if you aren’t going to do them then it isn’t worth it (in my opinion).

  17. I am thinking about going on this trip next year with my boyfriend, would you say this is a good couples trip? Was there mainly singles? Also what was the ratio of boys and girls, I wouldn’t want him to be uncomfortable if it was a mostly girls trip

    1. There were mainly singles but we did have one couple on the trip. It all depends on how you guys are as a couple and what you enjoy/your preferences. The ratio is usually always a lot of girls to a few boys on the trips. I don’t think that made the guys uncomfortable, they just stuck together more.

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