Eiffel Tower first time  bucket list europe


Here’s how a summer in Europe changed Kayla Haines career - (hint: it involves travel)

Published September 18th, 2017

No one knows better than Kayla Haines, of Student Flights Pacific Fair, about how travel can change your life forever. This story starts with Kayla’s first trip abroad and ends with getting home, quitting her job and starting over in a new career that she was wildly more passionate about…

Read on to hear about how a summer in Europe changed the course of Kayla’s career and which bucket list sights you must not miss...



Venice - Like nowhere else on earth. Photo: Kayla Haines.
Venice - Like nowhere else on earth. Photo: Kayla Haines.


Could you tell me a little more about your first trip to Europe - where did you go?

For my first European adventure, I wanted to fit in as much as possible but also have time to appreciate the different cities and their cultures. I booked a London to Rome Contiki trip which stopped in the major cities like Paris, Venice and Rome. Places I had dreamed of visiting for a long time. After going into Student Flights and chatting with a consultant, my friend and I decided we wanted to stay a little longer so we added on a few extra nights in Amsterdam and London before the trip and then extra time in Rome, Ibiza and Madrid afterward.

What was your favourite city in Europe on this trip and why?

I had always wanted to visit Italy so I couldn’t say there was just one city - instead, I fell in love with the whole country! It was a dream come true to be immersed in the culture and history that Venice, Florence, and Rome has to offer. I had to pinch myself a few times. What made my experience in Italy even better were the people. They were so friendly and accommodating, not to mention the glorious food. Each day it was Pizza, Pasta, Gelato, repeat.

What sort of activities did you get to do?

Doing the trip with Contiki meant that they made sure we got to see all of the bucket list sights like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Roman Forum and Colosseum in Rome. What I didn’t realise was that they take those experiences one step further and make them not only memorable but culturally rich by doing activities like wine tasting in the French Riviera, watching Spanish dancers in Barcelona and rolling over the Grand Prix finishing line in Monaco. My favourite activity was visiting the Gaudi designed Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, which has been in construction since 1882. I can't wait to see it again when it's all finished in 2026 - the centenary of Gaudi’s death.

Any insider tips for travel that you would pass onto your BFF?

For anyone going to Ibiza, check out Cala Bassa. A short ferry ride from San Antonio, you will arrive at a small inlet where the water is crystal blue and warm. Take some extra Euros and have traditional paella and sangria for lunch at the Cala Bassa Beach Club before relaxing on the beach.


europe Leaning tower of pisa Venice gondola
If you go to Europe and didn't get the classic Pisa pose or Venice gondola pic -did you even go? Photo: Kayla Haines.

What's one of your favourite travel memories from this trip?

Singing This is What Dreams are made of from the Lizzie McGuire movie at the top of my lungs in the Colosseum. What a dream come true!

What did you do on this trip that you think changed you or your perspective of the world?

The entire travelling experience changed me. I came home, quit my job and started working for Student Flights. I am now helping other first time travelers experience the same adventures and feelings of wanderlust that I did on that first Euro summer!

Did you go on the trip with anyone you already knew or did you get to make some new friends?

I went with a girlfriend who had also never been to Europe but made so many friends for life along the way. We recently had a reunion here on the Gold Coast with three of our travel friends coming to visit from NZ, Canada and Mexico.To celebrate our friendship and a year since our adventure we got matching "Hola Chica" tattoos!


europe Making new friends while travelling is half the fun!
Making new friends while travelling is half the fun! Photo: Kayla Haines.


What was the best thing you ate?

After travelling by coach all day we arrived in Rome for dinner. A group of us walked down this little alley way and came across a restaurant that had a cheap deal for entree, main and a drink. I didn't have high expectations but ordered a bowl of simple gnocchi in tomato sauce that was one of the best meals I had on the trip.

What do you think are some of the biggest benefits of booking with SF?

Everything is done for you! It was very daunting as a first traveler to have all these ideas and actually putting them into a plan was quite overwhelming - we didn’t want to miss anything! From the moment I walked through the Student Flights doors I was welcomed in and no idea was too difficult to achieve! I left two hours later and with the help of Student Flights' 'Book Now, Pay Later' 9 months interest-free, I had my flights, a Contiki tour, and accommodation all booked! For the latest deals on travel, browse our great range of offers online, call 131 669 or visit your local Student Flights.

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Sam Aldenton

Sam Aldenton is a travel writer, digital content creator (read: takes photos/videos with her iphone and sometimes a real camera) and former retail and youth trend forecaster. When she's not off discovering the world’s best pizza (an obsession picked up from her 4-years in New York), she makes her home in Brisbane, Australia. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram at @samaaldenton.