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  • Writer's pictureYllara Maia

EF Ultimate Break Essential VS Plus Trips: Which One to Book?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you chose to purchase through said links at no additional cost to you.

You've finally decided to stop waiting on family and friends to travel and want to book your first EF Ultimate Break trip - way to go!

Now you're stuck deciding whether to pay those extra bucks for a Plus trip, or just stick to an Essential.

Having done both, and as an experienced EF Ultimate Break traveler, I'm here to dish out everything you should know about each trip-type, to help you decide which option fits best with your travel style.

Posing in Cairo, Egypt during the Egypt: Cruise the Nile trip.

Posing in Cairo, Egypt during the Egypt: Cruise the Nile trip.

First, let's go over EF Ultimate Break's official description for each:

Plus: "Stay in hotel-style accommodations, room with just one other person, and enjoy more included meals. Designed for friends, couples, or anyone that just values their me time, Plus combines an immersive itinerary with more space to unwind."

Essential: "The budget-friendliest way to explore the world. Bunk up with your travel BFFs in handpicked, shared accommodations with sweet common areas. Perfect for solo travelers and social butterflies."

Both of these definitions come straight from the EF website and it's how the company choses to classify each trip-type.

If this is your first time traveling with EF ever, I have a personal discount code to share with you towards the end of the post - so keep reading!

The Truth Behind Essential Trips

Essential trips are a pretty new concept that EF just recently introduced. Before there was an "Essential" option, there used to be "Standard" and "Backpacker" options.

A standard trip included a mix of hotel and hostel stays, with the typical welcome and farewell dinners included in the price. Whereas a backpacker trip was exactly what it sounds like, mainly hostel stays with 4-6 travelers per room.

Now EF has completely discarded the "Standard" option and basically renamed the "Backpacker" option to call it an "Essential" trip.

If you are a low-maintenance traveler who loves sharing your space - and wouldn't mind rooming with 4-6 other strangers - then you should choose the Essential option.

This is also a great option for someone looking to save money or a solo-traveler hoping to make new friends.

Balcony at a hostel in Granada

The main reason why this trip type is cheaper is due to the accommodations, which will almost always be hostels. The photo above was taken at the balcony of the hostel we stayed at in Granada, as part of the Spanish Road Trip tour.

Essential trips also don't have many (or any) included meals with the exception of the welcome and farewell dinners.

If you're a bit too bougie for hostels, then consider paying extra for a Plus trip.


The Cost of Taking a Plus Trip

You've gone back and forth at this point, and still can't decide if you can swing the cost of a Plus trip.

Is paying the extra bucks actually worth it? For someone who is a total introvert, I always suck it up and chose this option if available.

Although one of the most amazing parts of going on an EF Ultimate Break trip is to make connections, I sometimes need to unplug and just enjoy my solitude.

One thing that I found from having gone on both essential and plus trips, is that you have more privacy when you're only rooming with one other person. Plus, the accommodations tend to be much nicer hence the big price difference.

Below is a video showing one of the lodges we stayed at for the Kenya: African Safari trip, which is only offered as a Plus option. The accommodations for this trip were incredible and so unique.

Another benefit of a Plus trip is the fact that other perks are included.

If you know in your heart that this is the best option for you but you're still worried about the money, don't forget that EF Ultimate Break offers payments plans and other financing options.

You don't have to pay the entire cost of the trip up-front.

Are all meals included in a Plus trip?

One of the biggest questions that I get is whether all meals are included if you choose the Plus option.

The short answer is no. The number of meals that will be included in a Plus trip typically depends on the trip.

For example, I went on the Egypt: Cruise the Nile tour last March, and didn't have to pay extra for a single meal. But I've also heard from friends who have taken other Plus trips and said that most meals were included - but not all.

For the most part, EF always choses accommodations that include breakfast. For the plus trips that do include lunch and dinner, they'll either take place at specific restaurant pre-chosen by the company or the hotel's buffet.

These will be for meals that are included throughout the trip, and not the typical welcome and farewell dinners, which usually take place in much nicer restaurants.

For the Kenya: African Safari trip, our farewell dinner was at this incredible restaurant in Nairobi called Carnivore. This highly rated restaurant features an all-you-can-eat meat buffet and specializes in exotic meats.

The food was great and just the experience itself was so memorable - EF outdid themselves with this one. You can watch us taking on exotic meats in part 4 of my Kenya Vlog below:

The best way to find out what meals are included in the Plus trip that you're looking to book is to search on YouTube. Many EF Ambassadors (including me) post detailed trip reviews and will also give you tons of other helpful information about that trip.

Essential VS Plus: Which one should you choose?

If you're still indecisive after reading this blog post, ask yourself this: What type of traveler am I?

Can you handle sharing a room with 4-6 total strangers while sharing a bathroom, and does staying a hostel sound okay to you? Also, is the cost of the trip the biggest deciding factor for you?

If the answers are all "yes", go with the Essential option. Most EF trips have very packed itineraries and you'll mainly be using the accommodations to store your items and to sleep anyways.

But if the answers to the above questions are just a hard "no", then consider using EF's flexible payment plan options to finance your Plus trip.

As an ambassador, I also have a one-time discount code to share with first-time travelers. The discount will be automatically applied to checkout if you book directly with the link. You can get started and book your trip here:

If this is your first time ever traveling with EF Ultimate Break, feel free to reach out to me via social media with any other questions. I'm happy to help you feel comfortable and ready for your first trip.

And if you thought this post (EF Ultimate Break Essential VS Plus Trips: Which One to Book) was helpful, make sure to leave a comment or a thumbs up.

Happy travels!


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