So last month I had the pleasure of being honoured in Contiki Holiday‘s Contiki Legends Campaign.
Well you might just call me the Queen of Contiki, as I’ve had an ongoing partnership with them for over 3 years , during which I have been on 14 Contiki trips covering: South America, New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Scandinavia, Southeast Asia and the USA.
In this guide I am going to go over a lot of the things I have learned about my experiences on Contiki in hopes to give some insight for those looking at taking one for themselves.
What is a Contiki Trip?
Contikis are an organized tour group of young, like minded travellers from around the world; particularly from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, the UK and South Africa. They are group sizes of 13-50 people, aged 18-35 and can span a couples days, 1 week, 2 weeks, or up to 45 days (alot of different time options here) .
Who is Contiki perfect for?
First time travellers, solo travellers, social travellers, adventure travellers, youth travellers, and those that don’t like the hassle and the stress of planning a trip by themselves. For those that want to see the world and not be burdened by having to sort out accommodations, where to go, see and transportation back and forth.
Contiki can sometimes be very intense and fast pace, this is because they are trying to get you the most things done and seen within a short period of time. Know this before planning your trip , because if you are someone that likes to sleep in or dislikes travelling on a bus for longer periods of time, a fast pace trip visiting multiple countries is not going to be for you, and you won’t have as much fun as one that is a bit more relaxed. This is precisely the reason behind Contiki’s brand new trip styles. Customization! As they now have options of slower paces tours, and tours that spend multiple nights in one place, really allowing you to take in all there is to see and do!
Make sure you have an idea of what pace you are looking for . Think about this hard and really evaluate HOW you want to travel, not just WHAT you want to see. You can never see everything at every destination you go to, so don’t push yourself to try.
- Discovery Plus
- High Energy
- In-Depth Explorer
- Easy Pace
- Freestyle Camping
- Sailing & Cruise
- Festivals & Short Stays
- Winter & Ski
Optionals are just as they sound, optional. They are little bonuses, extra excursions and treats that you have the option to add onto your tour, while you are on tour. These are there to give you a chance for more free time if you choose, or to join in an activity with your new friends.
These are completely up to you. Most of the time, the majority of the people do a lot of optionals. But people also don’t. This is the beauty of choice. Go with the flow, a lot of times you might not THINK you want to do a certain optional, but once you start making friends on tour and THEY want to, you might very well be persuaded. And vice versa. Just make sure you keep those prices in your budget as they can add up quickly if you choose to do a lot (I always do a lot!).
Contiki has some wicked cool accommodations you will be staying at. But they vary and there is always a trade off.
If you are staying closer to the centre of town or, literally downtown and walking distance to where the action is, your accommodation will most likely be more basic, because those cost more $$$. In these cases you are paying for LOCATION as you are right outside the action!
If you are staying farther away, your accommodation will mostly likely be quite nice! But, you’ll need to take transportation to get to most places. Luckily, Contiki arranges a lot of scheduled pick up and drop off times to take you back and forth to the hotel and back.
So basically, you get a mix of both.
Sharing Rooms+ Roommates
On Contikis you’ll either be sharing a room with 1 to 3 people (maximum of 4 total). The majority of trips it is only 1 other person. Know before hand if you are a roommate person or not. If you REALLY MUST have a private room, pay extra for the upgrade. This is your trip and being social all the time isn’t for everyone.
However, if you are a solo traveller, do no think you have to have a private room. Trust me, it’s actually much, much better if you don’t. Contiki will pair you up and your new roommate will become your instant travel best friend(s).
Each location and tour varies on the types and quality of foods and how many meals they provide. Most of the time breakfast is always provided. Dinners here and there as well, lunches almost never.
In Asia food is cheap, so you will get buffet breakfasts and lots of fancier dinners. In Europe, a croissant is seriously the national standard for breakfast. Obviously food will vary with the price of the tour. (again, see tour styles) In general, yes you will have a few average meals, but you will also have many fantastic meals.
Contiki tries to accomodate all tastes. Some travellers want to try all the local foods, while others want to eat what they are used to back home. You can’t please everyone! That’s why they leave a lot of meals open, so YOU can choose!
On all tours though, if you have a dietary requirement, they will accommodate and make sure you get a special meal at group dinners! So no worries if your vegan, veggie, gluten-free or have allergies!
Drinking and Parties
On Contiki there is drinking and there are parties. This is very well know. You are travelling with a group of young people, it’s what we do! Most of time these are a fantastic way to bond and meet your new tour mates, plus it gives everyone a chance to dance, let off some steam and have a great time! Drinking is a part of alot of cultures, and getting the chance to try local drinks is always a treat.
For some people, they live for the party, other they don’t. While drinking is incorporated in many aspects of the tours, it is okay to not drink on a Contiki.
You should never feel pressured and you won’t feel left out.
Chances are there are other travellers in the group that don’t like to drink and party as well. There are lots of non drinking evening activities in every city! Find which group you fit in with.
Also, many time on tour, you can always go out with the group and just not drink. I have done so many times before. Each group will have different levels of people that want to drink as much or as little as they like. You are an adult, and it’s up to you to control your alcohol intake on tour and to be responsible and respectful of others.
Your tour leader is an extremely valuable resource. Seriously, they know everyone and are there to help you with your questions and problems. That being said, they are also not your parent. They aren’t there to make sure you make it to the bus on time and to baby sit you, nor to hold your hand around the city. We are all adults here, Contikis are for 18-35s.
Making Friends + Solo Travellers
An average Contiki tour is made up of a mixture of solo travellers; a few pairs such as sisters, friends, brothers, a few couples, and maybe a group or two of 3-4 people. If you are a solo traveller, don’t worry, you WILL make friends and have people to share your experience with. (srsly, tour managers help with this)
If you are a couple, pair or group, make sure YOU are also open to making friends. Invite others to join your group, trust me, it will make for a better group dynamic for everyone, plus making friends in one of the best parts of Contiki.
Group Dynamics + Age Groups
This is a mixed bag and each group and tour varies. Generally, in my experiences:
The more expensive the tour, and the more remote and unknown the location , the higher the chance there will be a great number of couples and an average older age group.
The cheaper the tour, and the more “bucket list” items such as Paris, Italy, Australia, the more likely a younger age group.
But that being said, there will be also someone near to your age on every tour. Remember, they limit this to 18-35’s ONLY. So if you are 18 worries about 30 year olds (and vice versa), don’t. The group is big enough so that each and every age group can find their “perfect mini-group” of friends.
General Contiki Rules
- Be on time, it will win the heart of your tour leader and make the trip better for everyone.
- Don’t overpack. Seriously, you don’t need half of the clothes are you about to bring and you will be unpacking and repacking quite frequently.
- Backpack vs Wheeled Bag– Wheels 100%. You won’t be traveling very far with your bags, so unless you plan on doing a lot of extra trips on your own before or after your trip, a wheeled bag is 100% what I recommend.
- There will be a theme party. Love it, embrace it. And no, you probably won’t know what it is before hand.
- Have something to do in the downtime, on the bus, boat or on the plane. (A book is a good option, or iPad) Usually thought Contiki has fun games and trivia, movies, etc they play during transportation time so you’ll never feel like you are wasting time. (blankets and pillows are nice!)
- Bring multiple nightclub/ going out attire, as you will find yourself wanting to dress a little nice for evenings out more often than not. Sweaty t-shirts and shorts ain’t gonna cut it.
There is a reason I have done 14 Contikis and plan on doing many more to come. They are one of the best ways to travel and seriously a lot of fun.
Have an additional questions? Feel free to ask me in the comments below! Also, there are dozens of Contiki staff members just a phone call away that will help you answer all your questions.
Check out their website: http://www.contiki.com for more info!
Pssss, just for my readers:
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