Thursday, May 2, 2013

Should I travel with Contiki?

If you’re between the age of 18-35 and interested in traveling on a tour, Contiki Holidays may be a great option.  Contiki caters to younger travelers by offering affordable trips with plenty of free time.  Many travelers that choose Contiki also come alone because the tours are a fun way to meet new friends on the road.

The first time I traveled alone internationally I chose to sign up for a Contiki tour.  I had a limited amount of money and time off and wanted to make the most of it.  I knew I didn’t have the time to plan a trip through Europe with my demanding work schedule and I hadn’t traveled on my own enough to even know where to start.  With Contiki all I had to do was book my flights and show up.  I found that using a tour made my life a whole lot easier and I came back with great memories and new friends from around the world.

Contiki offers tours from starting from three days to over a month long.  I decided on Contiki’s European Magic tour that started in London and ended in Paris with stops in Amsterdam, St. Goar, Munich, Innsbruck, Venice, and Lucerne in between.   I paid around $1,400 for all my transportation, hotels, and breakfasts.  Sighseeing tours and personal entertainment are not included.  Can you do Europe for cheaper?  Of course, you can, but I was able to see seven countries in nine days without ever feeling rushed because I had a guide that took care of everything.

Contiki buses boarding the ferry to Belgium
Contiki isn’t for everyone.  While I had no complaints, here are a few things you need to know:

  • At age 24 I was one of the older members of the tour.  On both Contiki tours I’ve taken the average age was around 20. 
  • Contiki tour members like to party.  Expect to be surrounded by hungover people each morning.
  • It’s not a luxury tour.  Unless you pay extra you will be sharing a room with another person in a standard hotel room.  Included meals are decent and the bus is as basic as they come. I was on the bus an average of nine hours per day. 
    hotel room in Germany
While those aren’t deal breakers for me, not everyone will enjoy traveling in that environment.  I loved my first tour so much I came back for a second round in Asia the following summer with a girl I met in Europe.  Traveling alone is common on Contiki and I never experienced any cliques.  Both guides I had were fantastic and made even the longest bus rides fun. 
Bus travel isn't so bad-check out this view of the Swiss Alps!
Have additional questions about Contiki?  Email me! JuliaKristinSummers[at]gmail[dot]com

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