First off, what is Contiki? Part of the world-known Travel Corporation, Contiki is a travel company providing tours specifically designed and exclusively for ages 18-35. With tours around Asia, USA & Canada, Latin America, South America, New Zealand, Australia and of course, Europe, all travel-hopefuls have a wide array of itineraries to choose from. Varying from the number of countries to visit, the style of travelling and your holiday duration, Contiki is the best option for a traveler who wants to get a jump-start on leading a travel-filled life. From short breaks to weeks-long travels, a conservative travel budget to thousands of dollars to spend, from camping to hotels, and lastly, from one side of the world to another: Contiki will surely have your travel needs covered.
How do I know this? I’ve gone on two tours with Contiki within two years and I’m in the process of counting down to the day that I get to, once again, save up to go on another trip with the company. Though prior to going on my first trip with them, I came across some Contiki horror stories, which for a short time, made me hesitate to book with them; but since the good reviews incredibly outweighed the bad, I went for it. And how glad I am that I did – as I had a fantastic time during both tours. So I thought I ought to list all the reasons why both my Contiki experiences were life-changing, to encourage those who are contemplating whether or not to book a tour with them to go for it!
1) Contiki makes travelling more convenient, specially if you’re travelling solo.
Most say it’s more expensive to take a tour than to map-out your whole trip and book everything on your own; that could be true for a couple of tours, but for Contiki, the prices are reasonable when compared to having to book your tickets and accommodation on your own. Specially when you’re travelling solo, this saves you the time, energy and stress of making sure the hotel/hostel you’re booking isn’t some shady guest house where you could lose all your valuables or that a certain train route you’re taking will lead you to the middle of nowhere.
Though some Contiki tours could be more expensive than do-it-yourself trips, remember that you’re also paying for the convenience.
2) Contiki gives you many options.
As aforementioned, options ranging from the cities and countries to visit of your choosing, your travel pace and style, the kinds of accommodation you want, your budget range, your travel period, and your chosen travel dates; Contiki can and will present you with not just one, not two, but a variety of options that you can choose from. All you have to do is visit Contiki.com and enter your travel details.
To add to that, people have the presumption of Contiki tours being like Spring Breaks on steroids. Though partying is big on these tours, you have the option to spend the night in the hotel instead of dancing the night away in some club. Note that I’m not too enthusiastic about bars and clubs, yet I still enjoyed every bit of the tour. I did go out a few times, but the nights spent writing under the covers of my bed outweighed the times I spent partying.
3) Contiki gives you the chance to explore at your own pace and go about on your own.
Custom-fit as it is for people from our generation, Contiki doesn’t drag you around museums and attractions that you wouldn’t want to go to.
Contiki gives you the freedom to go where you please, and at the same time, useful travel tips.
There will be days where you can go do your own thing – go where you want, at your own pace. These days are called ‘free days,’ during which, at the end of the day, they usually state a meet-up place and time – usually right before dinner – from where you get a ride back to the hotel / hostel. Again, if you don’t want to cut the day of exploring short, your tour manager will always give you directions on how to go back to where the group is staying for the night. Also, you’ll be given tips for what you want to do; be it suggested restaurants or dishes, or the attractions you want to see, or even suggestions on what you could do on your free days. Tour managers will also give you tips on how to skip the line legally in popular attractions; we experienced this in the Colosseum in Rome.
4) Want to try good, local cuisine? Contiki tour managers will give you the know-it-all tips.
We all know that travelling is also all about indulging in the local cuisine. If you don’t know which restaurant to go to, your tour manager will always give you prime tips on where to eat for a reasonable price, what to order and sometimes, what not to order. Tour managers more often than not have visited the places on tour itineraries countless times, so their opinion is a mighty-valid one and should not be taken for granted. Most of the dishes I’ve tried, which were also extremely reasonably priced, were suggested by my tour manager/s.
5) You’ll drive through out-of-this-world places.
As much as I love taking the train through cities, you get to appreciate the places you’re driving through more-so on the Contiki coach. At a more steady pace, you’ll get to marvel at the sights most people don’t even know about. Have you heard about Rome? How about Paris? Amsterdam? I’m sure you have; but have you heard about Lauterbrunnen?
How about Hopfgarten?
And these are just two of the places that I never would have visited had I not joined Contiki tours.
6) The stories you’ll hear.
Just like you, the rest of the people on your group have been diagnosed with a serious case of wanderlust; so more often than not, most of them have traveled far and wide and have the most exciting stories to tell. These are the stories you’ll remember, these are the stories that’ll make you go, “Hey! I want to experience the Brazilian Carnival too!” You’ll find out more about certain places that’ll make you want to book a plane ticket straight to the place your newfound friend has been raving about. You’ll get to learn about cultures whose traditions are completely opposite of what you know and value. You’ll realize that despite being in a fifty-seater coach with so many others whose different stories have yet to be told, you all share that one passion for travel.
7) The memories you’ll make.
Second to the most important thing that you’ll get from travelling with Contiki is the memories you’ll make. From getting lost in Prague, to accidentally eating rabbit, drinking wine on a gondola in Venice, walking through an underground Salt Mine in Poland, rolling through the snow in the Swiss Alps and singing through the hills in Austria; I’ve done all of these on Contiki tours. Contiki offers you exclusive optional excursions that’ll give you the chance to snowboard through the Swiss Alps, whitewater-raft through the Austrian Tyrol, visit a concentration camp, paraglide through European skies, and so on. Who else could say they’ve done all those? You could, if you just give it a go and book that tour.
8) The people you’ll meet.
Of course, memories are better when you have someone to share it with. The people you meet will probably the most valuable treasure you’ll get out of joining a Contiki tour. You may be from different parts of the globe and might never even see each other again, though that’s what social networks are for now, but the bond you’ll have formed while travelling for days or even weeks together will keep you in contact. The people I’ve met on Contiki tours are those who have continued to inspire me to keep going, to keep travelling, to keep seeing the world.
These are the people who will welcome you with open arms when you visit their respective countries and reminisce about the wonderful memories you’ve made all thanks to Contiki. I’ve kept in touch with several of those I got close to and have reunited with some of them; and this is why joining Contiki will always be one of the best decisions I’ve made to date.