Probably The Best Contiki Tour Review Ever Written

Here’s my Contiki review!!


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Are you thinking about doing a Contiki Tour?

If you want to learn what life is really like on a bus with 50 people for a month, then you need to read this Contiki review.

It’s super in depth and it really shows you what you should expect touring with Contiki.

If you’re wondering, I did this Contiki tour here, and it has been my favorite Contiki I’ve ever taken.

Here’s my thoughts about my trip:

 

What Social Life Is Like On Contiki

 

Who’s On The Bus?

My Contiki tour group had about 34 girls, 12 guys, and the rest were couples, plus our driver and TM (Tour Manager). We didn’t have too much diversity in our group (as far as nationality goes). Most people were from Australia/New Zealand, 7 Canadians, and few Americans. Being from Canada, I was really happy with this mix. I was looking forward to meeting non-Canadians. I think the average age of my Contiki trip mates had to have been quite low. Maybe 22-23ish. We had a lot of youngin’s.

It Felt A Lot Like High School

One of the things I immediately noticed about being on Contiki was that it reminded me of what high school life was like. We had a full group (50 people), and when you have a group that big, the odds just play themselves out. You have the popular girls, the popular guys, the quiet & shy people, the guys that just wanna chase girls, the friendly to everyone people, the outgoing people, the weird people, and people who are desperately trying to fit in.

And when everyone is together everyday (like at school), you see a lot of the same high school social dynamics play out.

Group Bonding, Making Friends, And Getting Social With New People

Here’s what I’m talking about…

One of the biggest reasons I chose to travel with Contiki was because it gave me an opportunity to very easily meet new people from all around the world. How cool is spending weeks with “family” and making life long friends! And it IS super, super cool! To this day, I still keep in touch with many of my Contiki mates.

But the thing is, you WILL NOT get along with everyone. There will be people you don’t agree with and wouldn’t spend your weekends with. There will be people who do shit that annoy you and piss you off. And you just have to put up with it sometimes.

Along with that, there will be people who you totally connect with. It’s like you instantly get along. We all met in “The Contiki Basement” at the beginning of our tour to “sign in.” I went around meeting as many people as I could, and I could quickly tell who I would get along with and who I may… well, probably not spend so much time with.

And this was the same for everyone else. I thought it was so interesting how everyone formed their little “groups” so quickly. The people who were similar to each other connected quickly and became friends fast. By the time we reaches Paris (our first stop), I could see these little groups of “strangers” that were now all friends.

When you’re in a large group of 50, you’re going to meet people you jive with. It’s guaranteed. Even the oddest person on our tour (A girl who grew up in the forest somewhere in Canada), found people to connect with and socialize with.

So if you’re worried about being lonely, doing Contiki solo, or not being able to make friends, DON’T. You’ll be fine. If Forest girl made it, you can too!

 

Lots, And Lots, (And Lots) Of Hookups

I knew Contiki had a reputation of hookups before I joined. But I had no idea it would happen as much as it did (at least on my tour). Our first night in Paris, I came back to my room super late at night and went to bed. I woke up the next morning to find a girl in my roommates bed (I had no idea she was even there). I gave myself a little nod of acknowledgement to my roomie and went down to get some food.

By the time we reached the Chateau in France (a few days into our trip), people were hooking up like rabbits. I heard about 4 hookups personally, and “rumours” of more.

If this is something you’re interested in, there’s no easier way than Contiki. Guys and girls are very very willing. I think it’s the fact that everyone is young and on vacation away from home where people can’t judge, and people are looking to experience new things that make Contiki so conducive to random hookups.

The other thing I really liked about Contiki was that even though everyone was hooking up with each other, it was still respectful. People will always judge, cause that’s human nature, but I always felt like my tour mates understood that this was part of the Contiki life and nobody made a big deal out of so and so hooking up.

We also spend a lot of time with other Contiki groups that happen to be staying at the same accommodation we stayed at. For the most part, I felt like our group stuck with our group mostly, but there is plenty of opportunity to (easily) explore new people outside of your family.

Keep in mind that not everyone hooks up randomly. It’s certainly not everyones “thing,” and other people had boyfriends/girlfriends at home (though a few seem to have forgotten that). Also, some people wanted to hookup but couldn’t :(.

 

You’re Never Alone On Contiki

When I was planning my Contiki trip, I read a lot of Contiki reviews to see if it was the fun I thought it would be. One of the biggest fears I consistently saw was that people were afraid of doing a Contiki alone. It’s scary flying overseas to a new land and meeting a bunch of strangers!

But here’s the thing with Contiki. You are never alone. You will always have your group to fall back on for literally anything. You’re contiki family is literally your family away from home. You’ll learn so much about your new friends and build relationships with people you would otherwise never meet.

I was bored one night in Albania of all places and wanted to roam around. Everyone was at our hotel doing whatever. I found someone to walk around the streets with me (it was the evening, in Albania lol!) Being in such an unfamiliar European country, I dunno if I wanted to go about it alone. But I had my “safety net” group to fall back on for help.

It’s like that for anything. If you need a hand with your luggage, get one of guys to help. If you are bored, sit down with the small groups that form every night and chat. If you want to go into town on your free time and don’t want to do it alone, there will be someone who will want to come.

You are always surrounded by the safety and comfort of your group and your friends. It’s a wonderful way to travel around Europe or anywhere else. Not once did I ever feel scared or threatened by my surroundings.

 

Contiki Parties, Drinking, And Non-Drinkers

We probably had a party at least every second night, and there are opportunities to go out almost every night. If going out to clubs, drinking, bar hopping, and all that night shenanigans is your thing, then a Contiki Tour is a no brainer. Just do it. It will be the best time of your life.

Having said that, you can still have the time of your life if you don’t drink and don’t want to go out every night. I happen to be someone who is more into sight seeing and history than drinking, and I still had the time of my life.

The nice thing about Contiki is you can choose to go out or not. You can choose to drink or not. It’s COMPLETELY up to you. Sure, your tour mates will “pressure” you a little or egg you on to Strawpedo with them, but nobody will force you to drink.

We had a girl who was super fun and popular with everyone, and her drinking for the night included “sipping” from the straw of someone else’s highball. We didn’t say, OMG she doesn’t drink or party, she sucks. Let’s not include her in anything.

Really, how much you party or drink is up to you.

Most of the nights spent at our accommodation (whether at a camp site or hostel) was spent gathering around someones room, the bar in the hostel, or outside in a common lounge area. We basically just drank and mingled. Told stories, made jokes, be loud, and just generally do what people do in social gatherings.

Other nights we went out to an actual bar or night club. The bus usually takes us there and we have a “pick up” time as well that we can choose to take or not. If we are having fun we can stay longer and find our own way back.

In Mykonos, Greece, we had a Greek dinner by the sea and watched the sun set during our meal. After that, we went bar hopping in Mykonos town (which is an amazing place) and danced and partied to good music and (relatively) cheap drinks. We wandered the streets and our entire tour kinda dispersed. We’d run into each other again and lose each other again. In one of the clubs, we had an area specifically for us in the back. It was awesome having a common area where we could all congregate. That’s one of the perks of going with Contiki is that they pre-arrange these things for you.

Another night (in Florence) was spent at Space Electronic Discoteque. I think every Contiki group that goes through Florence (and they basically all go there) has a night in this club. The club is really sweet. On the main floor you can karaoke, and on a different floor is the actual club. It’s 2 stories and very colourful. It was pretty much just our tour group when we were there, but it was still fun. I drank drinks I’d never had before, I had a cigarette in the smoking room for the first time in my life, and we had our couched section where our tour mates would sit and watch everyones stuff. There was just a lot of shouting, laughing, and general nonsense all night. That’s a good night!

In Vienna, we stayed at Wombats hostel. They have a bar/lounge area that got crazy the night we spent there. What was a regular chilling out by the bar night turned into a water gun fight night. Don’t know how it started, but I am guessing it happens frequently. Out of nowhere, people behind the bar pop up with super soakers and begin spraying us. They had water hoses too. We managed to grab a few of them and fight back. Coupled with the fact we all got free drinks this evening, it was one messy and wet night. There were a bunch of other people we didn’t know who also got in on the action with us. Great night.

As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to really enjoy night time shenanigans. Again, taking part in them or not is totally up to you. If you need quiet time, take it. If you wanna start some shit, there will be plenty of people looking to do the same. Round them up and go!

 

Contiki Hosts Awesome Theme Nights

Our first experience of a themed night was in The Chateau De Cruix. It’s a Chateau Contiki bought and have been using for decades now to host its guest. They have “the basement” there, and its a 2 sided roomed area with different music on each side. We had our “white board party” here, where we all wore white shirts and wrote whatever we wanted on each other.

We were still new to each other (being just a few days into our tour) so it was a great way to get to know our new family. My shirt was covered in a lot of stuff, like “you’re cute” and profanity. There was another Contiki group staying with us at the same time and we partied with them, too. I still have my shirt today and it’s one of my favourite souvenirs from my trip.

My favourite themed night was in Mykonos, Greece, where we had our Toga party! Let’s just say this.. Toga parties are cool, sure… but Toga parties in Geece?? WAAAY COOL!! We all got bed sheets and were taught how to wrap each other up to look like Greek royalty. Then we danced and drank all night, did the Macarena, shouted a lot, ran around, and laughed all night.

Another themed night we had was when we were in Switzerland, and we had the “Swisco Disco.” To celebrate this night, we all had to dress up in red. Many people went full out. Girls put on red lipsticks, almost everyone had some sort of article of clothing with the Swiss flag on it, and we danced and drank all night in the basement of our accommodation. It’s funny that to get to the basement, you have to walk through the laundry room and the people who were doing their laundry were probably like wtf is with these loud obnoxious people running in and out all the time!

 

Your Tour Manager And Driver Can Make Or Break Your Trip

If there is one thing that will make or break your trip, it’s your Contiki group mates. If you get a good group, you will have fun, even if Contiki drives you to a desert. The second most important thing is your driver and TM (Tour Manager). Your driver is the person responsible for your transportation, and your TM organizes and leads the group.

Neither your group or your driver/TM is in your control. It’s going to be randomly “assigned” to you. But I feel like Contiki does a pretty good job hiring the right people. I ran into several other TM’s during my Contiki Europe trip and they all seemed really cool and fun.

My TM and driver were awesome. Very nice and polite couple of guys who liked to have fun. But most importantly, I always felt they were looking out for us (as they should) and wanted us to have the best time possible. My TM always asked us our opinions on stuff and made decisions bases on what the group wanted. That was important to me and I’m glad my TM listened to us.

Your driver isn’t as important. He/she just takes you around, however, he/she is an additional member to your family and the more the merrier in my opinion! Drivers with a lot of experience will get you where you need to go faster and know alternate routes. It’s all time management with drivers so hopefully you get a good one on your tour!

 

There Is ALWAYS Something To Do On Contiki

During my entire Contiki trip, I don’t think I was ever too bored. Whenever I got bored, I’d go find someone to talk to and that was usually all it took to “un-bore” me.

The only “down” time is on the bus, and sometimes late at night when everyone is winding down. Also, when just arriving at your new destination and before dinner time, you sometimes have a couple hours or so to do whatever.

I usually unpack, write in my journal, or wander around the area (either in the accommodation or around it).

Besides that, you’re Contiki trip will be filled with sight seeing during the day, eating food, and socializing with your tour mates. I found time flew by really really fast.

 

Shenanigans (Memories) That Will Last A Lifetime

Things will happen on your Contiki Tour that you will never forget.

One of my favourite memories was arriving in Barcelona. We checked into our hotel, and the rest of the night was free to do as we pleased. Some of the guys went out and bought (a LOT of) Sangria and other drinks.

Next thing you know, we ended up in someones room (like, 30 of us lol) and started drinking Sangria like mad. Thankfully, we had a balcony and most of us hung out there. You could hop onto the next balcony and get to other peoples rooms. I did just that and found myself in these girls’ room. She let me in and then plucked my eye brows. It was so random. And then I hopped back to the balcony party.

Gosh, we were SO LOUD all night. I don’t think anyone around us got any sleep. I’m shocked we didn’t get a noise complaint (something tells me this isn’t anything new to the hotel though). I can’t believe people even tried to sleep in the room we were all in. A girl vomited everywhere, someone dropped a glass cup that shattered all over the floor, people were wrestling, smoking, and testing their “luck.” It just turned out to be one of those fun unplanned nights that you don’t forget.

Another fun memory was when we were in Venice late at night, and there was a Contiki Camping Group who were set to leave early the next night. They all went to bed early while we stayed out. They were in tents in their campground, and we had to walk by it to get to the common area (where the music and booze resided!) So me and my friend thought it would be funny to un-hing and flip over a tent while people were sleeping in it. So we did… and laughed our asses off running away. Yea, it was a dick thing to do, I know.

I’ll give you one more memory. We were in Paris for our first night and our driver was taking us around Paris showing us famous landmarks that we would all get to explore on our own the next day. our TM was narrating the area for us. He purposefully distracted until SUDDENLY the Eiffel Tower appeared! And it was one of those HOLY SHIT I’M IN EUROPE moments I will never forget! It was the first Big European monument I saw and it really hit home that I was truly on a Contiki Holiday. The little things like this really make traveling abroad worth every penny you’ve worked so hard to save for.

 

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Contiki Travel, Bus Life, And Sight Seeing

Contiki Is The Most Organized Tour I’ve Ever Been On

One of the things I REALLY enjoyed about my Contiki Euro trip was the organization of the entire trip. EVERYTHING is planned and taken care of in advance. Your included meals, your transportation, accommodation, available free time, and fun thing to do.

You basically just need to follow instructions and let Contiki take care of everything. Planning your own trips (which I have a lot of experience doing) takes up a lot of time and it can be difficult when you’re planning logistics in a new area. I think this is why so many people like group tours like Contiki. It takes the headache away from planning. The only planning you really need to do is probably packing.

Your entire day is set up for you already. You are told when “bags to coach” is, and if you’re late, you get to sing in front of the whole bus. Your TM will tell you when then next stop is (so your drive can fuel up, so you can get a snack, or bathroom break). If there are “excursions” along the way, you’ll know ahead of time as well.

Usually, we arrive at our next destination sometime in the afternoon. We sometimes drive a little around the city to do some sight seeing on the bus (and sometimes we get off briefly) before we arrive at our accommodation. If it’s later in the afternoon/evening, we typically head strait to our accommodation. We check in to our rooms and usually have some time before dinner. I usually unpack or journal during this time, or just chat with my roommates.

For rooming, you pretty much get to pick who you room with. Your TM will hand out a sheet that lists the available rooms for girls guys, and couples. You then put your name down in an empty slot and pass the clipboard back. Other people will also put their name down and eventually all the spaces are filled up.

I personally didn’t care who I roomed with, as long as they were quiet. I always tried to get a 2 person room over a quad share. I found that people generally chose to room with the same people. I guess its kinda like sitting in the same spot during a lecture in Uni.

You usually spend 2 days in a city. You arrive one day, and have like half the day to do something there, and the next day is a free day/explore day.

Our TM was awesome and gave us maps of the area we were in. Super useful, because basically none of us knew where to go. We were told where the Coach would be and what time to be there or be square.

Most of us explored the city together in groups. I personally preferred smaller groups because I wanna see what I wanna see. I only get 1 day here (typically), so I’m not gonna waste it!

After we meet up back at the Coach, we sometimes did an optional activity, drove around for some sight seeing, or went back to our accommodation for dinner. We often went out at night as well (after dinner).

You Get A Taste Of Each City, And That’s It!

You will spend at most 3 days in each city on virtually every tour Contiki offers. Their tours are designed to zoom you in and out, giving you a taste of culture, history, food, art, and people.

Contiki does offer “slower paced” tours where they spend more time in each location (like 4 days max I believe?) but those ones are rare and they aren’t offered for many major European destinations.

So understand that if you do a Contiki tour, you’re not going to get any kind of immersion into Parisian or Italian culture.

You will however get to see a large variety of European culture that will help you find your specific “taste.”

I had no idea how Glorious and beautiful France was. I come from Canada and I don’t like the accent of French speaking Canadian. I didn’t think anything much of France. But boy oh boy, going to France sure made me feel like naive and stupid.

Their country is so green and beautiful. Their art is colourful and precious. Their baguette and wine is cheap and delicious. And French speakers from France is one of the most beautiful sounding languages in the world. France is just simply stunning. Their weather is warm and amazing. I never knew I’d love France so much!

Italy, on the other hand, was “ok.” I just really like their food. But their country… (despite all their significant monuments), didn’t excite me as much as I thought.

So, you won’t know any of these things until you actually visit Europe! Or other countries that Contiki goes to.

Contiki tours will give you a little intro to each area, so the next time you want to explore it in detail, you’ll know what you prefer.

 

What You ACTUALLY Get To See In Each City

Reading the Contiki brochure, I could see that it’s beautifully written. They describe the things you will see and experience in such awesome colourful language. Very persuasive!

But is what they promise actually reality?

In my opinion, yes it is ( for the most part).

You will always get to see the major landmarks in each country. That’s a given.

Paris? Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre Museum, etc.

Rome? You’re TM will give you a walking tour of the Pantheon, Colloseum, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, etc.

It’s the “little” things that may or may not fit your expectations.

For example, the brochure said we’d get to see the beautiful white cliffs of Dover. And we did… we Ferried from the UK to France, and while we were departing, you could see the white cliffs. I guess some people expected to touch it or get a tour of it? I dunno… I have read some Contiki reviews that people felt like there should be more.

We drove by Vimy Ride (Canadian Memorial place) while in France, and you could sort of see it in the distance. I guess it would have been cool to actually go to it, since I’m from Canada. And I could see why some of the Contiki reviews were complaining about drive-by landmarks and that was it.

I wasn’t very fussed personally. You get to see A TON of stuff, so the missing out on little things like that didn’t bother me.

In some cities where there are TONS to see, like in Paris (we got 3 days which still wasn’t enough), you’re not going to be able to see everything. So expect that and partner with people who want to see the same stuff you do.

Sometimes you only have time to see certain landmarks and monuments while on the bus and don’t get a chance to get off to explore. Contiki is definitely a hurried and fast paced type of tour. But again, for anything significant, you will get time to see it in detail.

 

What A “Free Day To Explore” Is Like

You typically arrive at your destination one day, and the next day is your free day to explore. Sometimes your TM will give you a short tour of the area before you get to roam around on your own. For example, in Barcelona, my TM walked us through the Gothic Quarter and gave us some history (none of which I remember lol). Then we were off on our own!

I talked about this earlier, but our TM gave us MAPS! They were so incredibly helpful, I think this should be mandatory for Contiki. The maps highlights popular landmarks and destinations. You then just choose your path and go. That’s pretty much what your free day is like.

Sometimes, in small cities, you may only get a few hours to roam around. Don’t stray too far off because if you don’t come back in time, the coach will leave you.

 

Contiki Provides A Good Balance Between Free Time, Guided Time, And History Lessons

I feel Contiki does and awesome job of showing you around, giving you history, and also giving you time to explore.

For example, when we arrived in Florence, we were shown two places. A leather shop and a glass blowing shop. We also got a guided tour of the city from this lady who was literally the most boring person ever (I ditched the tour half way through). The rest of the time was free for us to Explore.

In most major cities, Contiki will organize some sort of tour of the place. Either your TM will lead it, or a local tour guide (sometimes they are free, sometimes you have to pay for it). I recommend paying for it, even if it kinda sucks, because you will learn something (hopefully). But I am, after all, someone who really enjoys history.

I asked my TM for food recommendation (I am a foodie and spent most of my money on food), and he recommended Florentine Steak. OMG, it’s a bone-in steak and I’ve never had more delicious meat in my life. I also had seafood spaghetti as my start and that was ridiculously good too. Italians know their food!

The rest of my free time was spent just walking around Florence. I recommend learning a little about each city you will be in. Because it will help you decide where to go. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I missed so many great things about Florence. Also, I’d always ask my Contiki family what they did today and usually they tell me something cool I wish I did.

You See Breathtaking Views Of Europe On A Contiki Coach

Particularly in the Mediterranean area, and the French Riviera, you get to see STUNNING ocean side views. Coming from a place in Canada with no hill, no beaches, and a lot of snow, I LOVED IT!

I always tried to sit on the side facing the sea. I also tried to sit at the front when we were in these glorious areas. You get the best views from the front because you can look out the massive driver window. Plus, you get to chat with your driver and TM – who usually have funny stories to tell.

In the French Rivera (probably the most beautiful place in the world), it’s just all ocean, beaches, houses on the hill, and the good life all around. Rich people, expensive architecture, yachts after yachts, nice cars, and gorgeous sunny skies. Honestly… it’s a place out of a magazine.

Driving through Switzerland was really cool too. It’s so GREEN there. Extremely hilly and COW everywhere! The Swiss countryside has a lot of little houses scattered everywhere, gorgeous patches of lakes and water masses, and is the hilliest country in all of Europe. Makes the ride fun and adventurous.

I’ll tell you one more.

Albania isn’t beautiful by any stretch, but It was really cool driving through roads that weren’t even roads. More like dirt with MASSIVE holes in them that our driver carefully maneuvered around. The country side in Albania is ugly yet interesting at the same time. Boys would side on the side of the road and offer any car that drives by cherries. You’d see new boy every 10 minutes. They are one of the poorest countries in Europe and it was really interesting experience that.

So, on a Contiki Europe tour, you get to see a lot of neat things just looking out the window. Being on the coach all day sucks, but this is definitely one of the few perks of coaching around.

What Life On A Bus Every Day Is Like

At the very beginning of our tour, our TM clearly told us that our coach was our home. And we need to respect it and treat it that way. I’m glad he did, because our coach was always clean, inside and out. Nobody littered or vomited (thank god). We really did take care of it. Having a clean “home” really helped us stay as comfortable as you can on a bus.

The bus itself is very modern. Nice big windows that were cleaned nightly by our driver. Air conditioning worked awesome. You can get on in the back or front. There’s a clock at the front that yo can see from the back. There is a washroom, but we were told to only use it if you absolutely have to. Basically, wait until a pit stop to pee.

The seats were as good as they could be. It is fairly cramped with 50 people inside though. If you sit beside someone with long legs, he/she is probably going to be touch your leg. It can be hard to shift around and get comfortable when you’re trying to sleep. The seats can recline, but they don’t recline too much. You can bring a bag and shove it in the overhead space. It’s very small though, and everyone uses it. You want to try to put your stuff there first.

People do somewhat fight for seats (I noticed this more and more later in the tour). I guess people get comfortable and want “their” seat, and want to sit by certain people. Perhaps this was just my tour, I don’t know.

Spending long hours on the coach

Some days, you will be spending 8 hours or so on the bus. This is definitely a “bus day,” where you are covering long distances. For example, after we left Mykonos, Greece to our next destination in Albania, it was an atrocious ride. We had 3 days in Greece to party and relax, and then it was back to the coach for 8 long ass hours.

The coach almost always played music. The music we played was off of our TM’s iPod, and unfortunately for me, his music taste was horrible. Literally terrifyingly bad. Some of us gave him heck for it, and he asked us to make a playlist for him – but none of us did. So it’s not his fault I guess? lol.

You MUST bring your own music. I don’t know anyone who didn’t, but just wanted to tell you anyway. The long trip days where you get bored, you will lose your mind if you don’t have your own tunes.

Keeping with music, something cool Contiki does is that every tour gets a “day song.” This is your Contiki song for the rest of the trip. Your TM chooses the song. Unfortunately for me, again, I hated our day song. And I so so so wished it was something else.

But it didn’t matter. Every time the song came on, no matter where we were, we all went bat shit crazy. It was OUR SONG! We’d request our day song again and again in whatever club we were at. I did eventually learn to be “okay” with it.

The song would also get played every morning when we started our journey on the coach. I thought that was cool.

Except one morning when our TM got pissed at some of the girls because of a laundry budding incident. He literally said “NO DAY SONG TODAY!” and tried to get mad? I can’t picture my TM being mad so I thought it was funny.

Along with the day song, we also had a “wake up” song. This song would be played whenever we were arriving at a pit stop or destination where we had to get off. It would only get played when the people were sleeping though. Pretty much an alarm clock.

We played games on the bus from time to time. The funnest game we played was this game I can’t remember the name, but we divide the bus in half. Our TM asked for an item, and then your side of the bus had to get the item and pass it forward. No throwing. And the first side to get the item all the way to the front and give it to the TM gets a point. Items our TM asked for were a condom, wallet, and something with the EU symbol on it.

The rest of the bust time was spent socializing with the people around you. I feel like Aussies could talk forever. Whenever I sat beside one, they wouldn’t shut up. I didn’t mind. I’m just saying, you guys drink and talk a lot. Lol I love you!

There are pit stops every few hours. Sometimes these stop are 15 mins – 30 mins, and could be even longer. The longer ones was usually because our driver needed to get gas.

I recommend brining whatever you can to get comfortable on the bus. You will be spending A LOT of time on it. Pillows, back rests, music, cards, whatever it takes.

 

You Will Likely Get Sick On Contiki

I was one of the first people to get sick and it lasted for the entire tour and well into my time back home. It was super unpleasant and looking back, I don’t know how I made it some nights because it was REALLY bad.

Many Contiki tours reviews said “the Contiki cough is real,” and they weren’t joking! I’d say that more than half of the bus was sick at some point of the trip. Lots and lots of coughing all trip.

Bring medication for this. I didn’t, and I paid for it big time. There are some places in Europe that allow you to walk right into a pharmacy to get drugs without a prescription though. Worse case scenario I suppose.

 

Unique Perks Of Being On A Contiki Tour

Getting from one place to another in Europe isn’t overly hard. But the problem is you need to plan it and be independent about it.

Contiki takes this problem away by planning every step of the way. All the way down to when you need to wake up and when your first piss break is.

It’s not so strict that you become a drone. But it’s structured in a way to maximize your time in Europe. I loved that so much. As I planned more difficult trips after my Contiki experience, I realized more and more how convenient and painless Contiki really is.

My biggest “complain” here is that sometimes I didn’t want to get off the coach when we needed to. Or I didn’t want to see this specific sight. But looking at the big picture, it’s a small issue to have.

One of the coolest part about being on tour with Contiki is they get you access to things that would be difficult for you to do yourself.

For example, in the Vatican, the line up to get in to see the Sistine Chapel was insane! And it was early in the morning. But, with our guided tour, we got right in and didn’t have to wait in line like everyone else.

In Dubrovnik, Croata, we got a private boat tour around a few islands. It was sunny skies and gorgeous blue waters the whole way. We had a couple stops where we jumped off our boat into the water and swam around. We drank cheap beer and listened to loud music. We had an hour to eat Croatian seafood along the overpriced touristy seaside restaurants. But it was still fun and beautiful. Would do it again.

I don’t know if it would be this fun being by yourself backpacking through Croatia for example. It’s being with your group that makes everything so much more special and enjoyable. Jumping into water is “okay.” Jumping into water with your friend while doing a roundhouse and getting high five by 3 different family mates is something else. That’s Contiki vs doing your own thing.

In Paris, our TM guides us to the top of Sacré-Cœur (I didn’t even know what it was at the time). He got us to buy baguettes, wine, and cheese so we could picnic up there while watching the sun go down, overlooking amazing Paris below. The view is INSANELY gorgeous. We all drank our cheap wine and champaign, and slowly started to get real social because of it.

We just got super super loud. Imagine a group of 50 young people shenaniganing around with cheap champaign. Everyone there was starring at us. We were the party. I don’t want to sound naive, but I bet everyone wished they were part of our awesome group. We were singing, dancing, and being generally outrageous. We just had fun!

After that, our TM navigated us through Parisan streets to get to the Moulin Rouge where we took pictures and do what young people do high in cheap booze, be loud and enjoy ourselves. After this, we went to Nouvelle Eve, which is a French Cabaret Show. I talked about seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time and having the reality of being in Europe smack me in the face….

Well, this was another one of those experiences. Since Contiki is a important patron of Nouvelle Eve, we got front row seats there (something you would probably have to pay a lot of money to get yourself). I sat right at the front with my new friends, and we watched half naked women put on a show. Though I didn’t care for that, I was just stuck in the moment enjoying a show I had never seen before. I sat there and was like WOW…. This is Paris! And it’s these moments I never forget.

Lots of little moments and memories like these make me so happy I chose to tour with Contiki. I feel like some of these thing would never happen If I traveled on my own. Though it’s true I would make different memories solo backpacking on my own. What I’m trying to say is that life with Contiki will give you experiences that are difficult to replicate on your own.

 

You Don’t Have To Plan Travel Logistics

We get dropped off at a central location and picked up at a central location (usually the same place) on our explore days. When we have a group thing at night, like a dinner, our coach takes us there, too.

At night, we get dropped off at a club/bar and bang it out for a few hours. Most of the time, we all leave together. If we are in a pretty central place or somewhere close to our hostel/hotel, we find our own way back. An example of this is in Mykonos after bar hopping around. We were responsible for finding out own way back. It’s a cab ride that you will want to split with the people you are with.

When we were in Amsterdam, we hung out at coffee shops in the red light district, eating and smoking hash laced goods. We were also required to find our own way back here, too.

Most of the time, the coach is there to transport you around. The only time it’s not available is late at night.

The coach will ALWAYS go with the tour group and scheduled optional activities. For example, in Vienna, less than half at the group chose to do the Mozart concert. The coach went with them (even though less than half the group went) and dropped them off, as well as picked them up. That’s totally fine and understandable in my book.

For those that didn’t go with the group, we had to arrange our own way to meet up at a central location. I did most of the optionals so this was never a problem for me. I know some people who were tight on money just hung around close to the area for a few hours until it was time to get back to the meet up point.

I talked about this earlier, but it’s extremely convenient to have a driver take you everywhere and navigate you around. Takes the pressure of planning the perfect trip away. Yeah, sometimes you end up doing stuff you don’t like, or waiting around for other people, but it’s a small price to pay IMO.

 

Contiki Eye Gouges You On Optional Activities

There are few negative things I have to say about traveling with Contiki, and here’s one of them.

Their prices on optional activities are down right eye gouging. They literally take every penny they can from you. Coming from a commerce background, I get it, and I understand it’s business. But WOW do they know how to maximize revenues from their customers.

I’ll first say that MOST of the optional activities were fun or at least educational. And I personally recommend doing as many of them as you can (because, after all, when are you gonna get a chance to paraglide over Austria again?)

But that’s where it ends.

Here’s what pisses me off.

In Vienna, we are shown to a Schnapps manufacturer and the owner showed us how they make Schnapps and gave us some interesting history. He was really nice and funny, too. That’s cool and awesome. But PAYING (I think it was like 8 euros) for this is something I don’t agree with. I feel like the demonstration should be free, and if we want to buy Schnapps, we will. I don’t want to pay to watch you sell me stuff.

Another example is in Florence when we went to a leather shop. That’s fine if Contiki brings me to a leather shop they get commissions from every time we buy stuff there. I don’t have a problem with that. But I DO have a problem with the fact their prices are higher than the store across the street. Come on Contiki, look out for us better. I don’t want to hear from my tour mate that walking across the street will get me the same promise ring for 10 euros less. It was a bit of a piss off to hear this.

I was reading a Contiki review about a dude who didn’t like the glass blowing demonstration we had to sit though. I thought it was cool. We didn’t have to pay for it, and I never saw this before. But had we had to pay for it, and then sit through a sales pitch (these glass things are hundreds of dollars BTW) then I would be pissed.

Basically, every optional is priced very very high. The most expensive one was paragliding in Austria. I think it was 120 euros. A lifetime experience, for sure, so you should do it if you never have. But… again, eye gouging prices. They charged me 20 euros for the memory card that the guy used to take photos of me while I was up there. There were about 25 pictures. Again, hard to say no to, you’ll never get these unique pictures again.

Most people opt in for most of the optionals. I think you should too (if you budget for it). First of all, most of your group will likely be there, and they are good experiences, too.

Most of the paid dinners we had were pretty good. I love food and I wanted to enjoy eating different cultured food. The Tuscany meal we had was exceptional value. We has a first course, second course, main course, and desert. I was so full after. No room for drinking!

Expect to pay 20,30,40 euros for many optional activities. It’s a lot. Just budget for it. Contiki knows most people partake in extra activities, so they’ll charge as much as they can for them. It’s just business I guess.

 

The Coach Is (Almost) Always On Time, And On Schedule

We were very good at staying on schedule and sticking to it. There are repercussions for being late, and I love that they were enforced. It kept everyone honest and on time. It was fair.

For example, we have “bags to coach” at a certain time. This was for mornings when we had to be at our coach with our bags at a certain time. We also have to meet up at specified locations at a specific time. Anyone who was late had to sing in front of everyone on the coach. We called it ipodoki. Or answer really embarrassing questions.

Worse, if you were late enough, we would leave without you. That means if you aren’t on the coach on time in the morning, the bus would leave without you. Or if you didn’t meet up at the checkpoint on time, the bus would also leave.

I think our bus was really good about it. I can’t recall anyone being left behind. But when we were in Austria, a girl on a different tour was left behind when her room mate didn’t wake her up in the morning. Yep… her roomie must not like her. Nightmare scenario, hey? But she got to meet us at least (and we’re awesome). You’re basically responsible for catching up to your bus. Or, the next Contiki bus (that has room) could take you to the next point and help you regroup if it works out right.

Some mornings we had to wake up really early. Like 7 or 8. It’s not THAT bad. We basically wake up, get our bags to the coach, and then fall back asleep (or at least try). I don’t know how a lot of the heavy drinkers did it every morning, but they made it. When we had to wake up that early, it was usually because it was a long driving day and we needed to cover a lot of distance.

Not Everything Is Rosy, And You Need To DEAL WITH IT

You’re on a Contiki holiday in another Continent. You would be pretty naive to expect a “seamless” and “perfect” vacation. I’d read Contiki reviews about people whining and complaining about so many things out of Contiki’s control. And I was like, these peoples attitudes suck!

Here’s what I’m talking about:

In Munich, Germany, we arrived on a Sunday. In Europe, everything is basically closed on Sundays. We walked around a very popular shopping district (I’m a guy who loves shopping) and I couldn’t walk into any stores. It was super disappointing. The only thing open was McDonalds. So I had a burger.

I was so excited to see the Acropolis in Athens. We got there and there was a lot of scaffolding going on. Every picture of the Parthenon was so beautiful! It was a little bit annoying taking photos with all that extra crap around it. But I didn’t whine or complain.

We got into our hotel in Slovenia and there was a problem with our room. It wasn’t ready (everyone else’s was fine). I had to sit in the lobby for an hour while my TM worked feverishly to sort it out with Contiki and the hotel. It was a bit annoying because everyone else was showering and refreshing themselves after a long bus ride while I had to wait for my room to get sorted.

Another time, we were Ferrying across to Greece I think, and our Ferry was late! It caused a lot of problems for us (especially because Contiki is so on schedule with everything). We ended up having to miss some stuff later on and checked into our accommodations later.

Basically, things WILL happen. Just have a good attitude about it. Don’t let the small stuff ruin your precious vacation.

 

Contiki Accommodations, Food Quality, And General Tour Stuff

The Quality Of Contiki Hotels, Hostels, And Owned And Operated Establishments

On my “Contiki Budget Tour,” we were promised a mix of hostels and hotel type accommodations.

The range of lodging we had was extremely varied and mixed. Most of the time, you will be sharing with 3 or 4 people. Sometimes rooms for two are available, and I snatch them up every chance I get (I need my sleep!)

Some of the hostels we stayed at were very “hostel” like. It’s two bunk beds, maybe a washroom in the same room, and that was about it. Sometimes it was dimly lit or felt a little grimy.

Other hostels we stayed at, particularly in Vienna, Barcelona, Slovenia, and Paris, were pretty much like a hotel. The rooms had nice showers, spacious beds, a desk, tv, a window you can open, etc. Really really fantastic rooms.

It really really ranges.

The worst room we stayed in, by far, was this shit hole in Croatia somewhere. We had to drag our luggage up and down steep stairs, and also give up our passports (which I can’t figure out why still). Our rooms were like shacks that you could see through (the curtains didn’t cover up the windows properly). You could hear everything outside, like people gossiping outside your door. And we had dead spiders in our floor. The “spat” water out (and I’m being generous with that “spat”).

Needless to say, I was really disappointed (especially in such a gorgeous country like Croatia). I couldn’t be happier when we got the hell outta there. I’m not a complainer at all, but when we filled out our review thing at the end, this hotel was the one thing I complained about.

Contiki owns and operates The Chateau De Cruix and the One in Tyrol, Austria. The accommodation itself is “okay.” Nothing amazing. I didn’t think the Chateau was all it was made out to be by Contiki. I did have A LOT of fun there though. I didn’t shower for those 3 days there because I couldn’t for the life of me get hot water. But my tour mates said they did. But that annoyed me quit a bit.

The accommodation in Tyrol was like any other hostel basically. Small room with 4 beds. A lock with one key (yes, you need to organize how to get in and out of your room). We kept the key somewhere close by.

The thing I didn’t like about these areas is the fact that you are in the middle of nowhere, and there is not much exploring to do (I love big cities and buildings).

So, overall, the quality of Contiki accommodations was what I expected. This is a budget tour and I’d say (overall) the accommodations suits the word “budget” well.

 

Food On Contiki Tours

I am a huge foodie and most of my money went towards trying out European foods.

I spent a week in London before my Contiki tour commenced, and I have to say, I was about to kill myself if I had to eat anymore butter and toast (free breakfast at The Royal National).

We had included breakfast meals every day. It was a lot of pastries type of food, and breaded things. Other times we got eggs, sausage, and sometimes bacon if we were lucky.

What we had for breakfast really depended on where we were. For example, in Paris, our higher end hostel had awesome breakfast options. There was juice, packages cheeses, regular breaded things, yogurt, and fruits. Other times, it was very simple filler foods and cereals.

We had to figure out our lunches on our own most of the time. During travel days, it usually consisted of pit stop food.

Dinners was a hit or miss. I’m not fussed about food, but some of the included dinners were crap. When we were somewhere in Croatia, we had fish that tasted like they were thrown in the deep fryer and left there for 10 minutes. It was completely dried up and non-edible. Nobody finished it. Plus, there were a million little bones. Ain’t nobody got time for that. To top it all of, there was NO WATER! What kind of a meal isn’t served with water? I think we could have paid for bottled water, I’m not sure… but ridiculous. I hated it.

Another time, we were in Venice and had BBQ ribs and meats. Sounded super tasty when our TM told us about it. I love meats and was really looking forward to it. Turns out it was just left over pieces of cooked animals that was badly burned. Plus, it was salty as hell. I still ate the ribs and thighs though… at least, that’s what I think I was eating.

But it’s not all bad. In fact, overall, I didn’t think the food was sub-par. Like the accommodations, it was what I expected for a budget tour.

When we were in Switzerland, we had rice with this white meat and veggie curry type sauce. It was DELICIOUS. We also had lame hamburgers another day but as boring as it was, it still tasted awesome.

In Barcelona, we had a buffet at the place we stayed at. They had good variety of foods and I really enjoyed my meal. The food we had in the Chateau was also excellent. It was your typical western food – so nothing sexy, but still tasted very good.

I find Contiki sticks to the usual stuff like pastas, salads, mashed potatoes, etc. Stuff you’d find on cruise ships to feed lots of people. I think its easy to make in large quantities and low cost to the company. I don’t mind it, but it isn’t the healthiest stuff either.

A lot of the food you will eat will be during rest breaks while traveling to your next destination. For the most part, the food is really bad. Not only that, it’s severely overpriced. You pay 8-12 euros for a plate of pasta, or a slab of roast beef and salad. Eating like this everyday really got to me (and I eat just about anything). There isn’t a lot of healthy options on the road with Contiki.

I ate a lot of snacks and candies that I’d buy during our breaks. Chips here, skittles there, and you’re not feeling so great after a few weeks. Sometimes there’s just not much else to eat while on the road. I don’t know if everyone felt the same way I did, but it’s not a good diet at all. I guess we are all young and our bodies could take it (for the most part).

The optional dinners we paid (a lot) for were very good. I liked all of them. To be honest, I didn’t even know which dinners were part of the tour and which ones I paid for. Basically everyone signed up for the optional dinners.

One of my favourite paid meals was in Athens. We were guided to some place god knows where and watched a Greek dance while eating and drinking. It was a nice experience seeing Greek culture while eating Greek food. Without question, the Chicken Souvlaki I had was maybe the best chicken I had ever tasted in my life. It was so tender it melted in my mouth. And the potatoes that came with it were baked just right. So yummy. We also had wine included in our meals. Score.

On your free time, you have too many choices of food. Walking down Verona, Italy, you can hop into any Gelato shop and choose from 100 different varieties. In Rome, we went to a Pizza joint where they slice you pieces of however many pizza’s you want, and you get to pay by the pound. So literally, you could get bite sized pizza slices and try it all. We tried real Italian Expresso (tasted horrible to me because I don’t drink coffee), but I was told it was super super strong stuff.

While in Slovenia, we wandered into a restaurant and I had authentic Slovenian deer meat that was wrapped in bacon. Add in some seafood and potatoes on the side, along with a reddish sweet sauce to dip your deer meat, and you’ve got a 40 euro plate of deliciousness.

Most people didn’t eat the food I ate. They’d rather spend 10 euros on a cocktail 8 times throughout the night with their money. Or they couldn’t afford either.

We also had a lot of McDonalds type food at various places along the way. Even though we were in Europe, a lot of us still wanted our Maccas. Something really cool about McDonalds around the world is that they have different menu items in each country. I tried to order a new burger in each country. Surprisingly, McDonalds tasted different in each country. And on a side note, you can get 1664 beer in McDonalds in Paris! Cheers to that!

I think if you are a picky eater, there will be a lot of stuff you won’t like. For me, I could usually find something to eat. It was rare I looked at the food and was like screw it, I’ll just not eat. This only really ever happened at breakfast when I knew I could get something else in a few hours.

People that had special diets got special meals made for them. If that’s you, don’t worry. You’re taken care of.

I recommend budgeting more money for food. When will you get a chance to eat authentic Italian pizza or pasta again? When are you going to get a chance to eat Swiss chocolate in Switzerland? Or seafood from the sea that you’re sitting right beside? It’s a pretty sweet experience. Take advantage of it.

 

You Have To Volunteer A Hand To Help Contiki

Everyone also gets a turn to help Contiki do some of their work. I thought it was a bit odd but I guess that’s how they run things. At Contiki owned places like the Chateau in France, you have to help out doing dishes or cooking a meal. I didn’t mind, as it gave me an opportunity to meet some of the staff and see Contiki from a different angle.

I enjoyed bringing out deserts for my family and taking their dishes away, as weird as that might sound. I guess it’s the family mentality thing.

You only had to be a “dishy” once, and a “cookie” once, too. Well, that was how it worked out for our large group of 50 anyway.

 

Internet Access Is Unreliable And Slow

Something I think Contiki can definitely improve on is the availability and speed of internet for its customers. Some places you don’t get internet at all. On the coach, there is no internet. Some campsites or hostels give free internet, and sometimes you need to pay. Most of the time though, our accommodation had free internet and it was fast enough.

It was a good time to check what was going on back home, upload Facebook pictures to make everyone jealous, and check email.

If Contiki could somehow get wifi on the coach, even if it was paid for, it would be ridiculously awesome.

 

Tipping Your Tour Guides

I read a bunch of reviews on Contiki about people worried about tipping, and wondered how much they should tip, and if it was mandatory. Some reviews on Contiki painted a really bad picture about TM’s saying it’s required. I’ve only been on one Contiki, and I definitely didn’t feel I HAD to tip.

My TM just handed us out envelopes and said we could put whatever amount of money we want in it. He did tell us the average was $2 a day each for driver and TM. But not once did he force us in anyway to make us pay. He didn’t guilt trip us or try to persuade us to tip.

I ended up giving about 40 or 50 euros each to my TM and driver. They made my trip awesome and this was my way of showing thanks. I know in Australia they aren’t used to tipping for many things. I talked to some of my tour mates and they weren’t sure what to do.

In Canada, we tip for a lot of service oriented things. I guess I’m used to tipping for just about everything where tipping is normal practice. It was a no brainer for me. My advice is to tip if you had fun and felt your driver and TM made a difference in your holiday adventure. If they didn’t meet your standards, don’t tip. Simple as that.

 

Getting The Most Out Of Contiki – How To Make Sure You Have FUN!

 

Your Attitude Is Everything

Without question, if you have a poor attitude towards things in life, your Contiki trip will suck badly. I talked about “things happening” on Contiki earlier, and it goes without saying that not everything will go as planned. If it fusses you out, you’re going to be a negative nuisance. Nobody wants to be around you. So don’t be that person.

There was this girl on our tour who was super super bitchy. I don’t know if that was really “her” or she was putting up a front. She hung around with the “popular” girls on the tour at the start, but it became clear that they didn’t like her around. They pretty much just avoided her. It was completely her fault. Worst attitude ever.

And half way through the trip, I think she finally broke. I was walking back to our hostel and saw her crying outside. Our TM was with her helping her out. I felt really bad for her. But sometimes you get what you deserve in life. Nobody likes a bad attitude, so don’t have one.

Anyway, it’s not all bad news. I guess she just realized nobody wanted to be around her because of how she was behaving. She stopped her bitching. She stopped being this negative energy. And the second half of her tour was amazing for her. I remember one of my tour mates telling me how much happier she was at the end of the trip. I was happy for her too.

I think my best advice is to just be positive about everything that happens. Good or bad.

We sometimes did things I really didn’t want to do. When we were in Vienna, we had free time in the evening and our TM suggested we go to an amusement park. WTF? we are in VIENNA PEOPLE!! Such a historic city! and we’re going to an amusement park? I didn’t get it.. but that’s where we went. It was still fun though… and you wanna know why? Because I had a good attitude about it. I didn’t bitch and complain. I just saw it for what it went along with it.

If you can bring that attitude too, you will have a lot of fun on your Contiki tour.

People Will Annoy The Shit Out Of You

I was one of those guys who was friendly and nice to everyone. It didn’t mean I connected with everyone and everyone was my friend. But I had little issues with most people.

However, there are those types of people that are just loud, annoying, and make others go crazy. On a bus of 50, you’re almost guaranteed them. You just need to deal with it. They are just being who they are. They aren’t trying to ruin your vacation (even though it feels like it). My advice is to simply find ways to adapt.

Someone will do something that will make you wanna rip their hair out. For example, A couple guys on our tour came back at like 4 in the morning and were being obnoxiously loud. It almost seemed purposeful it was so loud. Anyway, one of the girls opened her door and pretty much freaked out at them. They said sorry but continued to be loud for another 10 minutes before leaving. You’re not always gonna “get” why people are they way they are and do the things they do. So Don’t. Just find ways to adapt and you’ll have a happier trip.

 

Not Everyone Liked Contiki

It was really interesting talking to people at the end of the trip. It was a time where we all reflected on the 4 weeks we spent together. Even the people who hated each other hugged and reminisced with each other. We truly were a family.

First, I wanna say that most people enjoyed our trip. We were super sad it was all over. It seemed to have started so long ago, but came to an end so quickly.

A few people didn’t enjoy it, and for the most part, it was the ones who couldn’t quite “fit in.” I could totally see why.

There was one girl who, for whatever reason, wasn’t able to get along with the guys or many of the girls either. She did have her group of friends who she spent most of her time with though, but she was someone who needed more. I remember sitting with her on the bus at the start of the tour and she was so excited about the little things she saw out her window. The random flowers growing and the colour of the houses. She’d point them out to me excitedly like a little girl.

She had soured a lot by the end. She didn’t have nice things to say about a lot of the people on the trip and Contiki in general. She even deleted all of us (including me) on Facebook.

There was another girl on our trip who tried so hard to fit in with the popular girls. You could tell she was easily the 3rd, 5th, or 7th wheel. Anyway you put it, she was the girl who was tailing on and following along. I felt bad for her, but she made her own decision. Somewhere about 3/4 through the trip, I think she had enough of being the outsider and finally separated herself. She didn’t sit with them anymore and started to do her own thing. I hope it made her happier.

We also had a couple girls who came on the tour as friends. They were normal girls IMO. But they stuck to themselves mostly… and it didn’t seem like it was their preferred choice. They were definitely more vocal and open in the beginning of the trip. I guess they didn’t feel they got along with the rest of the group. They spent most of the trip together doing their own thing.

Contrast, we had another group of two girls who weren’t really “in” with all the fun and shenanigans the “main” people put out every night, but they had a blast and were super fun. They also spent a lot of their time with each other, but it was just their choice. I always enjoyed spending time with them and chilling out to whatever.

On a side note, us guys were so awesome and chill. The brotherhood was super strong in this group and we all drank and chilled without any problems. I don’t know of a single guy who didn’t have fun. It was always nice being around just us guys. It was just a different vibe than being around girls and their drama they sometimes put out.

Not saying Contiki is all dramatic and being around girls is fussy. I just felt like it was a much more relaxed time with the guys. You might have to be a guy to kinda get what I’m saying.

Anyway, don’t be the person who spends thousands of dollars for a once in lifetime European vacation, just to find out it was everything you WERE’NT expecting.

Read the next section to learn how.

 

Focus On What You Want To Do And Do Things YOU Enjoy

My advice is to JUST BE YOU and do your thing. It’s so cliche to say this, but it’s SOOOOO TRUE.

If you are there to sight see, then make friends with people who also want to sight see.

If you want to party every night, then go out and have a blast.

If you want to sleep with everything that moves, you go do that too!

But whatever you do, please do it for yourself. Don’t try and be popular or be “liked.” People automatically love you for you when you’re genuine and real.

Be friendly and share yourself with others. Include yourself in fun activities. Find ways to make everything fun. Make people around you smile and enjoy themselves. Offer the unique person you are to your family.

Doing these things will make your trip incredibly rewarding and worth every single dollar you worked so damn hard for.

You want to go on vacation to have fun, right? SO HAVE FUN! Do things you like doing. Forget what other people think of you. It’s you’re trip, so make it about YOU.

 

You Will Grow Tremendously While Touring With Contiki

There’s going to be SO many things you’ll learn about life and yourself.

I had no idea how much Aussies loved to drink and talk. I had no idea how much I could tolerate being sick for so long. I learned what “Maccas” meant, and how important it was to have fun in life.

I had to learn how to read strange looking maps and ride the Tube in London. I spent a lot of time with people I would never spend my weekends with, and got to know them on a level that would never happen back home.

I learned how much my family meant to me and how to love strangers. I forced myself to be social in situations where I would normally sit back

And about a million things more.

Contiki travel gives you an opportunity to experience a lot of “firsts” in your life. Take it and run with it if you can. With the right attitude, you will grow tremendously.

 

The Feelings Of FUN and ENJOYMENT Lasted For Weeks When I got Back Home

I went straight home after my Contiki trip ended. Though I was ready to go home (I was away for 1.5 months), It was a sad experience.

While being at home, I had this weird energy and vibe of fun-ness that lasted a couple weeks. We had so much fun every day on tour that the “fun” feelings became a part of my soul.

Sadly… it eventually faded.. and I really really missed it when it was gone. I chatted with everyone on FB and looked at everyones uploaded photos to keep the flame alive.

I think that’s just the reality of being back home away from the good times.

It just reminded me again about how much fun you really have on a Contiki tour. You don’t truly know how much fun you are having until you get back home to your job. Contiki withdrawals were mad happening.

 

You Make Amazing Friends

Without question, one of the top 3 benefits of touring around Europe with 50 strangers is that you will meet people who you really connect with. And these people become your life long friends. Simple as that.

I can’t wait to go to Australia one day and visit all of them.

 

My Top 10 Reasons Why You Need To Do A Contiki Tour

1. It’s FUN! To this day, my European Contiki adventure is still probably the best things I’ve ever done. I learned that having fun is the most important thing in the world to me.

2. You meet amazing people and make life long friends.

3. You will be forced WAY out of your comfort zone. Take it as an opportunity to grow, and you will be a better person when you get back home.

4. You eat amazing food you’d never eat at home

5. You can go buck wild without any real repercussions. Nobody back home will judge you.

6. You can sleep with just about anyone.

7. You learn A LOT of history.

8. You learn about things you like and dislike, about people, cities, yourself, and traveling.

9. You learn to rely on yourself. Though you have your group, you will be forced to independently handle your own things. Mama ain’t here.

10. You improve your social skills. Being around people every day forces you to grow socially, and co-exist with other similar & non-similar people.

 

If you’ve read everything on this page, congrats! I’m glad I was interesting enough to keep your attention. I guess you can probably tell that I really enjoyed my Contiki European Adventure.

I think they put out a great product for young travellers. It is truly a once in a life time experience. There is nothing more valuable than traveling while you’re young. When you get older, there’s just no time for anything fun anymore. Don’t let that be you! Get out and explore while you can.

If you wanna do the group travel thing, meet lots of cool people and have that family safety net, Contiki is the perfect place for that!

Click here to visit Contiki’s website to check out their tours.

If you’re thinking of doing a Contiki soon, click the last minute deal box below. You’ll find trips that are $500+ discounted and more. Really good deals so check them out.


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20 comments
Organised tours of Europe and my concession that sometimes, some are OK - Not a Ballerina says

[…] What I’m trying to say is there is definitely a time and a place for joining organised tours. Your first trip might be one of them. But what I think there is no time and no place for is those crazy whirlwind tours where you see each country for a couple of days and you’re lucky if you stay in a city more than one night. I’ve (obviously) never been on one, and I feel like I partly shouldn’t judge, but the other day another blogger commented on my blog, I went to check out what he wrote about, and found myself reading a very detailed account of life on one of these tours. […]

2 Reply
Jen says

Just wanted to say that this was one of the best and most thought-out reviews I have ever written. I am so grateful to you for taking the time to write down your experience. I recently booked a Contiki tour, and aside from the overly enthusiastic reviews on the website, most have been horrific. I’ve been an independent traveler for most of my time abroad, but wanted to try a group tour as a way to make friends abroad and see as much as I could without the hassle of planning it.

You have a lot of clarity about what it means to travel with a group; I really appreciated the amount of time you spent encouraging people to just accept that this is part of it. This has been such a great help, and the perspective is essentially what I wanted to read before going — something honest and fleshed out. Great job, thank you.

2 Reply
    Expat Jason says

    Hey Jen,

    Really glad to give you some perspective 🙂 I think independent travel and group travel are both really fun. There are things I dislike about both as well. I think the really important thing is to have fun enjoying the things you like about it and just have a blast whatever it is you’re doing. It’s an adventure 🙂

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Jess says

This is an amazing review and I really appreciate it! I’ve done Contikis in USA but was slightly worried about doing one in Europe solo, especially with the reputation of being completely party-oriented (and I’m not really about that!). This makes me realise to go in with an open mind and it will be amazing.. I’m booking tomorrow and I needed some last minute reassurance!

2 Reply
    Expat Jason says

    Hey Jess,

    thanks for taking the time to read my review. I can say that different Contiki tours have a different “vibe” to them. This review was for a big Euro contiki tour I did a few years back. I’ve since done other Contiki tours and they all felt different.

    I have to say though, my first tour (the one I did this review on) was easily the funnest one I went on. And it was because of my tour mates. They were just simply awesome. So I really really hope you get an awesome group. Good luck and have a blast!

    p.s. everything is amazing with the right attitude! It sounds like you’ve got that already so good on ya. And let me know how your trip goes when you get back 🙂

    2 Reply
Karen Perez says

I love that you took the time out to write this! I am going on a tour for my first time next week and this really helped to put everything in perspective. I had questions regarding luggage. I know they have restrictions on size so did you just take a carry on and a backpack ?

2 Reply
    Expat Jason says

    Hey karen,

    They weigh your luggage only once (the first day you depart). If your luggage is too heavy then stuff some heavy stuff into a carry on. And yes, I had a carry on bag. I HIGHLY recommend bringing one. Almost everyone had one on my trip. For most Contiki trips, backpacks or suitcases are fine. If you are traveling afterwards (like backpacking) then I recommend a backpack – It’s just easier this way.

    Have fun on your trip! Still one of the best things I’ve ever done 🙂

    2 Reply
Holly O'Sullivan says

Wow this really is an incredible review! I’m doing a Contiki tour this September and your review is the only worthwhile one I could find. Thanks 🙂

2 Reply
    Expat Jason says

    Hey Holly! I’m really glad you enjoyed my review. I tried to keep it real 😛 anyway good luck on your trip in september 🙂 GO watch some Contiki youtube videos to keep you busy in the meantime 🙂

    2 Reply
markus says

Hands down the worst experience of my life. I strongly advise against going on this tour or any tour with contiki for that matter. Definitely not as advertised. Some of the people on the tour were hospitalized due to the accommodation. You literally leave every morning at 7 or 8am and get a day or two in every city. The staff are very careless and are intoxicated every night and hungover every morning. You will be staying in roach invested 1 star motels or campsites. Do yourself a favor and stay away from contiki. Save the money and backpack. You’ll have a much better time. Many people from our tour left and paid for their own accommodation and travel expenses.

2 Reply
    Expat Jason says

    Sorry to hear you had a bad experience Markus. I know not everyone on my tour had the best time too. However, most people had a blast, and we still talk about how it’s still one of the best things we’ve ever done.

    The accommodations we had were “ok” overall. Sometimes they were very high end hostels with key card entry and super awesome beds. Some places we stayed at I would never go back. But there were only a small handful.

    We did have early wake up days every couple of days or so. But that’s kinda how it has to be since we’re going around Europe and need to cover a lot of distance. I didn’t have any problems with any of the Contiki staff at all. My tour manager and driver were complete professionals and super cool dudes. The staff we met at Contiki stop overs and were pretty cool too. Some drank and partied with us but I never felt they got sloppy and unprofessional because of that.

    Anyway, it seemed like my experience was much different than yours. That’s too bad. I really had a lot of fun and it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. Hope you have better travels next time!

    2 Reply
Golda Hafalla says

Read almost all reviews about Contiki and I’m really happy I found yours. Very informative and answered a lot of my questions. I’m doing my Contiki Europe Tour on December and I’m really worried if I’ll survive it, though it’s only for 5 days. I’m kinda in the 30s group so it makes me nervous to be with this youngsters. But like you said, just be yourself. and that is exactly what I’m going to do. ^_^ Thanks so much.

2 Reply
    Expat Jason says

    You should have a great time! You’re only “old” if you act and feel old. Even if you did, most people don’t even care. Everyone is just looking to have a good time and have good experiences, so just have fun and it should be all peachy!

    2 Reply
sal says

im doing a short trip with contiki this january. just not sure why would they weight your bag specially if you are traveling on a bus !

2 Reply
    Expat Jason says

    Yea I’m not sure either. They weight it once, at the beginning of the tour, and that’s it. So just make sure you’re within the allowed weight when they weigh it and you’re all good.

    2 Reply
Laura says

Excellent review! I really appreciate your attention to detail. It’s very informative and tells both the good and the bad. I know my brother had a great time when he went, but I’m still not 100% if the tour style is for me. But at least now I feel much more confident that when I make a decision I’ll at least know what to expect.

2 Reply