Brace yourself this is a long post! In late November I embarked on the trip of a lifetime to Australia for three weeks. Travelling alone for the first time internationally was intimidating but I had dreamed of this trip for years and what better time than now to go.
This was a last minute trip booked three weeks before I left. Since I was alone I knew a tour was the way to go for me. I’d heard of Contiki and knew some friends who had a wonderful time travelling with Contiki. For anyone who hasn’t heard of Contiki they’re a tour company for ages 18 to 35 taking you around different cities/countries/local areas combining group tours and individual excursion. Mixing up free time and set activities Contiki is a high energy, fast paced, way to travel.
I had an amazing time on my Contiki but like anything there were highlights and lowlights that I wanted to talk about today.
Pros of Contiki:
- Well organized: All logistics are planned for you from accommodations, sightseeing, a few meals, and transportation
- Caters for Dietary restrictions: If you have allergies, follow a vegan/vegetarian diet, or avoid certain foods be sure to let your tour manager know, they will make any adjustments. We had a few people who needed modifications and the team did a great job at providing options for everyone
- Young Group: Contiki is reserved for ages 18 to 35, everyone is there to have a great time
- Make lots of friends: You make a ton of friends and everyone in our group was amazing! Tours cap off at 50 people, we had 36 in the group which was a perfect size
- You’re not alone: 30 out of the 36 people in our group were traveling alone. When you wanted to do an excursion or spent free time wandering there was always someone would you could go with and not be alone
- Excursions were well picked: There were quite a few options of different excursions. Be ware though some have medical restrictions – ie Skydiving and Scuba diving had to be X amount of hours apart due to pressure on the brain
- Our Tour Manager gave us maps and recommendations: Every area we had free time in to explore we were provided with small maps and recommendations of local attractions to visit from our Tour Manager
Cons of Contiki:
- Very scheduled: For some people in the tour this was difficult to adhere to a strict schedule. Personally love to always schedule everything and know the details but for most people in my group this was an adjustment being on a trip
- Travel days: there will be travel days on the bus of up to 7 hours. We had two days this long with breaks in between. Brings snacks, a book, journal, travel pillow, and anything else to help you pass the time. Our tour manager played music, games, and movies on the bus to help time fly by. Also spend some time looking out the large windows, we’re all here to enjoy the views
- On the go a lot: Schedules are jam packed and often on travels days we arrived by 4:30/5 pm to our accommodation, left for dinner at 7 pm, afterwards free to do whatever you wanted (this included finding our own way back to the accommodation), then breakfast the next morning at 6:15 am, bags to bus at 6:45 am, then departing to next destination at 7 am. Rain or shine there is a schedule to follow
- Costs add up quickly: Not all food or excursions are included. Times when we didn’t have an arranged dinner we had a walkabout meal with the group you could attend, however these meals were quite expensive. Great opportunity to split a dish with friends.
- Arrive at least a day before and stay a day after the tour if you’ll have a long travel home
- I stayed in the same hotel our tour was staying in the first night and last night (booked independently though on Expedia points) this saved a lot of stress of worrying where exactly to go
- Bring activities for the bus rides – Growing up I went on a lot of road trips with my family and being prepared is engrained in me. Adult colouring books, word searches, and Sudoku were major hits on the bus and helped me meet people the first few days
- On the night before your official tour date we had a 5 pm meeting to review logistics and select excursions for the next few days. I hadn’t heard about the kick off meeting until after I booked my flights – in hindsight knowing about this meeting would have been useful to know about prior to arranging flights. Luckily I walked in as the meeting was starting but after 38 hours of travel I hadn’t absorbed all details provided and skipped out on dinner that night. Room service and a warm shower won out!
- If you’re planning on extending your trip in any of the places included in the tour there is an option to book any excursions at the Contiki rate as long as you speak with your tour manager – special shoutout to Adam & Gary!
If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking into planning my next Contiki – who’s in?