We obtain a whole lot of questions from individuals asking me about our ideas on becoming a member of tour teams in Europe — most notably Contiki Excursions. For these of you who aren’t conscious, Contiki is a widely known and very fashionable bus tour firm that caters to college students/youth vacationers. Not surprisingly, based mostly on their youthful clientele, they’ve earned a repute as being a booze-filled celebration tour.
We need to say upfront that we want touring independently — in any case The Savvy Backpacker is concentrated on impartial journey. That mentioned, we don’t have any downside with these sorts of excursions. So, with that in thoughts, our aim for this text isn’t to speak you into or out of a Contiki Tour. Our aim is to provide the info, each good and dangerous, so you can also make an knowledgeable determination on whether or not a tour like that is best for you.
Fast Overview of Contiki Excursions
Contiki is the preferred bus tour firm for younger vacationers (18-35). They function in Europe, Russia, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, North America, and Asia — however many of the information on this information will likely be centered on their European excursions.
They host greater than 150,000 vacationers every year and so they’ve been doing excursions for the reason that early 60s.
A number of Tour Choices
One good factor about Contiki is that they provide all kinds of tour choices — starting from week-long journeys to multiple-month excursions. Additionally they have tour choices that go to nearly each a part of Europe in order that’s very nice.
Their hottest excursions are their “price range” excursions (which principally means the lodging include price range resorts and campsites). You possibly can view all their European excursions right here.
The tour costs vary from round $1000 for a couple of week to effectively over $6000 for multi-week journeys. Their hottest excursions will likely be round $2000. Go to this web page to see all their costs.
Up to now, we’ve ragged on Contiki as a result of they had been historically seen as a celebration on wheels. Don’t get us mistaken, we are able to completely see why individuals could be into that and we don’t have an issue with it… however not everyone seems to be into that type of journey.
However as of late, whereas among the excursions nonetheless have that celebration ambiance, Contiki now provides much more choices to suit different journey types — which we predict was an incredible transfer.
Listed here are their essential journey types:
- Excessive Vitality
- Discovery Plus
- In-Depth Explorer
- Simple Tempo
- Freestyle Tenting
- Crusing and Cruising
- Winter and Ski
All of the lodging is offered by Contiki and is included within the worth —so that you by no means have to fret about discovering a spot to sleep (conversely, you don’t have any say in the place you keep). Every tour normally options a number of varieties of lodging however there are principally three varieties of lodging:
- Price range Lodges: They declare to solely ebook “2-3 star” resorts however many have reported that among the resorts had been very “price range”.
- Hostels: Just like price range resorts. You’ll be sharing a room — which is regular.
- Contiki Owned Campsites: Assume summer season camp with shared cabins —not tents. The corporate’s staff workers the location.
On common, the standard of the lodging tends to be on par with that of a price range hostel. The kind of lodging differs in every metropolis and a few are nicer than others. Some locations should not that nice, however some are pretty good (for price range requirements).
Very like a hostel, count on to share a room with 2-4 different individuals. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to normally pay additional to have your individual room.
Bear in mind that your lodging may not be situated within the metropolis. Relying on the tour, just a few of your hostels/campsites could possibly be far outdoors the town (typically 30-60 minutes by prepare/taxi). These places are sometimes not on any public transportation routes, so that you’ll must fork over 40-50 euros for a taxi experience if you wish to spend time within the metropolis.
Contiki’s web site does a reasonably good job of telling you what to anticipate on every tour/vacation spot so make certain to perform a little research.
Breakfast is offered day by day and it normally consists of ordinary meals you’d discover free of charge at virtually any hostel (milk, cereal, toast w/ jam, espresso, and tea). You’ll typically get fortunate and have eggs or sausage.
Lunch is all the time as much as you. Lots of occasions you eat at relaxation stops since you’re normally on the bus throughout lunchtime.
Dinner is offered about half the time. More often than not the workers on the campsite cooks it and typically you must assist with among the cooking and cleansing.
In some cities, there are non-compulsory “particular meals” which can be served at eating places however they’re pretty costly. Some have reported that the meal is scrumptious and a few informed me that it was mediocre at greatest — it relies on the place you go. For a price range traveler, this additional charge is lots of cash and I do know you may get a less expensive meal in any European metropolis.
The breakneck journey tempo appears to be a criticism that lots of people have. Contiki Excursions goals to hit as many locations as potential so that you typically find yourself barely scratching the floor of every vacation spot. You’ll solely spend a day or two in massive cities (Paris, Rome, and so on) and half days in smaller cities.
Alternatively, you do find yourself attending to see lots (albeit briefly).
In lots of situations, you’re dropped off within the middle of city, given a map, and informed to satisfy again at a selected location/time. In case your lodging is outdoors the town, the bus will take you again to the campsite/resort at evening, in any other case, you meet on the bus within the morning (6-8 am).
You’ll spend a whole lot of time on the bus — about 40% of the journey. Most individuals say that each second day is spent on the bus and most rides are 6-10 hours lengthy. Lots of people spend their time on the bus sleeping off their hangovers or socializing. The bus stops each few hours at roadside comfort shops and gasoline stations.
Definitely, you’ll see lots in a brief period of time, however issues typically are likely to mix collectively when touring at such a quick tempo. Some individuals informed me that they preferred the quick tempo as a result of it gave them a great overview of the place they need to go to once more once they come again for his or her subsequent European journey.
Notice: Contiki does have some excursions that journey at a bit slower of tempo however their bread and butter excursions are sometimes fast-paced.
Social gathering Environment
Contiki Excursions have earned a repute for being a celebration on wheels. I’ve heard from a number of sources that lots of the excursions rapidly flip into drunken events with a number of intercourse. This actually isn’t too stunning — younger individuals + hormones + loads of alcohol + shut quarters with the identical individuals for lengthy intervals of time + attention-grabbing accents = hazy reminiscences. It’s principally a school celebration on steroids.
This isn’t essentially a foul factor as a result of lots of people have tons of enjoyable on Contiki Excursions.
Due to the fixed events and accelerated journey tempo, many individuals have informed me that they’ve fuzzy reminiscences of Europe. Some individuals have an absolute blast and simply love this model of journey. Hell, we actually take pleasure in letting unfastened and perhaps having just a few too many drinks, however doing that a number of occasions per week will actually put on you down.
In fact, you don’t must drink/get drunk however there’s a good probability the individuals round you’ll.
The Contiki Traveler
All vacationers must be between 18-35, however the common age is about 20-25. Contiki Excursions is an Australian firm so there are a whole lot of Australians, however there are additionally loads of Individuals, Canadians, Kiwis, Brits, and Irish (you’ll in all probability get just a few different nationalities in there too). Plainly there are typically extra females than males and about half of the individuals are touring alone.
A big majority of former Contiki vacationers typically discuss fondly of all of the cool individuals they met and the way a lot enjoyable that they had with them. Lots of people type actually shut friendships with their fellow vacationers. For good and dangerous, many individuals’s greatest reminiscences come from the individuals they meet—not from the sights. However, to be truthful, a few of our greatest reminiscences of touring got here from the individuals we’ve met in hostels, so we are able to’t see how that is any totally different.
Group Journey Frustrations
When there are 50 individuals in a gaggle it’s inevitable that somebody will likely be continually late—that is very true within the morning when there are a bunch of hung-over vacationers. Simply be ready to attend lots.
You additionally run the danger of getting a lame group. I’ve heard just a few tales about vacationers anticipating a celebration solely to seek out out that most individuals didn’t need to do something. Or individuals may simply not get alongside effectively and then you definitely’re caught with them in the course of the journey.
Though, most individuals have little or no battle or frustrations stemming from group journey.
The tour guides are rumored to get kickbacks for bringing their visitors to sure bars/retailers/eating places, so it’s laborious to all the time consider that the information is exhibiting you one of the best locations to go.
For instance, on some excursions you’re taken to an Italian leather-based store as considered one of your locations, however it’s principally a glorified vacationer reward store (there are additionally silver, glass, diamond, and different store “excursions”). The individuals within the store reveal their craft however then hit you with a giant gross sales pitch. We’ve additionally heard tales about how the tour guides give vacationers “metropolis maps” however the maps actually solely spotlight these “reward retailers.”
We’ve additionally been warned that lots of the “additional” excursions are extraordinarily overpriced. It’s normally greatest to ebook these by yourself at a fraction of the price. Sadly, there’s a whole lot of strain to buy these additional excursions as a result of you’ll be able to both go or be caught on the campsite (which doesn’t have entry to the town).
Tipping is extremely inspired by the workers. Every particular person will get their very own envelope w/ their title on it and also you’re supposed to place your tip in it. We don’t have an issue with tipping however some previous visitors thought this methodology appeared a bit forceful.
Causes Individuals Select Contiki
Once more, we’re not towards these sorts of excursions and we completely perceive the advantages they supply. Beneath are among the causes individuals love Contiki Excursions.
No Want To Plan
Some vacationers merely don’t need to plan their journey and they’d moderately simply let another person deal with all that work. We predict that is comprehensible, and we admit that journey planning can take a whole lot of time.
Planning may also be irritating and truthfully it could possibly get overwhelming. We type of just like the planning a part of the expertise (clearly, we created this web site) however we don’t fault anybody for simply desirous to have a great time with out having the headache of planning.
Many vacationers suppose touring round Europe is tough, however utilizing trains, planes, and different public transportation (particularly in Europe) is normally fairly easy when you perceive how the system works. However we completely see how it will appear intimidating — particularly for somebody who has no expertise with public transportation. Nonetheless, a tour generally is a good selection in the event you nonetheless don’t really feel snug touring independently.
I additionally suppose a whole lot of vacationers get caught up within the truth they don’t communicate the native language. Hell, we nonetheless get intimidated after we journey to a international nation. Being in a tour group takes away a whole lot of this apprehension (though most Europeans communicate English effectively, so we wouldn’t fear an excessive amount of about it).
Many solo vacationers select excursions as a result of they really feel that touring alone is unsafe or lonely — we hear this lots from feminine vacationers. These issues are utterly comprehensible and we’ve had the identical emotions ourselves.
That mentioned, we’ve met loads of solo feminine vacationers however not everyone seems to be up for this sort of expertise. So, given a selection between not touring and occurring a tour, we’d all the time select the tour.
So, if touring alone is stopping you from touring to Europe, then I feel Contiki is a wonderful possibility.
Being surrounded by 50 different individuals signifies that you’ll by no means go lonely.
In actual fact, this built-in social community is likely one of the causes we love hostels. And a Contiki tour is sort of a hostel on steroids. Plus, you don’t must continually reintroduce your self to new individuals over and over as you do in hostels.
And in the event you learn previous evaluations, virtually each particular person talked about the friendships they made on their tour.
Previous vacationers appear to like their tour guides.
All the time One thing To Do
There’ll all the time be one thing occurring each evening. You will have the choice to do your individual factor however there’s all the time an choice to celebration with the group.
Some individuals love Contiki Excursions and you will discover loads of individuals who rave about them on-line. In actual fact, many of those individuals take a number of excursions with them. Alternatively, additionally, you will discover many evaluations from those that didn’t take pleasure in their journey as a lot as they’d have preferred.
From what I’ve discovered, most former vacationers mentioned that their tour was enjoyable and so they weren’t dissatisfied they took the tour… however one tour might be sufficient. I don’t suppose that is essentially a detrimental factor since these excursions assist “ease” individuals into their European expertise and it exhibits how straightforward European journey may be.
Take a look at their European excursions choices to see what all they provide.
When you’re excited about listening to a tour information’s firsthand account of main considered one of these excursions I recommend studying Rule No. 5: No Intercourse on the Bus: Confessions of a Tour Chief by Brian Thacker. It isn’t written about Contiki particularly however we think about lots of the themes apply to all youth-oriented tour teams. It’s fairly humorous and attention-grabbing to examine all of the loopy stuff a bunch of drunken youths can stand up to.
Unsure if a Contiki tour is for you? We propose you go to the Contiki Web site to get a greater concept of their particular excursions.
No Humorous Enterprise
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Thanks For Studying! — James