Thursday, January 31, 2013

5 Reasons Why You Should Travel With Contiki

In 2008, I went on my first Eurotrip by myself, and booking my tour with Contiki was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done!

Contiki is the worldwide leader in tours for 18-35s. Offering an unbeatable mix of sightseeing and culture in over 40 countries across 6 continents, we create hassle-free vacations for like-minded people who share a passion for discovering amazing places.

--- Contiki Website

I booked a European Impressions tour that took me to 11 countries in 20 days with 50 other people! Whether you are traveling solo, traveling with a friend, or are a couple on your honeymoon, I totally recommend it! Here are the reasons why I won’t book anywhere else, and why I would totally do it again in a heartbeat!

1. Contiki makes everything Easy

It was my first big solo trip in the land of far far away, so naturally, I was a little intimidated. I didn’t know what to expect and everything was unfamiliar. Contiki just takes the fear away because they take care of everything. The itineraries are set, the tours are organized, the excursions - although optional - are pretty awesome, and even if I traveled by myself, not once did I feel alone! Our tourguide, Sandy, she knew her stuff. She’s been a tourguide for years so she had the inside knowledge about all these cool places both inside and outside of Contiki’s inineraries. Translate: She hooked us up on all the best places in each country to go out for drinks and good fun!

Meet Sandy, our amazing tour guide!

2. Contiki is considerably Cheap!

I spent around $2500 for the tour that I chose. If you break that down, that amounts to about $125 a day for 20 days – which includes board and lodging, transportation, breakfast, most dinners, and the amazing tours! I think what I appreciated most out of what I paid for was the convenience. It saved me the trouble of having to figure out where to go and what to do and who to hang out with. It was so nice to have been able to just sit there and let the tourguides lead the way – especially since I knew nothing of the places we visited! And if you’re traveling alone for the first time, trust me. You’ll appreciate the hand holding just as much as I did!

The ladies outside Moulin Rouge
Our group in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa

3. It’s like being back in High School

Seriously – I felt like I was caught in the middle of the storylines of Gossip Girl and Melrose Place combined! I guess if you bring a group of fifty 18 to 35 year olds (with raging hormones) together for 20 days, all sorts of drama is bound to ensue – and they did! People hooking up with people, people switching partners, catfights, threesomes, you name it, they all happened! One of the perks of being a wallflower in this situation is that I got to see everything, but still managed to stay outside of the raw and compelling bubble of it all. Twenty days doesn’t seem much, but when you spend every waking minute of it together, it feels like a lifetime! I did, however, make quite a few good friends. I’m pretty sure all of us did! That’s actually one of my favorite things about this tour. You get to make so many lifelong friends in such a short period of time whether you like it or not! So if you’re more of a lone wolf who prefers solitude and isolation, then forget about Coniki. You’ll hate it.

My Roomies!

4. Your (alcohol) limits are tested

There is a reason why this tour is for 18 to 35 year olds. At first, I thought it was just because they were targeting the hip and youthful and cool --- and that’s all still true, but after going through it myself I realized it’s also because you need to have the energy and vigor to be able to keep up!  The tour is so fast paced, you’ll need a vacation after the Contiki vacation! Everyday you have to get on the bus by 7 to 7:30 am, and you’re out and about for more than 12 hours.
And then… there’s the drinking. We literally drank - Every. Single. Night. You never want to be the loser who slept in and missed out on all the fun, so you drink… and you keep drinking until your liver explodes. When we got to Munich for Oktoberfest, 35 of my tour mates didn’t even bother seeing the city. They went right down to the grounds and drank the whole day! I had half a mind to see a little bit of Munich. But the others? They didn't even care. They just went straight for the steins! Now that’s hard core!
There will be nights where you only get a few minutes of sleep and you wake up with a throbbing hangover, but you can’t sleep in because you’re driving to Italy for the next 8 hours! So unless you have Betty White as your grandmother, I think it’s best to leave them at home and go through the painful yet epic journey yourself… For what doesn’t kill you… keeps you alive to drink another day.

This is what my tourmates looked like when I found them - after drinking for 4 hours

Having my first beer, and hanging out with hot German locals :)

5. It is the MOST FUN you will ever have in your LIFE

I remember vividly… I was enjoying a gondola ride in Venice, giggling at our gondolier who was singing what I could only describe as an Italian marching band song of sorts, when I turned to my roommate and asked:

“Where were we yesterday?”
“I think we were in Austria.”
“Oh I thought we were in Germany.”
“No that was the other night – Oktoberfest remember?”
“Ah, you’re right. Where are we going tommorow?”
“Florence, I think?”
“Oh. Wow.”

Best. Conversation. Ever! Going to bed in one country to explore another the next day, that’s the Contiki life!
It’s been years since the European Impressions trip, but I still speak very fondly of it to anyone who listens. I went on top of Mt Pilatus in Switzerland, drank Oktoberfest beer in Munich, ate waffles in Belgium, rode a gondola in Venice, danced the flamenco in Barcelona, saw the Mona Lisa in Paris, and got high (for the first time in my life) in Amsterdam! In 20 days I did all that, in the company of 50 other people who were just as excited as I was to be there! It really was one of the best times of my 20’s, that’s for sure. I conquered Europe and lived to tell the tale!

Now that I’m 30 and starting to feel the pains of old age creeping in, I sometimes wonder if my body could still keep up with Contiki’s frenzied pace. Will my limbs be able to survive all the walking? Will I still have the energy to keep up with the tweens? Will my liver still hold copious amounts of alcohol as it did before?

Probably not.

Will I do it again?


**Contiki did not pay me to write this article. I really just love them that much. :)

Hi There! Have we met before? You look familiar! Those shoes look great on you, by the way! I’m Eartha and I recently decided to quit my job to travel the worrrrld! Join me in my adventures by checking back on my blog, and leaving me a comment or two!

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