Back in June 2015, I left Australia for my very first solo travel adventure. I had spent a long time trying to find a reliable and decently priced company to travel with, and finally came across Contiki. Given that it was my first time traveling overseas by myself, I wanted everything to be taken care of for me, leaving me with absolutely nothing to worry or stress about. If you would prefer to have everything planned for you, choosing a Contiki tour is definitely the way to go.
I’m gonna throw this out there straight away: Contiki tours aren’t for everybody. You need to have an open mind to fully enjoy everything that Contiki has to offer. But if you’re up for a good time, want to explore a new city or country with a bunch of strangers, keep reading! I’m about to share everything you should be aware of before embarking on a Contiki tour.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!
Table of Contents
- 1 How to Choose the Perfect Contiki Tour
- 2 Some quick facts about Contiki
- 3 The regions that Contiki travels to
- 4 The types of travel that Contiki offers
- 5 Review the tour you’ve chosen
- 6 Once you’re ready to book
- 7 Things You Should Know & Tips for your First Contiki Tour
- 7.1 People do drink – a lot
- 7.2 There will be differences of opinion
- 7.3 Your group will probably be mostly younger people
- 7.4 Make the most of your me time
- 7.5 Take plenty of spending money
- 7.6 Pack light
- 7.7 Tipping is sometimes included in the cost
- 7.8 Some of your meals are included
- 7.9 Always, always make sure you’re on time
- 8 Did you like this post? Pin it or share it with your friends!
How to Choose the Perfect Contiki Tour
Once you first open the Contiki website, you’ll see a tab on the left hand side that says trips. By clicking this link, you can between all of the Contiki tours using a few different filters. If you already know which part of the world you would like to visit, you can select that region to make life even easier!
Some quick facts about Contiki
Here are some quick facts about Contiki, just to give you a bit of an idea as to what they’re all about, and whether Contiki is going to be the perfect tour company for you!
Contiki tours are for ages 18 to 35 only
Contiki tours are made for the younger generation, and only people aged between 18 and 35 will be allowed. Contiki tours have a very heavy party scene vibe about them, which is perfect for the age bracket.
Contiki travels to six continents
Almost anywhere you wish to travel, Contiki can take you there. Contiki tours stretch across the world; and choosing to travel with Contiki means you’ll have a choice between: Australia, Europe, United States, Asia, Canada and New Zealand.
Over 300 different trips available across the world
Choosing the region you want to travel is only the first difficult decision you’ll have to make. Once you’ve picked where you want to go, you now need to choose a tour! There are over 300 different trips to choose from, traveling to countries all over the world. Good luck narrowing down your huge bucket list!
The regions that Contiki travels to
Contiki tours cover most of the popular continents around the world. Going from one tour to the next, will allow you to visit lots of incredible places around the world, and have a totally different experience every time. Below are the countries and continents that Contiki travels to.
Europe is one of the most popular Contiki destinations. Most travelers choose to do a Contiki tour across Europe, because you’re able to visit so many countries in a short amount of time. You’ll stay in a wide range of accomodation from hotels and hostels to boats and tents.
Most Contiki tours throughout Europe are bus tours. That means you’ll be traveling across the country by road as opposed to flying in and out of cities each day. Bus tours aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but they’re a great way to see as much as possible!
Australia is another awesome country for road trips. This means, a lot of the tours across my wonderful country, are on the Contiki bus!
You’ll visit almost every inch of Australia, including Sydney, Queensland and even the Northern Territory. Experience Uluru or climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Contiki ensures the sky is the limit on your adventure to Australia!
United States of America & Canada
The Contiki tour that I did was in the United States. I did the Best of USA tour, and it was so much fun! I lived my dream of visiting New York City, finally made it to San Francisco, and partied in Las Vegas. Tours throughout the USA and Canada provide pretty comfortable accomodation.
The United States and Canada are also very bus tour heavy. You’ll find that most of the tours are on-road ones, meaning you’ll be traveling from state to state on a huge bus, pimped out with Contiki in huge letters on each side.
Explore the beautiful New Zealand on-road, on Contiki’s awesome pimped out bus. With four different ways to travel (see below), accomodation in comfortable hotels plus fancy, Special Stays, you’re sure to have the time of your life.
Staying in comfortable accomodation, explore Asia from one end to the other. From Japan to China, Thailand and Cambodia – you’ll see it all. Traveling across Asia with Contiki means a combination of on-road and flights between cities.
Visit beautiful countries like Brazil, Peru and Belize on Contki’s Latin America tours. You’ll stay in unique and comfortable accomodation, with flights between cities to save on time.
Enjoy a guided tour of Machu Picchu in Peru or being at the base of Christ the Redeemer in Rio. There’s tons of incredible things to see and do in Latin America, and Contiki does all of the planning and organising for you. All you have to do is have fun!
Clicking on one of the above regions will bring you to a new page, listing all of the seperate tours within that country or continent. If you’re unsure which region you’d like to visit but have a particular travel style, there’s a filter for this as well!
The types of travel that Contiki offers
Contiki offers a wide range of different tours, that will suit almost any type of traveler. Whether you want to party hard for two weeks in a row or take it slow and travel at your own pace. There are so many choices, you won’t know where to begin your search! Here are the eight different types of tours that are available with Contiki.
The Independent Insider trips are perfect for anyone who wants to stay in control of what they do and where they go. These tours offer a lot more freedom than others, so they’re perfect for someone who doesn’t want to travel with a strict itinerary.
The Camping tours are only available in Europe, but they are perfect for someone who enjoys nature. With the opportunity to visit multiple countries over a short period of time, it’s the perfect way to fully experience everything Europe has to offer.
This type of travel is perfect for someone who enjoys lots of adventure and ticking off lots from your bucket list. If you’re hoping to see and do as much as possible while on Contiki, the Discoverer tours are perfect! The Discoverer tours are available in all countries and continents that Contiki travels to.
The High Energy Contiki tours are perfect for anyone who loves to party. You’ll visit all the major sites in a short amount of time, then party the night away – most of the time in a brand new city! The High Energy tours are available in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and Latin America.
In-Depth Explorer tours are for travelers who enjoy history and really getting to know a city. You’ll have your own time to explore beyond where Contiki takes you. If you’re hoping to see more than the most popular tourist attractions, the In-Depth Explorer tours are for you. The In-Depth Explorer tours are available in all countries and continents that Contiki travels to.
Short Trips & Festivals
Perfect for people who love to have fun and party the night away. The Short Trips and Festivals tours are available in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Latin America. Bring in the New Year in a totally different country while you dance the night away!
Winter & Ski
Dreaming of a white Christmas in New York City? How about skiing or snowboarding down a mountain in Europe? If so, the Winter and Ski tours are perfect. These tours are available in Europe, the United States, Canada and New Zealand.
Sailing, Cruise & Beach
If you’re someone who dreams of laying on the sand in the Whitsundays or enjoying Santorini’s breathtaking views, these tours are calling your name. The Sailing, Cruise & Beach tours are available in Europe, Asia and Australia.
This is a cool way to narrow down your options, especially for people who would prefer a winter trip over a summer trip, or an adventurous trip over an easy-going one. Choose the style of travel that suits you, and you’ll have a list of suitable tours right in front of your eyes!
You can also filter your search by length of trip, departure date and the budget you’ve given yourself. For instance, if you’re only willing to spend up to $3,000 and want to travel for two weeks, select both of these options in the right hand column, and all of the available tours with those specifics will be listed for you!
Review the tour you’ve chosen
Once you’ve picked the tour that’s right for you, a new page will open with all the information you need to lock in your selection. At the top of the page you will find:
- The name of the tour you’ve chosen
- The countries you will be visiting
- Some tours will take you to more than one country, such as any North America based tours!)
- Duration of the tour
- Cost of the tour
- Amount of money you save through Contiki
When you scroll down, you’ll come to the itinerary section and all of the awesome things included in your Contiki Tour cost! The itinerary tells you how many days you spend in each city, what you’ll be doing as part of the tour group, and the inclusions and ‘me time’ that are offered.
Note: You get a certain amount of ‘Me Time’ each day. This means, most of the time you’re traveling, you’ll be given either half a day or a full day to go off and explore on your own. Everyone has a list of things they want to see while traveling, and those things may not be included on the itinerary that Contiki has created for you.
This is where your Me Time comes in! On those free days, head off on your own (or with your new friends) and visit those places that are on your bucket list! Contiki has a huge range of suggestions too, if you’re unsure of where to start.
If you keep scrolling down the page, you’ll come to the ‘What’s Included’ section. This tells you how many nights accomodation you’re paying for, information about your Tour Manager and Driver, how many meals are included, the cool extras that you can experience at a discounted price, Me Time suggestions and transport information.
Once you’re ready to book
Next comes the exciting part. Once you’ve chosen your dream tour, it’s time to book. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see a button that says ‘Book Trip’. Clicking this button will open a pop-up page with a calendar. Here, you’ll be given the available dates that your tour will be running. Choose an appropriate time of year, and follow the prompts! You’ll be jetting off on the trip of a lifetime before you know it!
Things You Should Know & Tips for your First Contiki Tour
Now that you’ve booked your trip, I’m sure you’re wondering what to expect when you arrive at your first destination. Right? Duh, of course you are! I know I was.
Contiki is well known for its party scene, people getting drunk and passing out on Hollywood Boulevard (okay, maybe that was just me), and crazy antics that no one ever remembers the next day. Sure, that’s all true. But there are so many other cool experiences you’ll have if you choose to book a Contik tour.
I didn’t know what to expect when I stepped foot into my hotel in Downtown Los Angeles at the beginning of June 2015. I had done quite a bit of research prior to my trip, and I had joined a Facebook group started for my specific Tour group, but I was still somewhat in the dark about what Contiki was really all about. So here are some things you should know, to prepare you for your first Contiki Tour!
People do drink – a lot
The rumours are true, there’s a lot of alcohol involved in the world of Contiki. But that’s okay. Whether you drink alcohol or not, you can still have an epic time. Your tour group will consist of a wide range of people. There will be some who enjoy a cocktail each day with breakfast, and some who decide not to drink at all.
Once you’re settled in and start mingling with the people in your group, you’ll find the people who you click with the most and have more in common with. Stick to what your gut is telling you. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘trying to fit in’. It isn’t high school. You’re with a group of adults who are there to have an amazing and memorable time – just like you!
There will be differences of opinion
Being thrown into a group of people from all over the world and different ages and personalities, there’s bound to be clashing amongst one another. But if you’re mature about it and don’t let it ruin your trip, you’ll be fine. You may be in a group environment, meeting new people and making new friends, but it’s still YOUR trip. So don’t let anybody pressure you into doing something you’re not keen on. Do your own thing, and you can always catch up with your new friends later!
Your group will probably be mostly younger people
The first thing I noticed when my group started to roll in on the night before our Contiki tour officially started, was that we were all on the younger end of the scale. Considering the age bracket for Contiki is eighteen to thirty five, the small amount of older group members was surprising.
Something else that surprised me, was the fact that most of the members in my group were Australian! I was expecting to walk in and be greeted by people from all over the world. That wasn’t the case in my particular Contiki group unfortunately!
Make the most of your me time
One of the things I didn’t like about Contiki, was the lack of Me Time. Sure, on the longer trips you get quite a few days to explore and do your own thing. But most of the time, there’s a set time you need to be back to attend group events and things you’ve already paid for. If there’s something that you’re dying to see, make it a priority on one of these Me Time days.
Head out first thing in the morning (sleep is for the weak!) and cross it off your list first. You can then plan the rest of your free time accordingly. Spending as much time heading out exploring the city and crossing off those bucket list items, will ensure you make the most of all your time on Contiki!
Take plenty of spending money
The inclusions and even the ‘extras’ that are listed on the Contiki website or in one of their booklets, aren’t the be all and end all of your trip. Those booklets and the website aren’t updated regularly, so there’s bound to be some opportunities that present themselves, that you wouldn’t have planned on.
For example, while we were in New York City during the Best of USA Contiki tour, our lovely tour manager Steph, gave us the opportunity to go to a Yankees game! This wasn’t something that I had anticipated happening, but lucky I had enough spending money with me to be able to go. Don’t be caught short if something cool comes up. You’ll definitely regret it later! It’s always a good idea to have more money than you think you’ll need. Remember, you can always convert it back when you get home!
Related: Click here to read about my 5 days in New York City
The Best of USA tour isn’t like other Contiki tours. Most are road trip style. You know, where you’re stuck on a bus most of the day or night, on your way to the next destination. This is cool if you like a good road trip, especially in a place you’ve never been. But I personally loved the fact that being an air travel tour, we had more time up our sleeves in each city, as our travel time was significantly shortened.
Whether you’re doing a bus or plane tour, it’s always a good idea to pack as light as possible. Not only will is cause less back aches and sore arms from carrying all your luggage, but you’ll also have lots of room to shop!
Tipping is sometimes included in the cost
If you’re new to the concept of tipping, don’t worry, sometimes a percentage of this is covered in the cost you pay upfront for your Contiki Tour. However, you will still need to tip for your own personal meals and any services that you receive when you are not with your group. So make sure you’ve got plenty of small bills on you to cover the cost of individual tipping. In a lot of countries, tipping is essential.
Some of your meals are included
Meals also tend to be included in the overall cost of your Tour. Most of the time, breakfast is one of those included meals. This gives you the chance to fuel up for a busy day of exploring, shopping and drinking! Dinner is also another frequently included meal. Usually, you’ll eat dinner out at a fancy restaurant with your group and tour manager! Most of the time, however, you’re on your own when it comes to lunch.
Always, always make sure you’re on time
This is super important! On the first night of the Best of USA tour, Steph (our tour manager) told us how important it was to be on time. Generally, you spend each day in a new city with your tour manager and tour group. Your tour tanager will give you a specific time to be up, ready and waiting in the lobby to leave for the day’s activities.
If you’re late, the group will leave without you. You’ll then need to find your own way to the first activity for the day (or the airport if it’s a travel day!). This can be especially difficult if you’re in a city you’re unfamiliar with – so always make sure you set plenty of alarms the night before!
I remember on my Best of USA tour, one of the guys in my group was late back to the bus after the couple of hours of free time exploring Hollywood. Our tour manager gave us a specific time to be back on the bus, and after waiting ten minutes with no sign of him, the bus left. He had to make his way from Hollywood to Santa Monica Beach on his own. Always make sure you set alarms for everything, to avoid being caught in this situation!
Related: Read about my experience on the Best of USA Contiki Tour, here
[bctt tweet=”Here are some tips and tricks for anyone planning their first @contiki tour! ” username=”rhiannontravels”]
Everyone has a different experience on their Contiki trip. Whether you’re a heavy partier or prefer to spend your free time exploring museums, the point of Contiki is to give you the freedom of choice. I would recommend Contiki for someone who is relatively new to travel. It’s also a great way to meet people if you’re a solo traveller.
Have you done a Contiki tour before? Which one did you do? Tell me what you thought in the comments below!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I will always only share my 100% honest opinion, and will never endorse a product or company that I would not personally use.