It has become apparent to me that approximately 60.5% of my Facebook friends (sample size approximately 500) have indeed been on or are about to endeavour on a Contiki tour, the other 39.5% are either teen mums or people in their 20’s getting married (These are legitimate and mathematically calculated guestimations). As a two time Contiki tour traveller I am ecstatic that going on Contiki has become almost a right of passage for Australian people in their late teens and early 20’s. It seems that Contiki to Australians has become what Rumspringa is to the Amish, therefore for my first official blog I have decided to discuss the six things I believe everyone should know before they go on Contiki.
1. You will not be on a holiday
If you want to lay around all morning drinking cocktails and having massages on the beach then Contiki is not for you. Most mornings on Contiki are like a boot camp session, you will go out until at least 2am, wake up at 6.30am, 7am Breakfast, 7.20am Bags to coach. Contiki tours are extremely structured, they have to be, how else do you except to see 10 countries in 17 days?
2. You will get into a fight
Both times I have been on Contiki I have fought with the friends I went with, its only natural when you are spending weeks on end with someone. Hopefully you and your tour buddy(s) will be able to kiss and make up, however I have seen/heard/read on Facebook of many friendships and relationships that end after travelling together. If you are going on Contiki with friends or your partner make sure your relationships are strong enough to handle it – otherwise go alone.
3. You will get lost
You will wake up after a big night out in your room alone two hours after you were supposed to be on a bus and have to make your own way to Venice – or was that just me? You will get lost though. The point is to be organised, hold onto the ‘Oh Shit’ sheet with your hotel details that your tour manager gives you, take a photo of it, tattoo it onto your hand just do not lose it. Get an international sim card even if it is just for emergencies – please? I’m sure my friend who was lost in Paris for 6 hours with no ‘Oh Shit’ sheet and no phone will back me up here.
4. You will get bed bugs (probably)
Lets be honest the accommodation is not great. You will not have a room looking over the Eiffel Tower or the colosseum it will more likely be looking over a slum which holds a market selling stolen goods (probably yours) on Sunday mornings (The Ibis, Paris). The accommodation is usually (especially if you are doing a concept/camping tour) at least 20 minutes from town. Do not expect to be living it up like the rich and famous in Monaco because you will be staying in a run down caravan park next to a chicken farm when you visit the French Riviera. Don’t expect to be going on a ‘cruise’ to the Greek Islands, you will sleep on a floor of a boat listening to a truck full of goats on the bottom deck. Don’t romanticize Contiki, it is what it is – a budget holiday.
5. You will have the time of your life
Despite all this I am really not a Contiki hater, I highly recommend it to everyone interested in travelling. Firstly, its practical. With a click of a button you have absolutely everything you need sorted for you – your day tours and activities, your meals, your accommodation, and your transport. Let me tell you I am currently booking a holiday to America and booking these things yourself is difficult, stressful and time consuming. Secondly, its just amazing really. You will make memories you will have for a lifetime. You will wander the streets of beautiful cities whilst being immersed in amazing cultures and experiencing delicious food. You will make friends that you have shared a completely unique experience with, who you will have known for two days and feel like you have known them for years. Travel is really the only thing you can buy that makes you richer and Contiki is an affordable way to make rich memories.
Because marriage and babies can wait, you can only go on Contiki while your young.