First of all, you’re probably wondering: What the hell is Contiki? Contiki is a travel company that offers organized tours through a variety of continents for people between the ages of 18-35. It’s similar to EF College Break and TopDeck.
Here is my experience:
In the summer of 2017, I backpacked Europe for 90 days. After the first month of traveling, I scheduled to join a Contiki tour called “Adriatic Unearthed” that went through Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece. Contiki’s motto is “No Regrets” and after taking the 2-week tour, I had quite a few more regrets than I thought. It isn’t all bad, though.
Contiki is not budget friendly.
The shiny ticket price on their website is basically just for the transportation and the hotel accommodation. Hotels include breakfast, so you’re at least covered there, but otherwise, you’re paying for all of the adventures, most of your own food, the airfare to and from the starting destination, taxis, drinks, club entries, etc. I didn’t expect everything to be paid for, but I definitely didn’t plan on having to spend so much extra on a daily basis.
I spent probably close to $3,000 total on the Contiki trip and that doesn’t include the transportation in and out of Europe. If I included that, it would’ve been about $4,200… for two weeks. You can do a lot with that much money in Europe for a lot more than 2 weeks if you’re budgeting.
Accommodation is not central, nor is it great.
I chose the “Adriatic Unearthed” tour. It wasn’t a hostel stay, just shared hotel rooms. We stayed pretty far outside most of the cities we were traveling to, which was a huge disappointment. I couldn’t just walk outside of my door and roam the streets of a city if I wanted to, except in Rome and Ljubljana. If I opted out of one of the “optional excursions” I was basically stranded at my hotel unless I wanted to pay, sometimes up to 25euro, for a taxi into the main part of wherever we were.
I have stayed in hostels nicer than some of the hotels in which we stayed. Some of them were nice, but some of them were pretty dysfunctional.
Wifi on board is not free
I think one of the big selling points is that there is wifi on board of a Contiki bus. When you’re paying thousands for the trip, you would expect wifi to be included in the price. It wasn’t. It was actually really, really expensive. I paid $11 for less than 300MB of data and it didn’t let me log back in when I had barely used it. It also just didn’t even work for a lot of people.
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If you go to Venice and don’t take a million pictures on a gondola, did you even go to Venice? Lol – sometimes you risk enjoying an experience for a good Instagram shot (for yourself and sometimes for 5 other girls who wanted to get a good pic). Sometimes it’s hard not to get lost in trying to capture a moment and you forget to enjoy the moment itself. Always remember to do what you want to do, and travel how you want. It’s your experience, and it’s your happiness. . . . . #worldtravelbook #passionpassport #wearetravelgirls #Femmetravel #travelawesome #wonderfulglobe #travelandlife #worldplaces #theworldshotz #sheisnotlost #radgirlslife #discoverearth #wonderful_places #TLPicks #dametraveler #solotravel #girlswhotravel #travelblogger #digitalnomad #damestravel #travelgirlsgo #girlsthatwander #travellerspath #solotraveler #backpacker #venice #italy #gondola @awesome.earth @treadedtravels @touringmaniac @@best.europe.photos @topitalyphoto @topvenicephoto
Seeing 7 countries in 14 days seems great… in theory. Do your research.
Two of the countries we literally just drove through. I don’t think they should have been included in the advertisement. Just because I peed in Bosnia, doesn’t mean I truly “went” to Bosnia. It’s something I wish I had paid more attention to than I did. Additionally, we were going to “7” countries, but we were going to 4 or 5 cities in Italy and staying in Greece for ~3 nights. Half the trip was driving and being in Italy or Greece.
Because the concept was “Adriatic Unearthed” I expected a lot of “unearthing” but it was really just wandering through cities and paying for optionals. Some of the “optional” options were not at all worth the price, but some were. The most fun I had was making pizza in Rome.
You will have the opportunity to do things you wouldn’t have done otherwise.
Making pizza in Rome and getting drunk? Check. Going on a party boat off the coast of Corfu in Greece? Check. I enjoyed some of the excursions, most of them were not worth the cost, but some of them I genuinely enjoyed.
Getting sick is a real possibility.
The chance of getting sick when you’re traveling, in general, is pretty high because you’re exposed to so many new germs and you’re on so much public transportation. It’s really important to keep yourself in good condition. In 90 days of traveling, I got sick a few times. The first time lasted a few weeks because I was never able to give my body the time it needed to rest. I actually started my Contiki tour already sick, and while I got better, I witnessed a few people get sick and lose their voices. Watch out for that Contiki Cough!
It’s not for everyone.
I chose to do a Contiki tour as a “break” from my 3-month long trip. It was right in the middle of the trip. I had grown accustomed to doing things on my own, at my own pace. Some people love and need organization, but for someone as independent, albeit controlling, as I am, it just wasn’t something I would ever do again.
You will make great friends.
It doesn’t matter how much I liked or disliked the trip itself: I made some awesome friends that I plan to see again one day. I think that’s unavoidable when you spend a few weeks with the same people. I shared a lot of memories with the people on the tour and I am so happy to have met most of them.
You will discover SOMETHING: either about the world or about yourself, if not both.
I never, ever, EVER, in 10,000 years, would have thought, “I can’t wait to go back to Albania!” But here I am. Part of the reason why I chose this tour was that I wasn’t exactly comfortable with going to some of the countries by myself. Now that I have been to all of them, I realized I definitely could have gone by myself, but I never would have been exposed to any of them without Contiki. I never would have even thought about going to Albania, but as my tour manager was describing the hardships the country has experienced over the last few decades, I became intrigued. I wish I had spent more time there, but now I know that I want to return, and that’s all that matters.
The most pleasant surprise on my trip, again, was how much I absolutely loved Slovenia. I remember the feeling of crossing the border from Italy to Slovenia, seeing the language change and the feeling in my stomach of something… different. We only had one night in Ljubljana and I wish it were more because that city was the most pleasant surprise of them all. The weather was not scorching, everyone spoke English and was highly educated, and it made me fall in love with Slovenia. I can’t wait to return there, either.
Please note: I am not in any way sponsored by any apps or products recommended in this post. All opinions are my own and based off of personal experience!