My who??? My most recent European Tour was with Contiki- a travel company that started in 1962 specifically catering to adventure seekers between the ages of 18-35. At first, I was hesitant because why on earth would I want to travel with a bunch of strangers?!?! On the other hand, we all must try new things and explore outside of our comfort zone to learn more about anything really.
I choose Contiki’s European Magic package which has 5 star reviews, no way I could go wrong! I first met my entire tour group (all 50 of them!) along with my tour manager and driver at Contiki’s headquarters in London. Their website reads “up to 25 travelers” but that was clearly not the case here! They jam pack your itinerary with multiple cities throughout Europe making sure you are able to explore the best spots together as a group and solo. Most of the traveling is via coach bus which I was surprised was a cozy ride with a super clean bathroom, WiFi (not free!) and a ton of outlets for charging your phones, cameras, iPads and whatever else you may have. To all the new Contiki travelers…claim your seat on the bus! There’s multiple reasons why, but since your’re going to be on that bus for so long might as well call dibs on your seat. Trust me! Another tip- know how to pack because you are only allowed one suitcase that has to be size specific and your typical carry-on. Also bring an extra backpack or tote bag. I did not get the memo that a portion of the trip entails an overnight bag. My tour manager informed us casually to just pack another set of clothes. Umm clearly he does not know me or any female or human being for that matter. I can’t just pack another set of clothes, I have things, lots of things! However, I was lucky my tour manager was extremely knowledgeable of all the cities we went to AND was able to make the “learning” experience very entertaining.
The hotels on the European Magic are somewhat modern and decent at least to my standards, although there were a few that were a bit too shabby for my taste. Trying new things though right? There are also plenty of meal options while on this tour, most are actually included, but this is the down side in my opinion. Most, well actually all of the included meals were not authentic to the city we were in. The hotels and restaurants were basically trying to cater to the American tourist which resulted in bland tasteless food. I do think this is where Contiki can/should improve and provide either better meal options or just let the travelers find their own eats. In all honesty, who wants to eat fries and carrots as a vegetarian option while abroad???
Now traveling with 50 people is bit much for me, but I definitely met some interesting people to say the least. The big question is would I recommend Contiki to other travelers? Well it depends. Would I willingly go on another trip with 50 people? Hell no! But can I see it being an awesome experience for a new and younger traveler? Yes! For more seasoned travelers like myself, I don’t advise this particular tour. However, I learned Contiki has smaller tours depending on where you decide to travel to. Contiki’s motto is no regrets and I still manage to live up to that no matter what.