Want an Adventure? Take a European Contiki Tour!

Benedict By Benedict, 28th Nov 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1h67ljdp/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>International Cruises & Tours

For travel-minded young people aged 18-35, Contiki Tours are a superb way to see Europe and all it has to offer. With a group of people just as interested in exploring its amazing cities and landscapes as you, there are countless opportunities to make new friendships and have a holiday to remember for a lifetime. How do I know? I've done many of these tours and swear by them!

Your Fellow Travellers - Culture and Nationality

The vast majority of people you will meet on these tours hail from Australia, the United States and Canada. True to their adventurous reputation, Australians usually form the biggest group, frequently even most of the travellers in a touring party. Americans have a formidable presence as well, especially those from the Eastern States, California and places such as Florida. Despite a population much smaller than the United States, the proportion of Canadians is surprisingly large. In my experience, the number of Americans to Canadians is only about 2:1.

Even when their small population is factored in, New Zealanders are much less represented on these European tours. I'm not sure why this is, as their neighbours in Australia certainly punch far above their weight in population as the most common nationality. South Africans can also be found but it varies. On one tour I completed there were none, on another just one and on a third they were about 15% of the group.

On one tour of Central and Eastern Europe a trio of Colombians were present, but from my own experiences and those of my friends, many of whom have been on multiple tours, these kinds of tourists are rare.

All-in-all, the feeling is very Anglophone. Aside from small groups of French Canadians and Afrikaners, almost everyone comes from relatively uniform Western English-speaking cultures like the US, non-Quebec Canada and Australia. In a way, this is good for easy-bonding between travellers. As we all know, conversation for long periods of time with people who use English formally but as a second language can be difficult.

Your Fellow Travellers - Travel Preferences and Style

Contiki does to a great extent deserve its tag as a touring company for those who love wild nights at nightclubs, frequent drinking and exciting, fun-filled, often controversial adventure. I certainly fell into this category. Yet this type is not the only you will encounter. Not everyone can deal with drinking themselves into a stupor most nights. But even those drinking less can appreciate and really enjoy those nights they do put their foot to the accelerator and let loose.

I've come across a honeymooning couple, other married partners and more reserved characters throughout all my tours, so don't necessarily be put off by the stories you hear of beer-induced orgies and debauchery. Frequently people will retire earlier than half the group and hit the hay, wishing happy farewells for the night to those staying out and receiving them back in return.

The great daytime cultural opportunities mean that for those of you who are quieter and less prone to partying, you can still have an awesome time. The optional activities and even the free ones on offer allow you to experience Europe in the way you want to if the booze nights aren't enough for you or something you just don't want much.

I also need to add that the traits you find in your tour group can vary greatly according to the season, exact time of year and also location of where you are. Trips around places such as Paris and London tend to include less boozy nights, unless those locations are simply a few locations in a Europe-wide longer tour. In contrast, my journeys in Eastern Europe and places such as Germany have featured larger numbers of people hitting the steins and shot glasses. That being said, the drinking culture in places such as Germany and the Czech Republic also encourages it more. There's quite a difference between a traditional pub in England and a giant beer hall or nightclub in Prague, after all!

Different Ways to Travel

Contiki's European tours come in four different packages. At the bottom in terms of price are the Camping tours. Obviously don't expect too much in terms of both accommodation and closeness to the centre of the cities you're visiting! This can be a problem, especially when you want to have a big night in a place like Rome or Paris!

Concept Unique is one step up, so you pay somewhat more, and takes advantage of Contiki's own properties for accommodation, plus low-budget hostels and the occasional hotel upgrade. Certainly a good option for someone wanting something on the cheap but without having to sleep in a tent.

The Timeout Hotel tours come in two varieties - those which cover broader areas of Europe (say, one including London, Amsterdam, the Rhine Valley in Germany, Rome, Paris, Switzerland and a few other places) and the Regional tours covering a particular area of Europe (such as the Eastern Roads tour I did in 2009, focusing on Germany, Austria and the western fringes of Eastern Europe).

Truth be told, despite being on a number of tours, I've always stuck to the Timeout packages. If you're planning on being out a lot and using the hotel as a place for (little) sleep as you buzz about the cities you're in, I really recommend you take the Timeout options. In addition, the availability of a decent hot shower is a necessity if you're spending two weeks on the road with little opportunity to get to laundromats!

The hotels I stayed in were, for the most part, fantastic. I'd even go so far as to call at least half of them luxurious or semi-luxurious. The breakfasts and other facilities were often impressive. Most were well-located in terms of public transport and closeness to popular nightspots and other tourist attractions.

Even for the higher amount you are paying for the Timeout tours (prices I shall discuss more below), you get substantial bang for buck.

Tags

Adventure, Austria, Belgium, Contiki, Contiki Tours, Cruise, Denmark, Eastern Europe, England, Europe Travel, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Scandinavia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tour, Travel, United Kingdom

Meet the author

author avatar Benedict
I'm an unconventional young man with a predilection for saying and doing what I feel.

I seek adventure and abhor most forms of political correctness.

I crave travel, debate politics and love life.

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Comments

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
28th Nov 2011 (#)

Drat I am just a shade to old to go on a Contiki tour, it sounds like a great adventure.

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author avatar Denise O
28th Nov 2011 (#)

I am with Mark, I am a bit too old. But I do have two kids and I can see my daughter wanting to go now. Interesting read. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Rose*
20th Dec 2013 (#)

Tour packages can be fun because everything is organised for you. If you are more adventurous though, it's fun making a bespoke itinary.

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