This post is for people who either have never heard of Contiki, or just don’t really know what they’re about. I’ve gone through the basics of who Contiki are and what they do by answering some FAQs. But use this to ask me anything you want about Contiki and I’ll do my best to answer. I’ve done Contiki tours in 3 different continents, so if you have any questions not mentioned, pop them in the comments and I’ll add them to the post!
– Who/What are Contiki?
Contiki are a travel tour company that run group trips/tours all over the world. Their tours are aimed at younger people and you must be aged between 18-35 to go on one.
– How long are Contiki Tours?
Contiki tours vary significantly, running from a few days for shorter trips, to months for longer trips. Often if you do a shorter trip it will be a leg/section of a longer trip so you’ll have people with you who are travelling for longer. In contrast if you are on a longer trip it’s not unusual for your group to change at some point with some people leaving and others joining.
– Where do Contiki run their tours?
Contiki currently run tours in 5 out of 7 continents: Europe, Asia, North America, South America & Oceania. Out of all the continents they run the most trips in Europe.
– What kind of people go on Contiki tours?
Contiki guests will always be aged 18-35, however in my experience the ages of people on the tours will vary significantly depending on where your tour is, and also on your tour group. If you’re worried if age matters, it doesn’t. Everyone gets along and I’ve never experienced any group segmentation because of age.
– How much do they cost?
Contiki tours are not the cheapest way to travel, and costs will completely vary depending on length of trip and destination. In all honesty, yes you might spend more money than if you were travelling solo and arranging your own accommodation and transport. However, were you to try and do all that is included in a Contiki tour and pay yourself for the same, you would never be able to. So yes it’s not a cheap way to travel, but I view it as excellent value for your money.
– What’s included in what you pay?
On a Contiki tour you will have all transport & accommodation included in the price. You will also have a Contiki Tour Manager and for most destinations a Contiki Coach Driver as this will be your main method of transport. The only exception will be destinations where other forms of transport other than coaches are used for large parts of the journey, but you will still have all the transport organised and paid for even if the driver isn’t and official Contiki staff member.
The tour manager will organise everything on the trip for you, so all logistics activities, tickets etc. A lot of the value in Contiki is the fact that everything is done and organised for you so you can just sit back and enjoy the trip stress free. There are often also included activities and some meals as part of the fee, but these will vary tour by tour so check through what activities are included in the tour details to see what you’re getting.
– What’s not included in what you pay?
Flights to and from the start and end destination are NOT included for all trips and destinations. Meals and optional activities are also not included but this varies significantly depending on destination and type of trip. It’s worth noting (also depending on destination) that there will likely be a lot of extra optional activities and trips that you will want to do, and these all cost money. So it’s worth budgeting for this. In New Zealand in particular, the optional activities such as sky diving, bungee jumping, etc soon added up to near the cost of the trip. So do your research on optional activities and budget accordingly beforehand.
– Do you need to tip your tour manager/driver?
It’s worth noting that a tip can be a common practice for your tour manager and coach driver (if applicable), and that the amount suggested is a few dollars per day. This is NOT required however, and whether this is expected by the Contiki staff completely depends on your Contiki team. Some members don’t agree with it, but some see it as a thank you for providing an excellent trip. Bear in mind that often a lot of what the Contiki staff make is from tips so if they’ve gone the extra mile to make your trip great, it’s always nice to show your appreciation.
– How big are the groups?
This will vary depending on trip but as a rough guide will usually be at least 10-15 people and up to around 50 people maximum. More popular destinations where Contiki have been running tours for longer will usually have a lot more people, whereas the newer destinations such as Japan will have less. You can expect to have a decent enough sized group however as Contiki have lower limits on numbers they need before they can run tours.
– Who is Contiki suited for?
Contiki is great for people that: want to experience a lot but only have a short time; want a hassle free way of travelling; are nervous of travelling on their own; want to meet others and make friends; aren’t on a tight budget; are still working full time but want to experience travelling; want to travel with people from all over the world
Can you go on Contiki as a couple?
Yes. On every Contiki I’ve been on there have been couples travelling together, and it’s actually a great way to travel together hassle free and meet new people whilst being able to stay together in your own accommodation.
– What’s the accommodation like?
This varies depending on destination so check beforehand. Often if Contiki tours aren’t camping tours, you will be staying in hotels and sharing a room. In my experience the quality is around 3* and in most cases very good.
– What are the coaches like?
On most Contiki tours you’ll be travelling around on a big Contiki branded coach. These are usually pretty decent and depending on the tour manager there may be films shown, or activities during long journeys etc. Most of the time though it’s a bit of down time for you to chill out, and the coaches are good enough quality to be able to relax.
– What are the staff like?
I’ve never had a bad tour manager or coach driver. Contiki are very thorough in who they hire, and have extensive (and I mean extensive), and intense training for their staff so only the best make it through. They will usually also feel like an extra part of the group rather than it’s ‘us and them’ as well which is always nice.
– I’ve heard Contiki is just for people who want to party and drink all the time, is this true?
This isn’t true. Firstly, every group is completely different so it varies massively depending on who you’re with. Yes, you will likely have some people who want to go out more than others and like the odd drink or three. HOWEVER, I am yet to go on a Contiki tour where everyone just wants to party all the time. There will always be others who don’t like to drink that much and a complete mix of people who like to do different things, so you will never be forced or pressured to do anything you don’t want to.
– Would you recommend Contiki?
A massive YES. My 2 week Contiki in the USA is a big part of what inspired me to travel longer term, and I’ve never had a bad experience with Contiki. If you want a hassle free way of travelling with others, that means you do a massive amount in a very short period of time then Contiki is for you.
– What’s the best thing about Contiki?
The people. You’ll make great friends and meet loads of different and great people on your trip. Often the phrase ‘Contiki family’ is used.
– What’s the worst thing about Contiki?
It’s hard to say the worst thing, but it’s probably that you’ll likely spend a lot of money. You’ll do a massive amount for your money mind you, but you’ll probably spend a lot of it.
– How can I save money on Contiki?
Plan in advance. Contiki will offer discounts on tours they either need to fill late notice, or that are far in advance to get more guests. So keep an eye on the website and if you aren’t fussy on dates and plan far enough in advance you may be able to get a discount.
If you want to know more about Contiki, I’ve written another post here with 10 things you should know if you’re thinking of doing a Contiki trip. Any other questions I haven’t mentioned, pop them in the comments and I’ll answer them in the post for you…