Traveling with CONTIKI! (London to Athens plus 9 Day Greek Adventurer)

August 1, 2015 Europe

Contiki London to Athens plus 9 Day Greek Adventurer Review
If you're considering booking with Contiki, here is a full honest review on my trip I did with them. I went on the London to Athens plus 9 day Greek Adventurer tour which was my first ever tour experience and it was a whirlwind adventure.

One Group. 30 Days. 7 Countries. New Friendships. Unforgettable Experience!

My Decision.
So I stumbled upon this one youtuber (Louis Cole also known as FunforLouis) who was on Contiki trip with other youtubers. I had no idea what Contiki was beforehand. The trip looked fun through the vlogs so I decided to look up more youtube videos of this company. My research didn't stop there I read blog reviews of past travelers, went on the website to look at the trips they offered, and requested a catalog to be delivered to my house. I came across other similar travel companies who offered the same experience as Contiki and also requested brochures and catalogs. I compared and reviewed different travel companies and decided to travel with Contiki!

 I've always been a shy person to a certain extent and hated going to places by myself. So of course I wanted to take this trip with my best friend. With conflicting schedules and time constraints I soon realized this trip was never going to happen with my best friend. I kept reading all the reviews that I could possibly read, saw many more youtube videos, read all the catalogs, and just told myself I need to make this happen for myself. Traveling to Europe was the only thing in my mind for weeks that I couldn't stop thinking about. I finally decided I'm going on a Contiki trip with or without someone. I am going to Europe this year no matter what! Without consulting with friends or family I booked my trip and paid the down payment. When I told my family, they just thought I was crazy. They couldn't believe little shy Stephanie will be traveling to Europe all by herself. That's when it hit me that it's officially real, I AM GOING TO EUROPE!

What is Contiki?
It's a travel company that offers numerous trips all over the world that have everything planned out for you. It's targeted audience are 18 to 35 year olds, which makes it fun and easy to make friends if you're traveling solo! The biggest decision you would have to make is picking the destination for your travels which can be difficult because they offer an array of trips in different price ranges, locations, and durations. It all depends on your budget and how much vacation time you have.

Pros traveling with Contiki
  • INSTANT FRIENDSHIPS-  If you're a solo traveler, this is a perfect way to make new friends easily. You meet people from all over the world, all walks of life, and are bound to form new friendships that can last a lifetime or just till the end of the trip. Since my trip was a month long, my group became really close and had a blast! I still keep in contact with my contiki family that reside all over the world and can't wait to see them soon.
  • CONVENIENCE- Everything is already planned out for you! You don't have to worry about booking hotels, getting tickets for tourist attractions, ferries, and etc. You have transportation available and tour guides in every city.
  • A TASTE OF EACH COUNTRY- I chose this trip because I wanted to see all my favorite countries while I was in Europe. If that's what you're looking for this tour will give you a "a taste of each country" meaning you won't get an in depth aspect of the country. You're going to be in each country for a couple days, which will make you want to come back to explore some more. This tour definitely made me want to come back to certain places more than others and I hope to do so someday!
  • ENTERTAINMENT-  Our tour manager made sure to make our group to interact with each other in the first couple days and throughout the trip. With multi-city European tours, you're on the bus A LOT! Our tour manager made us all introduce ourselves, play fun games, role play, sing to our day song, oh and if you were the last one on to the bus YOU HAD to sing karaoke in front of the whole bus. It was great way to keep us entertained on those long bus rides. Also in each city we had themed parties which was something to look forward to and have fun with the crew.
  • FREE TIME- Because this trip is longer than other trips Contiki provides we did get free time in a lot of the countries we visited. I loved having free time days because it allowed you to do things on your own or with a small group of friends. Definitely write down a few favorite must do things or cafes/restaurants you want to try out before the trip so you can go to them during your free time.
  • PARTY HARD- Let's face it, when you have a group of young adults, everyone want to have a good time! Some partied hard more than others but nonetheless it's the memories created. If you're not much of a party person don't worry, you won't be peer pressured to do so. I would say plan out the days you want to drink and have fun. Because partying too hard the night before a long bus ride isn't so fun if you're hungover. Also I wouldn't recommend partying EVERY night. I mean one month of partying back to back is going to catch up to you one way or another but hey it's all up to you and you're liver.  I picked and chose when I wanted to ahve a fun night, there were people who didn't drink at all, and there's people who solely care about partying. Just have fun and have a YOLO (you only live once) mentality because hello you're in EUROPE!
Cons traveling with Contiki
  • SUITCASE WEIGHT LIMITATION- When they say there is a suitcase weight limitation, THEY MEAN IT! I over packed like any other girl would. I mean I was going away for a month, I brought everything haha. I didn't think they would actually weigh every one's suitcase so I didn't listen to their 20 kilo rule and mine actually weighed more than that. I had to stuff my things in other people's suitcase for it to pass through on the bus. I understand why they do that but I wish for longer trips they didn't enforce that rule. After this trip though I learned that packing light is the way to go anyway. Many seasoned travelers on the trip would either throw away clothing that didn't need and buy new things as the trip went along.
  • ACCOMMODATION- Okay lets get into it, this is my real, raw, opinions when it comes to this part of the trip. Let's be real this is a budget tour, I didn't expect 5 star luxury hotel accommodation. I was well aware this was a hostel and hotel trip when it came to our accommodation. But was not happy with ITALY's accommodation in specific whatsoever. Everywhere we stayed before and after Italy on this tour were great, no complaints here. My issue is when we stayed at "Contiki stopovers" in Italy. So while we were in Italy, we experienced a very hot HEAT WAVE. The weather conditions is out of every one's hands obviously but as you continue to read you will see why I think tour companies need to keep this into consideration when choosing accommodations. In Venice, this contiki village/stopover was interesting. If you wanted to use wifi you had to pay for it and when you did of course it didn't work at all. If you wanted air condition you also had to pay for it as well, which was ridiculous because we were in the middle of a heat wave. I don't understand why that isn't included but some people did purchase it and guess what some air-conditioners didn't even work. Oh and our window screens were broken so we all got bit by mosquito's all night. In Florence, yet another contiki stopover accommodation which was basically cabins in the woods. If I wanted to stay in a camping situation I would have booked that option but I didn't. The bus drops you off and we have to drag our luggage over a steep hill to get to our bug infested cabins. Florence had the hottest temperatures while we were there and the fact there was no air condition nor could we leave the windows open because bugs would get inside was not the best to say the least. Many of us on the tour was not happy at this accommodation that we even thought about leaving it and getting a hotel room because yes it was that bad. But because we didn't know where we were exactly and far out from the city we just decided to rough it out. Lo and behold this is where many of us including me contracted bed bugs. Yes you read that right, we got bed bugs. The tour manager was trying to play it off like it was normal but no this is acceptable. Please do not use a sleeping bag while staying here, those bed bugs will still be in there. If you thought that was the worst of it, nope there's more. Oh Rome... the final contiki stopover accommodation which I thought was going to be way better than the last one had me disappointed as well. We arrived at a cabin-esque place again where we were supposed to stay but for some reason we couldn't. On the same grounds, we were put in trailer park accommodations. Yep, there were bugs inside of course like the other accomdations we had in Italy. At this point we were like what is next? This is just not what I paid for. Majority of the tour complained about this and was not happy at all with Italy's accommodation. As I mentioned before I didn't expect 5 star accommodation the issue is if you're paying for hostels and hotels and you're not getting either of that you had paid for, what is going on here? It's like they were going around using the word hostel but it in all actuality it's a camping ground. It wasn't just me, or five people complaining it was majority of the group. *This happened in 2015, not sure if they have changed this part of the trip.* So keep this mind if you do plan to book this tour. Many of us were laughing back at these memories and what we endured (lol) it was definitely an experience and the end was the running joke. But to be clear everything before and after Italy was great!
  • FLEXIBILITY- There is a group tour which means everything is planned out. There's not much flexibility especially for multi-country tours. Lets say you wanted to spend more time in Paris shopping or sightseeing. If you weren't at the meeting point to get on the bus, you will get left behind. If you wanted to stay an extra night somewhere and meet with the group the next day, you have to worry about your own accommodation and transportation. This is why it's so crucial to a closer look to the itinerary to be aware how many days you will be staying in each place. You won't have any surprises while you're on the trip. So if you don't like being rushed maybe this tour isn't for you. Try looking for a slower paced tour that stays in one specific country instead of a multi-country tour.
  • GETTING SICK- You will get sick unless you have an amazing immune system. Waking up early, long air conditioned bus rides, long days of walking, trying new foods, partying, minimal sleeping, will catch up to you at some point during the trip. The CONTIKI COUGH is real. By the end of the trip we all had it. Mine lasted a couple weeks after the trip. Bring pills, medicine whatever works for you on the trip.
  • GROUP DYNAMIC/ TRAVELING WITH FRIENDS- The group dynamic can make or break your Contiki trip. My group didn't have that problem. But we did run into other contiki groups that shared their groups not getting along. Also keep in mind when traveling with a friend or significant other, you may end up in arguments and disagreements. Many people who came in as friends left fighting and not talking to each other. Same with some couples, some broke up during the trip or just fought constantly. You're going to be traveling for a long period of time and being attached to the hip may hurt your friendship or make you guys even closer.
Overall Thoughts.
It's honestly once in a lifetime opportunity. If you have the time and eager to travel, JUST DO IT! I wish I knew about these tour trips when I was younger. It opened by my eyes to the world, gave me a new perspective on life, changed me in a way I can't explain. This trip took me out of my comfort zone and made me experience things i thought I would never do especially by myself. I found a new passion for travel that just sets my soul on fire. I encourage anyone reading to BOOK A TRIP NOW!  It doesn't necessarily have to be this trip in specific but find one that speak to you! This trip had many lows and highs but I wouldn't change anything about it. It's all bout the stories and memories at the end of the day that make up travel. The great friendships I built during this month and amazing memories will never be erased or forgotten. Travel changes you and you will never be the same person once you come back home.

Youtube Video.



#NOREGRETS
I will be doing individual posts on each country I visited so stay tuned :)




Comment below,
What's your favorite Contiki trip?

Until the next post!
-WanderlustBeautyDreams ♡ 

30 comments

  1. This sounds like an amazing way to experience Europe! I would love to do this one day.

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  2. That sounds like an AMAZING time! I have to get in touch with Contiki. It sounds like you had a fantastic time.

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  3. hey. Contiki sounds and looks like a fun and amazing place :) I think it would be more enjoyable to bring my closest friends here and have the time of our lives. :)

    Cha at Little MisadvenCHA

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  4. I have never heard about Contiki, but it seems like a fun thing to do. I would probably just be a little bit worried about the group dynamics, cause that can be tricky

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  5. Ever since I've watched my first Harry Potter movie, I've always wanted to go to London! And when I was in college, I dreamed of going to Athens as well. Love your youtube video! Looks like you really had a GREAT time!

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  6. Wow, they really packed a lot into your itinerary! Sounds like a great way to get a taste of Europe in a relatively short period of time. The bedbugs, though! I just last month had my very first bedbug experience in a hotel, and my skin still crawls thinking about it. I'm glad the rest of your trip was fun! :D

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  7. This sounds like something that would have been great in my younger days. Now that I am older I like my comfy accommodations.

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  8. I heard about Contiki for a long time. I really want to try it. I haven't been in London yet!

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  9. I have never heard of this place before but WOW, what a fab time you guys had! It looks like such a fun experience.

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  10. So glad you got to go to Europe by yourself but didn't feel alone. Seems you had nice people who let you stuff your clothes in their suitcases lol. What a nice crew. Sorry about the Italy experience and the cough, but sounds like over all an experience you'll remember for a lifetime.

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  11. I have heard of Contiki before but never really knew what all it included. This looked like a wonderful trip.

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  12. I have never heard of this before but this seems REALLY fun!!!

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  13. This sounds like so much fun! I need to look into this. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. Sounds like you had an amazing time! I've had friends tour with them and they also had a great trip.

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  15. I Am also a shy person, and traveling solo was always a big no no ! But after reading your post, I'm honestly excited to give it a try! Never heard of Contiki before as well! Learned a lot, thanks for sharing your experience!

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  16. Im glad you left a really great honest review on this experience. I do not like the accomodations especially for Italy or the sickness factor thats kinda scary. I am going to look at your video later.

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  17. It seams you guys had fun :) Wish I will have the time to visit Athens as well

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  18. This looks like an amazing trip. Your pictures capture the beauty of Athens. I would love to be here someday. :)

    Cha at Little MisadvenCHA

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  19. I haven’t heard of this company before so I’ll be sure to check it out! As a solo traveller, I’ve stayed in some really disgusting conditions so I’m sure I could cope!

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  20. I haven't heard of this before, but it looks like you had a blast! I would love to be able to travel overseas one day!

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  21. It was really interesting to read about your full experience and your honest review (oh my gosh Italy sounds like it was pretty terrible). I think I'd have a really hard time traveling with that many people and being under the rules and regulations of an entire group. But aside from some of the cons, it sounds like you loved your trip! Which is awesome!

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  22. Such a beautiful introspection on your travel plans! I've definitely been influenced by YouTubers in the past, but never enough to take a vacation following their footsteps hehe. Looks like this youtuber was worth the follow :)

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  23. great post. looks like you had fun with your travels

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  24. Wow, that sounds like such a fun experience! I've never heard of this before and it sounds like a great option!

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  25. I think you highlight the pros and cons of the 30 day Contiki tour very well. That is a long time to go on a trip that is according to someone else schedule and with people that you don't know. However, it sounds like you had an overall good time.

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  26. Surekha-dreamingloud.comNovember 15, 2019 at 3:23 AM

    Wow.. That was such a very detailed blog about Contiki. I'm jealous by the way you spent you yolo days. Having friends around the world sounds so fun..!

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  27. This is a far and honest feedback. Having everything planned for your trip is absolutely enticing. Overall, seems to be worthwhile.

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  28. I have heard before that Contiki caters for a younger audience who loves to party. I am passed that so when I choose group tours I usually go for more mature ones such as Intrepid or G Adventures.

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  29. I heard Contiki before but never tried their services. But for solo travelers, this is a perfect choice.

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  30. I loved reading your detailed experience. Traveling with Contiki sounds like a fun-filled opportunity!

    www.itsasweetsweetworld.com

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