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

August 1, 2015

Contiki London to Athens plus 9 Day Greek Adventurer Review

                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, 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 that I could think 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 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, Contiki is known for partying hard. Some partied hard more than others but nonetheless it's the memories created that was worth it. 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. 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 overpacked 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 everyone'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.
  • ACCOMMODATION- Okay lets get into it, you get what you pay for. Let's be real this is a budget tour, I didn't expect 5 star luxury hotel accommodation but was not happy with ITALY's accommodation in specific whatsoever. London, Paris, Barcelona, Greece had great accommodation, we stayed a great hotels and hostels so no complaints there. My issue is when we stayed at "Contiki stopovers" in Italy. So while we were in Italy, we experienced a very hot HEAT WAVE. In Venice, this contiki village/stopover was interesting. If you wanted to use wifi you had to pay for it which of course didn't work at all. If you wanted air condition you also had to pay for it, which was ridiculous because we were in the middle of a heat wave. Oh and our window screens were broken so we all got bit by mosquitos. In Florence, yet another contiki stopover accommodation which was basically cabins in the woods. 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. 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 where we were supposed to stay but for some reason we couldn't. On the same grounds, we were put in trailer park accommodation. Yep, there were bugs inside of course and just not what I paid for. Majority of the tour complained about this and was not happy at all with Italy's accommodation. So keep this mind, many of us were laughing back at these memories and what we endured (lol) it was definitely an experience. 
  • FLEXIBILITY- There is a tour which means everything planned out which leaves no room for flexibility. 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. So if you don't like being rushed maybe this tour isn't for you. Try a slower pace 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 all night 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! This trip had many lows and highs but I wouldn't change anything about it. 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.

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 ♡ 

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