HOW TO KICK-START YOUR GAP YEAR WITH CONTIKI

Like a lot of young Aussies, you’re thinking about taking a gap year. So how exactly do you start your big adventure?

One of the best ways to start is to take a guided tour. Contiki has been introducing young travellers to the big wide world since 1961, and 40 years on, group tours are more popular than ever. Here are 10 reasons to kick-start your gap year with a group tour rather than alone.

1. You don’t have to plan anything

Contiki tours are perfect for every type of traveller – specifically, any traveller that doesn’t want the burden and stress of having to plan a trip themselves – Contiki organises accommodations, destinations, transportation and all the little bits in between. Contiki tours are perfect because they take away the headache of planning, which takes a lot of time and research. Contiki makes it as easy as “bags to coach”, so all you need to do is get there on time.

Venice in Italy

2. See the best parts of every destination

At each destination, you can either have some “Me Time” and explore at your own pace, or opt for one of Contiki’s “Me Time Optional” day trips. The ‘Me Time Optionals’ are a perfect opportunity to bond with your new friends, as most people usually opt to do all of the excursions – but it’s completely up to you. These activities are usually the best way to get an introduction into a new destination or things you may not have found on your own – or are too expensive to do on your own, such as a gondola ride in Venice or dinner and a show at the Moulin Rouge. Contiki offers a good balance between guided time and history lessons, and the walking tours are perfect for gaining your bearings in a new city.

Edam in The Netherlands

3. You make lifelong friends

18-35yr olds, the average Contiki tour is made up of a mixture of various traveller dynamics, so you’re pretty much ensured to make yourself comfortable somewhere or another. Your Contiki Family will become your family away from home – they’ll become your friends for life, no matter where on the globe they reside. When it comes to group dynamics, you shouldn’t be worried about who you’ll end up touring with – the groups can range up to 50 people, so you’re guaranteed to meet people you jive with.

Moulin Rouge with Contiki

4. Safety in numbers

With your new friends and your Trip Manager, there are plenty of people looking out for you. Particularly when going out clubbing, you aren’t as vulnerable to the normal threats of drinking alone – you have a whole Contiki Family with you.

Schnapps in Austria

5. You get your own guide to everything – even Oktoberfest!

Your Trip Manager is one of the most important assets of your journey. They know everyone and they pretty much anything about the destinations – they are there to answer your questions, and inform you on the local history, attractions and also provide you information regarding the tour. When arriving at each destination you are given an introduction including maps, and a drive around (depending on time), and any information about public transportation.

Perfect when getting dropped at intense experiences like Okotberfest, your guide can give you the low-down on what to expect, and how to make the most out of your experience. As well as this, they enter the grounds with you, show you the best places to go (with maps), and then spend a good amount of time with you getting merry before they leave to experience Oktoberfest for themselves (usually with other Contiki guides).

Oktoberfest in Munich

6. Taste test the world, or take it easy and specialise

Contiki can sometimes be characterised as very intense and fast pace, this is because they’re trying to give you a taste of various destinations in a short period of time. This pretty much means, no sleeping in, lots of hours on a bus and less time to explore some of the most beautiful destinations in the world. But fret not, there are also tours that offer a more relaxed pace, offering you more time at each destination to see and do more; ‘High Energy’, to ‘In-Depth Explorer’ and ‘Easy Pace’.

Contiki is perfect for taste-testing destinations so that you can grasp an idea of what places you’d love to come back to in the future. 

Gelato in Italy

7. You learn to maximise your time while travelling

Something you learn while on Contiki, particularly with it’s fast pace, is that you can still make the most out of a destination when you don’t have a lot of time to experience it. With each destination, you learn more and more. To begin it’s a bit daunting, but the Me Time Optionals allow you an introductory experience, and then your guide will explain the other places you can explore during your free time and which places are worth your time. With a tour group of up to 50 people, there will always be someone who wants to do the same things as you, and it’s up to you how much you fit into your time.

Amsterdam Canals

8. You can party all night, and then nurse your hangover on the way to your next destination (meaning you don’t waste a day of travel!)

A company like Contiki is pretty well-known for it’s party scene. Travelling with a group of young people, it’s not hard to see why. A perfect way to get to know your fellow travellers, it allows people to let off some steam, get more comfortable around these strangers and dance, a lot. Trying local drinks is always fun – and if you plan for it, you can hit up Oktoberfest in Germany! How much you drink is up to you – just as long as you can make it to the coach on time the next day. You quickly fall into a routine of staying out late before coach days, as you can nurse the hangover without wasting a day of travelling.

The Contiki Bus

9. You’ll make some of the best memories ever

Spending up to a possible 45 days with a group of amazing and like-minded travellers, its impossible to leave such an intense experience without making some of the best memories of your life.

10. #NoRegrets

#NoRegrets is the Contiki motto, an often chanted excuse for doing whatever you want while on Contiki. Like watching Yes Man for the first time, it really allows travellers to maximise their experience, making sure they aren’t leaving with any regrets. It’s the perfect way to ensure that you have the most amazing experience.

thebulldog cafe


Find out more about Contiki tours here.

This story is an adapted version of my article published on Yahoo7 (here).

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