After having completed two Contiki tours, I’ve decided to write up a post with my thoughts on Contiki in general and on the two specific tours that I’ve done in North America. There are a few different tour companies aimed at young travellers that offer tours in North America but Contiki was the one I knew most about.
My first experience with Contiki was on the Best of USA tour in September 2014. I followed that up with the Eastern Escapade in August/September 2015. In my opinion, travelling with Contiki is a fantastic way to do it. It’s certainly easier (no need to plan a journey, worry about accommodation or how to get between cities), it’s great value for money and you meet like-minded people with whom you become great friends.
Best of USA is a great tour for someone who either hasn’t been to the US before, or is on a tight time-frame and wants to see the major/most popular cities for tourists in the US. Because you fly between cities, this tour is more expensive than the coach tours that Contiki offers in the US but flying means you have more time in each city. We flew with Southwest airlines which had the added bonus of allowing us TWO free checked bags, which was great for us girls who did lots of shopping! Not having a coach meant we didn’t have the same baggage restrictions that other tours have. All the hotels we stayed at on this tour were great. The included and optional activities were great and there was definitely lots of time in each city to see a lot.
Eastern Escapade is more of a typical coach tour but was also amazing. Contiki have just changed this itinerary from when I did the trip – it’s going to be starting/finishing in Boston, which gives you a day on tour in New York, which I actually think will be an improvement on the itinerary I did. In saying that, this tour was a great way to see some historic sites in America as well as getting a taste of Europe. Our coach rides were pretty short on this trip – probably 4-5 hours was the longest but these were always broken up with rest stops (some of these were awesome, like the Ben & Jerry’s Factory) and they were a great way to catch up on sleep!
Our tour managers on both trips were really good – they had lots of knowledge about the places we went and were able to give recommendations on places to go on our free time, which restaurants to eat at and their honest opinions on optional activities.
The people you meet on tour is also what makes travelling with Contiki awesome. I’ve travelled alone and with my brother, and both times met awesome people from around the world.
To sum up, I’ve loved my experiences with Contiki – so much so that I’m already planning to travel with them again in Europe next year. I know Europe Contiki’s have a reputation for being party-central and I’m definitely past the partying stage in my life (although I will go out some nights on tour because I think that’s just what you do when you’re in Europe!) but the value of the tours and the itineraries they offer are just too good to pass up! For anyone who is considering Contiki, particularly in America/Canada – I say go for it!! It will be the best time of your life! #NOREGRETS