Everyone I know is still attempting to adult post-graduation. My friend texts me and asks if I want to go to Europe, to which the answer is always yes.
By November 2016, we’d booked a trip through Contiki, a high-energy tour operator intended for travelers from all over the world between the ages of 18 – 35. We were to embark on Contiki’s Eastern Trail, which made stops in Vienna, Krakow, Budapest, Ljubljana, Venice and Rome. Contiki encourages all participants to seize the day and travel with #NoRegrets. My friend and I then spend the next several months tagging each other in things on Facebook and sending screenshots of our respective countdowns to our trip.
Our trip comes and goes far too quickly, as trips always do. We loved every second of it. Here are some notes on our adventure if you’re considering Contiki for your travels:
1. Your Group
Your group is a complete toss up. Ours happened to be 3/4 Australian girls between the ages of 19 – 21, with a smattering of other new friends from England, New Zealand, Canada, America, and Japan. This is not at all a negative; just something to keep in mind. Our group was fun and loud and loved to party, and were very accepting of my friend and I, who kind of became a package deal (Entirely my doing without explicit consent from the other party involved. Major points to my friend for always putting up with me.).
We actually joined in the middle of a trip that had been running for about two weeks. Our group, endlessly social and welcoming, wanted to get to know us from the second we joined, tossing names and hometowns at us, which became a lot for two already-kind-of-introverted and nervous people. I can only imagine it could’ve been ten times more overwhelming as a solo traveler. Everyone seemed to have an established group or at least one friend already. We had several pairs in our group, including a set of sisters, two coworkers, and two or three actual couples. However, most of our group really was solo.
Whether or not you wish to travel with a buddy is entirely up to you; Contiki trips work for either. Prior to departure, I was told that Contiki trips are all wild and rowdy. In general, I am a little bit socially anxious, so such news was disconcerting. I was grateful to have a travel buddy on this one. As a collective unit, we were more muted than the rest of the group. Now that I know what to expect, perhaps I’d consider going solo in the future, but my trip wouldn’t have been nearly as amazing as it was without my friend.
2. Your Itinerary
There’s a chance your itinerary does not actually start in the city it lists first. Just be careful on this. While we “started” in Vienna, because of the nature of Contiki’s modular trips we actually arrived on the rest of the group’s last day in Vienna, so we did not make it in time for any of the activities. By the time we arrived, we hadn’t slept in approximately 36 hours, but we were a little disappointed that we wouldn’t get to see any of the city.
Otherwise, the itinerary was exciting, accurate, well-managed by the Contiki team with us, and was always on time. As far as Contiki’s “Me Time” additional events, we enjoyed them but also savored our free time. We opted out of some in favor of having the opportunity to wander. My friend and I loved having time to just do our thing or check things off our own personal bucket lists, and join back up with the group later.
3. Your Experience
You’ll probably drink a lot, swear a lot, and find yourself picking up some new words for the duration of the trip. You will meet cool people from all over the world, ones genuinely interested in getting to know you and sharing their experience. You’ll get up early, you’ll walk kilometers on the daily, you’ll stay out all night and then do it again the next day. You’ll get very lost, stumble upon exciting things, sing on the bus, and learn something new every single day. A Contiki trip is what you make of it.
Thanks for sharing Krakow with me, for making me fall in love with Budapest, for introducing me to Lbjuljana, for giving me the most perfect day in Venice, and for allowing me to see Rome again, Contiki. I truly have #NoRegrets and can’t wait to do it again someday!