One of my fellow travellers summarised our Contiki adventure in one perfect sentence: “Imagine the best day of your life 13 days in a row.” I can’t possibly think of a better way to describe it, but for those of you who know absolutely nothing about Contiki, let me tell you a little bit more.
If, like me, you’re from the UK, you might know very little about Contiki. It’s an Australian company, specialising in group travel for 18-35 year olds, and most of the travellers on our tour seemed to be from Australia, the USA, Canada and South Africa. In fact, there were only three travellers from the UK on our trip. We travelled in a group of 50, which is pretty standard for a Contiki adventure, making it perfect for both solo travellers and groups of friends searching for an adventure. I’d heard of the company before, but believe it or not, I had a completely different idea of how my trip would pan out.
When we booked the trip, we had been searching for ways to go island hopping in Greece as a pair. We had looked for multi-centre trips, and tried to book ferries ourselves, but it was all working out to be a lot of leg work. That was, until we discovered this adventure, with amazing destinations and pretty awesome looking excursions. However, although we knew there would be a group of travellers, we expected to be sharing hotels and transfers with the group, but also to have a lot of time where we would be left to our own (unless we opted into the excursions). However, it turns out things work a little differently over at Contiki…
Basically from the minute you meet your group, you go from having one travel companion to having 49. You will travel with them, eat with them (even when you don’t have included meals, you’ll probably eat as a group), and explore the greatest sights of each destination with them. It’s not a relaxing and private holiday by any stretch of the imagination, but if you’re ready to mingle and embrace the group experience, you’ll definitely make friends for life.
As for how to spend your days, to get the best out of your holiday, the optional ME Time activities are the way forward. You hear people talking about those ‘authentic experiences’ that we all crave nowadays; and this is exactly where you’ll find them. On the plus side, this means waking up to a new adventure every single day, but it also means having most of your time planned out for you. Personally, I loved every second of our activities, and couldn’t imagine the trip without them – we definitely wouldn’t have seen half of what we did without the help of our fantastic Trip Manager, Nicole.
We spent 3 nights on each of the islands, and a lot of the time we were either on an optional excursion, allowing Nicole to guide us through the nearby towns and villages, or enjoying a meal with the group. Only once did Erin and I go out for a meal alone, but spending so much time as a group definitely changed our trip for the better. After all, where else would you get up on a podium with Texans, Australians and Canadians and dance the night away in a foreign nightclub??
On our very first day, Nicole told us that at Contiki, nothing is weird, just different, and that we should embrace all of the differences. At the time, she was talking about the crazy drivers and the fact that we couldn’t flush our toilet paper on the islands, but for me it has its very own meaning.
On a personal level, the entire trip was totally different to anything we expected, but once we embraced the tour for everything it had to offer, it became the holiday of a lifetime and something I’ll remember for years to come. Every day was the chance to wake up to something completely new and beyond our wildest dreams, with more activities in one day than most would do in an entire holiday. I’d recommend it to anyone, and I’ve already been looking on the website to decide where my next adventure will take me.