We know you all enjoy a first-hand account from past travelers who have been there. We’re happy to welcome Roop Gill to our carousel of guest bloggers who will provide her experience on Contiki tours, as well as travel advice. Welcome Roop to the Contiki blog! Read on for her first blog about camping with Contiki.
Guest Blog Post by Roop Gill, past Contiki traveler
Comfy hostels, luxury cruises, legendary buses, signature hotels and lively campsites: I have travelled with Contiki in many exciting ways since my first trip in 2009. While I can’t pick a favourite style or devise a direct formula outlining which way to form of travel fits what people the best, I can give you a quick recap of my latest camping adventure with Contiki, hoping to inspire you to peg in some tents.
I am going to begin with some quick facts that might answer your camping FAQs:
No, you don’t need to have camped before or be a nature lover to go camping with Contiki.
No, you don’t need to lug any camping equipment with you. You will be allotted a tent (and a tent-mate, if you are travelling alone) and you will be given a complimentary sleeping bag that’s yours to keep forever.
Yes, you have to be prepared to hammer down pegs into your tent in the blistering Roman heat as well as the chilly Berlin breeze.
Yes, you totally have to help set up and take down campsites and pack the bus.
No, it’s not too much work. In fact, it’s fun. You’ll soon start timing yourself on how fast you can clear up the entire campsite.
And finally, yes you will love every minute of camping because this style of travelling instills a huge sense of community and teamwork in the group.
Our first campsite on the European Expedition was Paris. Before we anchored at our campsite, our tour manager signed us up for jobs fitting our preferences, body type and physical strength. There were cookies (who helped our lovely cook with prepping meals), dishies (who helped with dishes), coach packers (who needed to be good at tetris to strategically fit everything in the coach), aquamen (who need to carry water) and team erection (who needed to erect the massive cook tent). Of course, everyone wanted to be on team erection.
Despite a stellar demonstration and a lot of help by our team leaders (our tour manager, driver and cook) a lot of us (ahem, including me) struggled to pitch our tent properly. “How stretched out should it be?” “Should I peg it here?” “How come theirs looks so much nicer?” “Wait, how do we get it?” After two or three tries you either got a hang of it, or someone felt sorry for you and volunteered to set it up. Then came the fun part of pumping up your air mattress, packing your tent with your bags and rushing to help in the ‘kitchen.’
From washing and cutting veggies, to hand mixing a potato salad to serving soup to the crew and then tackling all the dirty dishes, there is so much to keep you busy on the campsite. And the best part is, everyone pitches in! If you have a stack of dishes you are working away at all by yourself, a helpful Aussie or Kiwi will scoot right over and get you through them faster. If you are struggling with a heavy bucket of water all by yourself, the South African guys will probably give you a hand. And if you can’t finish your meal and feel so bad about wasting food, the North Americans will definitely take care of it!
Contikis are well-known or helping you make life-long friends and I have been a first-hand witness of that. However, camping will probably set a record for making friends, fastest! Helping out with chores, pitching and taking down tents, looking after each other and planning subtle pranks quickly makes your tour seem like a family. So when you are exhausted after a day of exploring Florence in blistering heat or barely found your tent after a night around Paris, the comfy air mattresses and the cozy sleeping bags will give the nicest hotels a run for their money.
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Roop is a Canadian journalist and blogger with a passion for seeing the world and a preference of doing so with Contiki. You can read about her other adventures and check out her travel photos on her blog, roopgill.com.