This week, we’re celebrating all things Australia as part of the Contiki #NOREGRETS Adventure Challenge – and we just launched our new Contiki Australia and New Zealand brochure!
What better way to showcase the Land Down Under than by welcoming our new US Marketing Coordinator, Christy, to the team! She recounts her first trip abroad sans parents and tells you what you should keep your eye on when you travel to Australia.
By Christy, Marketing and Content Coordinator
“FREEDOM” is the initial thought when embarking on your first trip without your parents. While the adventure is unforgettable, you soon realize buying things for yourself can be expensive. During the summer of 2006 at the ripe, rebellious age of 15, I went to Australia for a month on a student ambassador program. As it turns out, traveling with counselors instead of your parents is not as “free” as I thought (tape on hotel room doors is a real thing). Representing America in a positive light was a challenge, especially when the hit song of the time is Petey Pablo’s Freek-a-Leek and you catch yourself singing it in public… whoops! Aside from these personal problems, it was a great experience!
Australia is the perfect trip if you want to get your feet wet about traveling alone. Accents aside, even though they are a completely justifiable reason to visit Australia, it’s a country as diverse as the United States. It offers the comfort of the same language and cultural similarities, but has enough differences to be very exciting and adventurous. The realization that I was going to be visiting during Australia’s winter may have crushed my dreams of returning a bronzed goddess, but that by no means meant my trek from Cairns down to Sydney wouldn’t be the ultimate summer holiday.
The month-long ambassador program gave me the opportunity to see the incredible sights from a tourist’s point of view while also feeling like an Aussie. From farm stays where I learned to milk a cow, crack a bull whip, and jump in a river (which I later found out was teeming with crocodiles), to home stays where I saw what the school experience is like. I was able to sample the culture of Australia as well as enjoy some of the more adventurous cuisine- crocodile, kangaroo, emu…oh my!
Here is my Top 7 “Must See” list of the East Coast of Australia:
1. Great Barrier Reef (on Contiki’s Snorkel to Adventure)
2. Whitsunday Islands (on Contiki’s Island and Rainforest)
3. Surfer’s Paradise (on Contiki’s Sun Seeker)
4. Sydney Opera House (on Contiki’s City to Surf)
5. Sydney and Sydney Harbor (on Contiki’s Sydney New Year)
6. Bondi Beach (on Contiki’s Reefs and Rainforests)
7. Aboriginal Sites of New South Wales (on Contiki’s Rock and Red)
Every trip needs history and what better way to learn it than testing out a didgeridoo and throwing a boomerang?
I embarked on my trip with more than 30 strangers. I returned utterly knackered with “thong” tans (not what you think), a new vocabulary, and 30 friends. I’m looking forward to my next trip, when I can drink with the locals and shout “Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi!”
Christy is Contiki’s Marketing Coordinator and hails from Lake Arrowhead, Calif. She graduated with a BA in Communications and a minor in Spanish. Her great loves include traveling, Disney, pop-punk, food, craft beer, snowboarding, and the San Diego Super Chargers