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is this true? experienced contikiers...

17 Aug 2006 sadie101 asked

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hey everyone,
is it true that most people who go on these tours want to make friends more then they want to see the sights?
and ive also read that its more like a high school excursion then any thing else?
i seached the web for all the good and bad reiews of contiki and i just like to know what ppl think before i put my hard earned cash down on a tour that maybe a bit crappy.
also i read the tour leaders can be a bit arsey?
has ne one had a bad experience? or am i reading the wrong things?

thanks, i know its a long question so thanks for your time.
  • 17 Aug 2006 kamala said

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    I think I should chime in on this topic, since it seems like most people that don’t like Contiki don’t hang out on its messageboards.

    Not everyone loves Contiki. If you want to travel and do things on your own schedule, Contiki is NOT for you. I went on the European Discovery last spring with three girlfriends. Two of them decided that this tour was not for them and left on the third day. They were mad that Contiki had misrepresented itself and promised that there would be lots of free time in each city. The reality is that there isn’t a lot of free time in each city, and a lot of your time is filled with activities if you want it to be (including demonstrations and optional excursions—and some of the optionals aren’t really optional). But if you want to see 8 countries in 11 days, you can’t stay anywhere for very long. I feel like my friends didn’t give the whole tour a fair chance, which was their loss.

    Also, after leaving the trip, they then spent $2,000US to get around for the next week and a half on their own (since Contiki wasn’t going to give them a refund). If you have some sugar daddy back home who will pay for that, more power to you (as my one friend did). I didn’t, and I was so happy that I stayed on my tour, and also happy that they left because I could tell they didn’t want to be there. If they were going to start the tour with the attitude of “the bus is only my ride” then they’ll miss out on what makes the Contiki experience so much better than conquering Europe on your own: the friends you make along the way.

    When I started the tour, I was really psyched about seeing this monument or eating that food, not about meeting a lot of Australians. By the end I realized those experiences were even better because I had shared them with people I had never met before, but with whom I became fast friends.
    I think my friends also missed out by doing things that THEY wanted to do. I know that sounds weird, and most people would argue “I get two weeks of vacation a year [we Americans do anyway] and I’m going to spend it doing what I want to do.” While I would mostly agree with you, everyone on my tour couldn’t wait to go to Italy, and didn’t care if we stopped in Austria or not. Guess what? EVERYONE preferred Austria to Italy and thought that Austria was incredible and the most beautiful place on the entire tour.

    Sure, you might not care to see some leather demonstration, but is it really going to kill you to sit there and listen for 20 minutes? Who knows? You might even learn something before going across the street to buy the same item for half the price of the Contiki kickback store.

    While I could go on and on, I would advise you to take a Contiki tour if you want someone else to do all the planning, and at least are open to the idea of making some friends…even if they are only for a couple weeks. It’ll definitely make the entire experience better. Remember, those people that are traveling are doing so because they want to see the same monuments as you, e.g., I’m pretty sure if on your free day in Paris you want to go to the Musee d’Orsay, plenty of people will want to go with you.
    And if you decide that you didn’t get everything done that you wanted to do in your tour, well that’s a great reason to come back to Europe some other time. You can skip the places that don’t need more time (like St. Goar) and spend more time in those places in which you need more time to explore or just sit at a sidewalk cafe and watch life happen (I recommend Piazza Navona in Rome for this).
    Read my traveloge if you want the full story on my friends bailing and my adventures after they left.
    Kamala
    P.S. It’s good that you’re doing research. My friends didn’t do anything and left ALL planning up to me. They kept saying, “Whatever you pick is fine.” Obviously my choices weren’t right for them.

  • 17 Aug 2006 sadie101 said

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    thanks guys for the helpful comments especially
    kamala its really great to get an honest opion of the bad and good and thanks (most of you) for understanding the need to researched, i deff have no sugar daddy! so this means alot.

    and eastboca if you check out other sites you’d know what high school excursion means.

  • 17 Aug 2006 PinaI said

    PinaI

    I have to agree with Kamala too. I have been on two Contiki tours in the past and they both had their good and bad points. For me personally though, the good outweighed the bad, otherwise I would never have gone back!

    First and foremost, I have to say that your Contiki will be what you make it. As cliched as that sounds it’s true. If you opt for getting hammered every night and missing out on the drive and views the next day, then that’s your call.

    If you decide you’re there to experience the cities, the culture and the lifestyle, that’s your call too.

    Yes, Contiki is a whirlwind adventure but you have to expect that from reading the itinerary. Where else would you do 13-14 countries in less than a month?!

    I knew that my tours would be jam-packed but opted to do them because I knew they would be a great way to see a little bit of everything as opposed to spending all my time in just one or two cities.

    Contiki gave me the chance to discover what places I would like to go back to in the future and explore more. Tours like this are a great way to start off your travels and a great way to see things you might otherwise miss.

    Yeah there’s gonna be times when you might think you don’t want to do what the group is doing, like watching the clog demonstration, but you know what – it’s all part of the fun! If you were travelling alone I would guarantee that you wouldn’t see half the things you get to see with Contiki and that’s simply because you won’t know that they’re there. I would never have gone to see clogs being made or cheese being made or the swarovski factory without Contiki!

    As for the optional extra’s, well at the end of the day you don’t have to do them if you don’t want, so again, that gives you the chance to make the tour a little more personalised according to what you really want.

    Both my tours had their fair share of ‘idiots’ of board. Most of them were young boys (and a few girls) who were simply on board to get drunk and pick up, every single night. If that’s your thing, good for you but I know I didn’t spend $10-$15k per trip to get drunk!

    I chose to sit at the front of the bus, with the people who were there to see the sights and enjoy the trip. Some might say, with the nerds but you know what, that’s fine with me. I have made life-llong friends on both my trips and I’m grateful for that…nerd power! The people you choose to hang around with on tour will also be a big factor in how much you enjoy yourself…just don’t judge anyone on day one – that often proves a big mistake.

    My reason for picking Contiki is because the tours are structured, they’re organised, they’re with people my age who want to see and do the same things as me (most of the time) and because I am a single female and would not travel around to some of the places I went to with Contiki alone.

    As a final point, tour managers. I too have heard that some of them can be arsey but I’m lucky in that both my tour managers were great people and fun to be around. I think it’s true that if you are friendly to them, they’ll be just as nice back. Don’t treat them as a tour guide or slave to your travels and you’ll be fine.

    Well, I hope this helps. I’d be happy to talk more if you want to, just post here or email me: pinaielati@hotmail.com

  • 17 Aug 2006 ptooma said

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    Ash,
    you are completely free to do what ever you wish – so long as you are on the coach en route to the next city destination. As a courtesy, inform your TM of your plans since that evening, the group will be going to the CanCan while those that do not go on this optional also tag along on the coach and wander around the red light district in search of food. During that day, most ppl walk along the Champ d’Elyse and the Seine river seeing all the main sights.

    - Vic

  • 17 Aug 2006 PinaI said

    PinaI
    quote:
    Originally posted by CapricornAstrid:
    I just read about how you said that you don’t really get much ‘Free Time’… My tour will spend two nights in Paris. The full day says on the itinerary that it will be mainly ‘Free Time’. I was planning on catching up with a friend who lives in France on that day, who said he can meet me in Paris. Do you think this is a realistic plan, or am I going to run out of time?



    Yep Vic is right. I actually spent all my time in Nice with my family there and did the same in Rome – I just made sure I was back on the bus the morning of departure and all was well! Have fun!

  • 18 Aug 2006 space_monkey said

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    quote:
    Contiki gave me the chance to discover what places I would like to go back to in the future and explore more. Tours like this are a great way to start off your travels and a great way to see things you might otherwise miss.



    this is why im going on a contiki tour. after my tour i will/want to backpack to all the places i liked on the tour and others that i didn’t get to see

  • 18 Aug 2006 Laura said

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    hey, everyone goes on the trip for different reasons i suppose, but the majoirty go to see the sights. there are a bunch of people that just go to party as well, but thats their choice.
    some things about it do remind me of high school. i was on a 48 day tour. a lot of gossip will be fabricated whgich is annoying but just ignore it. also there are cliques formed sometimes which is annoying as well but again just ignore it.
    honestly overall, while there are ****ty things about contiki, i would say that the good outweighs the bad and i would do another contiki tour again despite some of the bull****. the friendships you make on the tour are unreal and you wouldnt make such strong friendships if you were to go bckpacking on your own around europe. hope that helps!

  • 29 Oct 2007 nikkid said

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    You are completely free to do whatever you want on your Contiki trip. If you want to sightsee, its there, if you want to shop go ahead, and if you just want to make friends and party, it’s all there for you. You make your trip what you want, Contiki is so flexible you can essentially create it into your ideal trip. And CapricornAstrid, when I was in Paris, I met up with my cousin who lives there. I just gave my tour manager a heads up of my plans. And my tour manager was great. He was knowledgeable, funny, and easy to approach. I don’t personally know anyone who hasn’t been impressed with their tour manager, so I’m sure it’s the very very few rare ones out there getting a bad rep. But go for it! You’ll never know until you try it, and I promise you will enjoy it!

  • 26 Jan 2008 Avidkeo said

    Avidkeo

    Hi there.

    Im doing 21 day camping in Europe in May and want to know if there will be enough time in Paris to actually go up the tower and go to the louvre? These are the two things that I HAVE to do when in Paris, but would like to know ahead of time if I will be able to do both, or if I will have to pick only one and come back to do the other. With the Louvre its the mad dash to see the Mona Lisa that I really want to do.

    Thanks
    Kim

    “Cause life’s too short for bad editing”

  • 28 Jan 2008 kamala said

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    Hi Avidkeo,
    I don’t know exactly which tour you’re doing, but our tour spent two nights in Paris (and one full day), and we had plenty of time to do both. In fact, going to the Eiffel Tower was part of our tour (at night—awesome!). Hitting the Louvre the next morning was easy, and there will be plenty of people there to see the Mona Lisa too. There’s LOADS of other important artwork there that you would recognize, even if you didn’t take art history classes.
    I can’t imagine any tour of Paris that would NOT include a trip to the Eiffel Tower and the option to go to the Louvre, so you should be fine.
    Have fun!
    Kamala

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