Last Updated: 3rd Jan 2014
There are only 24 hours in a day, and as nice as it would be for a tour or a vacation to last forever you must consider that when traveling it does take time to get from place to place and whether you’re at work or on vacation, you only have 24 every day to play with.
Generally speaking tours with one night stops will give you about 4 to 8 hours free time in a city. Again, this is a general rule. Tours visiting Innsbruck in Austria for example will usually spend about 2 or 3 hours in the city and this is all you really need to get a good handle on the town whereas somewhere larger like Venice where there is more to see and do generally gives you about 8 hours free time on a one night stop.
Some days it is also more practical to go sightseeing in a city before you check into your hotel for the evening. This is due to the simple fact that, as nice as it is to check in and freshen up before you go out sightseeing for the day, you will miss hours out of your daylight sightseeing time. Often it is much more practical to have a travel morning on the bus, go for an afternoon of sightseeing, then check into your accommodation and have the freedom to do what you want in the evening.
Generally tours spending two nights in a city will arrive in the afternoon, check into the hotel and then either head out for an optional excursion, sightseeing or have a free evening. The next day is usually a day filled with loads of free time in the city and possibly some included sightseeing, activities or optional excursions before heading back to the accommodation in the evening. Two night stops generally allow for a whole day in a city before heading off to the next destination after the second night.
You don’t have to travel on the coach. Contiki Tours use mostly large buses to travel from destination to destination. If you decide you want to stay longer in a city or simply skip a portion of the itinerary and catch up with the tour again later, you have the freedom to do this also. Importantly it will be up to you to arrange and pay for your own travel arrangements to destinations if you choose not to take the bus. This allows you total free time while on tour.
You don’t have to do the included sightseeing tours. You have total freedom to do whatever you like. If you want to take advantage of all the included sightseeing tours, activities and local demonstrations then in it entirely up to you. It is important to remember that the included activities are included though and as such factored into the cost and itinerary of the tour.
You don’t have to do the optional excursions. As well as included sightseeing and activities, most Contiki Tours also offer a whole host of optional excursion activities such as nights out, dinners, shows and adventure sports to name but a few. These are usually offered to help you make the most of your time and to enhance your experience in the cities and places you visit. Optional excursions are usually the icing on the cake. Again, these excursions are optional and if you don’t want to participate you don’t have to, again, allowing for even more free time.
It is important to understand that while Contiki Drivers and Tour Managers will do their utmost to ensure that you get the most out of every day, they are bound by driving laws, regulations and the responsibility to make decisions that benefit the group rather than each individual. Road closures, poor weather and traffic jams are but a few of the myriad of factors that effect travel time on the bus between destinations. It is also not possible to move the cities any closer together, if it is 500 kilometers (310 miles) to a destination there is nothing that can change it. Travel time between the cities will vary, some days are short and some days are significantly longer depending on the factors mentioned above.
by – davidg, Tour Manager, North America
While we do our best to make your vacation as hassle free as possible at Contiki, you will only get as much from your experience as you choose to put into it. Staying in the hotel on free days may be relaxing, but taking in the sites, sounds, and culture of America is why you came! Your Tour Manager will provide you with information to serve as a guide for your free days in various cities. Tour Managers have been to these cities before and know what clients like; start by using the city sheets given to you by your Tour Manager to plan out your free days. Hit the streets early and maximize your time; you can always sleep later on the coach!