27 Jun 2016 - 12 Aug 2016
I don't know where to begin, but whether in the beginning or the end, or even the middle…I’ve never felt more alive and have never been happier with my decision then with this trip. From top to bottom, left to right, this really is the trip of a lifetime that I had internally been needing my entire life. I grew up in a family that played it safe and didn’t venture out, I knew I needed something grand to ensure I was separating myself from who I was, to who I wanted to become. Yes, I have plenty of work still to do, but I am not the same person I was before this trip. I believe the Universe guided me to Contiki and this trip, everything I was doing led me to needing a break from reality, a detour from the maps and paths I was walking, riding and flying on. From having a list of regrets and knowing that the list was getting longer and longer with each passing year it was time to ensure that I incorporated “no regrets” into my life. All I originally wanted, was to be gone, anywhere, so I found the longest trip at the time and did that. What I found was a lot more than I had hoped. Sure, looking back I didn’t do everything I should have done on this trip, such like Parasailing in Corfu and taking the nightlife by the horns every night, but I did more than I ever thought I would do in a lifetime in just 46 days. I have met amazing travelers who have changed my ways of thinking for the better. I have tried foods I would never have eaten, seen sites I had only dreamed of seeing (unless it was living vicariously in a travel magazine or history textbook). Sure, with everything I have seen and done, I haven’t been able to retain all of it, but I know that there is a world outside my city that needs to be seen. The best advice I can give you is to “do it”. If you’re waiting for a sign or someone’s permission - this is it, life has a tendency to pass you by when you’re waiting for the right time to enjoy your life. I was hoping to have seen one country within the next one and a half years, or that is what I had planned on my “10 year map”. This trip alone allowed me to seen 22 of Europe’s most popular landscapes, cities and monuments and have grown to love camping and appreciate the outdoors and the serenity that being in places like Switzerland gives its visitors. We had the best on road crew who are filled with love and happiness which became contagious, if you’re worried about traveling alone or not having a support system - Contiki’s Trip Employees and travelers got your back - 100%. It really is wonderful to have a go to person when something is wrong, and let’s be honest you’re really never too old to benefit from a help in hand or someone’s resources. From Mike’s Bikes in Munich, coasting through the city just as you would imagine, and days on beaches and boats that allowed us to be at the center of Greek and Dubrovnik’s Islands, to feasting at authentic and cultural restaurants, I have lived. The best way I can say it, is that I want to be able to have the song “I Lived” as an anthem for my life, as should you. I want to know that
“I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived” - One Republic
This won’t be my last Contiki. This is the start of something wonderful. I don’t want to travel alone and with Contiki, I know I have people who are excited about making the most of life and their trip. These are people who also are going against the grain and finding that there is so much more that the world has to offer.
Review written Aug 2016event 0.3
26 May 2015 - 10 Jul 2015
The Big Chill is the best. Say no more..... but I will because this tour will change your lives and you will make memories that last a lifetime.
Firstly I must say that yes everywhere this tour goes is amazing and Europe is very captivating, but it is the people who made the trip for me. I went solo and made really really good friends from all around the world. The hardest part is saying goodbye, but now I have so many people to visit and reunite with :) There is something about a camping tour that attracts relaxed people. There were never any big dramas or falling outs on our tour, and most people were solo travellers so I found really easy to talk with. I found it really refreshing that the majority were solo travellers so we were all in the same boat.
Before booking the tour I looked at the camping vs hostels prices etc and decided camping because I saved almost $3000 for the same length of tour. This decision was the best decision I could have made as it allowed me to travel after the tour with some of the tour mates and go back to places I loved. The tents are super easy to put up and with time and a great tent buddy you become pros and they are up in minutes. In some places there is an option to upgrade to a cabin for 4-6 people which works out at about 10 euros each which was a good option when it was raining or sometimes in the 1 night stop places we couldn't be bothered with the tent. There are also a few hotel upgrades which were great, and a real bed never felt so good. I miss the camping though so much and the community feel we all shared.
We often would sit around the campsite eating and drinking together and getting to know one another much more than the other tours might. It was fun being around everyone all the time as you all kind of become a family and are all involved in games and preparing for nights out.
Our Contiki team were outstanding!! If you ever get either Ryan, Bento or Bean as part of your Contiki team you are going to have the time of your lives!! They are all such great people with passion for making sure we were well looked after and enjoying ourselves.
Unfortunately in Albania my bag got mixed up and ended up on a Topdeck bus and I only realised when in Croatia as I was setting up my tent. Ryan got straight on the phone to Topdeck and luckily they were in Croatia too so we swapped the bag over the next morning. Problem solved in a matter of minutes thanks to Ryan.
The food cooked by the on road cook is phenomenal!!! Often better than you would find in restaurants and we never went hungry. Bean is the sweetest person I have ever met and went above and beyond for us. Hats of to you Bean :)
Our driver Bento was such a great driver and always got us to our destinations with time to spare. He stopped at many special locations for us to take amazing pictures as well. The coach was always clean. Bento provided many laughs and entertainment and also is a wonderful person with passion for his job.
- bring a power board - your friends will love you
- expect rain at least once over your tour
-make a budget on how much you think you will spend and double it
- do all of the optionals, Georges Boat was my trip highlight!
- mosquitos in Venice are horrific
- a neck pillow is a must
- take lots of photos and videos (vids are hilarious to look back on)
My favourite places were Corfu, Dubrovnik, Switzerland and Munich. I didn't like Turkey too much but most people loved it.
Book this trip before you regret it. It is worth every penny. I am so jealous of you all who do it. I promise you will have the time of your lives and want to do it all over again. Day 46 of the tour was the worst because saying goodbye to around 50 incredible people was heartbreaking. You will make friends and memories for life!
Review written Dec 2015event 0.3
28 Apr 2015 - 12 Jun 2015
Camping was by far the best way to travel Europe! Not only did we get to see all of the breath taking sites that it had to offer, but we all returned to a relaxed atmosphere back at the campsite. 46 days was a lot to take in and at times you dreamt of home, but soon enough you were ready to venture onto the next activity on the itinerary.
Danielle Shellvin was our tour manager and she was phenomenal at it! Not only would she give us all great insights into each of the cities that we ventured into but she also made sure everyone was having a good time; regardless of what time she went to bed the night before she was up and ready the next morning with a positive attitude, i have no idea how she does it. At times there were hiccups like borders taking too long or traffic taking up a lot of time and nonetheless she made sure that we still completed all of the activities and didn't miss a single site...she even added in a few!
Conor O'Doherty was an amazing driver! Even though the drivers don't normally get to know people on the tour because they're always driving and then they need their rest he got to know everyones name within the first week of the tour! Conor whisked through roads and we were generally early to every destination; how he managed to drive through some roads I have no idea!
Kayla Fleming was by far an amazing cook! Even though we were camping, what that women could create beneath a tent was to die for; even though the wind at some campsites nearly blew over her tent she still managed to serve us all our meals. The food was one of my favourite things on the tour.
This was a truly spectacular trip, one that i will never forget! Every optional that I went to, I was not disappointed. Each free day you were given so many things that you could want to see; the insight into each city gave us such a variety whether it was for the museum buffs, beach goers, foodies or just your stereotypical tourist.
I will never forget this tour or the amazing team that was behind it!
Review written Aug 2015event 0.3
25 May 2015 - 10 Jul 2015
When I took this tour I had never travelled alone before and had never been to Europe. While on this tour I saw some of the worlds most amazing sights spanning from the Eiffel Tower in Paris all the way to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. This really was a trip of a lifetime and I will never forget the people and places I met on this adventure. The night life is amazing. I think I went out almost every night and partied my @## off. Get ready to drink because you will never slow down. If you are debating on if the trip is worth your time or money, just book it already. Thats what I did and this trip has been the best decision I have ever made.
Review written Jul 2015event 0.3
16 Apr 2013 - 31 May 2013
Best time of my life! I think about this trip most days and get upset in not still there! Made some incredible friendships that will last a life time. #contikifamily #lafamilar
Camping trips are are much better, more included, loads cheaper, better people, on road chef!
Meals were always different and amazing.
Best tour manager, cook, and bus driver!
Kate, tamara and pedro!
Highly recommend doing this trip! I had the time of my life!
Review written Aug 2014event 0.3
26 May 2014 - 11 Jul 2014
The Big Chill was easily the best thing I have ever done in my life. You get to see so many great places on this tour. Some people may look at this and see that you only get to spend a small amount of time in each place. This is true, but the tour was organized so well by our tour manager that we were always given enough time to see the top highlights of each place and the magnificence of each city. I have made life long friends and am closer to the majority of people I met on tour than I am with my friends back home. The me time optionals are a must and add so much to the trip. This trip is a life changer and you get to experience it with so many great people.
Our tour manager Grant Feddo was absolutely amazing. He went above and beyond what any tour manager could of done. His knowledge and history of each place was very good and it made the sites that much more meaningful. He gave us extra little walking tours around the city if there were enough people interested in seeing some additional sites. He took the time to look up extra activities that some of the group wanted to do and organize special outings for us. He is an absolute legend and if I ever do another Contiki again I will be asking to see what tour he is working on to try and meet up with him again.
Our coach driver James Barton was amazing. I have never met anyone in my life who could maneuver a vehicle so good and for him to do it with a bus was impressive. Jim was always on top of his hours and had every detail worked out to give us the absolute most time at each place. He made special pick ups for us at certain locations and even talked to a boarder agent and found out about a really cool cathedral to take us too. He had enough time to take us there and it was definitely worth while. He kept the bus super clean and his driving always made us feel safe. He was super fun to have around when he had his free days. I would love to be able to do another tour with him as well.
Our on tour cook, Kayla Fleming, was amazing. The meals that she was able to prepare out of a tent went far above anything I had expected for tour. It was like eating at a 5 star restaurant each meal. She went above and beyond what she needed to do. She spent so much time preparing and making sure that what she was cooking would satisfy all of the people on tour. We had some people with dietary restrictions on tour and she made sure they always had something else to eat if they weren't able to eat the main dish.
The only way I could summarize this tour is by saying that it was the best time of my life. I feel like that doesn't even do it justice. I met so many amazing people and seen so many magnificent places that I wish it never had to end. I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to do the tour with or a better contiki staff. If I am to do another contiki tour I would hope that I am fortunate to come across either Grant, Jim, or Kayla on my journeys because they made the tour so much better. I would recommend this tour to anybody and the best thing I can say about this tour is it was THE BIG CHILL!
Review written Aug 2014event 0.3
29 Apr 2014 - 13 Jun 2014
This tour was absolutely amazing, had the best on road team that made the experience even better. made some amazing friends that i don't think i would have made if it wasn't a camping tour. Food was absolutely amazing, thank you Laura. Lucas gave us some amazing tips on where to go, and Ian was an amazing driver. If you can't do this tour, you have to at least make it to dubrovnik somehow, most amazing place ever!
Review written Jul 2014event 0.3
09 Jul 2013 - 23 Aug 2013
I would have to say the big chill tour was the most amazing thing I have ever done! The people I got experience it with were fantastic. Our coach driver Ricardo our tour manager Trent and our on road cook Boyd were the absolute best team a 40 something group could ask for.
I would recommend this tour to anyone! I have to admit I was unlucky in getting very sick with bronchitis through half of it but I did not let it get me down. I still had the most amazing time!
If you are hesitating. DONT!!! It's awesome. Turkey was awesome. Didn't. Like Albania or places like it but still a great experience. Wouldn't change it for the world.
Have fun guys if u decide to go.
Review written Apr 2014event 0.3
17 Jul 2012 - 31 Aug 2012
The Big Chill:
Contiki Europe 2012.
I must say first off that this tour is a kick ass tour that really showcases what both Europe and Contiki offers young travellers. The Big Chill is made up of the Southern Trail and the Northern Trek so half way through you loose some of your new mates but meet a bunch of new peeps to share the rest of the tour with. If you want to see to whole of Europe, are ready to party and learn all about Europe’s history then The Big Chill is a must.
This tour see’s you visit so many of the major bucket list items and tourist hot spots and a few of the out of the way surprises that you just fall in love with. You stay at campsites in tents, there are a few options throughout the tour to upgrade to rooms as well as a few spots where you stay in Hotels anyway. Staying in tents actually works really well and is at the heart of Contiki travel, this is how it all started. I felt that while we were staying in tents and we had some spare time around the campground, our tour was much more social then if where in hostels or hotels. You do not hang out in the tent and find yourself chilling out with a beer just chatting.
After the epic 46 day tour we had grown so close to our group and constantly stay in touch with many people. Travelling with a group for 46 days and through 20 countries means that you really build a great bond to your fellow Contiki crew. The on-tour cook was brilliant and it was amazing what Vee could produce at a campground. Our tour manager was brilliant and well versed on European history. A special mention must be made to our coach driver Rado, who had some serious skills, it was amazing where he could put the coach.
Definitely consider The Big Chill you will not regret it, I had so much fun and met so many amazing people.
Review written Aug 2013event 0.3
16 Apr 2013 - 31 May 2013
This was the most amazing time of my life! Saw all the major sites in the big cities, had some beautiful relaxing days in Corfu and Dubrovnik, learnt so much, was surprised by some of the cities I knew little about. Camping really wasn't that bad, in fact it helped our group to bond that little bit more. Our road crew was simply amazing, best manager, best driver and best cook! I loved hanging out at the Contiki Campsites, Rome was a highlight with the Whiteboard party. Ate so much amazing food I cannot even comprehend. I will never ever forget the friends I made, la familia for life! If you're looking for a tour that does everything, leaves nothing out and has the most amazing environment, I recommend the Big Chill 100%
Review written Jun 2013event 0.3
08 May 2012 - 22 Jun 2012
the big chill was the greatest experience of my life. For someone that has never camped in my life it was the most fun i have ever had. Although at first it was shock, i recomend arriving in london a couple days before the tour starts otherwise the jetlag will kill you.
I was lucky enough to have the best tour manager, he always gave us a history of the place we were going to do, organised activities, pub crawls ect, and made sure we were all having a great time!
This tour is great for those wanting to see all of europe but not sure how to go about it, its also awesome if you are travelling alone as youll meet so many amazing people from all over the world who end up becoming part of your new family!!
im even considering doing it all over again!
Review written Jan 2013event 0.3
19 Jul 2011 - 02 Sep 2011
This trip was the best thing that I have ever done! The people I met were amazing and I now have new friends for life and the crew were unreal the best people committed and always up for a good time! I would recommend this to anyone and everyone such a good trip especially the camping version, gives you a chance to bond and get to know each other so much better than the hotel tours :) big shout out to Kelly stokes our cook on tour she made some of the best food ever even better than some of the restaurants we visited on tour!
Review written Sep 2011event 0.3
28 Jun 2011 - 12 Aug 2011
I finished my 46 day camping tour of Europe on the 12th August 11!
I had such an amazing time and cannot think of one bad thing to say. Everything was an experience no matter what it was....(even ending up in hospital with a dislocated knee, and doing it in a Florence night club)!!!!!
I went on my own and I think it was the best thing I could have done. I got to meet a awesome bunch of people that I got to have new experiences with. I have made friends for life and am planning on seeing some of them again soon.
I had never really been camping for a long period of time before so I was a little nervous about what it would be like for 46days. I ended up loving it and finding that everyone got to hang with everyone most of the time and our group got really close to each other. It was also nice to go to a chilled out campsite in a awesome location at the end of a busy day in the citys and most of the time by the beach, lake of within nature but close enough to the city that you could get a cab home at night and it didnt cost a fortune.
Also having a on road cook was AMAZING!!! We ate so well every morning and evening, always freshly prepared meals that were so tasty.
Our tour manager Mia Potter was the cooliest, down to earth chick I have ever meet. I felt so lucky to have such an amazing tour manager with us for our tour! She was always bright eyed and ready to go every morning no matter what the day or what we had all been up doing the night before. It was great having someone so passionate about showing people the different places of Europe and everything it has to offer. We all felt so privilleged to have her with us.
I saw the most amazing places and had the experience of my life and it wouldnt have been possible without CONTIKI!!!!
So to anyone considering travelling with a tour I would recommed Contiki over anyone else, if you are going at it alone, with a friend or as a couple I will promise you that you will have the time of your life!!!
Review written Aug 2011event 0.3
24 May 2011 - 08 Jul 2011
This trip was incredibly awesome. I think you need to be a particular kind of person to handle camping for 46 days and I think this is the reason why everyone got a long so well, with no stupid drama, and are still in touch after the trip. I won't lie that when it rains it can make things pretty miserable and mucky but it doesn't matter when you think about the entire trip and how awesome it is. Out east I think was everyones most memorable moments - it's crazy out there and bloody interesting. I miss being on it and I miss everyone xxx
Review written Aug 2011event 0.3
24 May 2011 - 08 Jul 2011
THis was the best thing ive ever done in my life. I had sooo much fun and would reccomend Contiki to anyone. Steve our Tour Manager was fantastic and I cant wait to save some money to do more Contiki Trips. Thats so much for the best experience!!!
Review written Jul 2011event 0.3