06 Nov 2014 - 01 Dec 2014
Honestly this was the most amazing experience of my life!!! My friend and I come from Australia and were only 18 when we did this contiki tour and although there is +21 drinking age limit it was fairly easy to score drinks where ever we went - we were never ID'd.
Now I thought I would right a review on what to expect for this tour, what I would recommend and what I wouldn't.
Now I would first of all recommend rocking up to the night before get together, as it gives yourself the chance to meet the tour manager as well as the other people you will be travelling with for the next month. I would also HIGHLY RECOMMEND staying in the hotel where you will be meeting the next day. Although it can be pricey (especially if you are starting in New York) it is well worth it and you don't have to stress over catching a cab in time.
Also incase you didn't know, no matter where you start (whether it be New York or Los Angeles) you will not be given the opportunity to explore that city with Contiki!!! The moment you hop on that bus you set off to your next location (e.g. Washington D.C. or Las Vegas), so make sure you give your self at least a minimum of 4 days to explore the city your in (I recommend at least a week).
Also whether you start in New York or end there I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND doing the New York Uncovered contiki tour. It not only gives you accommodation at a cheap price, but it also takes you absolutely everywhere you want to go! They get you tickets for Nix games, Broadway tickets etc. Remember #noregrets
Now do not forget to bring your drivers license as a form of photo ID, as you don't want to be bring your passports with you to clubs etc. My tour started at the beginning of November and it was so cold it wasn't funny! Make sure you pack way more warmer clothes than shorts etc.
Now as to the ME Time optionals, here is what I recommend and what I don't etc.:
- Cirque du Soliel: even if you have seen this show in your own country, it is nothing like it is when you see it in Vegas! A must do!
- Grand Cayon Biking: It wasn't available when I went on this trip
-Grand Canyon Helicopter: ABSOLUTELY MUST DO NO EXCEPTIONS!!! Also I would recommend going on the longer more costly flight as you see more, plus it takes 5 minutes to fly to the Grand Canyon and then fly back.
- Group Photo: up to you, I didn't get one. Plus members on Contiki tag you in them on facebook, so there really isn't any need.
- Rafting: It wasn't available when I went on this trip
- Snowmobile: It wasn't available when I went on this trip
- Horseback riding: It wasn't available when I went on this trip
- Hot Air ballooning: It was too windy the morning we went to do it, but apparently its breath taking!!!
- Cowboy Stadium: you might be thinking it sounds crap, but it is absolutely cool and worth doing even if your not into sport (which I'm not). Well worth the money for the tour.
- Stockyard Championship Rodeo: was cheap and actually a good time, plus its one of those stereotype American things that you can say that you've gone and done.
- Sun Studios: I wasn't particularly fond of this mini museum (lasted for about 20mins), but I think it was worth it to go and see it, besides you probably will never be back again!!
-Rock & Soul Museum: I wouldn't recommend this as there are better things to do and see while in Memphis.
*When in Memphis make sure you go and see the Martin Luther King Jr. Museum (its not included in ontiki) it is worth it for the history alone.*
- School of Cooking: I didn't do this as I wanted to explore New Orleans in my own time, but I heard it was enjoyable, but just a reminder you don't get much of a chance to explore New Orleans (so consider your options).
- Airboat Swamp Tour: Do NOT do this if it is not alligator season!!!! We went out for two whole hours and saw absolutely nothing because it wasn't the season. I think the season is from June to September.
- Universal Studios: A MUST DO, NO EXCEPTIONS!!! This is the mecka of all theme parks, don't bother doing the one in L.A. if your doing this tour.
- Thriller Speed Boat Ride: Really enjoyable and a great way to see Miami and the rich suburb/islands. Tip: don't sit at the back if you don't want to get wet!
- Group Photo: not really worth it to be honest
- Newseum: by far the best museum in Washington D.C. So therefore a must do.
- New York City Pass: a must get if you a planning to stay in New York for a few days, it allows you to see absolutely everything you wan't to see. Don't get it however if you a planning on doing the New York Uncovered (they will provide you with a free one).
- Sex and the City Tour: didn't do it but wished I had, apparently it was amazing!!!
- Gossip Girl Tour: didn't do it but wished I had, apparently it was amazing!!!
- TV & Movie Tour: again didn't do it but wished I had, in this tour you see scenes from Friends, How I met your mother etc.
Review written Mar 2015event 0.3
25 Dec 2014 - 19 Jan 2015
This was our second Contiki and just like the last one it was an incredible experience. Our tour manager Rachel was so blimin good, and always went out of her way to make sure every single person was doing good. Marquis our driver was 1. an incredible driver (have you ever parallel parked a bus) and 2. hard case! such an awesome guy.
We were really lucky and had a great, diverse mix of people and everyone kind of found their "place" quite quickly.
The accomodation and the included meals were pretty decent and i'll be honest some of those early starts were hard work!
If you're looking for a way to see the USA in a hurry this is for you, don't over think it, just book it!
Highlights for me had to be NYC, Charleston and the Grand Canyon.
If anyones interested I was away for 5 weeks and did a weekly blogpost while I was there, heaps of photos and info on the stuff we did for anyone yet to make up their mind on this trip =)
Review written Feb 2015event 0.3
23 Jun 2014 - 18 Jul 2014
It's hard to put into words how amazing this trip was. There was countless moments when I felt like pinching myself because I didn't believe I was there. I really recommend this tour if you want to see a great snapshot of America. I would love to list all my favourite moments but I would be typing an absoltute novel. Big shoutout to my amazing tour manager, Jack Larsen and our driver Marcel "E" - who helped make the tour so incredible!
Review written Dec 2014event 0.3
02 Oct 2014 - 27 Oct 2014
What an amazing trip! I highly recommend everyone to do this trip. What an unbelievably great Contiki crew that I had to make my trip absolutely awesome. Rachel and Ricky were so helpful the whole trip AND after the trip. I had an absolute ball. #family #noregrets
Review written Nov 2014event 0.3
31 Jul 2014 - 25 Aug 2014
This is an amazing way to see so much in a short space of time. From biking around the Grand Canyon to pool parties in Vegas to boat rides in Miami, there was so much to see and do. The optionals were fantastic, great variety of activities. I went on my own and it was my first time travelling out of Europe but I met so many great people, there was a fantastic atmosphere between everyone. The accommodation was good, some lovely hotels and some basic but we were so busy that we hardly spent much time in the hotel rooms. Our tour manager and bus driver were amazing, they were always there to help, give advice and just have a chat. It takes the hassle out of planning and organising and allows you to make the most of travelling and having fun!
I would highly recommend doing a contiki tour, it is one of the best things I've ever done. I'm doing another contiki next year in Australia!
Review written Oct 2014event 0.3
21 Jul 2014 - 15 Aug 2014
This was honestly the best thing i decided to do in my life! although travelling half way across the world was quite nerve wracking at first i cannot tell you how much it was completely worth it!
In this trip we saw everything there was possibly to see in southern america, i was at first looking forward to miami the most but was completely taken aback by how different places were! durango was AMAZING, moe's.. don't expect to be on good behaviour.. and texas was by far the peak of my trip due to a crazy band we met in a bar and had a rooftop drinking/..../ jam session all night, bus at 7 however KILLS YOU. but you find a way to get on with it.
the bus, no wifi, but it honestly doesn't matter, the people you meet become your best friends. i still face time the people i met constantly and am already arranging to go to australia and see them.
this trip offers everything but from my opinion it is a lot more fun if you enjoy partying, we had crazy day drinking sessions in the grand canyon and basically drank most nights. but there is something for everyone!!!
monte and ray ray were the BEST driver and tour manager we could of asked for. i cant tell you how sad i was to say goodbye to everyone when standing in the centre of new york!!!
if you don't do this trip then you will miss out on an experience that i cannot even summarise in words. just do it!
Review written Oct 2014event 0.3
21 Aug 2014 - 15 Sep 2014
I went on this trip solo, and it was the best!
Made so many friends , and had so many awesome experiences.
They free pour in the USA so get ready to get really drunk, like white girl wasted , bed at 3 in the morning and up at 7 for bags to coach !
Like your sleep? We'll Soz you won't be getting much, but it's totally worth it, you don't want to miss out. You get to see so many things and visit so many places that I can't even remember them all. Make sure you do Grand Canyon helicopter ride and horse riding in Durango.
Tips: girls take a pair of flats because after one night in heels you won't want to wear them anymore.
Best places were Grand Canyon, but don't follow the cowboy with the lights on his bike into the forest, just saying. Also loved Washington , so many historical things to see, but don't overload the hotel elevator and have to get the fire department to get you out, just saying !
In summary, if your considering this trip, just do it ! You will never know if you never go!
P.s beware of the new people :-/ they will come .
Review written Sep 2014event 0.3
30 Jan 2014 - 24 Feb 2014
The Grand Southern Contiki is the mother of all for touring the USA! You get to see and learn so much! Our optional's were all great fun, snowmobiling in Colorado, Vegas strip in a limo with champagne, access to the hottest clubs, bike riding around South Beach Miami (best morning of my life) and so so many more great extras!
We also made our own extra in New Mexico ABQ - and visited all the locations from Breaking Bad! If you're a fan that's a must, and really easy with a group in a cab the morning before you leave :) !
Our coach was always kept clean and fresh (THANK YOUR MARKUS! - who is also the BEST bus driver) Braden our tour guide knew so so SO much about every part of America, and if he wasn't sure he would soon be researching the answer! He was helpful in every situation and someone we could all really rely on!
I met some of the best people on my Contiki who I will never forget and will keep in touch with for the rest of my life.
I literally had #noregrets (apart from loosing two phones..)
I traveled solo and would recommend that to anyone! Its not as scary as you think and you really get to know a lot about yourself as well as the world!
I could go on forever about how life changing and the many amazing experiences I had on my trip, best advice.. live every moment to the fullest!
The only regret you will have is that you hadn't booked it sooner :)
Review written Sep 2014event 0.3
05 Jun 2014 - 30 Jun 2014
I definitely had my doubts after reading negative reviews about contiki online but I literally have no idea what any of them were talking about because I had an amazing time! saw soooo many different places in just 26 days and our tour guide lee was full of info about each place and really helped organise everything for us so we barely had to worry about anything. I worried about having to get blind drunk every night and constantly party as contiki has this reputation but there really wasn't any pressure, I went out most nights but was never made to feel boring or anything if I felt like staying in! and I know some people barely went out or didn't drink and no one was a dick about it which was really nice. there were 54 of us but everyone just got on, I could randomly find anyone from our group in a club or out and about sightseeing and we would be able to chat and stuff which was really nice. I've definitely made friends for life! about 95% of the people were either Aussie or kiwi! there was only 4 of us English and 3 South Africans as well but everyone was really nice and I've made friends for life, just a shame they live so bloody far away! this will definitely not be my last contiki. I can't fault anything; the tour manager, fellow contikians, hotels, food, nights out and optional extras were all incredible. I'll never forget this experience as it was amazing!
Review written Aug 2014event 0.3
05 Jun 2014 - 30 Jun 2014
words cannot describe how amazing this contiki tour was. I am so glad I travelled the states with contiki. everything was planned and thought out for me. all I did was rock up and they showed me all the great sights. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone and everyone.
Review written Jul 2014event 0.3
03 Oct 2013 - 28 Oct 2013
I did this as my first EVER adventure overseas solo. Now I must admit I was nervous at first, and that my parents worried about their 21 yo old daughter was going across America on her own.... BUT IT WAS THE BEST THING I EVER DID!
I was lucky enough to have Blake Franks as my tour manager and I couldnt fault the guy! There wasn't one night that he didnt go out of his way to find night life for us, and to be honest I dont think there was a night that he didnt join us!
You may be scared to be a loner BUT my group of 53 (full bus) was amazing! I made a whole new family (so much nudity and partying but in a good way) that I never felt homesick when I was away!
I did the tour in October, so it was getting to the cool side, but we were still able to do the Water rafting in Durango (It's not crazy rapids, but it is good fun! We even got to see beavers pretty close!) If you can line up the tour with the Albuquerque Balloon festival I would highly recommend it! We got to be part of the 400 balloons that went up during the morning and it was honestly the most amazing experiece of my life!
UNFORTUNATELY we were meant to do the Grand Canyon, but were there during the Government Shut-Down, so we didnt get to stay in the cabins... HOWEVER Contiki lined it up well and gave us another night in Vegas and the chance to do the helicopter tour that lands in the Grand Canyon on indian land and have lunch inside the Grand Canyon (not the usual offering). I am glad that we got this as seeing the size of me compared to the canyon really put it into perspective.
TIP: I wouldnt plan to diet on this tour... The Southern food is to die for! Try everything!!! Deep fried pickles are AMAZING!!!
I would do this tour again in a heart beat.... Infact I AM! I honestly struck gold with this tour, and I really thank my CONTIKI FAMILY, BLAKE FRANKS, and MARCUS MORMON (driver) for the best days of my life
Review written Jun 2014event 0.3
17 Apr 2014 - 12 May 2014
This trip is a 'must do' for anyone planning to do Contiki in America!
I did this trip in April and it was an amazing. I did things I never thought I would do and saw some amazing things! We had the most awesome tour manager, Rachel, who was just excellent and definitely made the trip more amazing!
Being on a pretty tight budget I didn't do many of the optionals but there are always other things to go see and do but I would definitely budget for all of the optionals even if you don't do all of them.
All of the accommodation was pretty good, there were a couple of hotels we stayed in that weren't that great but you don't spend much time in hotel room anyway.
The tour is split into 3 so you can do LA-New Orleans, New Orleans-NY or the full trip LA-NY. I would definitely recommend doing the entire trip. you get to bond with more people and see more.
I went as a solo traveler and had made friends on the first day. A lot of the people are in the same boat and are by themselves so you just have common ground and its easy to make friends. Going out with the group at night is also a great way to get to know everyone, even if you're not a big party person or a big drinker, it doesn't matter, there will be people who will go out every night and get drunk but its what you make of it, you don't have to get drunk, just go out to have a good time!
Rooming with another person was definitely a new experience for me and it was great! If you don't get on with your roommate its not that big of a deal because you're not in your room that often anyway.
My advice would be to try as much as you can, be open to trying new things, try to research the places you are going to before so that when you have free time you can go explore more effectively.
Do the Grand Southern, you won't regret it!
Review written May 2014event 0.3
17 Apr 2014 - 12 May 2014
I did this trip in April and it was amazing. I did things i never would do back at home like hot air ballooning it was sooo much fun! If anyone is considering doing this trip i would definitely recommend it. We had an awesome tour manager Rachel, seriously we got so lucky having her.
We did have a tornado warning during our trip but it actually bonded everyone together closer. I would recommend doing as many optionals as possible and going out with the group at night even if you are not a drinker just so you can be social and bond with everyone because that's where a lot of the fun happens.
If anyone is thinking of doing only half the tour i would suggest doing the 1st half (LA-New Orleans) instead of the 2nd half (New Orleans-NYC) as the 1st half has a lot more optionals and things to do. I also found in more enjoyable then the 2nd half although Miami was amazing. If you have the money however i think it is totally worth it to do the full tour. Also it is a little harder for new people starting in new orleans to feel like they can approach the other people who have already been traveling together since LA so keep that in mind if your doing the 2nd half on the tour because you will be joining people who have already met, dont worry though most people are more then exciting to meet new people.
I went as a SOLO traveler and had no problems making awesome friends from the 1st night so dont worry if your going alone, i think it is actually better because we definitely witnessed some friendships being broken up and being tested throughout the tour. Rooming with another person you dont know can be difficult depending on who you get stuck with but you are only there to sleep so dont worry to much........ and trust me most of the time you dont sleep thats what the bus is for.
The best advice i could give you would be to have an OPEN MIND ( Learn new cultures, explore new places, don't stereotype people before you get to know them, etc), TRY AS MUCH AS YOU CAN even the things that scare you because you will come back home and realise how much you have grown from your travel.
I hope everyone who does this tour has as much fun as i did.
Review written May 2014event 0.3
20 Jun 2013 - 15 Jul 2013
I went on this trip by myself and before I had even got to LA I was already speaking with 15+ people who were also doing this trip. We had such a great group of people who all got along and it was our tour managers first trip by himself taking a group. There were big days and long nights out partying and sightseeing of course, but it evens itself out when you have long bus days so you can sleep it off! Never say no to anything because you will regret it. Met so many awesome people, and keep in contact with alot and planning future holidays together even. This really was a trip of a lifetime, there is so much to see and do in America, and travelling solo via Contiki is the best way. Hopefully one day I will do the Grand Northern and have the same experience. 26 days is the perfect amount of time. Don't think about it for too long, this is something you wont' regret!
Review written Feb 2014event 0.3