Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
This had a mix of everything you needed and was incredible to tour some of these places I would not have known how to get to or what to do...
I loved all of it (minus the terrible plague of contiki cough that ripped through the group!) and made some great friends and unforgettable memories!
For the places you go and things you do the price is fabulous, I definitely recommend doing all of the me time optionals and even though you feel like you will see too many churches, the valley of the fallen was simply amazing and a must!
Ah how I miss the food and the wine everywhere!
Although this was a just part of my europe trip it was great to not be doing all of the planning and have it up to contiki compared to when I was alone!
Don't think, just book it!
I just got back from my Contiki adventures on Friday (5 days ago) and I miss Europe already!
That being said this particular tour left a little to be desired. We stayed at the Royal National Hotel and our rooms were clean, and the showers had great water pressure but there was very little water pressure from the sink in our room (I prefer a stronger stream when rinsing my toothbrush and washing my hands).
The included breakfast also leaves a lot to be desired (if you want bacon, eggs or hash browns you have to pay an additional 5 pounds per day for this), the only things included in breakfast are toast, buns, cereal, either mandarin oranges or grapefruit in liquid or a piece of fruit, and of course coffee, tea or juice. If you are not big on carbs in the morning there is not a lot of option available to you without paying for it.
The wait staff at breakfast were also super rude the last morning we were there - they didn't want you saving seats at tables (they demanded that you get your food first then go find a place to sit, but on a busy morning - if you have a big group of people with you, you may not be able to sit together) if you have to get your food first. The morning we were there this one lady did not even want to eat breakfast but wanted to sit with her travel companion during the meal anyways. The staff insisted that she could not occupy a table with no food - they made her go stand near the self-serve food section.
Also - the website says under the inclusions section that you can: see Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the House of Parliament, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace - which is only true if you pay an additional admission charge over and above what you are already paying for this "tour".
We had to pay 20 pounds for Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London, and the House of Parliament would have been an additional 18 pounds if we had gone. The Contiki Basement does offer slight discounts for some of the local attractions, but the savings are in most cases only a pound less than the regular price. Woohoo...although I suppose every dollar saved counts.
Buckingham Palace is also only open to the public for tours in the summer months when the Queen is not in residence. If she is home you can see it from the outside and go to the store only. Plan accordingly. We toured Kensington Palace instead to get a taste of a Palace - but again there was an admission fee - which can be reduced somewhat if you book online ahead of time.
The Ticket to the West End Musical is also listed as an inclusion - this is true. That being said depending on when you travel may depend on whether or not you have to pay an additional fee over and above the comped ticket voucher they give you - we traveled during Spring Break and were told it was a possibility that we might have to add up to an additional 10 pounds for a ticket if the show was popular and tickets were limited. We were lucky and got great seats for the show we wanted - we saw Mrs. Henderson Presents and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves - and we didn't have to pay any extra for the cost of our ticket. Highly recommend this show - it was great!
The final inclusion is a open top bus sightseeing tour. This was also awesome, however be prepared that the hop on off pass you are given is only valid for 24 hours and the last bus leaves near the Royal National at 5:30pm in the Spring. So if you are out late for dinner - don't expect to be able to catch the bus to get back to your hotel. Despite the limitations of the ticket we really enjoyed seeing the London Sights by bus. Great way to see the city but a full tour can take up to an hour and a half - so get on early so you can still do stuff later in the day.
Overall, while I really enjoyed London the extra costs added into this tour threw me for a bit of a loop - so consider your budget very carefully when you are choosing the sites you want to go to. Most things cost roughly 20 pounds to do. We did St. Paul's Cathedral and it was 18 pounds but if we had booked through Contiki it would have been 17 - not a lot of savings but a dollar is a dollar.
Another thing to keep in mind - in Europe water is not free with a meal so make sure you budget about 1.20 pounds per glass of water if that is what you want with your meal.
Some sweet and inexpensive things we did in London included the London Sky Garden - which offers a nice view of Tower or London and Tower Bridge, London Bridge and Millennium Bridge - and you can see the Eye of London and Big Ben in the distance. You have to book a slot online up to two weeks in advance but it is free. Because we did this and climbed to the top of St. Paul's Cathedral (the Cathedral was not free), we felt like we didn't need to do the London Eye which saved us some money. We also went the Twinings Original Store across from the Court Justice Building - it is part museum, part tea tasting and part store. If you buy nothing it is free to see - but the tea tasting wasn't open the day we went as there was a private tasting booked.
One fun extra that was included in the tour that we didn't expect was a free one-way trip up the Thames by Riverboat. We took the boat from the Tower of London to Big Ben and Parliament and then were able to walk that whole section of London up to Buckingham Palace which was really nice and saved our feet a little.
Overall I really enjoyed London - I just wish Contiki's description for this tour was a little more forthcoming with the information. The way it was written when I went made it sound like you got to see Westminster and Parliament etc. as a part of the tour you had paid for - when that was not the case.
Hope this was helpful! Happy traveling everyone!
I was so excited to start my contiki, but everyone was super welcoming and i've never had so much fun! I did all the optionals and don't regret any of them, they were all such a great time. Our tour guide Ellie and bus driver Joao did such an amazing job, I couldn't thank them enough! There was always somewhere close to grab a bite to eat and Ellie always pointed us in the right direction. I met some of my best friends on this trip and couldn't recommend it more highly
Egypt was absolutely beautiful, if you're thinking about booking this trip…book it now!
I arrived the day the tour started, early in the morning; so I was lucky enough to be offered to do a day trip to Alexandria (for an extra $100USD), it is totally worth the views and places you get to visit.
The first hotel you stay in isn't exactly the best, either is the breakfast provided, but thats all apart of the experience.
On the first full day, you get to see the pyramids of giza and if you're lucky enough you'll get to ride a camel through the desert with the pyramids in the background - this is a must!
It was quite hot whilst I was there (around 44-48 degrees celsius) although it is only humid in Cairo, as you journey your way to Luxor the humidity drops and its just hot!
Basically, all the food is provided for, you'll only have to buy meals maybe once or twice.
The tour guide, is amazing, he is so indulged in the culture and has knowledge on literally everything ancient egypt.
The highlight of the tour is cruising down the nile (best accom!) as well as seeing mummies and viewing the tombs and temples as well!
This is the perfect tour for someone who just wants to relax and see the world. The groups are small (mine had about 10 people, everyone was aged 20+) and you'll make friendships that will last a lifetime!
The tour itself was amazing and I loved every minute!
I believe this is mainly down to having such an amazing tour manager, Paddy Davis. I feel it necessary to let you know what an amazing employee you have on board representing Contiki. He is a real credit to your team. Through my travelling experiences I’ve been on several tours and I can tell you I’ve never had a more knowledgeable, helpful, considerate tour leader. He looked after the whole group from start to finish and nothing was ever too much trouble even if he was working away planning ahead for us at the front of the coach. He helped me to decide where I would travel to next after the tour ended and provided me with helpful contacts.
For a lot of us, it was our first time to Australia and I feel we had the best experience we could get. Paddy has such a natural ability to talk on our level and provide us with not only necessary, but also really interesting information ahead of the next destination. The day sheets were always well written, detailed and informative so we knew exactly what was happening or where we needed to be. Gary who was our coach driver also deserves a mention as he was very friendly, helpful and professional throughout.
The trip itself was epic. I really felt like we got to see the highlights of the east coast and it wasn’t too rushed. I was worried that a group of 50 people would taint the experience but I think it actually worked pretty well and we had a nice amount of time to get to know everybody. I really enjoyed to extra activities provided and the included meals were all really nice. I would definitely consider booking another tour with Contiki in the future thanks to a great first experience.
Didn't know you could cram so many awesome experiences into 9 days. What a great time with an awesome tour guide and amazing people!
Mexico Grande is a fantastic tour. This was my first contiki and I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I loved every second of it!
Saw so many beautiful places from the colored buildings and churches to Chichen Itza and gorgeous beaches.
The optional tours were great, I highly recommend going on the Eco Discover and Pirate Boat in Puerto Vallarta. Every place we ate at the food was fantastic and we got to try a huge variety of traditional Mexican dishes.
The tour guide "Ish" is one of the greatest blokes I've ever met, he's so knowledgeable. Not only with the culture and the history of the places we visited but he knows all the little sweet spots to go for something to eat or visit. If you had any sort of problem Ish would sort it out for you straight away. Fantastic guy.
I highly recommend this tour and the rest of Mexico.
...because of a terrorist attack at the Temple of Kanaak. And my flight was cancelled... so things came together. I can still write a review here. Nice. Maybe another time. When the middle east becomes calmer. CU folks
First, I must recognize the most important aspect of this trip was our guide Sherif; he has such a love for Egypt and the history of Egypt without him it would been a diminished experience. We (my husband, brother and I) were skeptical about proceeding with this trip given the country's unrest, however the previous reviews of Sherif only gave us the confidence we needed to go. And we sure are happy we did! The most amazing adventure we have been on...and we travel quite a bit ;) We felt safe as we had a armed guard while we were in Cairo and armed escort to and from Hurghada. Egypt is most certainly feeling the repercussion of a loss of tourism and Contiki took appropriate and warranted measure to ensure we were safe during our trip.
The museum in Cairo has countless wonders and Sherif did a wonderful job explaining his highlights while also allowing us to explore on our own for a bit. The pyramids and camel ride was something out of this world! As cliche as it sounds it truly is a highlight and is not meant to be missed. Now to the overnight train...not fun...not fun at all. However we just had to suck it up, its small and uncomfortable and hot. The train did however make us appreciate the cruise ship, which was fabulous!! There is nothing I would have changed regarding the rooms, meals, service team, deck and pool, all great! The cruise took us along from Aswan to Edfu to Luxor, seeing beautiful temples along the way. We opted out of the sound and light show in Luxor based on the previous reviews and we were happy with that choice. They offer a hot air balloon ride over Luxor that we also opted out for (that just doesn't excite us) however the ones who did participate enjoyed that excursion.
Hurghada is beautiful, we were only there about one day, just enough time for a yacht ride out to the Red Sea. This you can not miss, the water is aqua blue with great coral life! I know times now are sketchy for traveling and especially to the Middle East but we (speaking for all three of us) are so happy we were not bullied out of going. If your thinking about going, do your homework, choose to go and enjoy!
A year ago I was inspired to follow in a friend's footsteps and book a Contiki trip to the West Islands of Thailand. I now understand the meaning of a "life changing experience" , as the 9 day journey is one that simply cannot be put into words or have pictures do it justice. We kayaked in caves, played with tigers, rode elephants, snorkeled with sharks, learned and lived a new culture , took in some of the most breath taking views that exist on this planet and so much more. We are forever indebted with thank you's to our AMAZING tour manager Lee- without her we wouldn't be left revived spirits, renewed souls, or inspired to keep traveling, keep learning and always spread love. We can't fathom how any trip will ever top this, but we look forward to our next Contiki experience!
I went on the Southern Adventure in November 2015 as I'd always wanted to travel in the States and this trip allowed me to do that in a couple of weeks whilst still having a full time job at home, it allowed me to travel with people as I went on my own, and Contiki organise everything on the trip which takes a lot of hassle out of it all. I joined up halfway through the Grand Southern Trip so some people had been there for a couple of weeks already and about 15 of us joined and did the two weeks. I'm from the UK and although the trip was about 80% Aussies our group was completely mixed nationality, gender and age wise and everyone got on really well. You'll have some couples, some friends, some people travelling on their own, and everyone was really liked minded so we all got on really well. If you want to go out every night and drink the night away then there is definitely the opportunity to do so but if you want a quiet one then there was never any pressure at all.
In regards to accommodation our hotels were standard but all good quality and the location of the Vegas hotel especially is great. I'm not too much of a foodie but you'll really get a chance to try a lot of the local specialities, be prepared for a lot of carbs and not much veg! Chicken fried steak with a cream sauce was definitely a highlight example of how American's take things to the next level.
In regards to optionals I had the mindset of 'while I'm out there I want to do as much as I can', so in two weeks managed to: go on a helicopter ride over the grand canyon; feel like a rockstar with a champagne limo ride down the Vegas strip; go to Elvis' house (which was a big surprise but a great experience); listen to some of the best blues music I've probably every heard live in Memphis; go in a morning hot air balloon ride followed by some bubbly in Durango; see the aligators in the swamp in New Orleans; and of course visit where good ol' Forest Gump finished his run in Monument Valley. And I could go on...
This trip was my first Contiki and having read all the reviews I hoped it would be good but genuinely the trip massively surpassed all my expectations. Our tour manager Braden and coach driver Marquis did everything to make the trip as good as possible constantly getting involved and it really felt like we were all one big Contiki family rather than 'us' and 'them' and I can't talk positively enough. They both always went the extra mile and were so knowledgable about everything.
If you're considering doing a Contiki it's definitely worth it, you'll see so much and meet so many great people in such a short period of time you won't regret it. The whole experience inspired me to travel more and I having enjoyed this one so much I'll be doing another Contiki or two along the way.
What an amazing, exhilarating week in a stunning country. Mexico has it all: lush jungles, pristine beaches, glitzy nightclubs, delicious food and drinks, friendly locals, beautiful architecture... I could go on and on. I truly fell in love with this country. Thank you to Ish, my amazing trip manager, and Contiki for an EPIC week!
Doing this adventure with Contiki has been the best decision that I have ever made and I'm glad that I choose for my very first time leaving Australia to do it with Contiki. My tour manager did everything in his power to make sure we got to places on time and to make sure we had such a good time. My bus driver was very cautious and a very nice person, couldn't have asked for a better bus driver. Made so many great friends and memories that I will cherish forever. I will definatly travel with contiki in the near future.
We saw many things that I can not count. We only had a short amount of time in some places but it was enough time to see the main attractions. The optionals were very good and very well priced.
This trip was amazing!!!! So worth the extra time and money to see both the North & South Island, you will not regret it. I thought I'd write a review on what to expect and do etc. However I recommend you DO EVERYTHING! Don't go home with any regrets or should've dones.
First up I went in the middle of January and it was f**king freezing!!! Most days were around 13 degrees, so make sure you pack warm clothes. Secondly NZ will only except passports for photo ID in regards to getting into clubs and purchasing alcohol. Don't bother bringing your drivers licenses because you'll never need to use them. When you jump off the plane at your destination grab a shuttle, cabs are soooooo expensive here!
I recommend getting into Christchurch about two days before the tour starts as it gives you enough time to get over jet-lag, get settled and time to look around (warning: there is next to nothing to see in Christchurch besides their botanical gardens, so don't waste your money by getting in a week early) and try and stay at least two days in Auckland (there is plenty to see and do here!). Incase you didn't know, no matter where you start (whether it be Christchurch or Auckland) 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. Lake Ohau. or Waitomo).
I would also HIGHLY RECOMMEND staying in the hotel where you will be meeting the next day. Although it can be pricey it is well worth it and you don't have to stress over catching a cab in time.
Now as to the ME Time optionals, here is what I recommend and what I don't etc.:
- Air Safaris: wasn't available due to weather. But apparently it was really worth it!!
- Speight's Ale House Dinner: SO WORTH IT.....unlimited alcohol for an hour!!!!
- Death Rattle Ghost Walk: wasn't available due to time of year, however we heard it was pretty average.
- Kawarau Bridge Bungy: ABSOLUTELY EPIC!!! The sight of the first ever bungy jump. A MUST DO!!!
- Group Photograph: don't bother, someone in the group will get it and post it on your facebook page.
- Skydiving Queenstown: I didn't do it as I have skydived before, apparently it is really good but the one in Lake Taupo is better. If you are going to do it, do 15000ft.
- Milford Sound: Soooo worth the 5 hour trip to get there and back!!!! A MUST DO!!!!
- Bungy Thrillogy: I believe this is really worth it (I did this one!), you can do a small bungy and then an even bigger one, as well as a swing.
- Nevis Bungy: This was scary as hell, you free fall for 8 seconds!!! So worth it.
- Kawarau or Shotover Rafting: don't bother, you get an included shotover jet ride while in Queenstown.
Heliraft - I didn't do this as I had to many other activities I was doing at the time but apparently it was a really good time.
- Walter Peak Horse Riding: I didn't do this as I do not like horses, however we were told it is a pretty average horse ride.
- Minus 5 Ice Bar: this is awesome!!! Do it!!!
- Funyaks: i didn't do this, but apparently this is super epic!!!
- Skyline Restaurant: MUST DO NO EXCEPTIONS!!!! Views are 100/10
- Canyon Swing: awesome thing to do, recommend it if you aren't doing the Nevis swing
- Franz Josef: when here the best one to do is the Ice Explorer (the weather was bad so we weren't able to do it), if you can't do it pay $75 and do a hike to the base of the glacier.
I didn't do the following because they were either not available or were not worth doing: Glacier Country Kayaks, Kapiti Quad Bikes, Across Country Quad Bikes, Seal Coast Safaris, Wairarapa Wine Escape, Rock'n Ropes Adventure Course, Nomad Safaris: Safari of the Scenes, ziptrek encounters
- Lord of the Rings Tour(s): I didn't do this but wished I had!!!!
- Dinner / Party Cruise: THIS IS A MUST DO NO EXCEPTIONS!!!! p.s. bring your bathers!!!
- Hukafalls Jet: i didn't do this but apparently its really good
- Ogo: THIS IS A MUST DO NO EXCEPTIONS!!!
- Skyline Gondola and Luge Rides: this is pretty average (the one in Queenstown is better) but for the price I had a really good time.
- Hobbiton: MUST DO NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!!
- Whakarewarewa Thermal Village: don't bother, your days in Rotorua are jam packed of better optionals.
- Te Puia (Maori Arts & Crafts Institute): we were made to this and to be honest it wasn't for me, I like culture and histroy, but this was really boring.
Kaitiaki Rafting - I didn't do this
Skydiving Lake Taupo: thsi was the best skydiving in NZ!!! If you are going to do it you must do 15000ft.
- Rotorua Canopy Tours: I didn't do this
- Mt. Tarawera Trek: THIS WAS EPIC! Full on, but had the most amazing panoramic views. Make sure you wear hiking gear though.
- Waitomo Caves Tour: if you want to do a dry tour this is the one.
- Black Water Rafting: THIS IS A MUST DO!!!
- Ruakuri Caves Tour: don't bother!!! The Waitomo caves tour is way better.
- Kiwi Parasail: This is epic and you should do it if you have the money!
- Carino Day Sailing: while in paihai, there is only two day optionals you should do, this is one of them, The rest are crap!
- Cape Reinga: while in paihai, there is only two day optionals you should do, this is one of them, The rest are crap!
So honesty. November 2015 was a VERY warm November for the USA, so while this is true for my time, it is probably not true for a usual November tour!!!
The Grand Southern is a combination of two tours (LA-NOLA) Southern Adventure and (NOLA-NYC) Eastern Discovery.
The first half of my trip is a fantastic mix of party, history and natural wonder. The second half is a lot more party. History and culture is more focused on DC on this half.
My guide Rachael Bushner was freaking amazing! Info, playlists, local insights always on point. She made it a really fantastic trip. Really approachable. More than earned her tip! The driver, less amazing.
This tour can be super fun. Relax and let everything else go. I held on to work pressures for a while, but after a while (particularly Vegas) you bond and end up with new friends.
We missed seeing Little Rock, which left a bad taste in my mouth. But I still had a great time on tour.
Weather: Pack layers. Admittedly it was super warm, so I only really needed them in Grand Canyon, DC and NYC, but have options. The canyon gets super cool, particularly at night.
Group Photo: I like them, they are nice to look back on.
Cirque Show: Worth it, seeing a show in Vegas is always different.
High Roller Pass: The people on my trip that did it said it was great for views of the strip (better at night).
Canyon Helicopter: No question, do it! I did the longer one, the shorter one apparently can be a little short. We went all the way over to the North Rim (far side). I am still in awe!
Canyon Jeeping: My group went Jeeping around the canyon, a great way to cover a lot of ground and our guide was super knowledgeable and hilarious!
Durango stuff: None was in season when we were there, and there is really nothing in Durango before noon.
Ballooning: Couldn't operate, but I am told it is amazing.
Cowboy Stadium Tour: I wouldn't do it again, but it was interesting. Their guides will spend a lot of time talking about tiles and the number of TV screens. It is more a funny story later thing, particularly if everyone is relaxed and having fun.
Rock and Soul Museum: If you are hard core muso or enthusiast it is great, if you only do one in Memphis do Sun Studios. If doing both you will have virtually no free time in Memphis.
Sun Studios: A bit of fun, but between this and Graceland most of your full day in Memphis is gone. I would go to the Lorraine Motel (Civil Rights Museum) instead of either.
Taste of New Orleans: Not worth it. Pretty much everyone on my trip did it, but everyone on my table was disappointed.
School of Cooking: Fun, but the class is with the general public. Also it is watching someone else cook, not cooking yourself, just a heads up, I misunderstood.
Swamp Tour: Check if it is alligator season! The people on my tour saw some and had fun, but the warm weather really helped in that regard.
Universal Studios: Fun day. A bit of something for everyone. Some demonstration shows, meet characters, rides, etc. I liked it. Choose LA or Orlando, not both!
Party Cruise: Can be a bonding experience and a fun night. Drinks are super expensive in Miami, there are some included. I stayed at the hotel drinking on the roof top with some of the other travellers which was super fun too!
Bike Tour: You don't have to be super fit, so it can be a great way to kick of your day.
Speed boat: A bit of fun, seeing the homes of the rich and influential. Can also get you soaked!
Parasailing: Didn't run.
Speedway: If you are a serious rev-head it can be great, otherwise it is a long time at an empty race track.
NYC Pass: Great. If you are doing NY Uncovered, it is included in that.
Other NYC extras: Base on your own likes and dislikes. Note, they only run on certain days, so unless you are in NYC for over a week you can plan it, otherwise wait and see what is there on your days.
Would I recommend anything?
New Orleans, do a ghost tour.
Dallas, go to the rodeo.
Canyon, get up for the sunrise.
Pack a sense of adventure!!!
This was my first Contiki trip and it was seriously the best experience. The views are spectacular and the scenery itself is simply just breathtaking. If you're big on skiing and snowboard, this trip is for you! And if you're not too big on it, like myself, there are so many optionals to do, and I highly recommend zip-lining, dog sledding, snowmobiling, the helicopter ride...oh heck, just do them all!
The only tip I have is If you're booking post-accommodation in Calgary, I'd try to find somewhere closer to the city-centre. We booked through Contiki and ended up staying about 20 minutes away from the City. Not a big deal, just something to consider.
The food is amazing and decently priced. I ate so much Poutine, glorious. There was such a great mix of people on our tour, i met and made friends with some amazing people.
Lastly though, I simply cannot thank our tour manager, Alex, enough. He was just AMAZING. Really really made this tour something special! I highly recommend this tour!
The sites were great to see! However we had so much go wrong! Our tour manager turned up half an hour late one of the mornings because he was hungover so we missed out on half an hour extra exploration time in Rome! We got downgraded accomodation because there wasn't enough room for us. A lot of the "me time optional dinners" we're a waste of money as they were disgusting! Even had to wait an hour in the sun for our bus to turn up in Santorini. There was so much more that happened but yeah wouldn't recommend it as the organisation was terrible!
I was very hesitant at first on booking this trip, never gone with contiki or any tour group. Let me tell you it was the best decision! I am a world traveler and been to many places. Normally with friends on our own schedule. This trip I planned alone and was so happy that there were many others like me on the bus. Our group all got along, had many late nights and just a great time. Tour guide and bus driver (Hayley and Nick) were great! I didn't have to think on what I was doing next, everything was scheduled and anything you want to do on the contiki list, the tour manager books it for you. It was stress free and fun! Accommodations were decent compared to what I had in my head. Really no complaints there. Only one room was tiny for 4 people, but other than that they were great. You make great friends, always have something to do, and go everywhere. Besides New Zealand is beautiful, its a must place to visit!
This was my first contiki trip, and ill say i was really nervous, that it would be a disaster, people wouldnt be friendly, everything wrong, but when i got there all those got dismantled and i had the time of my life, everyone was real fun, and the trip itself was dope! my only regret was only doing 8 days, when everyone else on my tour group was doing 19 so i didnt get to experience everything they did, after i left, so if you can go for as long as you can because youll become family with everyone on your trip, and our tour manager Isobel was awesome and definitely knew her stuff, dont expect a perfect trip because youll always be let down, just roll with the punches and you'll have the time of your life, Dont go expecting to see everything cultural on this trip because you might not see everything, i went for a little bit of culture but mostly for the adventurous stuff we got to do, definitely going back again!
I can't express in words how amazing this trip was. I put in a lot of time researching my options before deciding on this trip and can safely say for what you pay on this trip you would not even be able to put half of it together yourself. You get the perfect amount of time in each place (sometimes when a trip takes you to a lot of places it can feel rushed, but this trip did not feel like that at all), and the bus days aren't so long as those of Contiki's in Europe.
I highly recommend starting this tour in NYC instead of the LA to NYC option, as starting in NYC means you finish the trip in Las Vegas, which is a lot more fun with your Contiki family after getting to know them for the last twenty odd days! Also, the bar at the hotel in Washington was the perfect place for our tour group to get to know eachother that first night.
Speaking of Contiki family...it sounds like such a cliche, but you really do form such a bond with the people on your tour. This trip made me some lifelong friends (I've just booked a trip to Europe with a couple of girls I met on this tour) who made this trip everything it was. Everybody says this in the reviews but it is so true...don't be worried if you are travelling alone, you will make instant friends! Although I personally didn't travel alone the majority of our tour group were, and it didn't matter at all. We all became instant friends and did everything together...there was always somebody to hang out with.
The optional extras are another thing that made this trip! I honestly recommend doing as many of them as possible. The snowmobiling in Colorado and the Hot Air Ballooning were my top 2 optional extras, I can't even describe how amazing they both were. Unfortunately the helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon did not go ahead for our tour as there was far too much fog, but this is obviously one not to miss if you can. The cowboy stadium tour was good, but if you aren't interested in American football then you may not find it that interesting, the stadium itself is very impressive and on another level to any stadium I've seen, but not being interested in football myself that's all I really got out of that tour. In Memphis the Sun Studios and Rock & Soul Museums were both good tours that most of our group participated in and quite enjoyed. The Taste of New Orleans and School of Cooking optionals in Nola didn't run for our tour because nobody signed up for them, however almost everybody signed up for the Airboat Swamp tour which was great. Universal studios in Orlando is a must do!! Especially if you are interested in Harry Potter...the Harry Potter world there is amazing! In Miami there were three optionals...do all of them! The speed boat ride was so much fun and a cool way to see the houses of the rich and famous. The bike tour was a great way to see a lot of Miami, and is fine for any fitness level. The best optional in Miami however is the party boat cruise! Warning with this one though...when they tell you to eat dinner before the boat, do it!! This is a mistake many of us (myself included) made and paid for later. It is an open bar (you do still have to tip for each drink so make sure you take some dollar bills along) and the free pour is strong! After the boat we got taken to Mansion nightclub, which is a very well known nightclub in Miami, and heaps of fun from what I can remember! There was only one optional that I was disappointed by and that was the Cirque du’ Soleil show in Vegas. Not many people on the tour were impressed by this show...I'm not sure if it was maybe just the particular show that we saw though because Cirque du' Soleil obviously have a very good name for themselves otherwise.
Our tour guide also set up a few other extra things for us as well, such as a Lakers match in Nola and a burger eating challenge.
We had a pretty great Contiki crew. Our tour guide was Ryan and our driver was Ricky. I can't speak highly enough of them both. The made the trip exceed my expectations by a mile.
Don't think twice about booking this tour...just do it. It will be one of your best decisions yet!