Why travelling with Contiki is even better second time round

This article was created for The Travel Project by Lauren Miles . A 20 yr old Aussie who loves to writes all things Europe-related for Contiki!

Have you ever travelled on your first ever, super awesome, action-packed Contiki and then worried that a second trip could never match such an amazing experience? Well here’s the thing; no two Contiki experiences are ever the same. But fear not, for this is a fantastic thing!

You first braved delicious escargot in Paris and explored gorgeous cobblestone streets on European Highlights and now you’re ready to admire the astonishing street art of Berlin and eat your weight in Trdelník on Contiki’s Eastern Road. It’s pretty much the same Contiki set up; you’re far from home, on a huge coach packed with fellow travellers and pockets brimming with foreign cash, so what’s new? Well this time you’re an experienced Contiki traveller! Here’s how your Contiki experience changes:


Then: It was probably terrifying tbh; unless you’re a buzzing social bug, the idea of making awkward small talk with a bunch of strangers from across the world was so nerve-wracking! At first, sharing rooms with total strangers felt a tad uncomfortable and you felt cosy with a small yet awesome squad, not giving much thought into expanding the social circle. Friendships were mainly born through shared interests, goals and personalities.

Now: Your social confidence has significantly improved since last time so you’re ready to meet and greet plenty more fresh faces! You may have still formed a squad and discovered your next BFF roomie from Canada, however you still love your entire Contiki family. Getting to know people from totally diverse backgrounds is genuinely exciting and this time you’re the one to start the conversations, rather than waiting for someone to break the silence.

Every single Contiki trip you embark on will offer you the extraordinary chance to build invaluable and unique friendships with people from across the world!



Then: In most cases, you’ve flown so far from home for (probably) the very first time so seeing famous foreign cities with your own eyes is a mind-blowing feeling! Sitting right next to the coach window is a huge priority for you as you’re driving down the famous Champs-Élysées and your phone is overflowing with amazing yet occasionally blurry trip photos. Exploring foreign cities and trying out the local language was sometimes overwhelming, you got lost at least once or twice but the experience was super enjoyable nonetheless. Gawking at sights was surely the most memorable aspect of your first Contiki tour.

Now: Arriving in new cities may not seem as thrilling as it was before, however the excitement is still very much alive! You are much more confident in navigating unfamiliar streets without the aid of your Trip Manager and you are keen to explore sights with greater depth, rather than zooming around to visit everything at once. Taking photos is still definitely on your travel to-do list, but you now have a better understanding of the concept behind truly ‘living in the moment’.

Contiki visit countless cities and countries across multiple continents, and each new destination the coach rolls into has a very unique experience waiting for you every time!


Then: You were determined to save cash on your Contiki adventure but didn’t really know how. The conversion rate surely tricked your budget, especially if your home currency valued less, ’oooo that’s so cheap! Wait hang on it’s in euros…’ (yeah us Aussies know the pain). Holiday mode was activated so you’d constantly splurge on scrumptious local cuisines and lavish cocktails with friends and you signed up for almost every ME-Time optional activity, but hey who could blame you – experience outweighs all, right? In the end, you probably spent more than you took… #noregrets.


Now: Being strict about spending money still isn’t your thing, however you now realize the importance of managing travel finances. This time round you’re better prepared for the currency exchange and won’t be utterly shocked when seeing that price tag labelled 4000 (because you know it’s in Hungarian Forints, not Dollars #mastermind). All your new travel knowledge reveals that eating away from hotspots can save you serious cash and you don’t need to hit up local flashy bars every single night to have a wicked Contiki experience. Don’t panic though, you’ll still have an epic time!

Just think, all that cash saved on fridge magnets could instead send you on yet another Contiki!



Then: ‘Righto, so for 3 weeks travelling, beaches galore and the occasional fancy dinner I’ll need 4 sets of heels, 8 cocktail dresses, 2 hairdryers, a surfboard – ‘okay it’s getting a tad ridiculous now, but the point is that packing for your first Contiki was probably difficult. You most likely over packed and didn’t wear half the clothes you brought or forgot to pack a bath towel for a high-energy tour. You surely messed up at some point, but at least you covered all bases, right? Think of the positives!

Now: You’re much better equipped to pack for your second adventure, learning from your past experiences and other travellers; roll your clothes, limit the toiletries, ditch the stilettos (try walking in them on cobblestone streets and you’ll see why). It’s all about essentials now so there’ll be heaps more room for trip goodies and souvenirs (don’t forget to buy a gift for mum). But seriously, who wants to lug a super heavy suitcase up a three-storey hostel with no elevator? Well you won’t be anymore, so good for you!

You’ll find plenty of awesome guides online on how to pack effectively for travel, so make sure to check them out!



Then: The style of your chosen trip totally influenced your experience – High Energy, Easy Pace, Camping, Winter & Ski – you had so many ways to travel to choose from! If you preferred a high energy experience, it was early mornings, late nights and busy days; if sailing was your calling, it was beautiful coastlines and sleeping on ocean currents.

Now: Unless you’re desperate to ski more slopes, this Contiki trip is now the chance for you to try out a new travel design. Perhaps you want a better focus on each city, so an In-Depth Explorer trip hits the target; keen to spend your holiday shouting prost at Oktoberfest as well as exploring the beauties of Munich? Try Contiki’s Short Trips & Festivals style range! There really is no limit as to what you can achieve on your Contiki with all these awesome styles.

Did you know about Contiki’s brand new Independent Insider trip style? Think ultimate freedom, high flexibility and experiences fully shaped by your interests!



Then: Since it was your first tour, you were new to the system of doing things the Contiki way. Maybe you forgot to read the brochure and didn’t realize the luggage weight limit of 20kg (that’s about 44lbs) when departing London, which led to you re-sorting all your bags at 5:30am. You learned that when your Trip Manager said, ‘we leave at 7am tomorrow’ or ‘meet the coach at 4pm’, they really meant it; all that partying totally led to a few close calls. But hey, it wasn’t all bad; day sheets became your new best friend, you felt your trip crush’s red shirt when playing Contiki Olympics on the coach and you eventually mastered time organization.

Now: You’re faced with the same scene as before, so you know exactly what to expect. Upon your departure, you’re eager to hear the trip’s day song and the dreaded (yet still fun) wake up song, bags to coach 5 minutes before leaving is now second nature and you’ll always remember to use the loo before long drives to save your Trip Driver that unpleasant job (yeah you know the one). You’re a Contiki pro now! Hilarious memories can be made through misfortunate experiences, but still make the effort to learn the rules and requirements for the benefit of yourself and other travellers.

Contiki trips will always offer you a fresh experience every single time, so you never need to worry about expectations. New friends, destinations and adventures all await you and soon you’ll have that next Contiki booked and ready! Hmm, how about island hopping in Greece this time?