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Contiki’s Coach Drivers are some of the brightest stars of the show, so meet Cátia Anjo

Catia Anjo, Contiki bus driver

Our Coach Drivers are the unsung heroes of Contiki. They steer the ship that takes our travellers to all their bucket list destinations, and with our Trip Managers they make a very impressive team! In our team of Coach Drivers all over the world, however, we only have one female driver. Driving, in general, is quite a male dominated industry, and so we’re proud of Cátia Anjo, our one and only, and we hope she will inspire more.

As such, in honour of this year’s International Women’s Day, and the theme of ‘Inspiring Inclusion’, we have interviewed Cátia, a Contiki Coach Driver in Europe.

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How long have you been a Coach Driver for Contiki, and how have you found your experience?

“I joined Contiki in 2018 as a Coach Driver, and since then I just can’t imagine myself doing a different job. Maybe a change of seat one day, it would be great to be a traveller! But I wouldn’t leave Contiki – this is my family and I’m very lucky and grateful to work here.”

Did you always want to drive? What made you enter this line of work? 

“No, it’s funny, I’d actually never driven coaches before in my life, nor had I had the opportunity to really travel through Europe for financial reasons. I used to say that I was ‘reborn’ thanks to Contiki.”

“In University, I worked in the emergency services at a private hospital, and then at the Public Hospital in the radiotherapy department for 8 years. My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, and after her surgery and treatments, we realised how short life is, and how important it is to use our time to find happiness.”

“My brother-in-law used to drive for Contiki, and he was the one that sold me on the idea. So, in 2017 I used my savings to get a bus driver’s licence, and I joined Contiki in 2018.”

Contiki driver

Image source:Cátia Anjo

What is the best place you’ve travelled to with Contiki?

“I really loved Scandinavia, but to be honest, each city is different, unique, and special in their own way. So all my travels have been amazing.”

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Had you ever been on a Contiki before? What’s your favourite part about it?

“I hadn’t been on a Contiki before, no – it’s not very known in Portugal, where I’m from, and holidays tend to be had with family. Plus, holiday time is short in Portugal, so there was never really an opportunity.”

“I love Contiki though, and along with the Trip Manager I’m travelling with, I make sure that our travellers have the time of their lives with us. Being part of their story and their memories, their tears (of joy) and their laughter, is just the best feeling. For some of our travellers, travelling with Contiki is a new chapter in their lives, it’s life changing, and it’s amazing to be part of that. That’s my favourite thing about Contiki: the power of it!”

Do you find that travellers are surprised to have a female driver?

“100%. I think people typically imagine drivers to be men, and they’re surprised that I can load and unload all the luggage with ease, especially because I’m not that tall, and drive these babies (what I call the coaches) all around Europe.”

“I’ve actually gotten some funny drawings given to me by travellers like one of myself lifting 30kg suitcases with big muscles.” 

Contiki coach driver

Image source:Cátia Anjo

Did you know that you are the only female Contiki Coach Driver? How does that make you feel?

“Well, I actually never realised that fact until the start of the 2023 season, when someone from Atlas (Contiki’s coach provider) asked me exactly the same question! To be honest, I don’t feel any particular way about it – I drive, I clean, I have loads of fun with my Trip Manager and travellers, and when there’s a mechanical problem I deal with it like any driver would: as much as I can.”

“I don’t get any special treatment, and that’s the last thing I would want. Contiki treats everyone the same way, and I just try to be professional and do my job properly, and most importantly, to give our travellers a great time.” 

What is your relationship like with the Contiki Trip Managers?

“Fantastic! I’ve been really lucky with my Trip Managers over the years. We’ve built really strong and close relationships because at the end of the day our main goal and our main focus is the group and what we can do to give them that extra special feeling on our trips.”

“After a week or more of travelling together, we become a real family, and the Trip Managers and I really take care of each other because we’re one team.”

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Is there anything you’d like people to know about being a Coach Driver? 

“There’s a big difference between being a coach driver, and a Contiki Coach Driver. Generally people think of long-haul drivers as being unhealthy and boring, maybe, but this isn’t true at all!”

“As a Contiki Coach Driver, we go beyond just driving – we have a lot of fun, we experience many different activities, and we enjoy the nightlife in different countries at the end of the day. We also get to know the amazing suppliers that we work with, and it just spreads that Contiki family further and wider.”

contiki coach contiki driver

Image source:Contiki

What’s your favourite part of your job?

“The time I spend with my group and my Trip Managers exploring Europe. Hearing the travellers ooo and ahh at all the amazing views and experiences – it’s just the best.”

Even though there have been many positive strides over the years in terms of female equality, why do you think it’s still important to champion women on International Women’s Day?

“We should be celebrating everyday, simply for the fact that we are happy, healthy, and alive. But I’m really grateful to all the women that have fought and continue to fight for our rights and, thanks to them, I’m able to work as I please, and have found my place in Contiki.”

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Are you celebrating any women in particular this International Women’s Day?

“My sister and my mother. Both are war survivors, refugees from their own country – 80% of my family lived in Africa until the war in 1974, including my parents. They left life in Africa and returned to Portugal with nothing, and I’m proud of them for what they have achieved since, the lives they’ve built, and the battles they’ve each overcome.”

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