Been dreaming of your long long Contiki trip for a long long time? An epic adventure, where the wind’s in your sails. Where you soar to new heights and you discover things about yourself that you didn’t know previously (plus every other travel cliche/mixed metaphor on the list)?
It’s no secret that long-haul trips are life-changing. It’s also no secret that long-haul Contiki trips are even more life-changing. (That’s why we launched The Big Original this year, 60 epic days to celebrate 60 years of Contiki).
But just like any HUGE payoff, long-haul trips aren’t always plain sailing. There’s a trick (or several tricks) to getting the most out of them, and making sure you don’t burn out along the way.
Read on to find out more about squeezing every last drop of inspo from your big juicy Contiki trip.
Please pack responsibly
Okay, so it’s not quite Plato. But trust me, it’s important.
One of the (many) benefits of Contiki coach travel is that you’ll drop off your luggage as soon as you leave one accommodation, and won’t have to worry about it again ’til you arrive at the next one. That said, when it comes to luggage, lighter and smaller is always better. Always. Especially if you’re taking a backpack.
Don’t worry about bringing garments and undies for every day of your trip. Trip Managers are no strangers to the plight of the eager-to-wash traveller, and they’ll be all too happy to recommend the best laundrettes along the way.
Remember to pack your most reliable clothes. Your go-tos that you take everywhere won’t disappoint you here. And trust me, if it looks bad in your mirror at home, it’ll look worse in a hotel room after it’s been folded up in your case for days on end. If in doubt, leave it out! The same goes if it’s likely to get stained. If needs be, you can always pick up items while you’re away.
Take each day as it comes
It’s true, first impressions count for a lot. But when you’re travelling, you’ll experience lots of first impressions, sometimes in rapid succession (and not always with rhymes.) You might be overwhelmed. You might be underwhelmed. Some days you’ll want to go out and party, others you may want to hang out by yourself.
There’s no sure-fire way around this, except trying to keep an open mind. Live in the moment as best you can – let yourself enjoy and embrace where you are and what you’re doing. Don’t think too far ahead, and try your best not to jump to any conclusions. (Except positive ones, obvs).
Be a social butterfly
Easier for some than others, sure, but being a social butterfly doesn’t have to mean being the class clown. It’s about taking the time to circulate, and meeting as many new people as you can.
You’ll inevitably find your clique on the trip, but chatting with everyone in your group in good time will give you a richer all round experience. (This includes your Trip Manager by the way. Believe me, if anyone has stories, it’s those guys!) It will also make sure you end up in the right clique. AND you might make an unexpected friendship – which is always the best kind.
So don’t be shy. And if you are shy, remind yourself that everyone in your group is here for the same reason – to see new places and make new friends along the way.
Look after your body
The coach can’t run out of gas. That absolutely can’t happen – and we all know it. But guess what? Your body can’t run on empty either. And it needs looking after, especially on a 30+ day trip.
Don’t get me wrong, a Contiki trip is 100% about spoiling yourself. But nobody wants to peak too early, right? Or feel yucky by day 4. So drink water. Squeeze in fruit and veg when you can. Have the odd sober day. Do some star jumps in your room. Basically, earn your delicious Greek kebabs and Belgian beer!
Look after your soul
Pssst. There’s nothing wrong with taking an afternoon off to recharge. Long-haul trips are exhilarating, but they can be mentally draining too. The best way of beating burnout is to take a small break every now and then.
Don’t feel bad about missing the odd activity to stay in your room and call home instead. Remember the benefits of a good night’s sleep will far outweigh the niggling negativity of confessing to the squad that you might have to sit this one out.
We’re all human after all. And you’ll probably find that other people in your group will start taking time for themselves every now and then too. Social travel doesn’t mean you can’t take an afternoon off to go exploring by yourself – or privately with 1-2 of your new Contiki BFFs.
You. Do. You. This is the trip of a lifetime and you want your very best self along the way with you.
Make the most of where you are
And most importantly, grasp this travel jewel with both hands and don’t let go ’til it’s done (and maybe not even then.)
Long-haul trips give you more time away – so some of the classic time restraints (otherwise known as excuses) no longer apply.
Try and learn some of the local language. (This should be easy because meeting locals is always a part of the adventure).
Also, try to do things you’d never do back home. Could be a bungy jump, could be reading your poetry out loud, could be staying awake past midnight. Travel is all about leaving your comfort zone. (I’d say ‘literally’ here, but those Contiki coaches are pretty damn cosy.)
So get out your list, write yourself some objectives and go out and smash ’em – in between marvelling at the awesome places you’ve been dreaming about since you were small, that is.