Meet Stephen Rowe, the (unofficial) world record holder for the most Contiki trips EVER taken by one person. At just 33, Stephen is on his 42nd Contiki trip and he has zero intention of slowing down. This is the travel bug taken to the next level…
Stephen’s first taste of Contiki was on the European Panorama, where he was officially bitten by the travel bug. Setting himself the goal of 35 Contiki’s before 35, he achieved the milestone on the Eternal India trip, so naturally set himself a new goal.
Stephen’s new goal is 70 trips, which he’ll hit before his 34th birthday next year, but his ultimate dream is to reach 100 Contiki’s. Oh, and did we mention that’s without repeating any trips?! He thinks he’ll fall short and only (!) reach 80, but hey, why bother dreaming small? Currently on his 63rd country (Costa Rica), Stephen isn’t aiming low, saying he plans to see every country in the world.
But why Contiki? Stephen says it’s not only a fun way of crossing the globe, but his loyalty is also thanks to the people he meets on his trips.
“The absolutely amazing people and awesome new friends I make on each and every Contiki, plus all the laughs we get to have together, are why I keep coming back”, Stephen says. “It’s nice travelling by yourself every now and then, but Contiki is great at bringing people together,” Stephen continued, “All types of travellers, from all over the world. We get the chance to meet our long lost brother or sister, best friend, and sometimes if we’re lucky, we meet our one true love!”
Stephen regularly stays in touch with the amazing lifelong friends he’s made on his trips, and actually uses these friendships to decide where to go next. “I actually build most of my trips around seeing my friends from previous Contiki’s. I’m very loyal and always make time for friends wherever they are in the world!” he says.
We asked for some tips for new travelers who aren’t as great at making friends and Stephen offered up his go-to icebreaker: “I always use ‘have you done a Contiki before?’ – it works every time!”.
The well-traveled Stephen of course has his favourite spots, telling us his favourite destination (so far) is Canada and he returns there at least once a year. The reason is simple: his best friends in the world are Canadian. Stephen isn’t blind to the country’s natural charms though, saying besides hanging with pals, “there’s the added bonus of visiting an absolutely spectacular and magical country”.
Naturally, Stephen has collected many memorable moments on his travels, sharing some favourites from his Japan trip, such as dressing up in anime costumes and playing cards all night in a Buddhist Temple while it snowed outside. But with all these endless days and nights, has there been a sunset that was so good it was “the one”? Yes!
“One of my favourites would definitely have to be in Cairo, on the Egypt & The Nile trip. I was there during Ramadan, and we’d just visited a family perfumery. We went up on the roof before dinner to look out over Cairo City as the sun set and at the same time the call to prayer started. Watching the sunset, we looked out over the now deserted streets of Cairo, with the Pyramids to our left, lit up in the twilight of the sunset. It was truly amazing.”
A seasoned traveler, Stephen has some sweet travel tips like bringing spare plastic bags for dirty clothes and liquids that may leak, and NEVER passing up the chance to use the bathroom or charge his phone and camera. However, Stephen’s number one travel rule is simple:
How does he want to end it all? By re-living his original three trips in reverse order, finishing on the European Panorama where it all began.