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What is it really like being a Contiki Trip Manager in Japan?


Being a Contiki Trip Manager rocks. We’re not going to pretend it doesn’t. But being a Trip Manager in Japan is something else! A diverse country with a rich history, busy cities, a language half the group (more like 99% of the group) doesn’t speak… it takes a special Trip Manager to do it all. Meet James Jenkins, Contiki Trip Manager, Japan enthusiast and kick-ass dude!

How long have you been a Contiki Trip Manager?

5 Years (2 years in Europe and 3 years in Asia)


How many trips a year do you go/how many days of the year are you on the road?

12-16 Trips a Year (200+ days each year)


Best part of the job?

Taking people to their dream destination holidays and hearing it beats their expectations.

Some people save up for years to get the money to come to places like Japan, and to see them fully enjoying it makes the job worth it.

Trip Manager serving Japanese food on a table with plates and bowls.

Worst part of the job?

People needing a constant WIFI signal to get online, rather than living in the moment and uploading the videos/images later when they get to the hotel. Enjoy it now and don’t miss out – you came here to experience it so don’t miss out!


What’s the biggest misconception about being a Trip Manager?

“You guys are just on holiday all the time” – Not the case.

We do all the work in the background and at night away from the travellers to ensure it doesn’t encroach on their trip, but also so that it runs smoothly & we are available at the times needed to help with any of their questions or help with suggestions in people’s free time. (But yeh we get to enjoy it all as well J)


Favourite bit/site of Japan?

We get to stay in a Temple Lodging known as a “Shukubo” in Mt Koya, and get to taste a Monk’s lifestyle, eating vegetarian cuisine and – which is super special – getting the chance to attend their Morning Prayer. I feel incredibly privileged to get the chance to part in this & always look forward to coming back to Japan to do so.


Favourite thing to eat in Japan?

Has to be the oysters on Miyajima Island. Freshly grilled and seasoned in butter and soy sauce, some places even add cheese – It is bloody Amazeballs!


What does a normal day on the road look like for you (please keep it brief)?

– Wake up, breakfast, checkout and meet group in lobby

– Run through with the group how the day is going to run

– Get them excited about what’s included & what we will see that day (Japan has so much going on – always a surprise or 2 pops up sightseeing)

– Depart with local guide & group for included sightseeing using local transport or private bus

– Contact our suppliers to reconfirm times for inclusions/optionals that day

– Update upcoming hotels/restaurants with special diets if we are having included meals

– Point out the best places for lunch

– More amazing sightseeing with group

– Purchase entry tickets for Included sights and temples

– Check group into hotel – chill time for group

– Advise best place to head out for dinner to take group

– Hit up the best spots Japan has to offer for drinks or night time sightseeing

– Get back to hotel and double check I’ve contacted everyone I needed to that day

– Prepare to do it all again tomorrow armed and ready for any questions from the travellers

A group of people posing for a picture during a trip.

What’s the best part of showing people Japan?

Making the trip personal for them, and ensuring they get out of it what they came for.

I always do a Food Crawl down the Streets of Dōtonburi in Osaka to ensure the Foodies don’t miss out; Ensure the Instagram Fanatics get to see the Bamboo Forest in Kyoto as its one you can’t really miss; and also go out to the Golden Gai Area in Tokyo so they get to rub shoulders and have a drink with locals in the tiny local 6 people maximum bars. Everyone has come for different reasons and I love getting the chance to make sure they go home not missing anything.


What surprises people the most about Japan?

People can’t wrap their head around how amazing this country is.

Everything they come across from the delicious food, the amazing people, the beautiful Buddhist and Shinto culture to its deep history – It’s so enticing & captivating that you can’t fail to appreciate being here in Japan.

A group of people in robes posing for a photo during a trip.

Your job in 3 words…

EVERYTHING IS AWESOME (Sung to the tune of the LEGO MOVIE)


In all honesty though – BE HERE NOW.

(Even have it tattooed on my finger)