Whether you’ve travelled before or you’re just beginning to scrape enough money together to start thinking about it, you have probably thought about travelling at some point. But would you do this on your own itinerary or with a Contiki group? Drawing from personal experience, there are remarkably different pros and cons to both ideas, as they each offer a completely different trip. We break down the wins and losses of Contiki’s and ‘DIY-style’ trips to help you plan your next overseas adventure.
1) You will meet a lot of new people
Contiki forces you to make travel buddies, which is great for those who are apprehensive to meeting new people. You’ll sing along on the (very) long bus ride from Zürich to Berlin, you’ll dance together at nightclubs in Prague, and feel like you’ve known each other a lot longer than 18 days. By the end of the trip, you’re officially a Contiki family. A little bonus is that probably around 97% of your group will be Aussies, so it’ll be easy to catch up again when you’re home! You’ll look back at the amazing memories you made when you all tried snails in Paris and white water rafted in Austria. It won’t be a trip you’ll forget.
2) You will probably party more
Contiki has a plan for every second of your day, and a lot of it will involve partying. Personally, I went out a lot more when I was on Contiki versus when I planned a trip with my friend this year – and honestly, it’s expected. I guess there’s this subconscious crowd mentality that almost bullies you into going out. Even when you want a night off, you’ll find yourself wearing your only washed t-shirt and shorts, and leave your room already six cans deep of tequila-flavoured beer. And honestly, you should thank your Contiki pals for gently pressuring you to leave the hostel. You won’t remember the all your nights in, but you will (hopefully) remember all your nights out.
1) You might make some enemies
As well as meeting a lot of new people and making some life-long friends, you may also make some enemies along the way. It’s usually something like ‘Lisa secretly likes Harry and didn’t tell you, and Harry hooked up with you in Vietnam on a very drunk night out, so now Lisa hates you and she won’t room with you for the rest of the trip’. At times, It can feel a bit like you’re on a reality TV show with a bunch of petty high school kids, but just remember to have fun and try to avoid the drama whilst travelling.
2) You will get sick
I don’t necessarily mean “you will get chlamydia – and die*,” but you will most likely go through an inconceivable amount of tissues from your nasal congestion during your travelling. Obviously, all of this partying is going to catch up on you. Your wake up call-times are usually around 6am and you’ll be out partying until an hour before that. With the mix of drinking, a dose of germs and zero sleep, you’ve created a nasty cocktail called the common cold.
1) You can do whatever you want
When you’re travelling solo, or even with a few others, and you have no plans and no worries, the world is your oyster. Lose yourself in beautiful cities and challenge yourself in places you never even imagined you’d visit. You will discover more authentic parts of the world than you probably would on a Contiki-style trip, as well as gain a lot more independence and discover that you can be your own guide.
2) You will learn more about yourself
On this journey that you have basically created from scratch, you will learn a lot more about yourself than you probably would on a Contiki trip. With the challenges of keeping on track of your itinerary without anyone else being there to wake you up and throw you onto the bus to your next country, it’s all up to you. You might try activities that you never have before – even trivial things like eating alone at a restaurant or going on a pub crawl without having your bestie with you to depend on. It’s these little things that test you and build you into the person you are and give you a sense of confidence and independence you might not have had before.
1) You might not actually know what to do
If you honestly have no clue about some of the places you’ve booked and you do need a little guidance, definitely whip out Tripadvisor and ask around at your hostels. I have certainly found myself travelling in some places, like Romania, thinking “WTF, I have no idea what to do here!”. However, I was lucky that the friend I was travelling with actually made a place, like Bucharest, the highlight of my trip. It’s all about the people you’re with, or meet, and giving everything a chance.
2) You might feel lonely
There will most certainly be moments where you feel lonely whilst travelling, with a dash of homesickness. The only remedy for this is keeping in contact with friends and family through all the amazing apps we hold at our fingertips, but to also keep the trip moving forward and taking every opportunity you get to have the best time of your life. You’re in a whole new world – explore it while you can! Also you saved a heap of money for this … use it well ;).
*Mean Girls quote