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Contiki Group, European Highlights, June 2010

Way  back in January, when we booked our tour to Europe, I had some reservations about traveling with a big (50) group of people. I didn’t know if we would all get along, or if the whole trip would be full of a bunch of booze-cruisers. I was also worried about the whole nature of a tour group; it’s never fun to stand out as “tourists” where ever you go. But regardless, we booked, and off we went.

And it was AWESOME.

But I’ve decided to give out some friendly advice to those who might decide to travel with Contiki in the future, because it isn’t for everyone, but it can also rock for many folks.

So, disclaimer:

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If you don’t like people, do not travel with a group. (This goes without saying, but anyway.) You will spend a lot of time with people. However, if you are like me, and enjoy people but not all the time, you will be alright, because there is plenty of time to be alone and/or go do things with a small group of people. In fact, much of your sightseeing will be done this way .

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If you think people who drink are pathetic losers, do not travel with Contiki. This is not to say that you have to drink on tour, but there will be  drinking. There will be hung-over people on the bus, and occasional vomiting (which I never had to really see, which made it funnier than anything else). But if you can’t stand people who drink, then don’t go! Having a drink or so in the evening is a lovely way to get to know people, and relax after a long day of traveling. Also; Contiki is HUGE in Australia (70% on tour were from down under), and Aussies hold their drink, or at least they try very hard to. And practice a lot. (hence big beer). Plus: Beer halls. 

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If you are a seriously devout religious person, you may not like Contiki. There will be swearing, inappropriate jokes, random sexual  incidents, songs about sex/drugs/rock ‘n roll,  pot-smoking in Amsterdam, hookers in random places, and may/may not be a guy on the bus who enjoys running around naked. It’s not like there’s burning of the cross or any terrible atheist conversations, but…this trip is for grown-ups, who aren’t so squeamish. However, there were a few more conservative folks on the trip, who loved it. And there are lots of fabulous churches, so….?

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Yay God!

If you hate buses, and riding on them for hours…  well that’s pretty much how you get around Europe. Europe is BIG. Sorry! But there are fun times to be found on the bus. Crampy legs, but also excitement.

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If you must sit in the lap of luxury…. you’ll have to pay more money. Now I’m not cheap, but paying more for the same sleep kinds sucks. That being said, Contiki (on Budget tours anyway) takes you to nice places to stay (mostly cabins that feel like little houses and have bathrooms) and feeds you about half the time. They shock you with the worst cabins in Paris, (right) but things get progressively better from then on. Sleeping bags are cool when you’re in Europe, as most things are.

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If you like planning, and can’t stand other people planning things for you, you will be in Hell. This happens to be my main reason why I did go, so… Let’s just say, it’s simpler to plan a trip to one places than 30, including different countries over thousands of miles in which you don’t speak the native language. That being said, having someone take care of the details is super lovely, especially when you are confused by public transit alone. But you can plan whole days of FREE time in most cities.

image WTF, Paris

If you must travel with 5 suitcases full of outfits “just in case” you are also screwed. One suitcase , per person, is allowed on the bus people. But this does make it easier a) to travel the airways and b) to not lose your luggage. It’s much easier to keep track of one suitcase. And there will be outfit repeats. Yep. 

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Same dress, different country

There are many things I could say here, but most important of all, I firmly believe that I did not miss any important part of Europe, or “traveling” because we went with a group. If anything, this experience was better because of the people we were with.

37584_448937738178_734173178_6119449_2390993_n Aw, group love

[Also: if you are a couple, there were other couples to hang out with, and also non-couple people to hang with when you got sick of/fed up with/cranky with your own partner. Which, over a long trip, will happen.]

Next Post: Top Things I wish I had known/done before, and Things I’m glad I did.

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