WHO IS CONTIKI?
Contiki is the world leader in travel for 18-35 year olds. Operating since 1962, we’ve been showing young travellers the world for over 55 years and we like to think we know what we’re talking about. We believe that life’s greatest lessons are learned through travel. That real life doesn’t happen when you color inside the lines. It’s only when you break free, trust your impulse, and intentionally live with your eyes wide open, that you become the person you’re meant to be.
WHY ONLY 18-35?
Being young, living with hope, and seeing the world for the very first time, is at the essence of why we exist. Some travel experiences you can only have when you’re young, and those are the experiences you have with Contiki. As a company we ourselves are young; we challenge convention, push boundaries, and sometimes turn a blind eye to our parents advice, so why wouldn’t we want the same from our travellers?
WHERE DOES CONTIKI TRAVEL?
Let’s talk numbers. We travel to 6 of the 7 continents and offer over 300 trips in 50+ countries. That means you can start checking off your travel destination bucket list with places like India, Japan, Croatia, The Galapagos Islands, Canada, Egypt, Thailand, Greece, South Africa, or Ireland – just to name a few. Basically wherever, whenever, and however you want to travel, we can make it happen.
WHAT IS SOCIAL TRAVEL?
Social travel is what you get when you connect like-minded travellers and open their eyes to the world. With Contiki, sure you get cool accommodation, tasty and authentic meals and awesome experiences, but we also create something very special that money can’t buy – friendship – something you often miss out on if you travel independently. Call it a cliché, but it’s the truth, and the equation really isn’t complicated. You + a coach load of other young travellers + shared experiences + a new part of the world = social travel.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Booking with Contiki basically means you’re taking the hassle out of travel. We sort everything, from your accommodation, to your internal transport, to tiny niggly things like park entry fees and dinner reservations, so literally all you have to think about is where you want to go, and when. And our making it easy mantra doesn’t stop once you get on the road with us. Every single Contiki trip is managed by one of our expert and highly trained Trip Managers, who are there to ensure your trip runs smoothly and you’re completely looked after from the first day to the last day of your adventure.
HOW MANY OTHER TRAVELLERS ARE ON EACH TRIP?
Group sizes are completely dependent on where and how you choose to travel with Contiki. In Europe, group sizes can range between 35 – 52 travellers max (usually in busy periods like summer, we will travel at maximum capacity). In regions like North America, Australia and New Zealand, Asia and South America and Africa, our group sizes are considerably smaller – around 25 – 30 travellers max.
All accommodation, internal transport, and a good handful of meals are included in the cost of your Contiki trip (in most regions we offer breakfast every day, plus a cherry-picked selection of authentic and tasty meals). On top of this, we also include our Included Experiences, which are basically the sights and activities we think you just can’t afford to miss (think a sunset cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, or wine tasting in the Tuscan Hills to get you started). And then of course you also get our expert and highly trained team of Contiki staff; our Trip Managers, Drivers, and On-site Team members throughout our properties in Europe.
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED?
Flights to and from your start and end destination are not included in the cost of your trip. These can be booked independently, or added on during the booking process either online or with your travel agent. We also keep a number of meal times free for you to explore a region and its foodie offerings in greater detail, so budgeting for non-catered meals is important. In terms of activities, we also offer Free Time Add-Ons, which are additional experiences you can get involved in during your free time on tour, which are not included in the overall price. Travel insurance and visas are also not included in the cost of your trip, and need to be booked separately.
WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED TO TRAVEL?
Dependent on where you’re travelling and your nationality, you'll need a valid passport and may also need visas to enter into certain countries - please check this well in advance of your trip departure date. Some countries also require passports to have 3-6 months left on them before the given expiry date, so be sure to double check this before booking your travels.
HOW DO I GET A PASSPORT?
If you’re getting a passport for the first time you’ll need to fill out a passport application form, which you can download from your government's website, local post office or government buildings, dependent on your country of residence. You’ll also need colored photographs of your full face against a plain white or off-white background. There is a charge for passports and they normally take 3-6 weeks to be approved and delivered (depending on your country of residence), so make sure you check this out before making any travel plans.
DO I NEED A VISA?
Visas are super important and are essential for entering certain countries. It’s up to you to be responsible for obtaining all necessary visas prior to the departure of your trip. Run this by your travel agent (if applicable) or check out a visa service well in advance to determine if/which visas you will require and how to obtain them. Remember, visas can take up to 6 weeks and a fee is normally charged, so no leaving this one till the last minute. We recommend you apply for all visas through your travel agent or visa service before commencing your travel journey.
DO I NEED TO GET ANY VACCINATIONS BEFORE I TRAVEL?
If you’re heading to places like Asia and Latin America, it’s likely you’ll need some vaccinations, pre travels. Run this by your GP or a Travel Specialist Doctor, or click here to find out if you require any vaccinations.
WHAT IF I HAVE MEDICAL CONDITIONS OR PHYSICAL DISABILITIES?
If you suffer from any form of medical condition, be sure to have an adequate supply of relevant medications prior to departing on your trip and advise us of any important medical conditions you may have at time of booking.
You’ll also need to flag any physical disabilities to us before you book your trip, otherwise we may be unable to proceed with your booking at a later stage. A lot of our trips require physical activities which may not be best suited to your needs. If your disability does require certain assistance, we need to ensure any special needs, services or accompanied-bodies are discussed at the time of booking. Contiki do not provide devices such as wheelchairs and will not be responsible on the failure of the person or able bodied companion/s to provide these services.
WHAT SHOULD I BRING WITH ME?
It’s super important to be prepared when it comes to your health, and this includes any medication you may need on the road, such as: antihistamines, antibiotics, or any additional precautionary tablets, creams, first aid kits, mosquito sprays, suncreams etc. Just make sure you pack all the important stuff in an easily accessible safe place, ideally in your hand luggage.
WHAT IF I GET SICK WHILE TRAVELLING?
Sickness is never ideal, but sometimes the inevitable happens when you’re on the road experiencing new foods and ways of life. Depending on the severity of your sickness, your Trip Manager will help you find any medicine or health requirements you may need. Taking out comprehensive insurance before travelling with Contiki is a must, and will ensure you are covered for any personal injury, medical expenses etc. that you may incur.
HOW CAN I KEEP HEALTHY ON THE ROAD?
It can be tricky to stay healthy when you’re constantly out and about (not to mention those late nights…), but it’s the key to ensuring you get the most from your travelling experience. Keeping an eye on what you're eating and drinking, how much movement you're doing, getting a decent amount of sleep and just knowing when enough is enough will do wonders for both your physical and mental health.
HOW MUCH LUGGAGE CAN I BRING?
This one depends on the destination and trip you’re travelling on.
For our European, North American, Australian and New Zealand trips, luggage is restricted to one decent sized, non-expanding suitcase, approximately 29” × 20” × 10” (73cm x 50cm x 25cm) with a maximum weight of 20 kilos (44lbs.) plus one small hand/day bag that can go on the coach with you. Metal frame backpacks are not advised as their bulky shape makes packing the coach tricky, plus they are more likely to damage other luggage.
For Latin America, Asia & other regions which have internal flights included in the itinerary, luggage weight restrictions must be within the restriction of the given airlines you’re travelling on. It’s up to you to ensure you keep within these measurements and weight restrictions, so check this out before you travel as excess baggage fees will be at your own cost.
WHY IS THE AMOUNT YOU CAN BRING RESTRICTED?
As important as unlimited outfit choices are, all of the travellers’ luggage needs to fit under the restricted area of the coach, which only accommodates 1 piece of large luggage per traveller. Plus, you’re responsible for your own luggage, so less luggage = less responsibility.
SHOULD I TAKE A SUITCASE OR BACKPACK?
Again, this is all dependent on where you’re travelling to. For trips to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, a backpack will be your best bet. Oversized suitcases or metal framed backpacks are a no-go due to luggage limitations, but you can bring a smaller bag to pack for the Galapagos, leaving your main suitcase at the hotel in Guayaquil to collect on return.
On our Australia trips which include sailing and/or 4-wheel drive trips, there is a super small luggage space so again, make sure you bring along a small bag to transfer your essentials into. Your regular luggage will be stored back at base.
On European ski trips and New Zealand trips with a ski option you have the option to bring one pair of skis and ski boots, to show off your pro skiing skills.
Other than what's mentioned above, travelling with a backpack or suitcase is totally up to you.
IS THERE ANY KIND OF DRESS CODE?
On a day-to-day basis we recommend comfortable, casual clothing. Some trips do include bar/club or more formal evening activities, in this case packing a few more evening appropriate pieces is a good call. If you’re jetting off to a sunny location, you’ll most likely have a beach day or a hotel pool, so swimwear is essential. If you’re travelling to areas where the culture and religion is different to your own, it’s important to be respectful of this and cover up, in particular if you are going to churches, temples, or places of respect.
WHAT SHOULD I PACK FOR MY TRIP?
Dependent on where you are going and the time of the year you may need to pack swimwear, scarfs, sweaters, appropriate footwear, or evening wear. Warm clothing is always a good call, even in the summertime as temperatures can get chilly. Below is a checklist covering all the key travel items, take a look at this to see what might be relevant for the locations you’ll be travelling to:
For more packing and tips, head to six-two.
DO I NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE?
A simple one - yes. It’s essential that you take out travel insurance to cover the likes of cancellation, personal injury and medical expenses before you travel with Contiki. We advise you to get travel insurance that covers cancellation, personal liability and loss of personal property. It’s also super important to check that your insurance covers all of the activities you’ll be partaking in, particularly any adventure activities for all you adrenaline junkies.
WHERE CAN I GET TRAVEL INSURANCE?
Have a chat with us, or speak to your travel agent or our reservations team for advice. Just remember, travel insurance is compulsory on all Contiki trips.
ARE FLIGHTS INCLUDED IN THE COST OF THE TRIP?
International flights to/from the destination your trip starts and ends in are not included in the cost of the trip, and must be purchased separately. If you are booking direct with Contiki, you can add on flights during the booking process. Alternatively, you can book these independently if you want to shop around for the best quote, or through your travel agent.
Any flights you take during your Contiki, are included in the cost of your trip. Particularly in regions like Asia or South America, we use planes to get you from A to B as quickly as possible, and all of this is included. Check out our full booking conditions for more information on what’s included and what’s not.
HOW MUCH DO FLIGHTS COST?
This depends on a number of factors including the area you are travelling to/from, and the season you are travelling in. Take a look at flight comparison sites like Skyscanner to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. For the best deals, we recommend booking early, and taking advantage of airline sales.
DO YOU SELL FLIGHTS?
Yes! Contiki strives to offer the best rates for flights and can assist you with this process, taking out any unneeded admin or complications to your travel journey. Just keep an eye out for the ‘add flights’ option during the booking process, or ask one of our reservations team.
HOW ELSE DO I BOOK FLIGHTS?
Flight comparison sites like Skyscanner are good for showing you the best flight prices and times for any given flight. You can book through the airline sites directly, or through Costco reservations.
WHERE DOES MY CONTIKI START?
Information on your trip start and end points can all be found at My Contiki, or in the documents sent to you 21 days prior to departure. If you are unsure or want clarification on this, please give our reservations team a call, or chat to us on Facebook.
WHAT IS A KICK-START MEETING?
Every trip has a kick-start meeting, hosted by the Trip Manager, which happens either the night before the trip is due to start (if starting early the next day), or in the evening of the first day of the trip (if the trip starts later in the day). The kick-start meeting is where you will meet your whole group for the first time, as well as your Trip Manager. In this meeting, your Trip Manager will give you an overview of how things work on Contiki, a health and safety briefing, as well as take all necessary information/documentation they may need from you.
I’M ARRIVING LATE, DOES IT MATTER IF I MISS THE KICK-START?
It’s not essential to be at the kick-start meeting, and we get that sometimes your flight might be arriving late, or you want to spend the day exploring a new city. If you are not able to make it, just let the Contiki reservations team know in advance and make sure you know all the necessary departure details for the following morning. Your Trip Manager will post these in the hotel/hostel lobby, so just look out for them (and take a picture if you’re the type to forget).
WHAT’S THE CONTIKI BASEMENT?
The Contiki Basement is our super cool, home from home London launchpad, located in the basement of the Royal National Hotel, Bedford Way, London. This is also the London base for Contiki trips in Europe, and the meeting point for Contiki trips starting in London.
ARE AIRPORT TRANSFERS INCLUDED?
Transfers are not included in the trip, and you will need to find your own way to the trip starting point. For some trips, we do offer complimentary shuttles to the train station/airport at the end of the trip, so please read the trip itinerary carefully to see if this is an option.
HOW DO I GET TO THE STARTING POINT OF MY TRIP?
It’s up to you guys to make your own way to the starting point of the trip. We make sure our start points are in well connected areas so it shouldn't be any stress getting public transport, or jumping in a cab. If you need help planning this journey feel free to contact our reservations team, who will be able to help you out.
WHAT TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION DO YOU STAY IN ON CONTIKI?
We have a whole mix of accommodation styles on our trips, depending on the destination and the travel style you have chosen. With us, you can stay in hotels, hostels, boats, camping sites, jungle lodges, eco camps, beach resorts, and even our very own 16th century French Chateau. To find out how you could be sleeping on Contiki, check the trip itinerary pages or your documents.
CAN I SEE A LIST OF THE ACCOMMODATION FOR EACH TRIP?
Once you’ve booked your Contiki, you will be given a full accommodation list detailing all the places you’ll be staying on your trip.
WILL I HAVE TO SHARE A ROOM ON MY TRIP?
Shared accommodation is the norm on Contiki, and is all part of the experience. How many people you’ll be sharing with depends on the region, travel style and type of accommodation, but twin or quad same-sex sharing is the norm. Festival accommodation is the only instance where up to 8 people could be sharing, and this may be mixed gender. On most trips there is also the option to upgrade to a private room for an additional cost, if you’re after a little more privacy.
WHO WILL I BE ROOMED WITH?
Your Trip Manager will assign each member of your group to a room, and this will be your rooming formation for the duration of the trip. If for any reason you want to switch rooms, you’ll need to put this request to your Trip Manager. If you are booking as a couple or as a group of friends, you will of course be roomed together.
CAN I HAVE A ROOM TO MYSELF?
Yes. In most regions and on most trips there is the option to upgrade to a private room, for an additional fee.
IS THERE WIFI AT THE ACCOMMODATION WE’LL STAY AT?
IS THERE ANY FREE TIME ON CONTIKI TRIPS?
Absolutely. Free Time is a big part of the Contiki experience, as we understand how important it is for you to put your own unique stamp on your trip. Make sure you’re clued up on all the places you’ll be visiting well in advance to get the very most from your Free Time, chat to your Trip Manager for their tips, and of course take advantage of our Free Time Add-Ons. These are the experiences that we have cherry-picked for you in each destination, that are designed to take your trip to a whole new level of awesomeness, and are not included in the cost of your trip.
HOW DO I KNOW HOW MUCH FREE TIME I’LL HAVE?
The amount of Free Time you have is dependent on the travel style and individual trip you book. Independent Insider trips offer the most amount of Free Time, whilst High Energy trips are a bit more structured. Look out for the F symbol on our trip pages in the brochure, or the Free Time Add-On signs in the detailed itinerary section of our online trip pages, to see a full list.
WHAT DO I DO IN MY FREE TIME?
It’s up to you! This is the time when you can go off, explore with your new travel crew, and get a real sense for the destination you’re visiting. Your Trip Manager will be full to the brim with recommendations and tips, should you need them, and of course you can fill your Free Time with our Free Time Add-Ons.
WHAT ARE FREE TIME ADD-ONS?
Free Time Add-Ons are basically the travel experiences we’ve picked that we think will take your trip to a whole new level. The experiences are built around activities or topics we know you love, so think food, adventure, exploration, history, culture, fashion, music - you name it. A few examples of Free Time Add-Ons include:
- A canal cruise down Amsterdam’s iconic canals
- White water rafting in Innsbruck, Austria
- An Italian feast in the Tuscan hills
- A half day snorkeling cruise in Koh Tao
- Visit a local hill tribe in Chiang Mai
- A polo day experience, Buenos Aires
- Kayaking down the Amazon river, Peruvian Jungle
- A sunrise hot air balloon ride, Alice Springs
- A skydive over the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns
ARE FREE TIME ADD-ON ACTIVITIES INCLUDED IN THE COST OF MY TRIP?
No, these experiences are an additional cost and are not included in the price of your Contiki trip. However, thanks to our long standing relationships with suppliers, you can be safe in the knowledge that you are getting the best deal when booking one of our Add-Ons.
DO I HAVE TO DO A FREE TIME ADD-ON?
Nope, it’s totally up to you. Our Add-Ons happen during your Free Time, so if you’d rather do your own thing we are totally OK with that - the choice is yours!
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT FREE TIME ADD-ONS ARE ON MY TRIP?
Look out for the F symbol on our trip pages for the Add-Ons available on each trip. A full list of Add-Ons and approximate costs will also be sent to you with your travel documents, 3 weeks in advance of your departure. Your Trip Manager will take you through all of the available options at the start of your trip so you can decide if you want to do any of these awesome experiences once you’ve got the full down low.
HOW DO I PAY FOR FREE TIME ADD-ONS?
You can pay for your Add-Ons with a debit or credit card, or cash, once you are on your trip. Our Trip Managers will manage this process with you, and answer any questions you may have. We’d also advise having a good read over what Add-Ons are available on your trip prior to departure, as this will help with managing your budget.
WHAT WILL I NEED MONEY FOR ON THE TRIP?
In terms of spending money, you’ll need to budget for the following:
HOW MUCH SPENDING MONEY SHOULD I BRING?
How much spending money you’ll need will depend on the duration of the trip, the region you are travelling to (for instance Europe and Australia will be significantly more expensive than Asia, or Latin America), and how much you anticipate spending on personal expenses like alcohol or shopping. Before you travel, it’s also a good idea to read up on and get an idea of the Free Time Add-Ons you think you’ll want to do on trip, as these will form part of your overall budget. We’d advise doing some research on your chosen destinations beforehand, looking at things like:
- Cost of a local lunch
- Cost of a local dinner
- Cost of a bottle of water
- Cost of a beer
- Cost of an ice cream
- Cost of entry to a sightseeing spot
We also advise you bring some cash in the local currency of the destination you’ll be travelling to first, and then use your debit or credit card to withdraw money along the way (don’t forget to let you bank known you’ll be travelling, as otherwise they may freeze your account due to foreign currency expenditure). Cash cards like Travelex are also a good option if you want to reduce conversion fees.
WILL I BE ABLE TO DO LAUNDRY WHILE TRAVELLING?
Long days on the road and exploring can often = a necessity to do laundry. The good news is, lots of our accommodation offers laundry facilities, so you don’t need to be known as the traveller with the stinky socks. There will be a small fee for laundry services, as well as detergent (travellers tip - if you want to be super saving savvy, bring some laundry powder with you). Alternatively, if your accommodation doesn't have a laundry service and you’re really desperate, just ask your Trip Manager to help find a local laundrette.
IS TIPPING COMPULSORY?
Tipping very much depends on whereabouts in the world you are travelling. If you’re heading to America, tipping is a big part of the culture and is expected when paying your dinner bill, buying drinks at a bar, and even getting a taxi. However, if you were heading to Japan, tipping would be seen as impolite. In most parts of Europe, leaving a tip of around 5 - 10% of the total bill is the standard, although make sure you check the bill first, as a tip may have already been included in the total cost of the bill. It’s generally worth reading up on the tipping culture of the region you are travelling to prior to your trip, or just ask your Trip Manager what the general etiquette is once on trip.
In terms of tipping Contiki staff and Local Guides, this is entirely up to you and is not compulsory. If you think a Trip Manager, Driver or Local Guide has done an awesome job, you may wish to tip them for this, but this is at your discretion and no one else’s. Tip what you think is right only.
WHAT SHOULD I TIP SERVICE STAFF?
This depends entirely on the tipping culture of the country you are in. Read up on what’s expected prior to your trip or ask your Trip Manager if you are unsure, and also be careful not to over or under tip as a result of currency confusion. Downloading a currency converter app like XE Currency App will help with this.
WHAT SHOULD I TIP CONTIKI TRIP MANAGERS AND DRIVERS?
Tipping of Contiki Trip Managers and Drivers is completely optional and not mandatory. If you think your Contiki crew have delivered an outstanding level of service throughout your trip you may wish to tip them, but this is at your discretion and no one else’s.
WILL I BE ABLE TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK ON MY TRIP?
You sure can! At the end of your trip you will have the chance to fill out a feedback questionnaire which will cover off all the elements of your trip, from what your Trip Manager was like, to the food, accommodation, experiences, etc. Filling in this form as honestly and accurately as possible is a huge help for us as it means we can improve on any areas you perhaps weren’t so happy with (as well as give kudos to our staff for all the things they did well).
As well as this form, you will also receive an email from Feefo, who are an independent third party review site, soon after your trip has finished. This email will contain a link which you can follow to leave a review of your trip.
Finally, you can also review your trip, or Contiki, on our Facebook page here.
HOW DO I LEAVE A REVIEW?
Soon after your trip has finished, you will receive an email from Feefo, who are an independent third party review site. In this email, you will be prompted to follow a link which will take you to Feefo’s site, and it’s here you can leave your review of your Contiki trip.
You can also review your trip, or Contiki, on our Facebook page here.
HOW CAN I FILE A COMPLAINT?
Whilst we hope it doesn’t come to this, we totally get that sometimes things go wrong, or that perhaps your expectations have not been met. If this is the case, please send us an email to email@example.com. After reviewing your case, we will send on your email to the relevant department or the region the complaint relates to, and will endeavour to make sure that your issue is dealt with as quickly as possible.
HOW CAN I CONTACT MY GROUP ONCE I’M HOME?
After arriving home from your trip, chances are you’ll be pining for your new Contiki fam. You’ll probably already have swapped social handles with most of your group by this point, but you can also stay in touch with your group through My Contiki. Here, you can instant chat, share photos from your trip, and maybe just plan the reunion of all reunions.
HOW CAN I SHARE MY TRAVEL MEMORIES?
As well as sharing your photos through your My Contiki account, we also love our travellers sharing their trip pics on Facebook and Instagram, both during and after their adventure. When doing this, make sure you include your trip hashtag on the image, as well as tagging @contiki. Doing this means our social team can see everything that’s being posted and, better still, we love to share our favourite pics from the road, so you may just have your moment in the spotlight.