So have plans to go on contiki next year with my best friend.
And I have been told lately NOT to do contiki, and just to our own thing!
What do you guys think?..
I'm leaning more towards Contiki because they'll take us to the popular places and show us all the tourist sites etc, whereas, if we did our own thing, we wouldn't know those kinda things..
whereas, if we did our own thing, we wouldn't know those kinda things..
That is what reading your guidebook is for!
Any decent guidebook suited to independent travel will have all the info you need to do your own thing. Especially Lonely Planet and Rick Steves are pretty much "Europe for Dummies", and Let's Go and Rough Guide are also very useful.
And then there are always travel forums to ask clueless newbie questions.
[ Edit: Edited on 26-Aug-2009, at 02:35 by t_maia ]
I think it depends on what you want out of this trip. Contiki is great and organized everything for you, you show up and they they take you to places and you meet people and have a sick time. Organizing your own thing you'll get to go to places where YOU want to go, spend however much time you want to there, and you aren't stuck with annoying people on your tour. Its alot more effort to organize your own thing, but if you are more into non-touristy stuff then definitely do your own trip.
I've been to a few places, but they have all been organized for me. A few years ago I visited Oz through International Student Volunteers- it was a really cool way to travel, but I felt really rushed and parts of it were too touristy for me. So this time I'm opting for my 'own thing', but it takes alot of time and research. When I discovered backpacking existed and it was a thing that people do, I fell in love and think about it all the time. Now that I'm organizing my own trip, I would never want to go on an organized tour!
I've always done my own thing, although we went to Africa last year and opted for an organized tour--in part due to a tight timeline, difficulty getting around, and the amount of places we wanted to see. It was a fabulous experience, too, although in a different way. Pick what works for you! And remember: there's always the next trip!
Yes I am quite aware of travel guides, thanks for the heads up!
I like the idea of having the freedom to roam around on your own clock! It'd stress me out and annoy me having to be on someone elses watch, especially if I liked a particular place more than another and wanted to extend my stay. So that's a good point to take into account.
Is there such thing as 'weekly contiki's'? Maybe something short and sweet to start just as like a 'warm up' lol then we can set off and do our own thing.
Im heading on Contiki to Europe early next year...but that is just the start of my round the world travels, which will likely not include organised tours. As lostbunny said: what do you want out of the trip? If you wanna see the main tourist sites and experience lots of different places in a short amount of time, then Contiki is probably well suited. But on Contiki you can only touch the surface of each place you visit and so if you would rather get to know a place intimately and develop a closer relationship with its character and people, then i would say independent travel, spending longer in each place would be better.
Im doing both: Iv been studying for the past four years so I see Contiki as a fun way to wind down for a few weeks (im thinking of it as a bit like leavers/schoolies but in which i can have fun in new countries while getting to see all the famous tourist sites. Then im going to go back through Europe for the rest the year...(hopefully the Contiki might even give me a better idea about places I want to spend more time in).
If your nervous about visiting a place then an organised tour can be a good way to settle in and get to know the place whilst in the 'safe' and organised environment of being part of a travel group, before setting out on your own.
I supposed you're right in saying that with contiki you only touch the surface of each place you visit, which would annoy me, especially if I liked some places better than others.
Gah, my feelings towards independent travel are always changing!.. You're making it sounds more appealing!..
So you see Contiki as a wind DOWN rather than a WARM UP.. See I am thinking I will mix it up and do both independent travel AND contiki, but start with contiki as a 'warm up'... You say that Contiki is a good way of figuring out which places you'd like to spend more time in - so why wouldn't you start off on Contiki and then go back to the places you loved on your own account.. ?
It's not that I'm nervous visiting anywhere, it's just that I wouldn't know what's hot and what's not lol..
Cheers for your input!!
I did a mix of my own thing and Contiki and i would definately say do your own thing! I hated the Contiki tour, we didnt get to see many places except for through a coach window and most of the hotels were miles away from any attractions so if you weren't doing an 'optional' you didnt have much to do. Also there were 51 people on the bus and most of the time it felt like a school trip especially after doing my own thing the previous 6 months.
When I went to New Zealand, I went with Connections Tour which is similar to Contiki from what I've heard from others, and there were positives and negatives about going with the group tours. The main reason that I chose to go with the group tour is that because it was my first trip to NZ, I wanted to be sure that I got a taste of the entire country and my biggest concern was that because NZ is known to be beautiful all around, I was worried that I would fall in love with one place at the beginning of the trip and not move on to other places that were even more beautiful. LOL. So, the group tour forced me to stay on the move. The only negative part was that I sure did feel rushed as I was in many of the places for a few hours, and didn't spend a lot of time getting soaked in. However, even if I traveled on my own, I would probably have had to rush too because I only had a limit of two weeks in NZ as I had to get back home for school. So, I think it just depends on your priorities such as time limit, how much of the country you want to see, and how well you can force yourself to move on to the next place :o) , and also the availability of public transportation is another BIG factor.
The other thing that frustrated me about the group tour was that I wanted to yell at the bus driver to stop so that I could get out and take some photographs! LOL. So, that meant the only way I could stop to photograph as I travel is to rent a car....BUT my budget was limit and that would not have been an option either. All in all, we just have to make the best of the best we can with the limit time and budget.
However, if you're traveling to Europe, I would DEFINITELY travel on your own as they have the MOST AMAZING network of public transportation and you can get to ANYWHERE easily on your own.
[ Edit: Edited on 14-Sep-2009, at 07:02 by RachelChai ]
I've never used contiki, but I have used other tour operators. I prefer tour groups for less developed countries. Safer to be with a group, they drive everywhere, etc. But if you're going to a richer country, you should be fine on your own.