Be honest, what do you think of if someone mentions Contiki to you?
I am going to bet the majority of people who have been travelling and know a little bit about tour companies, will automatically think ‘party bus’.
And when you think of partying, you normally think of people who are young, free and single.
So are Contiki tours good for couples?
Let’s find out…
Are Contiki Tours Good For Couples?
Contiki tours are generally good for couples who are in their late teens/early to mid-20s, are on a budget, are happy to see some sights on a fast-paced tour, are sociable and don’t mind being part of a large group. If you are looking for something with a bit more luxury and cultural immersion then a Contiki tour probably won’t be for you.
Don’t Always Believe What People Say…
Sometimes a company’s reputation can precede itself.
On my first-ever big trip I booked on the Kiwi Experience to take me around New Zealand.
I was 30 years old, and when I told people what I was doing in New Zealand, they eloquently referred to Kiwi Experience as “the big, green fuck truck”, telling me it would be full of 18-year-olds who just wanted to party each night.
So when I arrived in Auckland to get on the bus, it was with some trepidation.
Not because I wasn’t prepared to party, but because I was worried I would be so much older than the rest of the group, and I wouldn’t enjoy it.
In the end, whilst there was a fair bit of drinking and partying on the tour, it was far from what people had led me to believe it would be.
I had a fantastic time and wouldn’t change it for the world.
Although Sometimes They Are Right
Three years later I was back in England and working for STA Travel as a travel expert.
A big part of the job was selling tours and I often went on many for free, so I knew the product I was selling.
Before I went on an 11-day tour of Europe with Contiki I was given similar warnings. Be prepared for carnage I was told.
Maybe it was because I was three years older, but this time I did feel a bit out of place.
The demographic was much younger, there was a lot of drinking and partying and when I got back I felt exhausted.
I had a great time though!
I was single at the time, so I need to bring this back to the title question.
Is Contiki good for couples?
Travelling With Contiki: An Overview
The answer to this is, it depends.
I am not trying to pass the buck here, but obviously every couple is different and made up of different personalities.
On the Contiki trip I did there were two couples, from what I could gather one couple seemed to have a great time, the other couple seemed more subdued and didn’t really mix with the group.
So to find out if it would be suitable for you and your partner, there are a few things you need to know about Contiki.
- The age range is 18 to 35, but the average age of a Contiki group is between 22 and 25 and around 90% are under the age of 30. When I went on a Contiki tour at the age of 33, I definitely felt old!
- Contiki tours are big group tours. Expect around 40 to 50 people on a typical Contiki tour, especially if it is during the summer months.
- Most of its tours are very fast-paced and involve a lot of getting up early and sitting on a bus.
- Accommodation is not luxurious.
- There is a party focus on most tours, you could spend more time in bars than in museums!
- Its tours are inexpensive.
- They are a great way of meeting people.
Some of this might sound like I am a bit down on Contiki, but I am not.
I had a great time when I went on a Contiki tour, but it was a bit different from other tours I had been on.
Couples Who Will Enjoy Contiki Tours
I would suggest you and your partner might enjoy a Contiki tour if:
- You are between around 18 to 25.
- You are on a budget.
- You are not experienced travellers.
- You are happy to see a lot of sights but at a fast pace.
- You are sociable and happy to party or be around partying people a fair bit.
- You have a lot of enthusiasm and energy.
- You want everything organized for you.
- You don’t mind being part of a large tour group.
Contiki tours do have a reputation for being party tours, so if you don’t mind foregoing sleep, and seeing a lot of sights in a short amount of time then you and your partner will enjoy it.
If you are both social butterflies, happy to hit the bar after a day of exploring even better!
Couples Who Won’t Enjoy Contiki Tours
I would suggest a Contiki tour is not for you and your partner if:
- You are looking for a cultural and historical experience.
- You like a bit of luxury.
- You want a quiet and relaxing tour.
- You don’t want to get up early and spend a lot of time on a coach.
- You want to experience everyday life in your chosen location.
If you want a relaxing trip where you aren’t constantly on the move, aren’t too fussed about meeting people, want some basic luxuries and are more interested in learning about the history and culture of an area than spending time in a bar, a Contiki tour probably isn’t for you.
Some couples will love Contiki tours, some will hate them. It all depends upon your personality.
If you are both in your early to mid-20s, on a budget, sociable and don’t mind spending a fair bit of your time on a fast-paced tour hungover, or with hungover people, you will love a Contiki tour.
The other deciding factor will be if you don’t mind being part of a large group tour, like those offered by Contiki.
Personally if I was travelling with my girlfriend I wouldn’t use Contiki, I would use another company or travel independently.
I’ve done my fair share of drunken partying in the past, and I don’t see the point of paying a lot of money to go halfway across the world to do it when I could stay at home and do it for much cheaper!
But if I had been offered the chance to do a Contiki tour with my girlfriend when I was in my early 20s, I most probably would have jumped at the opportunity.
So maybe I am just getting old!