Age is just a number, or so the saying goes.
But sometimes that number can have an effect on how you travel.
There are a few tour companies that have specified age ranges for their tours and one of those is Contiki.
Is there an age limit for Contiki? How strictly is it adhered to? And can you go on a Contiki tour if you are over 35?
Let’s delve a bit deeper…
Can You Go On Contiki If You Are Over 35?
No you can’t go on a Contiki tour if you are over the age of 35, its trips are exclusively for those aged between 18 and 35. Anything over 35 and you will have to find someone else! Thankfully there are plenty of other options to consider including G Adventures, Intrepid Travel, Exodus and many more.
Is Contiki Only for 18 to 35-Year-Olds?
Ok so here is the bad news (or good news depending upon your view), if you are 36 or over you cannot go on a Contiki tour.
Contiki’s trips are exclusively for 18 to 35-year-olds, if you are any older you can’t travel with them.
That said in all my time working in the centre of London for STA Travel, I never once had someone over the age of 35 come into the store wanting to book a Contiki tour.
They are very much viewed as the young people’s tour company, the company you go with if partying hard is just as important to you as seeing the world.
Contiki justifies its age limit with a variety of reasons (some of which I must admit I do find slightly insulting to someone who is over the age of 35 now!):
- On its website it admits “while not everyone on your trip will be drinking, many will, and we all know that the older we get, the more difficult it is to bounce back early in the morning” – the cheek of it! Although yes I have to admit it was much easier to have two or three heavy nights in a row when I was younger!
- It helps connect travellers, as generally 18 to 35-year-olds have a similar mindset and similar interests.
- They are also known as a tour company that appeals to first-time travellers, with its mix of socialising and sightseeing, so by default its target audience is younger.
From a personal point of view I do understand.
I remember travelling around Australia when I was 30, I was on the cusp of an age where for the first time I was feeling a bit older.
The vast majority of travellers I met were younger than me, not by much but many were in their early 20s.
So sometimes when I was travelling Oz I would stay in the party hostels (Gilligans in Cairns springs to mind, or the BASE or Nomads hostels) and sometimes I would stay in the YHA hostels which were acknowledged to be a bit more sedate, depending upon how I felt.
The fact is if you are under 35 and a bit of a social animal and want to see the world and have a bit of fun, then a Contiki tour will be great for you.
If that doesn’t appeal, or you are over 35, there are still plenty of other options available to you, which I will go into a bit later.
So Let’s Talk Age…
So we have established there is an age limit for Contiki and it is 35.
But what about if you are in the first half of your 30s, will you feel old on a Contiki tour?
I’ve previously told how I went on a Contiki tour when I worked for STA Travel to get to know the product.
I was 33 and I did feel old compared to the rest of the group.
But I still had a great time!
When I was selling Contiki Tours I was always lead to believe that the average age of a Contiki group was between 22 and 25, and that 90 percent of people who go on a Contiki tour are under the age of 30.
I would still stand by the 90 percent figure but in an interview with Pax News in 2016 Sheralyn Berry, at the time Director of Sales with Contiki (and now President of Contiki) said that the average age of Contiki travellers is 26.
At the end of the day, like anything, it is a mindset thing.
If you are 34/35 you will know how you will feel about potentially being on a tour for a week or more with a bunch of late teens/people in their twenties who want to go out and party a lot.
Now I am not saying every Contiki tour will be like that, but you do have to be prepared for that eventuality.
And there is nothing wrong with wanting to go out and party, we have all done that at some stage in our life.
So that leaves us with one more question to answer if you have gone past that magic number…
Is There A Contiki For Over 35s?
If you are over 35 then fear not there are plenty of alternatives to Contiki for you. In no particular order I would recommend:
G Adventures is one of my favourite travel companies, and I had a number of great trips with them when I was working at STA Travel.
If you are just over the age of 35 G Adventures runs “18-to-Thirty somethings tours” which tend to attract a younger age group but not as young as Contiki and are a good way to mix small group tours with the odd crazy night out.
They also offer a huge range of other tours across the globe, all led by local guides with real knowledge of the area you are travelling to.
The groups are small and friendly and you get beneath the surface of the areas you are travelling to as a result.
- Find out more: G Adventures website
Intrepid is another great tour company that offers much smaller tour groups and a chance to immerse yourself into the area that you are travelling to.
When I used them there were several other solo travellers and the group was orientated more toward those in their 30s and 40s.
It has some of the most knowledgeable tour guides around, and its trips are really well planned out, striking the perfect balance between an itinerary and independent time to do your own thing.
- Find out more: Intrepid Travel website
Exodus was established as a result of two friends who traveled overland from London to the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan in 1974.
I think that just about sums up what to expect if you book a trip through Exodus, and that is activities, adventure, and getting off of the beaten track.
The company still maintains the feel of a family establishment despite the fact it has grown hugely and accommodation and transport are always top-notch.
- Find out more: Exodus Travels website
TopDeck is probably the closest competitor to Contiki, and when I worked at STA Travel what I tended to find was that many travellers were weighing up whether to travel with Contiki or TopDeck.
TopDeck too have an upper age limit. Its tours are billed as 18 to thirtysomething, so if you are older than 39, forget it.
The travel style and group size is similar to Contiki, with the average age probably slightly older on TopDeck.
- Find out more: TopDeck website
Rick Steves’ Europe
Rick Steves’ trips are aimed specifically at Americans who want to explore Europe and discover its culture and heritage.
The age group probably spans from mid-30s upwards, and its tours are well run and pack in a lot in a short tim.
What I particularly like is that during the pandemic, Rick Steves’ was one of the few companies giving full refunds for cancelled tours rather than issuing credit.
- Find out more: Rick Steve’s Europe website
The short answer is Contiki does have an age limit and if you are over the age of 35 you cannot go on one of its tours.
If you are between 18 and 35 you are good to go.
Contiki’s age limit is in place for a reason, to encourage socialising and easy bonding between trip members.
But the good news is, there are plenty of options for you if you are outside that magic figure of 35 years old.
No matter who you go I am sure you will have a great time.