Once you’ve paid for your Contiki you then have the next challenge, working out how much spending money you need to take!
It isn’t an easy question to answer but, with a few estimates, you can roughly calculate how much you might need.
Then just double that figure and you should be ok, you nearly always end up spending a lot more than you think!
But in all seriousness, how much spending money do you need on a Contiki tour?
Let’s take a closer look.
How Much Spending Money For Contiki?
The amount of spending money you will need on your Contiki will vary from person to person and location to location. Read the itinerary beforehand and work out how many meals you will need to buy on the trip, factor in a good few nights out drinking and any add-ons you want to do. You can speak to Contiki themselves who should be able to estimate a good daily budget for your trip.
Planning a budget for any trip is difficult.
No two people are the same and we will all have different priorities when we travel.
Your starting point should always be to look at your Contiki itinerary, note what is included in the way of food, and then take a look at the add ons you would want to do.
That will give you a good base and from that, there are a few more things to factor in before you can come up with a rough budget.
I will run through them all here.
#1: Where Are You Travelling?
Where you are going on your Contiki tour will have a large bearing on how much spending money you take.
Although Contiki is best known for its trips in Europe, you can also book Contiki tours in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand and North America.
I remember when I first went travelling in 2009 I spent my first few months travelling around South-East Asia.
I could eat a good meal and a beer, for just a couple of pounds ($2.50),
Then I got to Australia, and all of a sudden rather than paying 50p to £1 (60c to $1.21) for a beer I was paying £4 or £5 ($5 to $6)!
I couldn’t get my head around how expensive it was.
But then I met a few people from Scandinavia on my travels and they were all saying alcohol was a lot cheaper compared to the prices they were used to paying.
So to help with that I have done a bit of research into the average costs for what will probably be your biggest regular outlay when you are with Contiki – food and drink.
When you have booked your trip look at the tour itinerary to see what food is included.
So for instance you can see that the 16-day European Encounter includes breakfast every day, three dinners and one lunch.
So you know you are going to have to buy lunch every day bar one and dinner almost every day.
From here we can use the Numbeo website as a starting point for food costs.
The below prices are average prices in 2023 for an inexpensive restaurant meal.
- Europe: Top of the list is Switzerland at €25, then Denmark and Norway at €18. Hungary and Portugal cost around €7 to €9 in comparison.
- Americas: Prices range from between €12 to €16 for the top four countries (USA, Uruguay, Canada and Puerto Rico in that order) down to €2 to €3 for the bottom four countries (Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia)
- Asia/Middle East: Israel comes top at €17.5, with Cyprus second at €14 and Singapore third at €10. At the bottom of the list are Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, all under €2.
- Oceania: Only two countries here and it is around €14 for an inexpensive restaurant meal in both Australia and New Zealand.
- Africa: South Africa and Mauritius are top here at €8 and €6.5 respectively, at the other end of the spectrum Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia all come in under €3.
So you can see it varies widely from continent to continent and then from country to country in some continents.
And remember this is the cost of an inexpensive restaurant meal. But hopefully it gives you an idea of roughly how expensive the area you are travelling to is.
A good way to save money is to stock up on fruit and croissants for free if you can at breakfast, and have them for lunch.
Or buy some supplies from a supermarket. Then of course there are always the cheaper fast food outlets you can visit…
Contiki is well known for its partying, so expect to spend a fair bit of money on alcohol if you drink.
Of course it isn’t compulsory to drink, but it is easy to get caught up in the moment and before you know it you are already well on the way to becoming tipsy.
These are the average prices for a 0.5 liter (1 pint) of domestic beer in a restaurant or bar by continent:
- Europe: The Scandinavian countries are the most expensive, with the cost being between €6 and €9 in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Norway and €6.5 in Switzerland. Much cheaper are Spain (€2.5), Croatia (€2.4), Portugal (€2) and Hungary (€1.5).
- Americas: Prices range from around €4.5 in Canada and USA down to less than €1.5 in Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia.
- Asia/Middle East: A beer will set you back around €7 or €8 in Israel and Singapore, but can be as cheap as €2 in Thailand, €1.7 in India and €0.8 in Vietnam.
- Oceania: In New Zealand and Australia you can expect to pay around €6 for a beer.
- Africa: A cheap continent on the whole for drink, expect to pay €2.3 in Morocco and €1.9 in South Africa, down to €1.2 in Egypt and €0.7 in Ghana.
Not everyone likes to drink beer, so if you are a fan of wine and/or cocktails expect to pay even more.
And if you can, before you go out only take the money you are willing to spend on alcohol to reduce the likelihood of you getting drunk and throwing money around like confetti!
I have used the Numbeo website for these prices and it is helpful for getting a rough overview of the costs of a range of food and drink in countries around the world, as these will be your two main regular expenses.
#4: Add Ons
The one major thing you need to account for is the add-ons available to purchase on each trip.
They will vary from trip to trip, so take a look at the itinerary before you go and do a bit of research into which ones you definitely want to do.
So for example on the European Encounter itinerary, we talked about earlier, these are all of the possible adds you could pay for:
- A’DAM Tower Evening & Drink €23
- Amsterdam Evening Canal Cruise €30
- Volendam Dinner €40
- Historical Walking Tour €11
- Alternative Berlin €29
- Czech Beer Experience €29
- Traditional Czech Evening €32
- Sights & Sounds of Salzburg €12
- Austrian Farmers Dinner & Schnaps Evening €37
- Hidden Venice & Aperitivo €19
- Vatican Tour €44
- Emperors & Gladiators inc Colosseum €45
- Tastes of Florence & Bistecca €54
- Lucerne Lake Cruise €25
- Mt. Stanserhorn €54
- Moulin Rouge Dinner & Show €160
That is a whopping €615 of extras right there!
Don’t feel pressured into doing them unless you really want to. Contiki’s tour managers will have monthly sales quotas for these but remember they are optional.
Sometimes we just can’t resist those bargains right?
Budget for souvenirs and those unplanned spending sprees in shops.
You might also see something you love that is much cheaper than back home, that you are tempted to buy.
Keep an extra couple of hundred euros back for shopping and souvenirs in general.
Towards the end of your trip, you will be given an envelope and told to write a ‘love letter’ saying what you enjoyed most about your Contiki trip.
In that envelope you will also be expected to leave a tip for the tour manager and the driver.
It is ‘suggested’ that a good tip is €3 a day for both the driver and manager.
So for the 16-day European Encounter that is almost an extra €100 to add to your budget.
#7: Miscellaneous Expenses
On top of this, you need to think about all the small things you will want over the course of your Contiki.
This could include snacks and bottles of water, cab journeys, laundry, money for toilets, postcards and so on.
When you are planning your budget for Contiki, start by:
- Looking at the itinerary and working out how many meals you will need to buy over the course of the trip.
- Looking at the cost of food in the areas you are travelling in and work out from that how much roughly that number of meals will cost.
- Look at the cost of drinks and factor in a night out every other night and work out how much that will cost.
- Go through the list of optional add-ons and decide which you want to go on and how much they will cost.
- Work out how much you will be expected to tip at the end of the trip.
- Add on at least €10 a day for snacks, soft drinks etc.
- Double that figure to account for overspend and souvenirs
Then you should be good to go!
More than anything else you know yourself better than I do, you know how much you are likely to spend and how restrained or excessive you can be with your spending.
You can also speak to Contiki themselves who will be able to give you a good idea of how much you should budget to spend a day on the tour you are on.
It is always better to take too much money, than too little.