What To Take On A Contiki Tour: A (Complete) Packing List

Cartoon of Steve in trousers and t shirt on green background

I still remember spending most of the days in the run-up to my first major trip packing and repacking my backpack.

I packed pretty much everything but the kitchen sink, just in case…

Of course, within a couple of weeks, I realised I didn’t need most of it and sent half my stuff back home again.

So if you are preparing for your first trip and you aren’t sure what to pack, you are in luck because we are going to look at what to take on a Contiki Tour in this blog post.

So let’s get started…

What To Take On A Contiki Tour?

When packing for a Contiki tour you can usually break your packing list down into clothes and footwear, electronics and accessories, toiletries and miscellaneous comfort items and your travel documents. Don’t fret too much about forgetting something, because if you do you will nearly always be able to buy it whilst you are travelling.

Clothes and Foot Wear

Probably the easiest way to approach this list is to break it down into sections and undoubtedly the majority of your packing space will be taken up by clothes and footwear.

This list will also depend upon where you are going and what time of year you are going, but the list below is based on a trip to Europe during the summer.

  • Underwear.
  • Socks.
  • 1 or 2 pairs jeans/smart trousers/dresses.
  • 1 or 2 pairs shorts.
  • 2 or 3 short sleeved t-shirts.
  • 2 or 3 casual shirts.
  • Thin waterproof jacket.
  • Swimwear.
  • 1 base layer.
  • 1 thicker top.
  • Something to sleep in.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Hat/buff if necessary.
  • 1 pair of flip-flops.
  • 1 pair of comfortable shoes for walking.
  • 1 set of nice clothes for going out, including a pair of smart shoes if necessary.

If your trip will take you to colder climates, you might want to also include the following:

  • Leggings/thermal leggings.
  • A thicker sweater.
  • A heavier jacket.
  • Thick button-up shirts.
  • Thermal socks.
  • Gloves.

The above list might not seem too extensive, but when you combine it with everything else you need to take then room in your bag will be at a premium.

And remember, if you do find yourself desperately needing something on your trip, the likelihood is that you will be able to buy it somewhere.

So don’t worry too much about forgetting to pack something.

Accessories and Electronics

These days no packing list is complete without a variety of electrical accessories.

You will probably want the following:

  • A power bank.
  • A universal plug adaptor.
  • A multi-plug extension lead (if you have space).
  • Kindle/e-reader.
  • Phone.
  • Headphones.
  • iPad/laptop (if necessary).
  • All related chargers.

With all the electronic devices we have these days, this list is longer than it would have been 15 to 2- years ago, but it certainly comes with its advantages.

Nearly all smartphones have cameras equal of even the best independent cameras from a decade ago.

A Kindle saves so much space, when I went on my first big trip in 2009 I remember carrying around a whole number of Lonely Planet guides and books to read.

Now you can fit 1000s onto an e-reader or your phone! No need for maps either.

A good universal plug adaptor is a godsend too.

Toiletries and Miscellaneous

Get yourself a good toiletry bag. Personally I love the foldable ones with a hook on them that clip closed, like this one.

They are very practical and make things easier to get to.

Then of course you will want to fill it with all the items you used day to day:

  • Deodorant/perfume.
  • Toothbrush.
  • Toothpaste.
  • Shampoo.
  • Shower Gel.
  • Hair product.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Flannel.

Another great investment is a quality microfibre towel. This will take up a fraction of the space of a normal towel and will be much more practical.

Other items you might want to take:

  • Ear plugs.
  • Face mask.
  • A travel pillow.
  • Insect repellent.
  • A reusable water bottle.
  • Wet wipes.
  • A basic first aid kit.
  • Small travel clock.
  • Reusable bags.
  • Pens.
  • Washing powder.


Scenic view in Laos
Above: You will miss out on sights like this in Laos if you forget your passport.

Finally do not forget all of your relevant travel documents, otherwise your trip might be over before it has even begun!

  • Passport – make sure it is in date and isn’t due to run out any time soon.
  • A photocopy or two of your passport, just in case the real thing goes astray.
  • Any insurance documents. Make sure you have travel insurance and can find the details easily.
  • Visas. If you need a visa for entering any country on your trip make sure you have it sorted in advance.
  • Medical documents. Some countries still require proof of COVID injections, so make sure you can provide this, along with any other vaccinations you might have had.
  • ID. You might want to take another form of ID to prove your age when you go on a night out rather than taking your passport everywhere with you.
  • Credit card. A credit and/or debit card is always useful in times of emergency.

What Type of Bag Should You Take?

Personally I always take a backpack with me (otherwise it just don’t doesn’t feel like I am travelling properly!).

But I know many people going on a Contiki tour favour a wheeled suitcase.

In all honestly, on a Contiki everything is sorted for you, you hop on and off the bus, so you won’t spend too much time with your luggage so take whatever feels best and easiest for you.

With either a suitcase or a backpack, finding what you need quickly and easily can be tricky.

If you go for a backpack try and buy one that you can open from the bottom and the top.

When I pack I tend to put everything in separate large, clear plastic bags. Ie one bag for all my underwear, one for all my tops and one for all my trousers/shorts.

It makes it quicker to pinpoint what you are looking for.

Equally important is to make sure you have a good daypack that you can take with you each day as you explore the area.

There are actually some really good day packs that fold up really small, like the Venture Pad 35L Daypack or the even smaller 4Monster Hiking Daypack.

Final Thoughts

INFOGRAPHIC Explaining What to Take On a Contiki Tour
Click infographic to enlarge.

There is always a strong temptation to put pretty much everything into your suitcase/backpack when you are packing for your Contiki tour.

Try and resist this temptation!

If you really do forget to pack something important you will nearly always be able to buy it on your travels.

Once you’ve packed for one trip you know exactly what you need and what you don’t need.

Stick to the basics listed in this article and you should be good to go.

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