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August 11, 2014

the best two weeks of my life, part two: what I loved about traveling with contiki.

If you read this blog regularly, you know that a month ago I was living a carefree lifestyle in Europe, bouncing from country to country with a busload of amazing people. In part one of this little mini-series I've decided to do about my trip with contiki, I posted a lot of my photos from the trip. In this little part, I want to talk about what I loved about contiki as a company.

1// it's a money saver. it is impossible to do the amount of traveling that I did (five countries in eleven days) and see all of the things that I did for the amount of money that I spent if you don't use a tour company like contiki. I'm not completely versed on competitor's prices, but to be honest, I don't even know who their competitors are, and I don't really care that much #sorrynotsorry. To pay for three meals a day, accommodation, travel, tolls, shows, sights, and more, would cost a damn fortune. I love that I paid one price when I booked my trip, and besides spending money and optional activities, I never had to worry about money.2// all you have to worry about doing yourself is setting your alarm and actually waking up to it. Every tour has a knowledgeable tour manager who isn't an eighty year old woman holding up a flag for her tour to follow, and a bus driver who is guaranteed to make you feel safe that will handle every single thing. Our tour manager, Mike, was awesome. Not only was he super cute extremely well versed in all of the places that we were, he was genuinely one of the most organized people I have ever met. Your tour manager has to take care of all of the hotel bookings, dinner and show reservations, know where the bus is going and when, what time everyone needs to meet and where, draw up schedules, give speeches of endless information regarding the history and culture of the places you're going, recommend anything and everything to fifty needy people who want to do a million different things at once, and also try to have a good time while doing so. It's a tough job for sure, but between him and our driver, TJ, I felt like I was in great hands, always safe, and always looked out for.You literally don't have to think on one of these trips at all. Stress is completely eliminated and you are free to have the best time possible.3// you're never alone. there are fifty other people besides you sitting next to you on the bus for you to talk to, become friends with, take one too many shots with, dance on tables with, create inside jokes with, see the world with, take weird pictures in front of monuments with, and have the best time of your life with. It's overwhelming to meet so many people and try to imagine getting close to all of them, but it's kind of like college or sleepaway camp - everyone just gets to know everyone else so well, so quickly. It's amazing what a game of head's up or would you rather can do to bond a group of 53 people. Everyone is there for the same reason, and unlike traveling with one or two other people, you get to travel with a huge group so that there's never a dull moment. You're in a position to make some lifelong friends, and if you're lucky, you end up with a giant facebook group full of your little tour family to occupy the after-tour depression.

4// you get to occupy your mind with the little things. Like I said, you literally do not have to think on this trip, and for once in your life (if you tend to be a busier, more stressed out person like I can be), you get to "stress" about what outfit you're going to wear to dinner, which beautiful sight you want to see first, or what sandwich you're going to get at a rest stop. It's just nice to be able to stop and look around at the world and not be thinking about your life back home or anything else that usually can cause you stress. Vacations in general tend to do this to a person, but with contiki, because everything is taken care of for you, you get to do more of the fun stuff in the cities you visit and can spend zero time with your face in hotel printouts and travel tickets worrying about all of the mechanics of the trip that you had to organize on your own (one disclaimer is you do actually have to worry a lot about where in the hell you and your friends are half the time. Why are maps so confusing?!).5// once you've been on a contiki tour, you get a 5% discount on your next contiki. While 5% seems like a joke, it's actually a pretty big chunk of money once everything is said and done, and it's better than nothing. I'd gladly pay the full price for another trip, so the discount is just a bonus. Also, if you book more than one trip with them at once, you save money, and they have a discount for early payers as well. It's not impossible to fund one of these trips if you're a good saver and appreciate spending your hard earned cash on the experience of a lifetime rather than a new pair of shoes (though I always manage to find the funds for both).

6// contiki feels a lot like camp. Like I mentioned before, contiki feels like college move-in, or counselor orientation at camp, and those are the types of experiences that I can look back on in my life and honestly say I have loved the most. I have friends all over the world because of the camp that I worked at, and now from contiki, and it's just really nice to be around different people than you're used to. It's refreshing and it makes you love the world a little bit more.

I am not sponsored by Contiki, I just love the company, had an amazing experience, and want to share with others how great their tours and employees are.

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