Category Archives:Solo travel

Contiki Europe: What it’s really like

It’s pretty much an Australian rite of passage that at some point in your 20’s you will jump on a Contiki tour bus, see way more countries than thought possible in a short amount of time, drink copious amounts of alcohol all while claiming to your friends and family back home that you are ‘finding yourself’.

contiki europe review

In 2014, 6 months after I had just turned 18, I headed off on my first big trip away from home and as scary as it was, I felt comfort that I was part of an organised tour and did not have to worry about where  was going to sleep each night.

The Contiki tour I went on was called European Contrasts and it saw us travel to 13 countries over 29 days.

I won’t lie and say I wasn’t tired or sick or hungover pretty much every day but contrary to belief, you actually do a lot more than drink! I had the best experience of my life in Europe and if you’re thinking of doing a Contiki tour soon, here’s my favourite things about these famous tours!

It’s not just all Aussies!

A big misconception is that you’ll be put on a tour with 50 other Australian’s which will feel like you never left home.

Although there is a big chance over a third of the tour will be from Australia, Contiki is also very popular with Americans, Canadians and Kiwi’s as well as people from the UK and even other European countries.

The range is normally quite diverse which is cool because then you get to make friends all over the world and you’ll never know when you’ll find yourself needing a bed to crash on in the future.

Everything is organised for you but the freedom is still there!

contiki europe review

When you book a tour, you get the advantage of knowing everything is booked and paid for and you can then focus instead on deciding if you’ll have pizza or pasta for dinner in Italy (the answer is always both btw) rather than how you’re gonna get from London to Paris.

However, each day you have the opportunity to choose what you want to do with extra optional activities that are provided or not provided.

You want to go paragliding in Austria, go ahead! If that’s not your thing, no problems! Our tour guide kept telling us, ‘it’s your holiday, you decide what you want to do’!

The themed parties.

Toga, tight white and bright, P party, just to name a few! Because Contiki own a lot of their accommodation around Europe, there is often plenty of time for themed parties! These are the best fun because where else in Europe could you seriously dress completely different and head to a club? Nowhere!

At the Contiki accommodation, there are often multiple tours staying here at the same time giving you a chance to party with new people every night in hilarious costumes!contiki europe review toga party

AMAZING SIGHTS with express entries!

Ever visited somewhere and been overwhelmed with what to do and where to go while you’re there? I know I always want to make the most of my time and have trouble fitting everything in.

On Contiki, you always get to see the best and most incredible sights and attractions of each city. This means you won’t have to choose between Vatican City and the Colosseum because it’s a definite you will get to experience both!

Also, because you are on a tour, this often means express entry. Say goodbye to waiting in lines for hours (let’s be honest, ain’t nobody got time for that) and say hello to more time eating gelato!

Lastly, Contiki is the perfect taste of Europe!

Basically, you have 1-2 full days in a city then the next day will be a travel day with stops along the way. This is the perfect way to see all the major sites and discover the countries you want to explore further on your next trip.

contiki europe review

You also learn the places you don’t want to go back to in future (Liechtenstein I’m looking at you).

Some people don’t like the idea of being rushed so if this is you, maybe look at tours that don’t stop in so many countries however I felt most cities we has adequate enough time to see and do everything (apart from Paris that is, you can never have enough time in Paris!) For those first timers to Europe, Contiki is the way to go!

If you are thinking of doing a Contiki tour and have any questions, please comment below! Or have you done a Contiki and think I’ve missed something, would love to hear from you too!

3 Great Ways to Get Free Accommodation on the Road

There’s nothing quite like free, especially when it comes to travel. Jenny wrote a fantastic article about getting around Australia free of charge and so I thought I would pitch in and cover some of the ways to get free accommodation whilst travelling.

Couchsurf

Couchsurfing is a form of travelling where you stay on other people’s couches or if you’re lucky, in their spare room. In return it’s expected that when you’re back in your home town, you’ll host out-of-town travellers as well.

The process for getting started in couchsurfing is fairly simple: just visit couchsurfing.org and create a profile. The trust system is built on getting references from other people and the easiest way to get a reference is to host other people. If you’re already on the road and don’t have this luxury, take a look at some of the events happening in your area. There are usually meetups, language exchanges and nights out happening; just get involved, make some friends and hopefully you’ll pick up a few  references while you’re at it.

House Sit

House sitting means looking after someone else’s home (and usually pets as well) while they’re away. You might have done this for friends and family, but did you know there are online communities where people ask others to come and house sit for them? You can have an entire house to yourself for free in return for looking after the property and usually carrying out a few chores such as pool cleaning, collecting the mail and dog walking.

Australia is actually one of the best countries to house sit in, not only because hotel and hostel costs are significantly more expensive than other parts of the world, but because so many homeowners use house sitters when they go away. TrustedHousesitters.com for example, one of the largest house sitting websites, currently has more than 350 Aussie house sits available, around three times as many as other countries such as the US and Canada.

As with couchsurfing, the system is based on references. You can add references from previous employers and landlords; however references for previous house sits obviously hold more value. To get started the best thing to do is to get in touch with friends and family and let them know that you’re available to house sit, should they need someone and in return could they give you a reference.

Wwoof

If you want to escape the city life for a bit, have a go at wwoofing, otherwise known as working on organic farms. Here you help out on a farm for a few hours per day (usually around 3-4) and in return you get accommodation and usually at least one meal per day.

The attraction of wwoofing isn’t so much the free accommodation – you are working for it after all – but rather the experiences you get. You could be doing anything from working on a vineyard to herding sheep or working on a vegetable plot– the WWOOF Australia photo gallery gives a good idea of what sort of experiences you can expect.

If you aren’t interested in farm work but are willing to work for a few hours in return for your accommodation, check out helpx or workaway, both of which have a more varied mixture of jobs that includes everything from farm to computer programming work.

Article written by James

Inspiration for Solo Female Travellers

Not everyone has a snuggle bunny or a bubba bear to take away on romantic weekends, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the fun. Sometimes the best travelling is done with the person that knows you and your interests the best – yourself.

Here are our favourite destinations for spending some time with yourself – and the new friends you’ll make along the way.

Fly off to Fiji

Yes, it might have a reputation for being a honeymoon destination, but don’t let that stop you considering Fiji for your solo adventure. Away from the honeymoon resorts and couples cruises are sumptuous spas, lively bars and beautiful beaches for lying back and doing some soul-searching.

Whether you want to mingle with other travellers at one of the many backpacker hostels or want to treat yourself to some 5 star luxury, you’ll find the perfect option.

If you want plenty of socialising opportunities or want access to the most activities, the main island of Viti Levu is the place to stay. The outer islands tend to be much quieter and more suited to couples.

Relax in Byron Bay’s Hinterland

We’re fortunate here in Australia that we have some of the world’s best locations right on our doorstep. With a country as big as ours there’s always somewhere new to explore.

Byron Bay, however, is one of those places that you can keep going back to. The chilled-out vibe, the happening nightlife and the fantastic boutiques and markets – it’s hard not to fall in love with this beachside town.

Although most people head straight to Byron Bay’s beachfront the real magic is a short drive west into the Hinterland. You’ll feel a world away from the backpackers paradise of the main town and can indulge yourself at one of the spa retreats. Spend a day, weekend or even a week or two at one of the retreats and you’ll feel like a new you.

If you want to meet people while at a spa, join in with yoga classes or simply introduce yourself to someone new.

Sex and the City

Just think how much more shopping you can get done on your own!
Just think how much more shopping you can get done on your own!

Relive your favourite Carrie moments on a trip to the Big Apple. While it’s not the best choice for the budget conscious – as your credit card will undoubtedly take a hit – one of the best ways to see New York is on your own. Think how much shopping you can get done without someone else there!

The public transport network is extensive and the famous yellow cabs are easy to use – so you won’t have any trouble finding your way around. Try to stay in the centre of New York – close to Times Square – so everything is close by.

None of these tickle your fancy? Try these:

– A city break in Sydney or Melbourne

– Join a Contiki tour in almost any part of the world – you’ll make friends and see the sights

– Spend the weekend visiting the museums and markets in Hobart, Tasmania