A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a guy called Nick, who is the head of marketing in Europe for Contiki, the world’s largest operator for young group travel. Up to that point I wasn’t even aware that there was group travel specifically for young people and had I known, I would have probably assumed that it caters to people who have no friends or those who are too scared to do anything on their own.

To clean up with my misconceptions I decided to accept Nick’s kind offer to go on a Contiki tour and see for myself what it would be like.
Handing me the colorful catalogue of tours reaching from the 9-day Thai Island Hopper to the 25 day Grand Northern Tour through the best party of the US and Canada, I decided to go with the Mexican Fiesta tour.

What would Mexican Fiesta have on offer for me? The itinerary read somehing like this:

Day 1 – Explore the gorgeous town of Morelia and get to know your new travel mates over a free dinner and a few cocktails

Day 2 – Head over to holiday spot Ixtapa for some free time and a chilled afternoon by the pool

Day 3 – visit nearby Zihouatanejo for beach fun and free time to visit shops or wander the streets

Day 4 – Take the Contiki bus to the once so glamorous Acapulco where the spirit of the 50s still resides in every corner. See the cliff divers and party like there is no tomorrow

Day 5 – Cure your hangover with shopping or beach therapy to be fit for the sunset cruise in the late afternoon.

Day 6 – Back on the bus riding to the lovely small town of Taxco where time stood still. Buy silver, enjoy local culture and relax in one of the best hotels in town.

Day 7 – Mexico City awaits with its many wonders. A boat ride through the enchanting canals of Xochimilco followed by lunch in the laid-back neighborhood of Coyoacan.

Day 8 – Dive into the ancient culture richness of Mexico City by visiting the pyramids of Teotihuacan as well as the old ruins around Templo Mayor. Finish the journey right with a free farewell dinner at a prime restaurant followed by a visit to an all you can drink Nightclub.

Sure enough, this itinerary was full of promising fun and wouldn’t let me down…

Contiki is originally from Australia, where it’s very well-known. Chances of about half the people on your tour being Australian are pretty high. The good news is: Australians are perfectly laid-back easygoing folk, so this is an advantage really. On my tour we were 29 people, aged 20 to 33 with a pretty good mix of ages although the 20 to 25 group seemed to somewhat outweigh the rest. Most of the younger people were traveling with a friend or a partner (there were 2 couples), while the rest traveled alone.

The chances of finding someone in the group you get on with are pretty high and Contiki does a good job providing people with lots of opportunities to get to know everyone. Within a short time, the group was tightly knit and would meet up most nights to go out together.

For me personally, the best part of traveling with an organized tour was not having to worry about which bus to catch to my next destination, or what hotel to book there, because Contiki did all that planning for me. This meant that I could fully concentrate on the present, making my time very relaxing and carefree.

While you don’t necessarily need a guidebook (your tour manager can expertly answer most of your questions), I felt that havingone with me, provided me with a full experience as I could really use my free time to explore markets, shops, neighborhoods and restaurants (your guidebook usually comes with a map of the city you’re in, which is also very helpful).

Over the course of next week I will provide you with more details and photos to my trip with Contiki, there is lots to show for!

Stay tuned,

Katja

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