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Help! Go on Contiki tour or backpack alone?

Help! Go on Contiki tour or backpack alone?

Old May 9th, 2001, 09:20 PM
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Help! Go on Contiki tour or backpack alone?

Hi everyone,

I've been reading the messages on this board for the past couple of days and it seems like a marvelous resource. I'm 22 years old, headed for graduate school in the fall, and I've decided I'm going to spend the month of August in Europe. The question is, should I take a tour (I work for Contiki and thus would get a medium-sized discount, but nothing too fantastic) or go for it alone?

My interests might not quite fall in line with the 18-35s that Contiki generally lures--I've noticed that the atmosphere tends to be one of partying, hooking up with fellow passengers, etc. I'm not too into that scene and am primarily interested in visiting cultural/historical locales. For example, I really want to visit the Guggenheim in Bilbao, which is a bit out of the way and never on anyone's itinerary.

However, I am mindful of the fact that I would be a single, young female traveling alone via Eurail should I decide to go by myself. Obviously that carries its own host of considerations and concerns. But I love the idea of being able to plan my own itinerary to the letter and not have to follow a preset plan. I would like to visit a fairly large number of cities before I leave (i'm thinking at least Amsterdam, London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Florence, Madrid, Berlin...) although some people are trying to convince me that I should spend a lot of time in one or two cities. I'd rather get a good variety of locales and then perhaps come back later (next year?) to visit those places more in depth. Is that a bad idea?

Okay, there are clearly a whole bunch of questions in this message, but I would greatly appreciate anybody's words of wisdom. Thanks so much in advance!

Old May 10th, 2001, 01:01 AM
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Hi Sheila, I'll top for you a thread from a month or so ago which had a variety of opinions on Contiki which might help you decide. If you have a full month off that should give you plenty of time to travel around on your own if you think you would prefer that. I personally, also being a young solo female traveller, prefer to combine the 2 - for example I'm planning to go to France later this year & am combining a 12 night tour around the country with 10 days in Paris on my own at the end. Touring is not for everyone & some people actively seem to discourage it however it really is a personal thing. Have fun whatever you do!
Old May 10th, 2001, 01:04 AM
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If I were you (and wish I was...at least for the month of August), I would go on my own. There are plenty of young women travelling alone, especially in the summer. I assume you know all of the usual precautions. You have already said that seeing things on your own schedule is important to you...this can only be done without a tour. For companionship, it should be fairly easy for you to meet people to share some time with.

In a month, you should definitely go to more than two cities, but you plan seems a bit excessive. I would pick maybe three of the large cities you mention, and combine those with say three other smaller places to also visit. I wouldn't limit the plan to only large places. There is a different atmosphere to smaller places, and a certain sameness to large cities.
Old May 10th, 2001, 04:20 AM
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Consider Busabout (www.busabout.com). Its a jump on jump off bus service around Europe, you can get lots of different types of tickets and they go lots of places. You would fit in with the age group and you can choose whether you want to party with them or not.

An advantage I see is that they drop you at accommodation so you don't have to worry about getting into a strange city and getting around with your luggage by yourself.

Anyway, we're doing it starting Monday, it sounds great for our age group. I suppose people here will look down on it as its been referred to as travelling on a bus with a bunch of "smelly backpackers" but it might suit you anyway.

Definitely check out their website if you are interested as it has a lot of information.
Old May 10th, 2001, 08:42 PM
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thanks for everyone's advice. I have kind of considered busabout...my only worry is that I'll be spending a lot of time on the bus as opposed to actually traveling. At this point I am very much leaning towards doing this trip on my own. I've been reading about council travel's "trip-on" packages where they book you for a certain number of hotel/hostel nights and send you your vouchers ahead of time. That makes me feel a lot better--I'm not really the type of person that can just go on a trip without having a place to stay first.

I think I will narrow my list of cities down--I'm now thinking Amsterdam, London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Florence and Berlin, all over the course of about 30 days. still too busy? anyway, thanks so much to everyone who responded. any further advice would be great.

Old May 11th, 2001, 06:18 AM
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When I was 19 i wanted to see Europe but didnt fancy Contiki style tours so I went with a group which was aimed at any age, Cosmos, (it was cheap enough and others werent) and I had a great time.

I had independence but safety, the other travellers were mostly older but it made no difference, I enjoyed their company and I saw what I wanted to see....

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