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Weighing it up...

USA | Monday, 11 April 2011 | Views [730] | Comments [4]

Probably one of the most arduous tasks of travel is spending an almost unreasonable amount of time and brain power planning and researching. Tom and I are currently laying out the map and routing our trek through Europe for this coming July. Throughout the last week we have spent hours upon hours overloading our heads researching places to see, things to do, routes to take, prices to account for and other such travel-related things. Our dilemma however, is how to go about exploring Europe...

Thus far we have considered these 2 options:

1.)    Taking a Contiki Tour through Europe

2.)    Doing it on our own 

This may be a no-brainer for some of you, but it really does pay to weight up and explore all options. So having spent endless nights weighing up the pros and cons of each, making an executive decision (and the right one for us) has been an almost impossible feat. There are just so many good things and so many bad things about each!

What makes Contiki appealing is that it’s all done for you – everything is covered, everything is pre-arranged and all you need to do is choose the tour you want to take, pay whatever amount it is, then forget about the money and enjoy your trip. You don’t have to worry about what you’re going to eat, where you’re going to sleep, how you’re going to get there, how much it’s going to cost, what currencies to carry, how long you should go for, or if you should go at all… Its a safe bet, its guaranteed, and as I said, it’s all done for you; quite literally all you need to do is wipe your own butt.

After the first few hours (let alone days) thus far of researching and planning our own travels, it’s no wonder people jump at the idea of a coach tour such as Contiki. The time and effort involved in planning and organising a self organised trip - not to mention actually executing the trip with ease - is a daunting and HUGE-ass task. But is taking a tour bus with the masses really travelling? Will I just be sharing the same memories and experiences as thousands of other people who took the same route, saw the same things, ate the same food and did the same stuff? That said, are coach tours a lame way of travelling, or a smart way? Despite the ease of which is involved in simply paying and going, I'm unsure if this is how I want to spend my time in Europe. I don't just want to see Europe, I was to experience it.. in ALL its finest! Sure, I'll have to spend the extra time and effort planning, but I'll get to plan the things I want to do; not the things someone else wants me to do. I've always dreamed of getting off the beaten track. I can explore places I wouldn't otherwise go, do things I wouldn't otherwise do and experience things other people haven't, wouldn't or couldn't. There are things that aren't mentioned in guide books or coach tours that are out there waiting to be experienced. 

Undoubtedly it'll be a million times more rewarding. But the planning... the time... the effort... the risks involved... the UNKNOWN...! It is the unknown which scares me to death. I hate admitting to myself (or anyone for that matter) that I am a Type A personality, but I am. Therefore it's the unknown that's currently driving me. It's the unknown that is the challenge that I hope to overcome. Being the sort of person who always needs a plan of action, I yearn for the opportunity to embrace the unknown, go with the flow, and for once in my life be the true nomad I've always wanted to be. Not a tourist.

I strive for independence on all accounts; especially when I travel, which makes it difficult for me to sign up for tours. Not only do I begrudge the idea of tossing out a large sum of money when I could be doing it cheaper, I could also be getting a far more authentic and unique experience by doing it myself. I don’t have much experience when it comes to these type of excursions, so I guess it begs the question - Are tours such as Contiki a good thing, or are they all about getting trashed and hooking up? Is it worth doing, or should I do it the old fashioned way, myself?

If you've done either, I'd love to hear your feedback, suggestions or experiences. 

'Till then, I think I'll take the plunge...my own way! :)

Tags: decisions, decisions



Hi tizleilani,

We really liked this post and decided to share it with our travel community on World Nomads Adventures so that they could enjoy it too.

Happy travels!

  Alicia Apr 18, 2011 12:09 PM


Hey Leilani,

I've also posted your link on our Facebook page - have a look!


  Alicia Apr 20, 2011 12:18 PM


Woohoo! That's awesome, I'm stoked - thanks heaps :)

  Leilani Apr 20, 2011 12:21 PM


every time I've wimped out and signed up for a group tour, I've always regretted it. The one exception was a hiking tour in the Alps that did not involve buses or minivans. How about picking a couple of great cities to visit, choosing one or two "must do" activities and then just letting life happen. wander the streets, sit in cafes, rent bicycles, and create your own adventure.

  Jan B May 4, 2011 2:44 PM

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