In August of 2008 I was sent to Europe to blog about my experience on a Contiki bus tour. The European Discovery tour had us seeing 10 countries in 12 days. I was one of 6 paid student bloggers for the Royal Bank of Canada, and was chosen specifically because of my writing style. Here is my story.


Alone, With Friend or On a Tour

Prior to this Contiki tour, I had never really been anywhere. I have friends who have traveled the world and seen some amazing things. I’ve wanted to travel, but the opportunity never really arose, until now. This entry is mostly for those among you who haven’t yet spread your wings, and are wondering how you should go about doing so. Essentially, I’ll look at three of the ways that most people tend to do it:

Traveling Alone

The clear advantage of this method is that you are your own boss and call the shots. If nobody else is with you, then you see the things you want, according to your own schedule. Some people will much prefer to be independent and not rely on someone else. Also, having a friend will decrease the likelihood of branching out as much, since there is an element of comfort at your side at all times. The flipside is that you are, of course, alone. Certain cities can be more dangerous when traveling alone, and it’s always nice to have the added security of a close friend or partner. So while traveling alone may seem like the option you want, it’s wise to consider all the potential pros and cons.

With Friend (Partner, Family Member)

For someone who has never traveled before, the whole experience can be quite daunting. Not everyone is capable of embarking on this journey by themselves, without someone to help them along. This is where a friend, partner or family member can come in handy. Whether they are also first-time travelers or experienced, the fact remains that sometimes we simply need someone by our side to make us feel more comfortable in challenging situations. And again, it’s much more secure having someone along for the ride rather than being alone in foreign locations. There are countless amazing places on earth and sometimes you want to share it with someone.

On a Tour

Seeing as how this is the way I ventured across Europe, I can definitely say that it was a great introduction to traveling. There is an element of structured activities mixed with the freedom to do your own thing. There are many people around if you wish to share experiences with someone, with the added bonus that you can always find someone who wants to do what you do. This may not be the case with a friend, leading to your missing some desired sights.

Essentially, going on a tour (such as Contiki) allows you to explore by yourself or to enjoy the sights and scenes with good company. When choosing a tour there is always the option to book it with a friend or to do it solo. Just like traveling without a tour, much of the same applies, but the big thing I have noticed is that many of those who came with a companion tend to stick with those people. Not always, of course, but much of the time the friends (partners) do the same activities and spend more time with each other.

I can honestly say that one of the biggest attractions of my tour has been the awesome people I have met. Had I traveled with a friend, I may never have gotten to know these great people. These are just some of the things to consider when deciding to travel for the first time (or even the first time to a specific place). The ultimate goal is to maximize your enjoyment, and only YOU will truly know what that entails.

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