An Interview With Contiki: What to Know About a Youth-Only Group Trip

An Interview With Contiki: What to Know About a Youth-Only Group Trip

Be part of “a melting pot of different people coming together for the shared experience.”

Flexibility, free time, and meaningful experiences: While you might typically only achieve these from a self-planned holiday, did you know that you can get the same with Contiki, a New Zealand-founded travel company specialising in youth-only group trips? 

The name “Contiki” combines the word “continent,” in strengthening the company’s mission to bring together travellers from all over the world; and “Tiki,” which “comes from the native New Zealand Maori good luck charm.”

TripZilla recently had the chance to sit down with Contiki to find out more about their trips. The following article contains snippets of said interview. 

What to know about Contiki trips

Image credit: Contiki

Founded 60 years ago, Contiki is the household travel provider Down Under. In fact, among Australians and Kiwis, it’s common to hear the phrase, “Where did you do your Contiki?” cited Adam Armstrong, CEO of Contiki. Safe to say that in Oceania where there is “very high brand awareness,” Contiki is almost a “rite of passage” that one does “before going to university or during [one’s] university break.”

“Contiki provides more than 350 travelling opportunities year-round, with trips ranging from two to 45 nights. [Plus, in keeping with] the founding of the brand, Contiki [continues to provide] trips for the younger demographic of 18- to 35-year-olds.” 

Why is Contiki centred on young people?

youth group trip

Image credit: Contiki

It’s simple: “There is a [consistent] market for people who want to travel with an exclusive age group.” That said, by tailoring the trip according to this demographic, “the correct tone of the trip” will be ensured. 

Since 1962, Contiki has ensured that “the music [they] play, the places [you’ll] go to and visit, the restaurants and bars [they] choose, and the cultural activities are all tailored around the lower age group.” Reassuringly, Contiki has continued “to put a line in the sand and say this is what [they] do. It’s important to live up to that promise.” Think about it: “Even a 35-year-old is quite different from a 19,” coined Armstrong. 

What to expect from a Contiki youth-only trip


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When you embark on a Contiki youth-only trip, look forward to a “perfect balance between what is planned for you and [what you can do] in your free time.” 

Firstly, the “framework” is always taken care of. That is to say, Contiki will book “the time-consuming basics like transportation, accommodation, and many of the meals [for you]. [The itinerary will also include] the classic attractions. [For instance,] if you go to Paris, you’ll want to see the Eiffel Tower.” 

what to do in greece

Image credit: Contiki

Secondly, comes the unique selling point of Contiki: “[All trips will ensure] enough time for yourself; that can mean having a nap if you’re jet-lagged, or it can mean walking around and exploring by yourself.” 

Simply put, “the onus is on you to decide the trip in terms of sights and things that you want to do.” This can either be based on self-research and planning, or it can be “down to having a conversation with the trip manager and having them point you in the right direction.” 

For instance “if you’re into film or art,” look for the best indie cinemas or galleries and museums to visit in the city. If you’re into food, sign up for a food tour or go cafe-hopping. To make things easier for you, “you can even buy one of [Contiki’s] free time add-ons that can take you to some other stuff that are less focused on classics.” 

What’s more, if “doing your own stuff at your own pace” is really important to you, here’s a tip: “Look for trips where [you’ll] stay [at least] two or three nights in a city.” If it’s only a one-night stay, “you’ll arrive in the afternoon, do an activity straight away, have dinner, sleep and get up, see something in the morning, and then leave for the next place. 

How Contiki provides meaningful travel experiences

Giving back to the community

Image credit: Nikola Jovanovic

In this age of travelling more consciously, Armstrong has stated the encouraging fact that “Contiki has become carbon neutral since 1 Jan 2022.” And, in response to “proving to the young demographic that [Contiki] has carbon-neutral initiatives,” the company “calculates its carbon footprint on all Contiki trips and offsets this where possible. [Plus, having] just released [their] sustainability report, [they’re] showing that [their] strategies are measurable and can be reported.”

Having said that, Contiki also recognises that “carbon neutrality was the language last year. [With] every brand using this now, the language has moved on to net zero. [They’re] working that out now, [and also thinking about] what that looks like for [them].”  

Image credit: Contiki

However, what’s important as well are “Make Travel Matter experiences. [Contiki] believes in giving back to the planet the people, the community, and the wildlife in the places we visit.” Armstrong has promised “to include a Make Travel Matter experience on every Contiki trip of seven nights or longer — by the end of this year.”

“An example of a Make Travel Matter experience that gives back to the community is a walking tour of Berlin. [On top of] exploring all the key historical sites, the tour is conducted by a Syrian refugee. Created by a group of Syrian refugees, this company gives visitors a [unique] tour of Berlin — from their perspective. [Included in this experience is a background of how] the refugees came to be in Berlin. All in all, [Contiki] finds that [including this Syrian refugee-led walking tour] gives back to the refugee community. 

Forging friendships

contiki trip

Image credit: Contiki

Essentially, a big reason why Contiki is centred around the “youth-only group tour” concept is the ability for meaningful friendships to be formed. 

For instance, “when asking customers “what was important to [them] when [they] decided to go on [their] trip,” the usual answers were basics like the destination, how long they were going to be there for, what they wanted to see, and what time of the year it was.”

Fast forward to the end of the trip when you ask the same people “the bit they enjoyed [about the trip] the most,” and “the people they met” would be the top answer nine times out of 10. Plus, the communities created linger for years, and the WhatsApp group continues for weeks and months after you get off the trip. They talk about this more than anything else.” 

contiki trip

Image credit: Contiki

Throw that in with the revenge travel sentiment, or as Armstrong calls it, “generation-desperate,” and you’ve got “the social enjoyment of being on the holiday together — after being stuck at home for two years with virtual interactions. [Thus,] to be living in real life again with people, the whole experience is even more elevated.” 

That is why, Contiki’s decision to “be unapologetic [about] social travel has been working.” Most importantly, “people are looking to travel at normal levels again.” All in all, “that’s the benefit you get from being on a group holiday: You get so many benefits from being with a group of like-minded individuals.”

Southeast Asians, this one’s for you

contiki trip

Image credit: Duy Pham

The biggest and best offering of Contiki youth-only group tour holidays is this: “The ready-made, multinational mix of friends — from Down Under, Europe, the Americas, and Africa — who are ready to have a holiday with you. You get the fun and comfort of riding the board, the coach, or the train, but you get people from all over the world of all different backgrounds and all different religions and ethnicities coming together for the shared experience,” Armstrong heartily expressed. 

Also read: Self-Planned Travel Vs Package Trips: What Fits Young Travellers Better

“As long as you’re inquisitive, English-speaking, and want to go on an international trip with a group of international people,” you should definitely sign up for a Contiki youth-only group tour — before you age out. 

Brought to you by Contiki.

About Author

Cassandra Nerva
Cassandra Nerva

Cassandra seeks comfort in warm blankets, period dramas, and all things hazelnut. If she's not getting carried away with a wartime novel or decorating her house with plants & fairy lights, she's uncovering hidden gems around her as she continues to embrace her keen sense of adventure.