I would be what you would call a self diagnosed introvert. Who needs a psychological diagnosis when I’ve done my fair share of Facebook quizes and I get the same answer every time.
It’s actually a relief to know that there’s a name for it. No I’m not anti-social, no I’m not shy, and no I don’t hate people (well, sometimes I do) but it’s just that some people draw energy from being around other people, while introverts draw energy from spending time alone.
So what does that mean when you want to be like every 18-35 year old and have the time of your life on a Contiki Tour? Or any tour for that matter. And let me assure you that it’s definitely still possible. You don’t have to sit this one out! I have successfully completed 3 Contiki Tours (and a Topdeck Tour) and have had the most amazing time, you just need to try a few things from my introverts guide.
Take Headphones and a good playlist
It wouldn’t be a Contiki tour if there wasn’t a big coach load of people hitting the open road every few days. For some it was the opportunity to sleep off the hangover from the night before, or to chat and get to know your group, but for many it was a chance to pop those headphones in, turn up the tunes, zone out and enjoy the rolling scenery (and there will be plenty of that!!)
Pick the tour that’s right for you
You don’t have to pick the 45 day Ultimate European trip if the thought of spending that long with the same group of people makes you want to wrap yourself in a blanket and rock back and forth. I did the 14 day Best of USA, the 29 day European Contrast, and the 8 day Egypt and The Nile trips all over a 4 month period. The key is to break them up so you have some time to yourself. Especially by the end of the 29 day European Contrast, as much as I loved it, If I spent one more day with my new best friends someone was almost guaranteed to get the day song shoved right up their behind!
Pay extra for a single room
Not all tours will have this option, but if you’re really concerned that you’re just not going to be able to cope with another person sleep talking in the bunk above you then it’s definitely worth checking out.
Plan ahead- pick the nights for going out or staying in
Ask your all-mighty-all-knowing Tour Manager if there are particular nights they’ve noticed people tend to stay in or go out. Your on this tour for you, so don’t push yourself just because everyone else is going out. Peer pressure is a bitch! I had some big nights, but I also had some cosy nights in with the best roomies anyone could ever ask for. We ate Pringles, we watched re-runs of The Big Bang Theory on my laptop, we even bought face masks one night.
Blog about it
One of the things I liked most about traveling was having a blog. You don’t have to be a professional writer or a fully fledged journalist to start one. You just jump online, sign up and off you go. Its the perfect way to keep family and friends back home up to date with what you’re doing (and to let them know you’re still alive- “oh look, here’s another blog post from Emma, she hasn’t been left on the side of the road yet- Fantastic”)
It’s the perfect place to debrief and chat about all the amazing things that have been happening without having that immediate social interaction. You can zone out into your own little blog world and recharge your “people-tolerance levels” ready for the next adventure.
Go with the flow
You’re on holiday! If you feel like doing something- do it. If you feel like giving this one a miss- then do that too. There are plenty of opportunities to make the tour exactly what you want it to be. Not everything about a group tour is scheduled so you’re not constantly joined at the hip with 50 other people. More often than not you’ll find that the group will become lots of little groups and you’ll have your own self-made team to hang out with. During the day this came in handy for exploring, but it was great of a night to catch up with the rest of the tour to trade stories.
Don’t feel guilty
Despite the reputation, you don’t have to be a crazy party animal to enjoy a Contiki tour. By all means if that’s what you want to do then go right ahead- I had a few ‘party animal’ moments myself, but don’t feel guilty if that type of thing doesn’t interest you. You’ll find that different tours bring different people and a different group dynamic. Even the places that you visit make the tour a little bit different.
You meet so many amazing people on these types of tours. Some you’ll get a long with like you’ve known each other all your life, and there will be others that you’ll be thanking all the higher powers in the world that you will never have to see them again, but that’s what travel is all about- crazy adventures.