Contiki Big Chill Northern Trek Tour Review
The Contiki Northen Trek. is the second half of The Contiki Big Chill. tour that starts in Athens and ends in Amsterdam. I chose this tour because it visited many of the places I had on my list. I had already been to western Europe so doing the entire The Contiki Big Chill. was not interesting.
This was my first camping tour, and I was a bit nervous if I would be able to deal with camping for so long. The tents were sturdy, and the air mattresses comfortable. The campground facilities were decent, and had hot showers, and running water. Although at some locations you had to pay for hot water. The only downside was if the campground could get a bit dirty if there were a lot of occupants or permanent residents. On one night it rained heavily to the point where we had to retreat to our tents. From Athens up until Croatia, the campsites had access to a pool or lake. One night we slept out under the stars and didn’t even bother putting up our tents. It was nice change.
95% of the places we stayed at had free wifi, although the quality varied.A lot of people had some type of wifi device like a small notebook or itouch or ifone.
For valuables, during the day your stuff is either locked up at the bottom of the coach or locked up inside your suitcase in your tent.
The tents will fit comfortably two people, and 2 large suitcases, the tent is a 3 person tent. It can get difficult trying to organize your suitcase inside a tent, so you might want to pack a night bag every few days of what you need. It can get annoying waiting for a mallet, or air mattress pump, especially when some of the pumps get broken. You are assigned a tent, and mattress for the entire trip, so keep it clean.
The tour also included many of the meals. Food was great. The chef made tasty, filling meals. Breakfast was the option of something hot like eggs or sausage and toast, and cold such as cereal or yogurt and fruit. Dinner was some carbohydrate like pasta, rice or bread, then a dish with meat. Examples of meals were stir fry, curry, hamburgers, steak, pasta, etc. We had gluten – free diets, vegetarians, lactose intolerants. Whatever your restrictions, they’ve probably encountered it.
On the first day people are usually assigned duties for the entire trip. Ie. People who pack up the coach, people who set up the cook tent, people who help the cook prepare, people who clean the main cooking dishes (everyone cleans their own dishes they eat on), people who clean the coach, you get the idea. I prefer this because things get done quicker, whereas if you have the tour managers saying “it’d be nice if people helped”, nobody does by the end of the tour.
- because it is a camping tour, many of the camp sites will be located about 20-40mins from the city. If you want to explore the nightlife, clubs or pubs, you might want to look at the hotel tour instead.
- because of the location of the campsite, you usually have spend an entire day out in a city. I would have liked to be able to go back to the hotel and take an afternoon nap.
- maximize your time at truck stops by heading to the line for food or washrooms first. Lineups can get ridiculous with other buses stopping.
- because it is a campground purchase whatever you need ahead of time because campground shops may close early.
- the lineup to charge electronic items on the bus can be a long one, so try to charge your stuff at the campgrounds.
- bring something to hang your clothes to make use of sunny days.
- bring a permanent marker /labels to mark your water bottle (everyone buys larges 2L or 5L bottles and fills up their smaller ones), chargers and adapters.
- the majority of travelers are from Australia, so bring your Australia adapter to make use of the power bars.
- bring small combination locks to lock up your suitcase, tent.
- buy water, snacks and fruit at the local markets before long road trips.
- bring a shower caddy to carry your shower stuff
- pack a daypack
- cold/cough medication, you will catch the cough/cold no matter how many vitamins you take.
- hand sanitizer & tissues for the toilet.
- flashlight or headlamp to navigate the campsite or inside your tent when it gets dark.
- if you plan to have your laundry done, do it where you stay for 2 nights or longer.
- bring a shawl to cover your shoulders to enter churches, mosques.
- bring comfortable shoes and sandals. I saw too many people with bandaids on their feet for blisters.