I wrote an article about a year ago on whether or not taking a tour is a good idea for members of Generation-Y. I had previously taken a tour right after graduating college (a whirlwind European adventure that left me with a whole bunch of new friends and out on the couch binge-watching for a week after), and although I enjoyed myself, I began to make the transition to traveling alone. Let’s face it, when most millennials think of traveling, it’s not usually with a guide leading the way or an itinerary. We think of forging ahead on our own, discovering new people and places with only ourselves to rely on.
With this in mind, I embarked on a press trip for Contiki Tours to Peru. I was offered a chance to experience their Andes and Amazon Highlights tour—nine days in the country of Peru with international and domestic flights included. Starting in Cusco, our group of twenty-three people ages 18-35 were offered the chance to visit ancient Incan temples, make an 11k trek through the mountains to Machu Picchu, and to climb on a boat and head down the Amazon.
To be fair, I was a little hesitant to embark on a tour again. I had gotten used to doing my own thing as a traveler, from choosing my own food options to deciding what I was going to do as far as activities. A tour seemed, well, very planned.
However, almost immediately after landing in Lima, a set itinerary seemed like a solid idea. I had never been to South America before, and Europe and South America are quite different entities from one another as I soon discovered. Having everything laid out for us, including some meals, took a lot of pressure off me as a traveler to figure everything out—and also gave me a lot more time to enjoy where I was rather than worrying about what I was going to do next or the logistics of finding suitable hotels or hostels.
Another perk to taking a tour to Peru was the fact that you had the option to choose whether or not you wanted to head out on the original Inca Trail. Trying to get tickets on your own is almost impossible (they only let 500 hikers on the trail a day—think of the thousands upon thousands of travelers vying for those tickets), but I didn’t have to worry about it when working with Contiki. I was able to enjoy the absolutely stunning 11k trek without stress. (Other than the stress of the hike up the Andes.) This was a major highlight for me, and I know if I had missed out on that experience because I couldn’t get a ticket on my own I would have been devastated.
There were also several activities included in the tour that would have been difficult to plan on my own, including a corn beer tasting, caymen spotting in the Amazon, and trying home-cooked guinea pig. I don’t know if I would have had the resources to put together these activities by myself, and I was afforded a cultural experience that I might not have been aware of or exposed to without an unreasonable amount of pre-planned research.
However, the best part of the journey for me was the people I met on tour. (Mark Mackenzie.) Everyone I met was an experienced traveler (which you would have to be to choose a tour like this), and we had a blast swapping stories or trying new foods. As a group, we all meshed quite well together, and I plan on keeping in touch with a number of the people I was “stuck” with. I enjoy both experiences of traveling alone and with others, but the group I was with was exceptional—including our tour manager, Gaby.
Would I travel with Contiki again? Verdict: Absolutely. I was thoroughly impressed by their South American operation, which has only been running for five years. Though I might not choose them to travel Europe, I would definitely consider their other South American packages, their Australian options, and even some destinations in Asia. I’ve always said any sort of travel is good—no matter whether or not you choose to do it on your own or with a tour company. This tour with Contiki gave me a reason to stick by that motto, and I would highly recommend other members of Generation-Y to consider an experience like the one I was offered.
Would you consider taking a tour as a Generation-Y traveler?