A big part of your itinerary plan will be deciding whether or not you will book an organised group tour. This all depends on the kind of traveller you are but if you like to party, a tour is a must-do on your European adventure.
There are a huge number of tour companies for young people and they have been around for decades.
Now I am a huge fan of Contiki. I started my 6 month European backpacking trip with a 28 day European Contrasts tour- holy moley words can’t describe how amazing this was.
If backpacking Europe is a rite of passage for young people, Contiki should be a passage in it own right!
Travelling can be daunting at first so a tour can be an easy way to become accustomed to being in a foreign country and wow Contiki is the way to do it. Not only are they ridiculously organised and everything goes off without a hitch, it will be the most fun you will ever have.
With a full bus, I now have 48 new friends mostly from Australia and New Zealand but South Africa, Canada and America as well.
Contiki lives up to its reputation- every night is a huge party. At every Contiki site you stay, you meet up with a few other buses full to the brim of partying Contiki revellers. The next day you get up, see the city and do it all again!
Contiki is a whirlwind so it’s a great idea for the start of your trip when you are still getting your bearings. You can get a taste of a number of cities and go back to places you love later on. I myself went back to Paris and Munich even though I visited them on Contiki.
Now you don’t have to be a party animal to go on Contiki but just realise the majority of those on the bus want to get drunk every night. You will get up, see the sights and experience the culture but it is a much more superficial experience so I would treat it as a ‘tasting’ journey. Just know what you are getting yourself into. My only advice is go wild- I have never felt so relaxed and carefree than while on Contiki tour.
Now some other tour companies for young people include:
Busabout is an awesome way to get around Europe especially if you are a female travelling solo. Instead of booking expensive last minute trains and buses you pay the one flat fee for whichever loop itinerary you choose.
The bus drops you off at the recommended hostel and picks you up from there too. Busabout is a brilliant way to make a lot of friends because you are all travelling on the same itinerary and have every chance of meeting up with them again. Busabout also offers fantastic flexibility and you can stay in a city as long as you like then book the next Busabout bus out of there!
Top deck seems to be gaining a lot of momentum with fantastic itineraries and slightly lower fares than Contiki. Normally Topdeck draws a slightly older crowd about 22-27 year olds and a few more couples but that doesn’t mean Top Deck doesn’t know how to party!! Might be an idea to join one of these if you think the non-stop partying nature of Contiki might be a little too full on for you.
Fanatics are an Aussie tour company who specialise in sporting events and festivals. From my own experience, they are not the most experienced of tour companies but if you want to go to European festivals like Oktoberfest and La Tomatina or sporting events like Wimbledon it is a great way to experience them with like-minded young people!
Just be prepared that their tour guides are not experienced and you really only get accommodation and transfers to whichever festival you have booked. You are paying to be apart of a large fanatics group. That is the only real benefit to touring with Fanatics. I personally would choose another tour company.
Others to look into include PP Travel and Stoke Travel who are both particularly great for European festivals.