Back in what seems like a lifetime ago (January) I booked a tour of Western Canada with Contiki. I booked the tour through STA Travel, and everything was taken care of for me, from the flights to accommodation for the night before the tour started.
Over 11 days I travelled over 1,200 miles around British Colombia and Alberta. I explored Whistler, Jasper, Banff and Vancouver, with a couple of stop off nights in Kamloops and Vernon on the travel days too. I choose September as I thought it would be the best chance to see Canada in all it’s Autumnal glory, the weather however had other ideas and by the time we arrived in the Rocky Mountains a blanket of snow covered the landscape. It did not disappoint and it was honestly the most beautiful country I have ever been to. I never wanted to come home!
The optional extras were well planned by our trip manager, I went ziplining, canoeing, travelled up mountains on gondolas, got my nips out on a glacier (sorry mum) and enjoyed a stunning sunset dinner cruise the the Vancouver Harbour. It’s an adventure packed trip, and perfect for someone looking for a thrill-seeking solo travelling experience!
Contiki Top Tips
This was mt first solo trip, so I chose to do an organised tour as it took all the stress and pressure out of the equation so I could just relax, make new friends and enjoy everything that Canada had to offer! There are a few things I would recommend thinking about if you’re looking to do a trip like this.
Pack light – Although I thought I had packed fairly light, I definitely could have left more things at home. You move hotels every couple of days, so it’s a lot of carrying your bag between places. The lighter your bag, the better!
Plan your free time – There are a lot of planned activities and a fairly strict timetable, so when you have free time make sure you plan it well! There was so much to see, and so little time! Research each place before you get there and then get out there and explore!
Be comfy – Not all Contiki trips will require a lot of travel time, but Canada is enormous, so we did spend a fair amount of time on the coach. I packed a neck pillow which was a godsend, and I had my headphones as well so that if I wanted to switch off from all the noise for a bit I could.
Me time – Getting on a coach with 53 strangers, while thousands of miles away from home is a rather daunting thought. And even though I’m a generally outgoing person it can get a little much at time. So there were a couple of occasions where I decided to take myself off to my room for a couple of hours to just relax, have a hot shower and facetime family and my boyfriend at home. It’s important to not feel like you’re missing out, and although you’re on holiday, it’s an intense trip so make sure you look after yourself!
Any aspects I didn’t like?
When I looked at booking the trip I asked how many people there would be and the travel agent told me around the 25 mark. In reality there were a total of 54 people on the trip, so you have to be prepared to wait around a fair bit when heading out on the bus, checking into the hotel, and on included meal nights. 54 people walking into a restaurant is bound to cause a bit of a queue, so something to bear in mind if you’re looking for a smaller tour group. At first it was a little daunting, but you soon get to know everyone and it’s a fantastic opportunity to get to know people from all corners of the world, so for that I was grateful to have met so many people!
Is the trip for you?
If you want to see a lot of Western Canada in a short space of time then I would highly recommend this trip. It’s fast paced, exciting and I feel like I have made friends for life by travelling solo. I’m not going to lie it is exhausting and by the last day you feel ready for home, but I would do it again in a heartbeat and I’m already thinking about which Contiki tour to do next!