Compare Busabout vs. Contiki
Both Contiki and Busabout are great ways to travel, offering two different ways of traveling and different travel styles. Contiki offers a more traditional tour and way to explore a destination, by travelling with the same people from start to finish, and in general there are more inclusions with Contiki like accommodation and certain sites. Busabout is better suited to more independent travellers, with the opportunity to book their own accommodation, and the major difference being the transport, as Busabout offers the hop-on hop-off transport network.
Busabout is considerably cheaper than Contiki on a price per day basis, as there is generally less inclusions for the price paid. Depending on the tour, though in general with Busabout you will have access to their bus network, the tour guide and the option to book accommodation at Busabout approved hostels and accommodations throughout the trip (although normally accommodation isn’t included in the price). Contiki will include all transportation, all accommodation, trip leader/guide, all breakfasts and some dinners. There is usually more inclusions with Contiki also, such as guided tours, city walking tours, special excursions like wine tasting and entry to some famous sites.
Group size, age requirements and travel styles
Contiki is for travellers 18 to 35 years old, while Busabout market themselves for “backpackers over the age of 18”.
As Busabout is more for independant travel, and due to the nature of their hop-on hop-off bus network and travel style, the group size can often vary throughout your trip from 30-45. With Contiki, you will generally have the same sized group for the entire trip - ranging from approx 30-50 people.
The primary difference between the travel styles of Busabout and Contiki is that Contiki has the “classic” style of tour, with the same group, throughout the entire trip, doing many of the activities together and sharing the experiences together. This means there is the chance to form a strong group with the people you are travelling with, as you will share many of the same experiences with them.
With Busabout, it is really about using their transport network to meet other independent travellers, and while there is some activities that can be arranged with others who are travelling the same route as you, the focus is far more on independent travel. Like Contiki, Busabout also generally use large coaches and so groups will also be 30-50 travellers.
Contiki has been running tours for over 30 years for the 18 to 35 year old market, expanding the tours they offer worldwide. Sometimes smaller and sometimes larger groups than stated above, though with a focus on the shared travel experiences you will share with your group. Depending on the tour you choose, the travel style can be fast paced and action packed, or a more relaxing atmosphere just focusing on one destination or region.
With both operators, generally there is no strenuous activities that must be completed, although some optional excursions, if you decide to do them, may involve swimming, bike riding or small hikes. This should be checked on a per itinerary basis, as there may be times throughout specialty tours (Contiki PADI diving tours for example) where a certain level of fitness will be required. This will be outlined in the itinerary of each tour.
As both operators are targeted at youth travellers, you will be required to carry your own luggage to and from accommodation, sometimes up stairs etc. Both Contiki and Busabout have their own private transport, which will drop you at or very close to your accommodation (if you are staying at the Busabout accommodation).
Contiki offer a range of accommodation, ranging from camping, hostels and hotels, through to yachts and resorts - depending on the individual tour. The tours can generally be grouped into their accommodation style; camping, hostel, and hotel, as well as other specialty accommodations such as resorts and yachts.
Contiki offer an added bonus in Europe of having their own, Contiki owned and run, local accommodations. In France in the Beaujolais wine region, near Lyon, Contiki owns an old French Chateau, Chateau de Cruix, which is now used for the accommodation of many Contiki tours. As well as France, in Tyrol in the Austrian Alps, there is also Gasthof Schöneck, a traditional Austrian gasthof (guest inn), owned and run by Contiki where travellers can stay when travelling through the region.
With Busabout, in general accommodation is not included in the price in Europe - although they make it easy to book accommodation with them, having their preferred hostels and hotels they use. In Africa, and for some of their specialty trips (Island Hopping, Festival etc) accommodation is included. It is best to check your individual tours itinerary to know if accommodation is included or not. Accommodation will often be in a shared room with someone (or people, if dorm accommodation) of the same gender, similar to Contiki. The benefit of the freedom with Busabout is that you can book whichever accommodation you like - although it is often easiest to book their preferred accommodation, as this is where the transport normally picks up and drops off from. The transportation will often leave from this accommodation, and you will get to spend time with others travelling the same route as you.
Depending on where you are visiting, generally both Contiki and Busabout will have private transportation - often a large, fully air-conditioned coach with a toilet and sometimes even wifi. Particularly in Europe, these are recent model coaches that are clean and pleasant to travel in. By using this mode of transport, the coach can normally drop you off directly in front of your accommodation, greatly minimising the distance you will need to take your luggage yourself.
Busabout operates throughout Europe, including Eastern Europe down to Turkey and the Greek Islands, as well as Asia (Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Burma), and Africa in Morocco and Egypt.
Disclaimer: We here at TourRadar have taken a look the tours offered by both operators to find the benefits of each operator’s product selection. The above are generalizations and interested travellers should compare the operator’s individual trips as costs may vary per region and style.