In June 2019 I experienced the amazing Simply Italy trip with Contiki – a whirlwind twelve-day trip around Italy! It covered all the major tourist hotspots from the Rome Colosseum to the islands of Venice. But, it also encompassed all some exciting and unique experiences off the beaten track such as a 16th-century Tuscan winery and a visit into a Venetian lace-making school.
You can’t avoid the fact that a Contiki trip is an expensive up-front cost, that takes a lot of thought and consideration before purchasing! But, Italy is a country that I have always wanted to visit, and after a lot of research into how I could visit all the parts of the country I wanted to, I settled on Contiki Simply Italy as the best way to fulfill that dream. The tour offered me an opportunity to travel the length and breadth of Italy in just 12 days, in a comfortable way and with the major costs all included such as hotels, travel, admission tickets, and some meals. In fact, after adding together the cost I’d have paid as a solo traveller for the various aspects of the trip, I was only paying a modest supplement for the ease and comfort of the trip. I also made travelling friends for life who live all around the world, and that’s a priceless benefit.
Before booking Contiki Simply Italy I contacted the Contiki team to discuss my accessibility requirements and understand what adjustments could be made to facilitate my travels. Unfortunately, many travel companies do not consider Disabled people when designing their tours, but I was pleased to discover that Contiki has a process in place to support travellers with additional accessibility requirements. I completed an accessibility requirements form and soon received confirmation that Contiki would make the necessary arrangements to support me.
If you’re like me, I’m quite nervous about leaving someone else to make sure a trip is accessible – especially a twelve-day long solo trip like this! However, I really didn’t need to worry. Before departing I was contacted by the Trip Manager, an amazing lady called Martina, who provided some pre-departure hints and tips. Contiki also provided guidance as to where to go as soon as I landed in Rome – a transfer from the airport was part of my package.
For this trip, I decided it made sense to bring my Küschall Champion manual wheelchair with me. As I had the support of fellow travellers, I decided that a manual chair was the best way for me to get around easily, negotiate the many steps of Roman cities, and easily fold up the chair to load into the coach, taxis, and public transport! This worked really well and enabled me to access all of the sights I wanted to, without getting too tired. I was also very tactical in deciding where to visit – for example, on the Isle of Capri, I decided not to go into the town centre but rather I relaxed at the beachfront where I had just a short stroll back to our ferry to the mainland.
The Contiki Coach
The Contiki coach is the bedrock of any trip. We travelled from city to city on our coach, taking in the sights of our destinations, and the sounds of my fellow travellers laughing, singing and often snoring! Coach travel was a really effective way for me to get around as I was able to rest on the coach, sleep when I needed to, and take a ‘mental rest’ by not having to plan out my journey or be vigilant of any belongings. This meant that when I arrived at my next destination, I was refreshed and ready to go and explore!
Contiki were great at making adjustments and accommodations for days without the coach. For example, on one of our days in Florence, we didn’t have our usual coach as the driver was on a rest day. Rather than going with the main group on public transport, Contiki covered the cost of a private taxi so I could meet the group in the city centre without already being tired.
Contiki uses a range of accommodation during their trips. Simply Italy is a hotel-only trip, but other trips with Contiki include hostels, camping, and even overnight ferries! I didn’t need to request any alternative accommodation during my trip, but this is something you’ll need to consider before booking as our accommodation was not confirmed at the time of booking, and in fact, one of the hotels got changed during the trip. If you have any accessibility requirements affecting your accommodation during the trip, I’d strongly recommend talking to the Contiki team before you book, to work out the best solution.
Over to you!
What are your top tips for getting around on a multi-city holiday? Have you been on a Contiki trip too, and how accessible did you find it? Let me know in the comments!