Most European youth tours operate in a circle route from London, which is awkward for young travelers who want to combine a tour with some independent travel.
This year, Contiki Holidays offers an alternative: a 14-day, one-way tour from London to Athens. The price is from $992 U.S. and includes breakfasts and most dinners.
Contiki Holidays carries about 50,000 passengers ages 18 to 30 annually on tours in Europe, Great Britain, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
The 26-year-old company offers hotel tours with twin accommodations plus Concept tours, which use tents and cabins as well as some other special "hard-top" facilities.
This year Contiki has also added tour breaks for a few days at its own clubs in Hopfgarten, Austria, and on the Greek island of Corfu. Another new program is a 20-day, five-country tour from London that includes a seven-day break on cabin cruisers in the south of France. Rates from London start at $1,238 U.S.
For further information, contact a travel agent or Contiki Holidays at 1432 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim 92805; phone (714) 937-0611.
One major benefit of companies that operate hotel and camping tours for the 18-to-35-year-old age group is that most will arrange roommates so you don't have to worry about single supplements if traveling solo.
Compare companies and programs: How many people will travel in the group? Is the accommodation centrally located? What meals are provided? How many staff travel with you? Will they supply you with a list and prices of optional extras so you can get a good idea of the spending money you'll need? How many people must you share a tent or hotel room with? How many stops are for more than one night (so you won't feel pushed)?
Trek Europa offers a trip of interest to independent travelers who don't want to continue into North Africa on their own. This company offers a two-week tour from Malaga, Spain, to Morocco for 345 (about $579 U.S.), plus a food fund of 40 ($67).
Trek Europa is a 16-year-old company that operates camping tours in Europe and North America. Trips range from two to 10 weeks and are limited to 14 passengers. Additional information is available from Trek Europa, P.O. Box 1338, Gardena 90249.
With Insight Tours you can travel in your own age group in Great Britain, Europe, Israel and Egypt. Trips are from 10 to 36 days and accommodation is in hotel twin rooms. Breakfasts and some dinners are included in tour rates. A 15-day Israel and Egypt trip from London costs from $1,355. If you join in Israel and leave in Cairo there is a $357 reduction.
For further information, contact Insight International Tours, 17310 Redhill Ave., Irvine 92714; phone (714) 261-5373.
Top Deck has been operating trips for this age group for 15 years. It offers two types of tours: Deckerhome tours, which use double-decker buses to transport and accommodate up to 22 passengers, and coach camping tours. Trips are from 10 days to more than six weeks and include destinations in Europe, Turkey, Morocco, Russia, Britain and Ireland.
Top Deck also offers short get-aways from London to special events such as the Munich Beer Festival, the Monte Carlo Grand Prix and the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.
For example, the Pamplona seven-day camping trip departs July 5 and costs $150; the 13-day Deckerhome trip departs July 3 and costs $225, plus $70 for a shared food fund.
For additional information, contact Tour Connection, 7531 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood 90046; phone (213) 874-6358.