Hey Mr. Postman, look and see…

Is there a [postcard] in the bag for me?

Alright, so that song might be a bit outdated, but in the world of digital e-mail, sometimes getting “snail mail” sends happy vibes through our systems – especially when they are postcards from some cool faraway destination.  Even if you harbor a wee bit of jealousy when you read those words, “Wish You Were Here,” you also know that someone took a minute to think of you – and that’s pretty cool!  Now, there are so many ways to spread the postcard fever – and some don’t require a physical stamp!

If you like to send postcards, here’s 5 tips to keep handy when you want to write a simple note to your friends and family to give them some love while you’re away on vacay.

1. Bring pre-addressed labels – Why create a separate list to take with you when you can have all the names and addresses at your disposal?  You can affix them directly to the postcard and send them on their merry way, without fumble (and you won’t accidentally forget to send one to your mama!)

2. Use the hotel services – Chances are, the hotel you are staying at will have a business center that provide stamps.  Some will gladly send your postcard for you as well.  Remember to factor in some extra cash to pay for these items – or you’ll spend your time chasing down a post office in a foreign country. Prices may vary, so be sure to ask!

iPhone & Android phone

Source: popularmechanics.com

3. Find an app for that – Smartphones give you instant gratification & personalization – you can capture your memories and turn them into postcards!  Snap a photo, upload it, and then pay for postage to send your creation to anyone in your contact list with the click of a button.  Voila! A personalized photo postcard from your own point of view!  Check out apps like Postino or Shoot It for iPhone and Android users – and start sending!

4. Buy in bulk – Many gift shops offer discounts on postcards when you buy them in bundles.  Find like-minded friends who want to buy postcards and split the costs.  You’re bound to find postcards with a lot of different scenic shots that reflect each of your personalities.

5. Write what you feel & send them right away - It’s no fun to send postcards when you return from your trip before they even arrive at your family or friends’ mailboxes.  Make sure that if you’re wandering out and about on your fabulous vacation and you want to send a postcard, make it a priority item on your agenda.  Not only will your friends really wish they were there, but it will encourage you to take a moment out of your day to pop into a cafe or stop and take a minute and soak in the scenery and really capture your euphoria of being on the trip of a lifetime!

Oh, and don’t forget the little guys! You can always send a postcard here to the Contiki team to tell us how much fun you’re having!  We’d love the snail mail! (wink, wink)

Popcorn & shenanigans at Contiki!

Welcome to Contiki!

Here at Contiki, we’re always working hard to make sure that our travelers get a hassle-free and absolutely fun experience from their vacation.  We live, eat, and breathe travel - and we find new innovative ways to stay motivated and have fun ourselves so we can create a great experience for YOU. Here’s a sneak peak at what goes on behind the scenes here at Contiki!

 

Allyson Carpenter, getting her popcorn on!

Hm, something smells good… Buttery and fluffy popcorn scents are wafting through our nostrils – could it be?  Yes!  Free popcorn in our offices!  Sweet!  And it’s not the microwaveable variety either – no sir!  We fancy, huh?

The Travel Corporation is hooking up all employees with the real deal!  In our lobby, sits a grand old fresh popcorn machine touting hot, fluffy goodness.  We’re going to have fresh popcorn served every day until April 11, 2011 – a great snack alternative when the vending machine goodies start looking dull.  Hip hip hooray!

Our Junior Graphic Designer testing his pong skills

But we can’t rack up those popcorn calories either! Often times, we get so wrapped up in staring at our computers that we spend our entire time at work sitting in a chair and straining our eyes.  People are always reminding us to stay active and that sitting behind a desk all day is not good for us.

So, Contiki employees took a short break to play a some ‘water pong’ to get our blood pumping and give us an energy boost from good ol’ adrenaline!

Our Graphic Designer showing good form

Our Graphic designer, Andrea, and our Junior Graphic Designer, Eric, both tried their hands at launching ping pong balls in plastic cups filled with water.  Sure beats climbing the stairs up and down for exercise – always working hard and playing hard here at Contiki!

All these shenanigans!  Don’t worry – I’m sure there will be much more in store as April Fools’ Day comes around this Friday.

What kind of pranks, shenanigans, or cool things are happening at your school/work?

Rubbing elbows with royalty

The Tower Bridge in London

Westminster Abbey, site of the royal wedding

Top of the mornin’ to ya!  It’s the one month countdown to the wedding of the year – that’s right, Prince William and Kate Middleton are tying the knot on Friday, April 29, 2011. Who wouldn’t want to see history in the making and rub some elbows with royalty?  The opportunity won’t arise again for decades!  The nuptials of the future King and Queen of England is going to be the event of the year, and one of the many reasons why London is the place to be right now.

Contiki Basement in London

It’s no wonder that Contiki starts off many of our European itineraries in London, because it is the hub of so much history – and who doesn’t love all the pomp and circumstance that goes along with it all? Many of you traveling to Europe with Contiki will get a chance to visit the  Contiki Basement in London, a great place to meet other travelers, hang out, get information, and book activities!

Let’s also not forget that London is also the future site of the 2012 Summer Olympics. If you want to take part in the Olympic fever and will be traveling to London this summer, why not participate in the Olympics “Open Weekend,” a one-year Olympic countdown celebration happening July 22-24 that will showcase all the best that the UK has to offer in art, film, dance, and sport!  That sounds like a pretty good reason to celebrate Summer 2011 in Europe, no?

So get going!  Get to London – and don’t forget that Contiki has some cool deals to help you get there, such as matching your deposit to some of our popular destinations, or shaving off $350 off your Summer Europe trip when you book airfare with us.  What are you waiting for?

Getting Your Coffee Fix

Comforting and warm!

Happy Monday!  If you’re like me, you got a jump start on your day by cozying up to a morning cup of java.  Daylight Saving Time always throws many of us for a loop, and we’re only moving our clocks one hour forward!  Yet if there’s one constant, it’s always a good cup of coffee, brewed to perfection and with the right jolt of sweet to take charge of the day! The best part is, it can served in so many different ways, especially in many different countries, so you’ll always be surprised at what can be done with a simple cup!

Ready to travel abroad this summer?  For Starbucks fans, you’ll be happy to know that there are 5,500 Starbucks coffee shops in over 50 different countries – so it seems you’ll never be without your beloved Frappucino…except you might find international varieties around the world and exclusive to that region, including red bean in China and a dulce de leche flavor in Argentina.  You might even find other familiar brands available worldwide, such as Dunkin Donuts and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

Source: amazon.com

Other countries have their own special preparation for coffee.  Why not plunge those coffee grounds in a fancy French press while visiting Europe?  Or hop over to Greece, where finely powdered coffee beans are boiled in a pot, sometimes with sugar, and then served in a cup where the dregs settle in the bottom.  Do you like your coffee sweet and strong? In Vietnam, finely ground Vietnamese-grown coffee is individually brewed using a small metal French drip known as a ‘ca phe phin’ over a cup containing condensed milk.  Pop into a coffee shop anywhere in the world, and be adventurous!

Whatever way you want your coffee, you’re bound to find endless ways to get your fix – whether it’s an americano, macchiato, espresso, or latte.  How do you like your coffee?  Strong enough to put hair on your chest, silky smooth and mixed with frothy milk, or not at all?