Candid or Posed?

Guest Blog Post by Ralph Velasco, travel photographer (on location in India!)


When shooting in the field, I’m always on the look out to photograph interesting locals dressed in distinctive and traditional clothing.  Here in India, at the Amber Palace just outside of Jaipur, it was no different.

Rajasthan, an area of India renown for its wide range of  colors, even has nicknames for a number of cities, for example, there’s the Red City (Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan) and the Blue City (Jodhpur).  This region is also known for having beautiful women dressed in vibrant and bangled “sharees.”

Having taken an elephant ride up the long hill that leads to the Amber Palace, in the city of Amber (this is not a reference to color), there were a number of women sweeping the vast palace grounds.  This particular woman was diligently doing her job up against the backdrop of the public audience space known as Diwan-I-Aam, so I immediately took notice and went to work trying to capture the scene.

Jaipur, India - Girl in Blue at Amber Palace

[Read more...]

Contiki at the Movies

With summer inching closer, many of us will be flooding the movie theaters and watching some of the latest blockbusters – many of which are filmed in exotic locations around the world.  Many of the sites that Contiki visits have also served as the backdrop for some of your favorite movies.

Here are 5 Contiki destinations that have gotten their very own close-up for the silver screen!


Photo © Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

"The Da Vinci Code", © Sony Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

With its iconic city landscape, and rich art history – it’s no wonder that Paris is chosen as the setting for films such as “Before Sunrise” where characters take a sightseeing boat tour past the Notre Dame Cathedral;  “The Da Vinci Code” where Tom Hanks visits the Louvre Museum; or even Disney’s “Ratatouille” when Remy the Rat dreams of having a place to live in Paris with full view of the Eiffel Tower.

[Read more...]

You Asked for It.. We’re Going to South America!

As we celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Contiki is giving you second dose of independence – by giving you more freedom to discover the world on your terms.  We’re proud to announce that Contiki has gone truly global – We are going to South America.  So celebrate YOUR independence and know that at Contiki, you’re free to choose the trip that’s right for you.

That’s right – you asked for it, and it’s finally here!  2011 marks the 100th anniversary of Machu Picchu’s incredible rediscovery, and we’re thrilled to announce our brand new South America program, with six amazing tours spanning three of the hottest Latin destinations – Peru, Argentina, and Brazil.

Want to win a South America Contiki trip? During the month of May, five travelers will have the opportunity to win a Contiki trp for two, including airfare, through our Pin Me If You Can contest! The contest highlights the diversity of the destinations via the release of weekly video clips featuring the passionate stories of real South American locals including an Amazon jungle guide, a surfer, a bar owner, a photographer and an artist. Entrants must pinpoint their exact location using a Google Maps mashup on the Pin Me If You Can website, with additional clues released on Contiki’s Facebook page.

If you’re interested in joining Contiki on these South American adventures, you can book these trips immediately, with the first of our tours running in November 2011.  Visit to find out more information and start playing Pin Me If You Can.  Happy globe-trotting!

5 Style Must-Haves On the Road

Guest Blog Post by: Tricia Craft, past Contiki staffer

As a former Contiki staff member, and a current slave to the fashion industry, I spent a lot  of time in a trial and error process attempting to have fun with fashion and express my style, while adapting to the necessary function and ease of dress necessary for travel. Here are my top 5 travel lessons on what to pack and why I think you will be glad you did.

Win the war on cobblestone roads:
Europe is full of charming cobblestone roads. This poses a problem for a fashionista traveling in European cities. While there is definite temptation to wear fabulous shoes in fabulous places, the high heel is a terrible mistake. In my experience, if you choose to wear your stiletto, kitten, or pumps while wandering these centuries old accident waiting to happen streets – you will hate yourself for it. I know because I attempted it one magical night in Florence, and I truly regretted it. However, I was just as appalled at the idea of showing up for a night of dinner and dancing in frumpy shoes. The best option if you’re looking to wear a shoe with some lift is a wedge style. SO much more comfortable and SO much easier to maneuver on the those tricky roads. I’m a huge fan of a wedge bootie/boot or sandal for a night out while traveling. It’s just not worth missing the sights and sounds around you, or the embarrassment of your tour manager pausing the group, because your high heel is jammed in a rut in the road.

Pack a Gold Star item:
In my opinion for the ladies, this would be a little black dress. All hail the LBD! I guarantee you will wear the hell out of it while traveling. Contiki Lifestyle offers a Hurley solid tank dress – made of viscoe/spandex, which won’t be as easy to wrinkle, that I would take with me on my next trip. I had a friend who had her luggage misplaced by the airlines, and she bought a simple cotton LBD. I watched her create about 20 different looks anchored by this dress over the course of 4 days. It works for a fun night out, and you can day time it up with a tank top or tee underneath, wear it to the beach, or if it gets cold add some tights. I say pack it in your carry on just in case of the unlikely event that the airlines “misplace” your luggage as well.

The power of the pashmina/scarf:
On my Contiki tour, I took a pashmina (i.e. an oversized thin knit or cashmere scarf) with me everywhere I went. I could jam it into almost any size bag or tie it to the handle of my purse. It’s lightweight and another great multi-purpose item: wrap it around your hair in the rain, use it as a shawl in the cold, ball it up as a pillow on the coach, sit on it for a picnic in the grass at Le Eiffel tower, or the obvious use, a simple and warm scarf. I always pack a pash.

Learn to love layers:
If my boyfriend came to me and said, what should I pack for 2 weeks of travel? There are 3 items I would say for sure: collared shirt, sweater, t-shirt. Here’s why: the idea is to get the most use out of every garment you pack. Garments you can wear individually, and again with something else to totally change the look. Layer the sweater over the collared shirt, the collared shirt over the t-shirt, the t-shirt over the collared shirt (my personal fave), the sweater over the t-shirt, the collared shirt on its own….and so on. You might think you’re okay treading around in an old college hoodie and New Balance tennies but trust me you will care when you’re in Italy and a well-tailored Romeo is smooth talking the ladies.

A bold colored flat for daytime:
Poppy Red FlatsI touched on this before but I can’t stress it enough – don’t be your own worst enemy and pack shoes that hurt 45 minutes into your walk down Las Ramblas. However, I hate to see people fall victim to the idea that to be comfortable you can’t express your style. I took my first trip to Paris with a newly recovered broken foot. My doctor was very specific about putting comfort and support above style and flash. Unfortunately, I wasn’t about to spend 3 days in Paris, one of the fashion capitals of the WORLD, in Skechers. So, I found a great pair of flats in a poppy red color that sassed up my outfits and were also comfortable enough to survive 8 hour days on foot. The stories those poppy red flats could tell…..


Tricia currently works in Product Development for a fashion design house in Los Angeles, CA, and formerly worked for the Contiki groups department in the US. She escaped from a small town in Idaho to live the dream in New York City before finding a resting point in Huntington Beach, Ca. Follow her blog at