For many young Aussies, embarking on a Contiki Tour for fun-filled weeks of travel, partying, friends and flings during a gap year or university break before they knuckle down and start taking life seriously is a rite of passage.
Sometimes, as these couple prove, those casual holiday flings can turn into something much more.
From love at first sight to a friendship that turned into something more, three couples tell their love story that started on a Contiki tour, how they made it work and what they’ll be doing this Valentine’s Day.
Claudia and Ben (pictured) share how they met and fell in love while travelling and two other couples tell of how they found ‘the one’ while on Contiki
Claudia and Ben – together seven years
Claudia, 28, was on a swamp boat tour in New Orleans, Louisiana – her ‘favourite place on earth’ – when she spotted Ben, 33, and his ‘cute man bun’ so she built up the courage to go up and introduce herself to him but choked on a fly.
Despite the rocky start, Ben thought Claudia was ‘smoking hot’ and the pair hit it off straight away, becoming ‘inseparable’ for the rest of the tour.
‘We had been out drinking and I was quoting a line from the movie Friends with Benefits, without any hesitance, Ben finished the line. It was game over right there,’ Claudia recalled.
Claudia, 28, and Ben, 33, hit it off straight away becoming ‘inseparable’ when they met while in New Orleans on Contiki
It was a lucky coincidence the pair met as Ben had been travelling around the US with a friend who suddenly went back home, leaving him by himself.
‘He called Contiki and they said if you get on a flight now you can jump on the grand southern – that was halfway through – in New Orleans, but you have to be there by tomorrow morning. So, he literally was at Dallas airport and flew out to New Orleans,’ Claudia said.
When the tour finished in New York, Claudia was meeting up with her mum and brother to travel some more so Ben extended his trip to stay with her.
After their travels, Ben went home to the Gold Coast and Claudia to Sydney but they messaged ‘non-stop’.
They would take turns travelling to see each other on alternating weekends then after ten months Ben made the move down to Sydney.
Ben and Claudia tied the knot last Halloween after seven years together and, as they’re both huge fans of the American NFL will be spending this Valentine’s Day on the couch watching the Superbowl.
Ben and Claudia tied the knot last Halloween after seven years together and, as they’re both huge fans of the American NFL will be spending this Valentine’s Day on the couch watching the Superbowl
Josh and Jessie – together three years
It was love at first sight for Josh, 27, when he spotted Jessie, 26, on the London leg of their Contiki tour.
‘The first words I heard Josh utter were “God it’s cold!”‘ Jess recalled.
‘We both knew pretty much from the get-go that this was something special and we wanted to see what life brought us.’
Josh and Jessie abandoned the tour in Dublin and flew to Paris together instead of catching the bus back to London.
Eventually, Josh went home to Brisbane while Jessie continued travelling.
It was love at first sight for Josh, 27, when he spotted Jessie, 26, on the London leg of their Contiki tour
When Jessie got home to Perth, Josh immediately booked a trip to Perth to see her.
‘We did long distance for over a year where we would take turns flying back and forth every month or so. Somehow, it worked really well! It was difficult, but we both made it work,’ Jessie said.
‘Josh would work night shift and sleep during the day where as I’m a teacher and work during the day. But every dinner break of his, we would FaceTime. We always just made sure we communicated and had plans in place when we would see each other.’
After a year of long distance, Josh took the plunge and moved to Perth to be with Jessie just before Covid hit.
While strict boarder closures mean he hasn’t been home for two years to see his family, he is happy in Perth with Jessie and the pair recently bought a house together where they live with their two kittens Lucy and Phoebe.
While strict boarder closures mean he hasn’t been home for two years to see his family, he is happy in Perth with Jessie and their pair recently bought a house together where they live with their two kittens Lucy and Phoebe
Belinda and Peter – together 15 years
Belinda, 40, from Brisbane was freshly divorced and looking for an adventure while Peter, from Long Island, US, took the opportunity to travel while on summer break as a history teacher and what started as a ‘convenient holiday fling’ turned into something much more.
‘It was a Contiki Ultimate European so 45 days with the same 45 people jammed on a bus,’ Belinda said.
Belinda and Peter, both 40, hit it off on a Contiki tour around Europe which she described as ’45 days with the same 45 people jammed on a bus’
‘It took a few days before our paths really crossed. I first remember speaking with Peter on the bus after a rainy visit to Versailles although I didn’t make my move until Corfu.’
After spending the rest of the tour joined at the hip, the pair put on a brave face and ‘tried to act pretty casual’ when it was time to part ways and stayed in touch, as friends, when they were back home, then Peter made the journey out to Australia.
‘The idea was he had eight weeks to travel the entire country with the first couple of weeks at my place. He arrived and just never continued on doing that trip,’ Belinda said.
‘Once he got back to New York that was when we admitted we each loved the other and that was when the long distance started.’
Three of their friends who they made on the Contiki tour, David, Rebecca and Carissa, travelled from all corners the globe to celebrate their nuptials with them
They made it work through lots of phone calls, messages and trips back and forth, then when the pair got engaged, Belinda’s visa came through and she moved to New York.
The couple just celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary last Saturday, February 12.
Three of their friends who they made on the Contiki tour, David, Rebecca and Carissa, travelled from all corners the globe to celebrate their nuptials with them.
Belinda and Peter will be spending their Valentine’s Day at home with their 18-month-old son and three dogs.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk