'Van tour' and 'Doing a Contiki": grand 'backpacker' tours of Europe

Author: Wilson, Judith; Fisher, David F.; Moore, Kevin

Publisher: Channel View Publications., Clevedon, UK

Type: Book item

Link to this item using this URL: https://hdl.handle.net/10182/5089

Lincoln University


The need to research a wider geographic diversity of destinations and backpacker contexts has been recognised as an area of concern in backpacker studies (Richards & Wilson, 2004b). While a range of studies and market reports have variously addressed the ‘youth’ or the ‘student’ travel market, most have considered Europe as a source of outbound backpacker travellers and not as a destination per se. This chapter addresses backpacker tourism in Europe, an important destination for several reasons: first, Europe is where backpacker tourism originated; and second, European destinations continue to attract many thousands of backpackers. For decades there has been a tradition of young New Zealanders and Australians going to Britain and Europe on extended travel trips. In New Zealand such an experience is called the ‘OE’ (sometimes the ‘Big OE’), a trip of extended duration that usually involves living, working and travelling outside New Zealand for a number of years. Investigation of the OE offers a unique opportunity to trace some of the changes in backpacker travel over time as practised and experienced by a specific group (or nationality) of travellers. With its focus on Europe, an exploration of OE travel also adds to the geographic diversity of destinations studied. To understand the travel behaviour of any group, the contexts within which it occurs historical, temporal, global, social, cultural, institutional, spatial are important. In spite of political, social and institutional changes in tourism over time, OE travellers still follow the same routes and travel patterns they have for decades; yet in many ways their experiences have changed over time. This chapter explores these travel patterns and the changes within them, focusing on two iconic travel experiences of the OE, the ‘van tour’ and ‘doing a Contiki’.

Subjects: overseas experience (OE), backpackers, Contiki, van tour, tourism, Europe

Copyright: Copyright © 2008 Kevin Hannam, Irena Ateljevic and the authors of individual chapters (With the exceptions noted in http://researcharchive.lincoln.ac.nz/page/rights, this metadata is available under a Creative Commons Zero license.)