A few years back I met up with some local girls in a bar from an online networking website in attempt to broaden my social circles and meet new people. What little, taxing conversation we had centred solely around work. After what felt like an eternity I called lemon law on the situation and faked an emergency call home. I decanted my peach bellini in to a sports bottle in the foot well of my car and left, vowing never to put myself through the ordeal again. So it was a surprise even to me when I booked a Contiki trip snowboarding in Austria – basically a holiday with strangers – that had the potential to replicate this awkward encounter only without the escape of home 15 minutes down the road.

Most of us met in a basement bar in the centre of London before boarding our coach for the 20 something hour road trip. As we waited to get going, there was a relaxed atmosphere with only a very subtle hint of collective awkwardness. But this quickly disbanded during the drive and by the time we’d reached Hopfgarten names were starting to stick to faces and Facebook friend requests were rolling in.

Hopfgarten is a typical chocolate box Austrian market town which is perfectly situated for access to hundreds of kilometres of mountain ski runs. It’s also the home of Schoneck, the brand spanking new stylish Contiki accommodation. Everyone on our tour gathered in the bar for our induction:

“Put your hand up if you’ve not been on a Contiki trip before”. I raised my hand. “This is your trip. Contiki’s motto is #NoRegrets. Somewhere back home there is someone dreaming they could be where you are so make the most of it! Live it for you and for them.”

So maybe this isn’t word for word what our Tour Manager – Muzz – said but it was close enough and certainly made a lasting impression…

Parasailing, bobsledding down an Olympic run, themed parties, tobogganing at night, quizzes, Apres skiing and endless snowboarding – babes, it’s all there for the taking if you want it!

I feel incredibly fortunate to have come away from another snowboarding trip with all limbs in tact but even more so having met some of the most adventurous, vivacious life grabbing people you could wish to meet.

If this is starting to sound like a plug for Contiki then so be it! Do it, take the plunge if you haven’t already, you might just surprise yourself with what you find, who you meet and the person you are when you get home. #NoRegrets