Trust me - your gap year will be one of the best experiences of your life, and you’ll never forget it. Having said that, the memory is a funny thing and as you get older (trust me!) it gets harder to recall the minutiae of the past so our message here is 'record your adventures, as you go along, in some shape or form.'
Benefits are double whammy – firstly they provide the record to look back on in the future, and to show your Mum, Dad, granny, friends etc. when you get home AND secondly they provide the perfect medium (managed correctly) for friends, family etc to follow your amazing gap year adventures as you go along.
But what are the best and easiest ways to do this? Here are our favourite 5 solutions to help you get organised.
1. Take photos
Starting with the most obvious – taking photos of new places and friends is a no brainer. But what’s the best way to take and store your photos? Here's a few things to think about.
Obviously you want to get good quality snaps. So what camera do you take with you? There are many things to consider here – size, weight, image quality, your budget, battery life (critical). It can be really tempting to go the whole hog and get an all singing and dancing tripod, adaptable beast but really… you also want to enjoy your gap year experience without worrying that the beast isn't going to get stolen, damaged and more importantly do you really want to lug it around?
In all honesty, you’ll get great pictures with a small point and shoot camera or even better your phone’s camera without worrying about dropping it, lugging it and might I point out here… you’ll capture more moments if your camera can be quickly whipped out of your pocket, rather than in an zipped padded camera bag. Look at the phone’s light sensor, meagpixels and resolution - in fact, read this blog I found that will tell you all you need to know about the capabilities of your smartphone camera - genius. “Smart phone cameras uncovered”
But, if you are in the market for a new camera, check out ‘tough cameras’ for shockproof and waterproof options.
If you’re using your phone for taking pictures – there are some great apps you can use to take, upload and share pics with family, friends, or fellow travellers, or simply back up the pictures you’ve taken. One of our favourites is Trover (available on iOS and Android) which lets you share your adventures with other travellers – it’s also a great way of researching places you’re thinking of heading as you can flick through photos and when you see something that takes your interest you simply click on it to find out where it was taken - download this minute.
If you have an Android phone then make sure you get Google Photos installed to automatically backup your pictures. And of course don’t forget about Instagram. If you’re looking for the best apps available for your gap year have a read here…
- Ask permission before taking a photo of people or religious sights.
- Angle the camera 'up' for landscape photographs.
- Angle the camera 'down' for people pics – for some reason it makes everyone better looking when they look up, not that we have worry with photo above - so sweet.
2. Recording videos
If a picture paints a thousand words, what does a video do? Videos are great at helping you remember more details – photos are great but you don’t always remember the context or the details later. By recording video clips you can narrate your adventures to tell your future self where you were and what you were up to.
Phones are great for taking video clips, but the files can take up quite a bit of space, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got plenty of storage space and install a good quality SD card (if your phone allows). Another option is an 'action cam' – obviously, the best known one out there is the GoPro, but there are loads of other options available too. Another great thing that you can do with an action cam is mount it on yourself/your rucksack/your bike/whatever else you can think of! Then you can carry on with your adventure with the camera recording a video or a time lapse.
- Any videos over 2 minutes lose their impact and viewers concentration!
- Make sure the music you put it to is copyright free.
3. Writing your own blog
If you’re going to be travelling somewhere where you can access the internet on a regular basis, blogs are a great way of keeping a record of what you’re up to during your gap year and the perfect solution for keeping your friends and family in your gap year loop.
WordPress is pretty much the most popular blogging platform ever – and for a good reason, its super simple to get your own blog up and running. Within literally 10 to 20 minutes you’ll have your very own blog all setup. Take a look at WordPress.com, go through the 6 setup steps, and you’re all ready to start chronicling your adventures!
- Be realistic and work out before you go how you will manage this as you won’t want to spend an entire day in an internet cafe... try to find a heavenly sundowner moment, like this one in Tanzania, beer in hand to write little and often and upload later when you stumble across the internet.
4. Keeping a journal
As old school as it sounds, writing a journal or a diary is a great way of recording your personal experiences during your gap year. Not so much one for passing round the family for them to see what you’ve been up to, but going back to read yourself to remind you of particular events or check out your notes on something that you found interesting and want to do more research on.
The beauty of a journal is that you don’t need to have battery power and/or internet access - all you need to do is grab yourself a notebook and a pen. And don’t tie yourself down to writing a daily review of what you’ve been up to – this might be something that you do some days, or you might just want to jot down thoughts or questions or even make sketches.
- Keep scrap memorabilia to jog the memory, things like… beer mats from your favourite evening hangout, ferry receipts of that famous journey which took 24 hours and nearly finished you off or pictures from your students, like the one above. In fact, to teach at this school have a look at this program in Tanzania.
5. Be active on social media
If you’re used to keeping all your friends and family up to date via Facebook, Twitter or Google+ then why not continue to do the same while you’re away? Check-in at your new exotic location, tag your new found travel companions and post pictures and messages about where you are and who've just found. This heavily shelled up guy in the photo is apparently 100 years old and was found by our team in Madagascar whilst trekking across a remote tropical island. Doesn't get much better than that.
- Get everyone organised from home before you go – parents, aunts and grandparents may need a little help with their social media management.
Where is George Now?
The memory of a photo. This is George, who I met and lived with on my own gap year (yonder years ago). George will be 29 years old now...I often look back at this photo and wonder what became of him, if the teaching and care I gave him helped to steer the course of his life out of poverty? I hope so.
But, stop me there, before I get all sentimental. I've given you some pointers and ideas to help you record your own gap year adventures – but most importantly though, have fun doing it. Combine lots of the elements mentioned to make your own unique record of your journey and try to keep everyone at home happy.
Two words of warning:
- Don't try to do too much as you can end up spending all day looking down and not out.
- If you’re going to be using your phone to upload photos etc, beware of roaming charges.
on 22 / 06 / 2016