So, you want to travel on your gap year but you're not sure how to go about it. Honestly, you're not alone, at this time of year the phone is buzzing away with gappers trying to work it out. Other than the destination, the hardest decision is to bottom out the travel experience - do you want travel alone aka the ‘lone wolf’ or are you more of a ‘pack animal’ and fancy the security of others to encourage you to head off the beaten track? Decisions, decisions and that’s before you've decided what to pack…
So, to help out I have jotted down some helpful pointers to help you identify which will work best for you …
The Lone Wolf
Travel style: Loves to go with the flow and travel with utter freedom, making decisions on a daily basis and changing them on an hourly basis. This type of traveller will be a pro at hostel hopping and making friends pool side. They love to chat.
Where: Asia or South America is their perfect destination as the hostels are brilliant, traveller hang outs easily found and the local transport works like a dream to link every place together.
Grittier Option: Occasionally they will slot something grittier into their itinerary by stopping in one place on their global tour to do a few weeks of volunteering before their feet get itchy again. We sort out lots of lone wolves with their volunteering in destinations like Sri Lanka and Nepal where we arrange for them to live with a local family, getting fully immersed into the local culture and helping teach, care in a school or hospital. These experiences help the lone wolf get off the beaten track and do so much more than hostel hop. It also gives them time to stay put for a while, feel grounded and be in a family environment – which let’s be honest is heaven after weeks in noisy hostels.
The Pack Animal
Travel Style: If the Lone wolf isn’t your kind of thing, no worries, me neither. When I ventured off last year, I knew I needed the camaraderie of others to encourage me to venture off the beaten track. Us pack animals love meeting new people from all walks of life but walking cold into a hostel night after night isn’t our thing. We need more structure, a plan and in the perfect world a ready-made family of friends to make us happy.
Where: Africa and South America is where the packs head off to as they are happy to get way off the beaten track knowing that they are travelling with others and the tough logistics are being organised by those in the know.
Grittier Option: I joined an overland trip across Africa which combined adventure with off grid destinations but if I was to go again I would definitely include a phase of volunteering as I know this is the best way to connect with local families and get fully immersed into local culture. Living it, not just travelling on by is our mantra. We look after many pack animals as they join our team Leap experiences to access far-away lands like Madagascar and all involve elements of adventure and volunteering. Using our local resources and knowledge we have on the ground they access all corners of the earth safely, with a group of friends. We take out all the hassle leaving the pack animal to enjoy the remote locations and make a difference where it counts. We can even look after your flights if you fancy, we’re nice like that.
Where in the world
What is it that makes you tick? Jungle, mountains or beach? Hot, humid or arid? It all comes down to what you enjoy and where can you see yourself spending your time. Can you see yourself rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty amongst the dust camping in stunning Namibia on our conservation project or are you more finding Nemo in Madagascar living on a tiny island while perhaps learning to scuba if you fancy? Maybe you would rather be a hippy on the beach in Costa Rica saving the turtles by day and a cocktail in hand in a hammock by night, I don’t blame you! Speak to relatives, friends, neighbours, colleagues, your pet (?!)
Food for thought
Promise me two things:
Whatever you do, travel meaningfully by contributing to the local communities and environments you meet. Travelling is not just about learning about your hosts culture, they are also just as interested in yours and where you come from.
Keep an open mind and take a little step outside of your comfort zone and don’t look back. Never in a million years did I ever think I would choose to spend 6 weeks camping across Africa - I totally surprised myself.
We’re on hand 24/7 to keep your show on the road (or sea, or mountain, we’re easy!) and ensure you have a wonderful adventure whatever type of traveller you are.
Now time to dust off the backpack and put it to good use…passport, purse, check.
on 01 / 03 / 2019