Written by The Leap on 01 / 10 / 2021
Gap Year Advice
Next up on ‘Where in the World’ we’re looking at Australia and New Zealand. If you want guidance and support for backpacking in Australia and New Zealand, Leap VIP is where to head.
For the first time since pre-COVID, these countries are wide open, so we have a feeling that the backpacker is going to be whizzing down there this season. And we totally get why. Especially Australia, because it works so beautifully if you want to visit Asia after. Our recommendation is to go there for Christmas, why not? Enjoy Christmas in the sunshine. Arrive in Melbourne or Sydney and then work your way all the way to Cape Tribulation at the top. From there you can fly easily and cheaply to and around Asia, making your way home. Alternatively, you go straight to New Zealand, tour the islands then fly over to Australia to Melbourne or Sydney then work your way up. We get why they are so special. You definitely want to be there January, February, March time so you really make the most of their summer.
In these countries you are going to see contrasting scenery. In Australia you can go from the desert, to the jungle, to amazing beaches. In New Zealand… Lord of the Rings, what more do we have to say? You’ve got the adventure: white water rafting, skiing, skydiving, bungee jumping. You can do all of that in these amazing places. New Zealand is set up perfectly for the backpacker. They are desperate for people to return so they make life easy for the traveller, from hostels to bus networks. A super easy place to navigate as a gap year traveller.
If you're specifically interested in reasons to visit the Land Down Under, here is a list of things to know before you kick off your gap year:
A study by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has found Australia is the most sought-after destination, followed by New Zealand and the USA. It has always been popular amongst backpackers and, with its laidback culture, jaw-dropping scenery and endless sunshine, it’s easy to see why. There are endless reasons to gap year in Australia - here's just a few of them:
Australia is one heck of a large country and the variation between the different regions will make you feel like you’re travelling through several countries, as opposed to just one. It’s home to some of the best beaches in the world, and with over 10,000 to explore, your options are hardly limited!
The majority of these beaches are natural, unspoilt and wild, with crystal clear water and waves that are perfect for surfing. As well as the beaches, you’ll find rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef near Queensland, mountains a few hours north of Melbourne and Kangaroo Island near Adelaide, which boasts an array of wildlife including koalas, whales and dolphins, as well as kangaroos.
One the whole, Australians are a friendly, cheerful bunch, who‘ll be more than happy to help you and make you feel at home in their country. In fact, it's officially the world's seventh friendliest country for tourists according to the World Economic Forum The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015.
If you’re travelling solo, expect to be approached by locals everywhere from shops and pubs to public transport and even on the street, as they’re usually eager to learn about your reasons for visiting and tell you more about Australian culture.
You’ll also find you get invited along to all sorts of things with them, such as trips to the beach, bar crawls, gigs and sporting events - sweet as!
Australia has a moderate climate, with hot, glorious summers and mild winters. There are in fact just a couple of places in the country that ever receive snow and the further north you travel, the warmer it gets.
Because of this, Australians spend a great deal of time outdoors enjoying the sun – whether it’s barbecues in the garden, sports on the beach or drinking outside bars, you’ll find people soaking up the rays at every turn. Bare in mind that the sun here is very strong, so it’s essential to pack plenty of suncream and hats.
Travelling is a whole lot easier when you can talk to anyone in your language without worrying that they won’t understand a word you’re saying (and vice versa). Things like asking for directions, checking bus times and ordering meals can be extremely challenging when you don’t know the local lingo.
But fortunately, in Australia, this is one obstacle you won’t have to overcome. There is, however, a great deal of Australian slang, but you’ll undoubtedly pick this up in no time.
Australia is just around the corner from Southeast Asia, meaning you can check out Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos on route. Alternatively, if you’re planning to spend your entire gap year in Aus, you can hop across to these countries for a short break, before heading back.
At The Leap, we offer 4-week programmes to Vietnam and Cambodia. These involve supporting the Red Road Foundation's work with local communities, going from Siem Reap down to the beach, travelling all the way from the north to the south - the perfect way to kick off a gap year for those looking to travel to that part of the world. Check out the itineraries below:
Going Down Under?
Have you been already been to Australia? What did you most like and dislike about it? Share your stories and advice with others by posting in the comments box below.
on 01 / 10 / 2021