Hit the road
Off on your travelling adventure? We’re here to help you on your way!
Travelling, arguably the most versatile thing you can do on your Gap Year. However, with that versatility comes a lot of planning and it’s all on you, that’s where we come in to help.
Why Should I Go?
There are hundreds of reasons to go travelling but here are 3 that’ll have you booking flights in no time:
- It’s Fun. To put it very simply you will have a shed load of fun. Who doesn’t enjoy sipping a Chang that cost you the equivalent of 50p watching the sun set over the white-sand shores of a beautiful Thai Island? Or seeing a tiger in the wild less than an arm’s length away in India? Or sliding down waterfalls and jumping off cliffs whilst canyoning in Vietnam?
- You Will Grow Up. Despite the classic ‘I found myself on my gap year’ statement being a bit of an exaggeration, there is some truth in the matter. For many people it’s the first time they’ve left home, and they will have to sort out problems themselves. Whether it’s being scammed out of your whole weeks allowance or a flight being cancelled last minute leaving you stranded overnight there’s no Mum or Dad to bail you out, you’re on your own.
- Make New Friends. If you’re travelling alone or with a friend, you will meet people along the way. Lots of these people will be in very similar situations to you, lots will be completely different, all should have an interesting story or two to tell. Most you will meet for a day or two and never see again. However, some could become friends for life, especially if you’re travelling alone.
Where Should I Go?
Wherever your heart desires! The stereotypical ‘Gap Yah’ route tends to involve India, South-East Asia and Australia or New Zealand. There’s a reason why these places are so well-travelled so why not find out for yourself? However, you could step off the beaten track and try something a bit different. China, South America and the Middle-East could all be a great alternative that will have your mates wishing they’d gone with you. Picking your countries is the easy part, it’s knowing where to go in those countries-that’s the hard part. We’ve got a few suggestions to help you out:
- Travel Agents. Travel agents such as STA Travel can be helpful. Look at their websites for some inspiration (https://www.statravel.co.uk/travel-blog/) or go in and talk to one of their agents.
- Vlogs/Blogs. Lots of people document their travels very well on YouTube or writing blogs online.
- Friends and Family. Talk to people who’ve been travelling before. Find out the best bits from their trip and, if you like the sound of it, go there!
When should I go?
There are a few factors that decide this:
- Money. Most people don’t have the luxury of having enough money to jet off straight after school. Therefore, you’ll have to work out how much money you need to earn before you go. How much your trip will cost is completely up to you and which countries you visit. You could spend as little as £500 a month to well over £2000. It all depends on how much you value a functioning toilet versus the more authentic hole in the ground!
- Must Do Activities. Some things are time dependant. For example, full moon parties only happen when there is a full moon-shock! Also, activities like the Inca trail get booked up months in advance. Pen these non-negotiable items in your calendar and work around them.
- Weather. The main thing to be aware of is Monsoon Season. Countries such as India and South-East Asia will not be fun to travel with torrential rain all day, every day. Double-check the weather in every country you want to go to beforehand-you wouldn’t want any nasty surprises.
How do I book?
So, you’ve decided where you’re going and what you’re doing. Now all that’s left is how! Booking through travel agents can be very helpful, they’ll do most of it for you, however they often charge slightly over-the-odds and push you to buy their tours. If you want to do it yourself, here are the main things to think about:
- Flights. Sites like https://www.skyscanner.net/ compare flights and help you find the cheapest ones. Also, a great sign up is: https://jacksflightclub.com/. It is a guy who sends out a regular newsletter with the sole purpose of getting you cheap flights, completely free of charge!
- Hostels. I suggest pre-booking a hostel/hotel for the first night you get to a country just to get you on your feet. After that, booking on-the-go with the hostelworld app (https://www.hostelworld.com/) allows you to be flexible. The app shows you all the hostels in your local area and you can read the reviews about them.
- Vaccinations. Go to your local GP and tell them which countries you’re visiting and when. Some vaccinations are given to you on the NHS but quite a few are not. You can go to places like Boots to get these although they can be quite pricey so make sure to include them in your budget. You should also enquire early as most are a series of vaccinations which take a few months to do.
- Visas. The one rule with Visas that you must follow is- only use information and follow links from the gov.uk websites. In fact, I suggest reading all the safety information on these websites. Other websites can prove to have faulty information and sell dodgy visas. Once again, these can sometimes take months to go through so get them done early!
What should I pack?
Finally ready to go on your trip but don’t know what to pack? Here are some must haves for you to travel with:
- 1-2 Weeks Clothes. You won’t be able to pack your clothes for the whole trip therefore only pack a small amount. Don’t worry about having to wash your clothes as most hostels offer a cheap laundry service.
- Sleeping Bag Liner. Sometimes hostels don’t have the nicest bedding so bring one of these along as an alternative. I recommend splashing out for a silk one to keep you cooler as night.
- Mosquito Net. In areas with Malaria this will be a requirement however you can use them everywhere to stop getting bitten.
- Portable Charger. Get the biggest you can get with these as they’ll be a must have for those overnight buses.
- Medical Kit. You never know when you might need it!
You should be ready to go and discover the world! Just remember to dive head first into everything. Try and do as much as you can and meet as many people you can. It’s your chance to make memories of a lifetime!