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A letter from the editors... Welcome to the first edtion of Gap Year Traveller. Each month we will bring you the best advice and in depth guides to the hottest destinations around the world. Paris was our city of the month and we’ve brought you an alternative guide to things to see and do. Whilst a trip to Auscwhitz proved to be emotional as part

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of our Must Visit Places series. We have also compiled a list of the top websites you would be mad to miss, before setting off on your travels. And finally we spoke to veteran travellers who have returned from their trips of a lifetime, to provide you with some insider knowledge. We hope you enjoy our very first issue , if you have any com-

ments or questions e-mail us at GYTraveller@hotmail.co.uk and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @GYTravel

Matthew Dyas & Emma Leech


Contents 4. Step off the Beaten Track:

All the websites you need to check out for that ‘native’ experience.

8. 30 seconds with- Sean Dodson:

We chat with wisened travel guru Sean Dodson about his travels.

10. City of the monthParis:

Five essential things to see and do when visiting the city of love

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22. Must Visit PlacesAuschwitz:

A historical location, and a surprising tourist attraction.

30. In The Know:

People who have ‘been there and done that’ on their gap years.

With thanks to: Joe Large Jessica Ross Emma Lawrence Megan Waring Emma Hayes Rebecca Fairclough

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Photographs: Holocaust Educational Trust Dom Tautley Utnaptisim Couchsurfing Cocoinoco Gap Year Traveller | 3


Step of beaten S

o, you want to travel foreign lands far and wide but don’t want to merely follow the crowds and visit stereotypical landmarks?

But you are unsure how to uncover the hidden gems without wandering aimlessly through streets of unpronounceabletowns? Then fear not, as we have searched for all the ideal sites- so that you can find your ideal sights.

Sofa Sleeping

The best way to discover what is out there is to explore a country as a native. Branch away from the clichés, step off the beaten track and find something more meaningful and personal to really make your experience an unforgettable one. Who better to turn to for advice on how to live like a local, than a local? 4 | Gap Year Traveller

Above: Couchsurfing logo

The first port of call to check in to is www.couchsurfing.com the world’s largest hospitality exchange network. Set up in 2004, the site has over 2.2 million members in 237 countries. The website is unique as it is


ff the track

by Emma Leech

a network for people offering their sofas as a free place to sleep for individuals, groups and even families visiting their hometown.

“The best way to discover what is out there is to ask the people who know best and exploring the country as a native.”

The website, free to sign up, has a hubbub of homes worldwide offering a couch, and in return you have the option of offering your couch to travellers. When joining, there are various

options available as to what ‘status’ you wish to be; you can make your couch available to others, or simply make it clear you are looking for advice and possibly a place to stay. Similarly to Facebook, Couch-

Right: Sound asleep on a sofa Gap Year Traveller | 5


surfing has profiles, so you can search for a location and then look for people in the area offering their sofa.

provide photographs, blogs and reviews. The search bar at the top makes it simple to find exactly what you are looking for, whether it is a particular city, region or attraction.

With most members you can see photos and information to find a little more about the per- When clicking on your chosen destination, the web page will son you may be staying with. bring up popular hotels in the area according to feedback Many of the members also from members, a list of top 10 pride themselves on not only offering a place to stay but also things to do in the area and provide an opportunity to show a comprehensive guide from off the local sights, from a na- bloggers and reviewers for you to help make your mind up. tive’s perspective. This is a unique chance to be pointed out the local hotspots and be given honest advice on where to go, what to do and what you may want to avoid. The website is useful even if the thought of catching forty winks at somebody else’s home doesn’t appeal to you. Many members are more than happy to give you information via email on where to go and what to do during your stay, simply message them and you will be surprised at just how willing most will be to provide hints and tips for you to create your own unique experience.

Talk to Travellers Another website to uncover is www.igougo.com . This time, fellow travellers who have already explored the territory 6 | Gap Year Traveller

Below: A supper club in Paris

The sidebar also has other options such as restaurants, nightlife, sports and shopping, with a list of who has previously visited the location, so you can click on their profile to ask any more information you may want.

Feast at a Foreigners Finding authentic local cuisine can be harder than you may first think. For those who are not interested in overpriced restaurants or chain restau-


rants, and are looking for a real taste of the native life -experience a supper club. www.supperclubfangroup. com

travel next or just looking for somewhere to kick off your adventures, this website will show you where in the world is cheapest.

Supper clubs are put on by locals for people to visit their home and enjoy a meal. This is a great opportunity to socialise with other travellers and locals as well as encounter a brand new experience in a different country. They tend to be off the maintstream radar so this site will be perfect to see whether there are any where you are planning to go.

You can also find the best hotel offers, car hire and holiday deals as the site scans through companies such as Expedia, Holiday Inn and LateRooms.com.

Many suggest a ‘donation’ with a minimum amount to cover basic costs.

On Google Advanced change your ‘region’ to the country you are visiting but keep the language in English to find the top search results for that country.

Be Spontaneous

NomadNo Money

For those who love spontaneity and the excitement of the unknown then visit www.skyscanner.net .

After finishing university many are hardly in the position to travel the world with a limitless supply of money.

Simply type in your current location, the date you would like to go and hit search to discover where the cheapest place to fly to is.

If you research before you go, then you will be able to properly plan costs and find alternatives to the pricier side of travelling.

Skyscanner searches from a range of sites, to find those fiscal flyers the best offer. Whether you are indecisive where to

There is no reason why you should revisit student squalor and live off Supernoodles and beans on toast to survive.

Check out the reviews to make sure it is worth a visit and see what the terms are with regards to paying.

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www.europebudgetguide.com helps hunt out those bargains abroad. Ranging from ‘budget sleeps’, ‘budget deals’ and even covering ‘budget Britain’, this site is ideal if you are beginning to feel the pinch as a globetrotter. Europe budget guide suggests and reviews cheap places to stay and visit with photographs for you to see for yourself. www.letsgo.com has recently celebrated its 50th birthday claiming that ‘young and budget- savvy travelers turn to Let’s Go for the freshest coverage, insider tips, and an authentic perspective.’ The website, is easy to use with a list of countries and options to read other blogs, stories and reviews and look at stunning photographs from travellers holiday albums.

“Make notes and take pictures so that you can share your own experiences with others on your return.”

30 seconds with...

Sean Dodson Journalist at the Guardian and University lecturer We had thirty seconds to speak to Sean on his personal experiences of travelling and what he suggests to others...

Where did your travels take you to? “I visited Athens, motorbiked all round Cyprus and then went on to Haifa in Israel, eventually finishing in Cairo.” How could you afford to travel for so many years? “I worked in Televive on a building site during some of my time there, which helped to pay for a lot of my travelling” Was there anywhere you wouldn’t go back to?

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Above: Sean Dodson

“Cairo. It was the most dangerous place I have ever been to. I was accosted twice in my short time there.” Would you recommend others to take time out to travel? “Definitely. I think that the older you are to go to University the better. You have more idea what you want to do in life.” What travel website do you recommend? I have used couchsurfing quite a few times, for information and for a place to stay. What is your one top tip? “Go native. Live the life as a local to really appreciate every country.” Gap Year Traveller | 9


City of the month

PARIS In this month’s city guide Matthew Dyas visits the city of love. Here is his countdown of the top 5 things to do; packed full of top-tips and insider knowledge to make sure your visit is unforgettable....

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5.

Do as a tourist does

You’re in Paris so you’re going to do the touristy things aren’t you? I mean what’s the first thing people are going to ask you when you get back ‘Did you go up the Eiffel Tower?’ So go up. Even if it’s just so you can say that you’ve done it. But don’t go up expecting romance, unless you’re idea of a hot date involves queuing for hours; Stuck in a long line full of young couples, publicly displaying their love for each other. If you’re going to do it, make sure you walk up the first set of stairs and then get the lift from 12 | Gap Year Traveller

there. Not only is it cheaper but you get to enjoy the views as you ascend whilst avoiding the first set of queues. Don’t get me wrong; once you’ve dodged all the tourists and the somewhat scary touts trying to sell you cheap tat and you’re at looking out from the top of the tower, the view is definitely worth it. Also if you go at night, don’t miss the spectacular light show that takes place for the first five minutes of every hour. Whilst you’re here visits to Notre Dame Cathedral, Monmartre, the Arc de Triomphe and

the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa are all musts. But avoid the temptation to get on one of the sight-seeing busses, and travel by foot, you’ll get to see more of the city. Invest in a city guide, it may become a bit tattered by the end of the trip but it’s invaluable when you’re making your way around the city. Opposite page clockwise from top right: A view from the top of the tower; Tatty map nea the end of the trip; Arc de Triomphe; Matthew climbing the steps to the top of the tower; A view of the tower at night.


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4. You’re probably exhausted from all that sight-seeing, now is the perfect time to sit down and just relax at one of Paris’s many cafés. Well, I say relax, you won’t be able to after you’ve drank every Parisian’s favourite, an espresso. That’s all everyone seems to drink, as you walk past each café you’re bound to see someone with a tiny shot of espresso in one hand and a Opposite page clockwise from top: A view from the top of Monmartre; The Pompidou Centre; Sitting at a cafe watching Paris go by.

People watch

cigarette in the other. Strangely, along with said caffeine kick they all seem to have a glass of water as well, acting as a sort of a chaser. But avoid the temptation to indulge in an espresso at every place you stop at because you won’t be able to sleep, although on the bright side it will save you money on hotel fees. In all seriousness, do take the time to relax. Visit a café, most have outside seating, positioned facing outwards so you can watch the world go by. It’s so refreshing to be somewhere where people-watching is encouraged. We all secretly do it

here in England, but are quick to avert our glance in case we make eye-contact with the local maniac. Yet in Paris it’s different, so make the most of it. But you don’t have to be in a café Whether you’re sat on the edge of the river Seine on a hot Summer’s day when the sun is cracking the flags or perched on a wall outside the Pompidou Centre on a crisp Winter’s day all wrapped up to avoid the biting cold, just sit back and enjoy the people that pass by in one of the world’s most culturally diverse cities.

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3.

Lock in the love

Paris has long been seen as the city of love and if you happen to be here on a romantic weekend there is one thing you just have to do, buy a padlock. Not to protect your suitcase from luggage looters, but to be part of the growing trend of lovers sticking cadenas d’amour (love padlocks to you and me) to the railings of the Pont des Arts bridge over the Seine. Over the past few years the bridge, which links Left Bank to the Louvre, has been adorned with thousands of padlocks, emblazoned with the 16 | Gap Year Traveller

initials of their lovers. Couples often throw the key into the river Seine as a sign of undying love, or keep it and open the padlock when they next return. A true sign of everlasting love one might think. Actually, it’s not. Town hall officials had the majority of locks removed back in May but that hasn’t stopped people carrying on the tradition. It’s had the adverse effect if anything, raising the publicity of the craze which means once again the bridge is full of locks and although it might not be there forever it’s a romantic

gesture that won’t be forgotten in a hurry. But if you are going to lock your love to a bridge, make sure you take the padlock with you. I assure you that there is nothing worse than trawling the back streets of an unfamiliar city looking for a hardware store then trying to explain what a padlock is in a foreign language. Opposite page clockwise from top left: Materials needed; Matthew attaching the lock to the bridge; The lock amongst all the others; Ribbon blows in the wind.


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2.

Eat, then eat some more

France is famous for its culinary expertise; Paris alone has 96 Michelin stars. As nice as it would be to enjoy some fine dining at one of these fancy establishments, for many of us students, such an extravagance would mean a visit a to a dodgy loan-shark or perhaps selling your Granny. Not to worry though, there are plenty of other delicacies to try, so leave the healthy eating habits at home and indulge. One thing you have to try is a macaroon, these colourful meringue-based almond treats come in a variety of flavours were certainly my choice of treat when I was in Paris. If you’re going to try some, go to McDonalds, yes McDonalds. They sold little boxes of five Opposite page clockwise from top; L’as Du Fallafel on Rue Des Rosiers; The delicious falafel wrap; Chocolate filled crepe available everywhere; Matthew about to enjoy a pistachio macaroon.

which worked out cheaper than one from other places and they taste so good I couldn’t tell the difference. If you really have a sweet tooth, be sure to try crepes, there available everywhere and are especially delicious filled with chocolate. Another must is a visit one of the patisseries, first thing in the morning. I rarely eat breakfast but it quickly became my favourite meal of the day, even when I had drank a bit too much vino the night before. The smell when you walk in is amazing as is the vast selction on offer. From the classic croissants to the pain au chocolat, I must have tried everything. One of my culinary highlights of the trip was also one of the cheapest. I bought a big tub of pate from and a large baguette from a local supermarket and sat beneath the Eiffel tower and devoured the lot, not

only was it delicious but I felt like a local. Last but not least, falafel. Who doesn’t like falafel? Exactly. The best place to eat it has to be ‘L’as Du Fallafel’, established in 1979 on the Rue des Rosiers, in the heart of Paris’s Jewish quarter. We first noticed the place due to the huge queue of locals patiently waiting for their falafel outside, every man and their dog seemed to be eating here. Everyone ignored all the other empty falafel shops on the street, instead opting to join the back of the long queue. But once I’d tasted the falafel wrap I understood why, it was worth the wait. It was cheap and most importantly it was delicious and filling, the perfect combination for a budget-conscious tourist on the go. Admittedly it’s not the first food you think of when you think of Paris, but you have to try it. Gap Year Traveller | 19


1.

Dine with a legend

When people ask me what Paris was like, I have to fight the urge to tell them about my favourite thing just in case they don’t get it because it is quite strange at first glance… ‘Well I’d read about this man called Jim who holds a dinner party for strangers every Sunday night at his home in the centre of Paris, so I emailed him and went along.’ But that’s exactly what happened and I think it’s the defining moment of my trip and something I’ll never forget. The man in question was Jim Haynes. He’s been holding open-invite dinner parties, every Sunday for the last 30 years. Each week around 70 strangers flock to Jim’s home to enjoy food, drink and most importantly, meet exciting people. I met a reiki expert from Scotland who travels the world on tour with aging rock stars, a bearded monk from the USA

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and a group of Parisians who go to the meal every week and it’s easy to understand why people go back again-again. The atmosphere was fantastic and the food was as good as anywhere I’d eaten in Paris, if not better. Each week Jim gets a friend to act as chef, when I was there it was the turn of a Lecturer called Katy, who made a delicious vegetarian pie. Jim is a living legend, originally from Louisana, he’s lived in Venezuela, London, Edinburgh and Amsterdam before settling in Paris and has so many stories to tell. An important figure in 60’s counterculture, he was friends with John Lennon and Yoko amongst others and also helped set up the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and launched a sexual freedom newspaper in Amsterdam called Suck. Exactly! What a guy. His dinner parties have also

become stuff of legends as well, being the subject of features in major newspapers across the world and even starring in After Eight mint advertising campaign back in 2009. But the best thing is, Jim operates an open-house policy. Everyone is welcome, all you have to do is call or send an email, and that’s exactly what I did. I sent an e-mail explaining that I was coming over to Paris; he emailed back saying I would be more than welcome and gave me his address. It’s said that Jim has entertained over 120,000 so far, so why not get involved, you never know who you might meet but there is one thing for sure, you will have an unforgettable night. Opposite page clockwise from top left; The delightful vegetarian meal; Chef Katy and Jim Haines show off their fancy hats; Guests mingle in the courtyard; Jim and Matthew pose for a photo.


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AUSCHWITZ BIRKENAU As part of our Must Visit Places series we visited one of the most unusual, yet most popular tourist attractions in Europe, a Nazi-death camp in Poland. Popular with stag parties and even groups of Neo Nazi, we went along to find out why.

by Matthew Dyas “Arbeit Macht Frei” is the German phrase that greets our group as we enter the Auschwitz I concentration camp. As we pass under the wroughtiron gate, the local guide reveals the translation, “Work Makes You Free” a motto, which belies the true atrocities that took place in the Nazi concentration camp during World War II and which leaves my group and me in silence. At first glance Auschwitz I doesn’t look like a bad place. Despite the barbed wire fence surrounding the perimeter, it’s not a stretch of the imagination to picture the rows of bricked buildings as coveted, pricey apartments, inhabited by young 22 | Gap Year Traveller

professionals. But then again, this wasn’t built as a death camp; it was originally a Polish barracks. Situated in the small town of Oscwiem, (about thirty minutes drive from Krakau airport) pre-1939 it was a vibrant town with a population of 12,000, 80% of them were Jewish. It’s only when we look around do we discover what lies beneath this peaceful façade. Established in 1940, Clockwork from top right: The rows of former barraks at Auschwitz I;Wrought iron sign as you enter the compound;A bird rests on the barbed war fence; Rows of shelters surrounded by barbed wire fences; Railway track leading to the centre of Birkenau, on it a replica train carriage which carried the prisoners to the camp.


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Auschwitz I was primarily a concentration camp used to house the Polish political prisoners. It wasn’t used purely as a prison for long, as the war progressed so did the idea of eradicating the Jews from the planet. The firing squad had become too inefficient; a new method of killing was needed. In the medical block our group get to visit the gas chamber, it was here that the cyanide rat-poison gas, Zyklon B, was first tested on people to see if it could be could be used for mass exterminations. The local guide, Lucas Szatko, then led us past rooms full of belongings that were seized by the Nazis. For me, this is when the realisation kicked in. 24 | Gap Year Traveller

‘Perhaps most shocking is the vast pile of human hair’ A room containing 40,000 pairs of shoes revealed the grand scale of the operation. The guide explained that those sent to straight to the gas chamber where asked to undress under false pretence that they would be showered. They were instructed to tie the laces of their shoes together so

they wouldn’t go missing, when actually it just made them easier to sell on. We then moved on to another room which contained a massive array of false legs of all shapes and designs. As Lucas poins out, many of the Jews sent to the camp had lost limbs fighting for Germany in World War I yet got sent straight to the gas chamber up on arrival because they were of no use at the work camps. The cruel irony of this point is not lost on me and I can’t begin to imagine what those war-veterans felt, betrayed by the country which they payed such a heavy price fighting for. A large collection of suitcases were particularly chilling.


Clockwise from top left: Empty cannisters of Zyklon B; A selection of artificial legs; A pile of abandoned spectacles; Thousands of shoes; Suitcases baring the names of their owners.

Each battered leather case had the name, and dates-of-birth of its owner written upon them in white paint. Simple maths meant we could work out that some prisoners were only two years old when they arrived at the camp. Innocent, unsuspecting children sent straight to their deaths. But perhaps most shocking is the vast pile of human hair. Just a small amount of the seven tonnes that was discovered when the Russians liberated the camp in May 1945. Alex Graham, a 17-year-old student in my group, described

how it felt at the camp: “It was sort of unbelievable, on the scale that it was done and it was so inhumane. The way it was so meticulously planned, that’s probably the most disturbing thing. “I thought the hair was going to be the worst, but it was the suitcases with the names on. It gave them an identity.” As our tour around Auschwitz I came to an end, our journey was far from over. There are many misconceptions about Auschwitz; the main one is the scale. The term Auschwitz actually refers to a network of concentration and extermination camps consisting of Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II – Birkenau, Auschwitz

III – Monowitz and 45 other satellite camps. Although a visit to Auschwitz is revealing, the minute drive to Birkenau is a must because that’s the place one imagines when they conjure up images of a death camp. A dark, desolate place, silent; yet a place where unthinkable suffering took place. Birkenau got its name from the abundance of birch trees in the area, but as we arrive that fact is hard to believe. Now the only trees remaining are the ones at the back of the camp, shielding the view of the gas chambers and crematoria to the new arrivals. The construction began in October in 1941 to ease congestion at Auschwitz I and to Gap Year Traveller | 25


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function as one of the main elements in Heinrich Himmler’s preparations for the ‘the final solution to the Jewish question’; the extermination of the Jews. At Birkenau, around 1.1milliion people were exterminated, 90 percent of them were Jews. In the cold Polish weather, we walked along the railway tracks to the heart of the camp, passing a replica train carriage. We then visited the different shelters were the prisoners

‘Around 1.1 million people were exterminated’

stayed, a stable which was originally built to house 42 horses but converted to shelter over 400 men. Our last destination was to the ruins of the gas chambers, evidence that the Nazis tried to destroy when defeat was in sight. It’s hard to take everything in on a day visit to Auschwitz. It takes a while for it all to sink in. Jennifer Lee, 17, from Maghull summed the visit up This page: A view from the main watchtower building.Opposite page clockwise from top left: Gallows used to hang Rudolf Hoss; Row of watchtowers at Birkenau; Brick bunks in one of the shelters; Tour guide Lucas Szatko talks to the group; Railway tracks leading into Birkenau; A hatch int ceiling of the last original gas chamber where Zyklon B was dropped in; A replica of the wall where victims faced death by firing squad; Photographs of some of the victims. Gap Year Traveller | 27


on her return to England. “The trip brought together all the information I already knew and brought home the realism and the humanity of it rather than it being facts and figures. “It didn’t affect me much emotionally when we were there because of the sheer amount of people and unimaginable circumstances, but the day after is when it sets in because you’ve had time to reflect on it” Jennifer is right, reflection is key. As the minute silence took place on Remembrance Sunday and when I watch the abundant war documentaries on television, the memories of Auschwitz return to me. The images of the belongings, all the faces of the dead and the ominous watchtowers at twilight were all clear in my mind and that’s when it dawned on me. It helps put everything into context and that is why a visit to Auschwitz is a must. Especially for those like me, who weren’t even born during the war should visit Auschwitz, lest we forget the depths of human suffering that took place all those years ago. As George Santayana said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

This page from top right: Wall of pictures of the prisoners, taken at the beginning when records where kept; A warning sign at Auschwitz I; A view of the main entrance and watchtower at Birkenau. Opposite page: A row of candles left on the rail track, in memory of those who lost their lives. 28 | Gap Year Traveller


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In the know Our readers tell us about their own travel experiences. by Emma Leech Jess Ross, 20, spent three months in Africa, volunteering at a school and travelling for a month. Why did you decide to travel abroad? I decided to go as I had a year out from University and wanted to do something worthwhile and different. I realised that I might never have the chance to do it again. Why recommend to others? I’d recommend others to go abroad to get an understanding of the way other people live and that not everyone is as well off as you, to meet new people from different backgrounds and to have fun. My top tips are: Speak to people and be friendly with everyone. Be laid back with plans and just have a general plan of what you’re going to do. Make food at the hostel instead of eating out all the time. And finally, think twice before you buy souvenirs (I spent a fortune on a load of stuff that just looks like tack in my room now!) Jess in Africa 30 | Gap Year Traveller


around. Take enough money. Becki Fairclough, 20 spent her Pack light - there’s nothing summer in New Hampshire, worse than lugging around a USA, working at a theme park backpack full of stuff you didn’t before travelling the country. really need. Emma Lawrence, 20 spent two months volunteering at an orphanage in Tanzania

Becki in her theme park uniform

Why did you decide to travel abroad? I chose to travel to America specifically to see new places/ meet new people and experience a new culture in a place where there wouldn’t be a language barrier. It was also a chance to spend a long amount of time there, longer than any holiday could offer, by working.

Why did you decide to travel abroad? Last summer was my last official summer as a student so thought I’d take the opportunity whilst I still could to go on a student/university ran project to Tanzania to help out in an orphanage and travel for the last month. I thought the volunteering would be challenging and look great on my CV. The idea of some of Africa's best safari parks and amazing tropical islands and beaches swung it for me.

Why recommend to others? It’s an experience you will never forget you will come back a different person having opened your eyes to a little more. While you're young in college or university you have the best opportunities to go travelling for a long time. My top tips are: If you're a bit wary of being in a new place that’s completely different from home it’s good to be associated with a charity. They will be able to show you around while you're getting settled and they'll be checking up on you if you're late returning. At backpackers hostels you can easily make friends as everyone is like-minded and in the exact same situation as you.

Emma with one of the children at the orphanages

Why recommend to others? It’s a great way to meet new people and gain exposure to different places and cultures. It is also a great way to improve independence. If nothing else it’s an education! My top tips are: Plan the essentials ahead of time - where you will go, where you will stay, how you will get

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Joe Large, 22 is an accomplished traveller visiting Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru during a gap year.

Why did you decide to travel abroad? To experience different cultures and places and meet new people. To do things I won’t be able to do when I have commitments like a house and job. Why recommend to others? It’s an experience that you can make entirely your own. You’ll experience things you would never ordinarily experience. My top tips are: Have ideas of stuff you may 32 | Gap Year Traveller

want to see and do, but don’t make firm plans as there is bound to be stuff you wouldn’t have thought of doing, or you may really like a place and decide to stay longer. Below: Joe, in Cambodia

Talk to as many people as possible, make friends and experience as much as possible. Emma Hayes, 23 spent two months volunteering in Romania Why did u decide to travel abroad? I have always wanted to travel and do something different but I didn’t really have the guts until I got to uni. I wanted to experience something new and totally different. I love learning about different cultures and the

best way to do that is to go and live in one for a while! Why recommend to others? It’s a real confidence boost because you can be pushed out of your comfort zone. It is also

a great way to meet peoplewhen I volunteered in Romania, I made some friends for life. Volunteering is so much more than just a holiday- the people you’re helping gain from it but so do you. My top tips are: Don’t overpack! When you’re in the middle of nowhere you’d be surprised how little you care about your appearence. Take a little reminder of home; if you get a little homesick a reminder can stop you feeling


outside your local area. This makes you realise that there is more to life, and that you can do anything.

Above: Emma in Romania

Below: Megan in Australia

My top tips are: Use local travel agents as they know the best deals and trips to go on. Try and arrange overnight travel to save money on hostels. And decide on the things that you most want to do to save money, however remember that it is a once in a lifetime trip so make the most of every opportunity.

a million miles away. Take all the boring things your mum will remind you about; bite cream, hand gel, sun cream- boring but you’ll use them. My last top tip would be to take photos whenever possible, you will treasure them when you arrive home. Megan Waring, 21 studied for six months in Melbourne before touring Australia for a month with a friend Why did you decide to travel abroad? I decided to go as I thought it would be a great opportunity to see Australia, but as a student living there, rather than a tourist. I also wanted the challenge of living away on my own. Why recommend to others? I’d recommend others to go as travelling broadens your mind and really is the best way to experience people and places Gap Year Traveller | 33


Fol l owusont wi t t e r : @GYTr a v e l


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