“Become a “Yes Man”. Do you want to go jump off a cliff? Yes.”
For the latest edition in my Travel Bloggers That Rock! series I interviewed Amar from Gap Year Escape. Amar booked an around the world ticket and set up Gap Year Escape in 2009 to chronicle his journey. Since then, his blog has become one of the best Gap Year resources on the web. You can catch him on Twitter at @gapyearescape
Some people take a Gap Year before university, some after, and some just to take a break from work…when did you embark on your Gap Year and why did you decide to take one?
I took my Gap Year after I graduated in 2009. The recession was in full swing and it was a good time to go and avoid the job market. Having said that it really wasn’t an influencer. I’d had the trip in mind for a few years and was just waiting for the right time. A year to do whatever you want, whenever you want. The ability to travel across the globe. Who wouldn’t want to do that? Generally speaking you’re going to graduate, work for the next 40 odd years and then retire. Do it while you’re young! But then I also say, it’s never too late!
Tell us about where you went first and how you felt on the first day of your Gap Year…
Thailand was my first stop on my ten country Gap Year. Imagine being overly jet lagged, anxious and disorientated and hitting up the Khao San Road! It’s crazy. My first day wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t make lifelong friends, go on an adventure or do anything meaningful. I ate McDonald’s, snoozed and wondered if I had made the right call travelling here. That feeling lasted a day and no more. World Travel is the best thing you can do and all the adventure and friendships comes with time. Trust me.
Did you plan a rigid itinerary before hand, or did you just go with the flow?
I purchased a round the world ticket which was far cheaper than buying individual flights. This does however limit how much ‘flow’ you can go with. The ticket was fixed for a year and I had to select my departure points when I booked e.g Fly into Bangkok and out of Singapore to go to Sydney. However, within that year you can change the dates that you leave. I decided I wanted to go to Indonesia so got cheap Air Asia flights (absolutely key airline if you’re in Asia and if you check regularly you can pick up a bargain) to Bali and just pushed back my flight to Australia.
I would stress that you can only plan so much. I got caught in a typhoon so ended up missing half of Vietnam and not going to Cambodia at all. I lived in Sydney and decided to move to Melbourne. Within two weeks I’d moved back. I was meant to go to Vancouver and instead went to Alabama to stay in a Sorority House with some girls I’d met in Australia. Just a few examples of how a trip can take really unepxected turns. This type of thing happens all the time. I met a backpacker in Thailand who came for a week and hadn’t left in ten years. Also worth noting, it smelt like she hadn’t washed in ten years either!
How and when did the idea for your blog ‘Gap Year Escape‘ come about?
I was actually in my friends kitchen eating Feta Cheese (He’s Greek) and he was setting up his cycling blog and I thought I like to talk about myself and wouldn’t mind a pretty website to do it on. This happened a week before I set off on my Gap Year and as whims go, it’s been a pretty successful one.
Tell us a crazy story from your travels…
Well quite recently I was in Cancun for Spring Break on my way to Cuba. Bare in mind that I am completely sober during this whole affair… It’s 5.30 am and I have ended up passed out, lacking clothes in a hotel that is not my own. I get busted by security that I try to run from and make it to reception before three fat little Mexicans with comedy moustaches get the better of me. I have to drop $50 to get out of this mess but the night ended well with takeout pizza and my own bed. Result!
It seems many people take a Gap Year with the intention of “getting it out of their system” and then going back to the ‘real world’. Is it easier said than done?
That whole “bitten by the travel bug” saying is so cliché but it’s true. The real world for me IS travelling. I’m going to be 80 and my grandkids are going to be like “Where’s Grandad?”. “Oh he’s off Jungle Trekking in South America, I hope his hip holds out”.
What would you say to someone who’s just about to go on a Gap Year?
Become a “Yes Man”.
Do you want to go jump off a cliff?
Do you want to drink this strange green liquid?
Do you want to run around in a thunderstorm in your underwear?
Ah, all good memories.
What are you up to at the moment? Do you have any projects in the pipeline?
Right now I’m severely jet lagged and trying to get through the mountain of mail left on my doormat. A few months ago I decided I wanted to move into blogging about Men’s Lifestyle and I started making moves in that area. However, a friend said to me recently “don’t walk off the farm”. I’m focused on the site more than ever and I recently just expanded the team.
What’s your traveling style these days and do you have any upcoming travel plans for 2012?
My travel style really hasn’t changed; Flip Flops, Boardies and my trusty backpack. I think as people mature they do start to like a bit more comfort and slightly higher end travel but I’m effectively a man child who refuses to grow up so grubby hostels it is!
I’ve actually just come back from Central America where I hit up Guatemala, Belize, Mexico and Cuba. It was a nice blend of culture, relaxation, partying and adventure. Got to do some diving, climbed a volcano, got caught in compromising situations with Sorority Girls for Spring Break, some cigars… you know how it is.
If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
Antarctica! I’ve seen so many images and have yet to see it for myself. It’s not unachievable but it’s not the most accessible in terms of location and cost and it’s high on my agenda of places to go. I want to see the baby penguins with Happy Feet. Fact.
If you want to be interviewed for Travel Bloggers That Rock! contact me and tell me about your blog!