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  • Writer's pictureAlmeera Eman

How to Travel on your Gap Year (in a pandemic!) with CanGap Ambassador AJ

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

AJ - 00:00

Hello everyone, welcome back to the Canadian Gap Year Association. My name is AJ and I'm one of the Gap Year ambassadors. Today, I'm going to be talking about something that's really exciting. An opportunity to learn, to grow, to expand your cultural awareness and to go on adventures that will teach you in so many different ways that school can't teach you.

Traveling! Traveling is something I genuinely intrinsically enjoy doing. I love meeting new people, exploring new places, trying new foods, and understanding different cultures.

Unfortunately, the COVID 19 pandemic made it quite hard to do that, and I'm sure it's still hard today with all the additional rules and requirements and regulations, but with effective and realistic planning you can still craft some really memorable and transformative experiences.

AJ - 00:49

When I took my gap year, the entire world was more or less shut down. Travel wasn't allowed.

I couldn't leave my country. I couldn't get visas. None of that was possible, and while it was sad, I accepted the reality of the situation and I think that's the first step.

It's important to do that, and from there I still knew I wanted to travel, so I worked with the possibility space that I did have rather than what I didn't have and what I did have was the opportunity to explore Thailand. I lived in Thailand my entire life. And was still not really able to explore that much of it

AJ - 01:22

And even if I did, I ended up going to hotels with my parents and not really submerging myself with the culture of the city that I was born and raised in.

And I think that is very important, and so I set myself a goal to really go out and travel and explore Thailand for myself and with my friends and with my family and I planned at the beginning of the year and said goals for the amount of trips I wanted to go to. How many places I wanted to go and what was the appropriate trips that I could plan given my budgetary limitations that I set.

An important step here is to be as realistic as possible while keeping in mind all of the amazing, ambitious stuff that you want to achieve.

AJ - 02:03

Be realistic! What is your budget? How much are you willing to spend? How much do you have allocated to be able to spend? If you do need more financing for your travels, how are you going to?

In addition to that keeping in mind COVID restrictions, what are the visa implications of potential places you want to travel? Are you able to realistically go there? Do you need to drive? Do you need to go by plane? Do you need to go by train?

AJ - 02:21

All of these things are questions you need to ask yourself from the outset so that you could create a sophisticated plan that accounts for all these various details so that you can make your trips come true.

The most amazing part is that it's up to you. Do you want more spontaneous trips where you figure out where you're going to sleep every night? Travel to different places? Drive a road trip. Do you want a more structured and planned trip where you have different activities and experiences involved, some of which may be volunteering, some of which may be interacting with wildlife, and working for sanctuaries that help animals or conservation efforts?

It's up to you! You can do what you genuinely enjoy doing,

AJ - 03:02

For me personally, I went on four different trips throughout the year, some with my family, some with my friends. What I did was for the trips with my friends, I created a detailed day-to-day plan of what I wanted to accomplish, the different trails, the different hikes, the different places I wanted to explore that I've never seen, different local restaurants or traditions or temples that I wanted to explore and understand more about the culture of Thailand.

All of this was very detailed out because for me I thought that I could make the most out of my experience and cover as much and learn as much and explore and have as much fun if I did it that way. But I also had some more spontaneous trips, more relaxing trips where I just stayed back, spent time with friends and family and just had a break and genuinely enjoyed the comfort of my community.

It's up to you, but I encourage you to constantly push yourself, explore your things, push your boundaries, make yourself feel uncomfortable.

AJ - 03:51

That's really important, and I feel like that will allow you to learn and grow so much more.

These traveling experiences ended up being one of the highlights of my year, all the laughs and memories made with my friends, all the new nature trails that explored and all the places I got lost, all the different animals that I was able to interact with.

Those were my highlights, and those are memories that I'll share forever and now even after coming to Canada for university. I still cherish that mindset. Just last week I went to Banff, Alberta. Where I went road tripping with my parents, exploring different trails and kind of submerging myself in the Canadian culture.

A place that we've never lived in and I've only been in for two or three months. That has been an exceptional experience and has really increased my cultural awareness.

AJ - 04:32

And I think if you push yourself to just learn more about different cultures and how people think and just meet people, that is not only fun and intrinsically enjoyable, but it can really broaden your WorldView, so I'm sure I do not need to convince you about how fun and enjoyable and valuable traveling is.

But one thing I do need to point out and emphasize once again is that you need to be realistic.

Plan in advance. Think about it months in advance. Plan out all the meticulous details. Be transparent with your parents or your guardians about what you want to do and if they're OK with it.

AJ - 05:07

Make sure that you're clear on what to expect when you keep in mind all the different COVID regulations and guidelines of the respective countries. Be respectful. And make the most out of your experiences.

If you need ideas and guidelines on how to plan your trips, Google and YouTube is your number one friend. Google the place. See what are the main attractions and things that you can explore for yourself? YouTube and see what other people's reactions of the places are and see what you're intrigued by and go for it.

AJ - 05:33

You only live once. This is your opportunity to generally enjoy and explore the world and your role within it. Have fun. Make sure to make memories that will last a lifetime. I promise you will not regret it.

AJ - 05:44

That wraps up my video on how to travel and how valuable traveling can be during your gap year! I hope this was helpful and made you that much more excited to go on different adventures.

Have a great one. I'll see you very soon.

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