MaptheGap.co.uk interviews Callie Morris about her gap year trip volunteering in Kenya and backpacking through South East Asia and Australia.
First things first, money is an issue for a lot of backpackers -how did you fund your gap year?
My gap year was funded with my lifelong savings! I didn't want to have to work (except volunteering) while I was travelling and I’d always wanted to travel, so thought it was a pretty good reason to demolish my savings!
So, having sorted out the finance side of things, what did you decide to do during your gap year?
I decided first to go on a volunteer camp in Tanzania, followed by a trip to the island of Zanzibar and then a climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro. During the second part of the year I was planning on meeting up with a friend in Dubai and then from there, travelling around South East Asia and Australia's east coast.
Being travel though, plans will inevitably change. What did you actually end up doing?
Somehow the Tanzania part of my trip got swapped for a camp in Kenya and I ended up having to get an eight hour bus ride to Kenya, from where I flew to in Tanzania! The Zanzibar part of my trip was also cancelled, but I don’t regret it one bit. Kenya was wicked – I volunteered in an orphanage, elephant sanctuary and primary school. After that I headed back to Tanzania for my Kilimanjaro climb and my friend actually ended up meeting me there. After that we travelled to Dubai and South East Asia as planned, but after a week of being in Australia, my friend decided to ditch me, so I had to do the east coast travel alone!
Did you plan meticulously every step of the way or did you just decide to wing it?
I had very rough plans of where I wanted to be and when, but allowed them to change whenever they needed to – for example, if I wanted to move on earlier, or skip a place in favour of somewhere else, then I would.
What was the best experience you had on your gap year?
The best experience was definitely Kenya! I loved every minute of being there, especially working with the kids in the orphanage and relaxing on the beautiful Diani beach in Mombasa. Volunteering is definitely underrated!
What was the worst?
The worst was obviously being ditched by my friend. It was a bit scary to be on the other side of the world by myself when I hadn't planned to be! Although this actually turned out to be for the best as I had a brilliant time doing Australia's east coast alone, and was never actually alone for very long thanks to friendly hostel clientele!
What advice would you give to someone planning their gap year now?
Remember to choose your travel companion wisely, even if it’s someone who you've known for a long time. The dynamics of a relationship are very different when travelling, you’re going to be with this person all day everyday for months at a time and you need to know you can rely on them.