Gap Year Travel: Coach Tours and Going Solo

Gap Year Travel: Coach Tours and Going Solo

While traveling, there are multiple options. You can choose to go on lots of coach tours or go independently. What? Why? and How? A common impulse for many 18-year-olds upon finishing school is to get on a plane and disappear for as long as possible. There are a lot of issues that bring that. Where should I travel? How am I persisting in paying for it (I love you, Dad)? What should I do? Who should I go with? Will I get robbed? Will I get raped? A whole host of questions that can quickly solve. But the critical question, apart from ‘where should I go,’ is ‘what should I do.’ What are the best ways of seeing a country and a continent, experiencing its culture, finding adventure, and doing the utmost best not to get raped or murdered?

The Lonely Planet Guide

During my travels, I dabbled in a mixture of everything. I took the coach tours, did the volunteer work, had a job in Australia, and a lot of the time I just traveled, and there are three words I would say to those who want to backpack across a continent: Lonely Planet Guide.

If there’s one job I would dream about, it would be writing for the Lonely Planet Guide. Those people dig far beneath the surface, and their comments are always accurate, whether it be in Asia, Africa, America, Europe, or South America. There was a hostel in Peru that was described like this: “If you ever went to look around Alcatraz and thought you’d like to live there, go to this hostel.”

We used this hostel as a dumping ground for a day as we weren’t staying in this particular town, and I think Wandsworth Prison would be more homely.

We went to several restaurants and bars that were completely removed and unknown. Each city we traveled through, each mountain or desert village we came across, chose because the Lonely Planet Guide told us about it. Without the Lonely Planet Guide, you’ll have an enjoyable time but will probably scratch the surface, traveling to only the most well-known attractions. This big fat book has everything you need to form a travel plan that will provide adventure, authentic culture, and a good time.

The coach tours – the bad

I went on one coach tour on my travels, and despite the idea being horrific with no spontaneity, it was a fantastic trip. However, that was in Australia. Australian culture is so English. I would say you’re not missing out on much by joining a large band of tourists, whereas, on a continent like South America, it is the complete opposite.

In Asia or Africa, or South America, many of the joys and spontaneous travel elements are lost if you go on a coach tour. When I lived in Peru, I saw a convoy of travel coaches. I had just finished climbing down into the most intimate sections of the stunning Colca Canyon with a small group, staying in little huts and playing football with locals in the small community we came across. Then, upon climbing back up, I saw these tourists alight from their coaches, cameras in hand, ready to take photos of the native eagles and then swim in the hot springs.

Apologies for seeming a terrible snob, but being amidst these tourists was the worst part of my Peruvian trip. These people had utterly bypassed the best element of the journey. If Contiki operates in Peru, then I’ve no doubt they offer the chance to climb down the Colca Canyon, but even if that were the case, the group would be so huge it just wouldn’t be the same.

The coach tours – the good

In Australia, I joined the Contiki tour, and it was beautiful. We journeyed through the interior, climbed Ayers Rock, slept under the stars on a cattle station, went sky diving in Cairns, scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, and sailing around the Whitsundays (only a small group did that). It was a wonderful experience, and maybe because I had been working in Australia already, I didn’t feel like I was dropping out on anything. On the contrary, they provided these opportunities for adventure on a plate without any worry.

Australia is a great country in its landscape and its outlook on life. Still, in terms of searching for some contrast in culture, it’s not the place to be, so the Contiki tour offers a chance to experience first-hand all the significant aspects of the east and central side of Australia.



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