It’s official: ‘Snap Gaps’ have overtaken the traditional, longer, transcontinental break of between 6 – 9 months with gap year travellers.
During Dragoman’s 33 years in operation, the overland specialist has taken hundreds of travellers on gap year adventures, offering over 300 trips between 2 weeks and 9 months in length to 55 countries worldwide.
However, whilst the numbers of young people aged between 18 -21 has actually increased by 40% over the past decade, 17% year on year, the trips they have booked for the past three years are now more condensed, abbreviated versions of the epic , months long adventures that used to typify a ‘Gap Year’.
“Financial strain and anecdotal evidence suggests that extended trips are out of the budgetary reach of most young people, particularly after the sharp rise in University fees. Young people still want to boost their CV with long-haul travel experiences, but are limiting the time they do it in,” says Charlie Hopkinson, Managing Director.
The destinations that gap year travellers are choosing have also changed. Ten years ago, Africa dominated the Gap Year travel market. Now, South America is by far the most popular destination, with almost 2/3rds of young Dragoman travellers booking it as their primary travel choice, followed by South East Asia. Africa, although still on the Gap Map, seems to have fallen out of favour in comparison.
Overlanding is still a rite of passage experience for the gap year traveller, though; it’s budget-friendly, organised nature giving confidence and ‘more bang for your buck’ for first time travellers and parents alike.
“Travelling overland negates the need for costly internal flights, whilst organised trips, which come with a group of ready-made, like minded travel companions, save time and hassle on accommodation as well as transport,” says Charlie Hopkinson, Dragoman Managing Director.
Charlie also cites Dragoman’s product knowledge, experience and staff training (Dragoman’s staff are the most intensively trained in the overland travel market) , as reasons for overlanding’s enduring popularity amongst gappers.
Overlanding also provides a ‘launching pad’ to independent travel.
“Gap year students, often first time travellers, prefer to cut their teeth and gain confidence by participating in an organised trip before travelling independently,” he says.
Here’s Dragoman’s most popular Gap Year routes for 2014 / 2015
THE most popular destination for gap year travellers, with nearly 2/3rds of young people taking their first trip away here. The World Cup has only increased the popularity of South America, whilst a strong pound make it more affordable than it’s been for years. It’s size and sheer diversity are sure fire gap – year winners.
Snap Gap: Lima and La Paz, 22 days taking in all Peru’s must-do’s, Colca Canyon, Nazca Lines, Ballesteros Islands and Machu Picchu plus traversing the Altiplano, the highest plateau outside of Tibet, to Bolivia’s Lake Titicaca. Earlier this year, Dragoman launched a new route to Machu Picchu, visiting the local Anchascocha community. Now, 70% of Gap Year travellers choose this Inca Trek rather than the traditional, overcrowded one. Price from £909 per person plus kitty of US$1,140 / £698. Total land price: £1,607.
Old School Gap: Cartagena to Ushuaia 101 days, traversing South America’s popular western flank from top to bottom, Colombia to the Tierra del Fuego and the ‘ends of the Earth’. Price from £3,429 per person plus kitty of US$3,480 / £2,132. Total land price from £5,561.
South East Asia
Last year, Thailand was the most popular Gap Year destination according to ABTA. This year, it’s Burma extensions (Burma with surrounding countries Laos, Cambodia and Thailand) with Dragoman experiencing a 170 % increase in young travellers going there. “Burma has been our biggest selling South East Asian destination for the past two years, but if you’re going to travel that far, travelling to the emerging destinations of Laos and Cambodia area no-brainer. Thailand, though, has such a well developed tourist infrastructure that many people feel they can do it alone,” says Charlie.
Snap Gap: Kunming to Yangon, 22 days travelling through south west China and Burma. Sample South East Asia as it was 20 years ago! Trek through tribal villages in Burma’s Shan state, explore Pagan, Inle Lake, Mandalay and Yangon. Price from £1,629 per person plus kitty of US$600 / £368. Total price £1,997.
Old School Gap: Bangkok to Bangkok (via Burma), 53 day circular route around South East Asia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, China, Burma. Price from £2,988 per person plus kitty of US$1,220 / £749. Total price £3,737.
India and Nepal
An enduring Gap Year favourite, young people have been travelling through India, one dubbed the ‘hippy trail’, for decades. It’s diverse, it’s intense and, because of the comparatively low cost of living there, offers gap year travellers’ real value for money. Neighbouring Nepal, though, is just as budget-friendly, easier to travel in and closing the gap (no pun intended) on sub-continental gap year travel.
Snap Gap: Kathmandu and Delhi 14 days travelling from Nepal and northern India. It may be short, but it’s a fabulous way to compare and contrast laid back Nepal with full-on Northern India. Watch the sun rise at Varanasi, go in search of tigers at Bandhavgarh, see the Taj Mahal. Price from £567 per person plus kitty of US$450 / £276. Total land price from £843.
Old School Gap: Dragoman are the only large commercial overland operator to offer a trip which circuits the whole of the sub-continent, 82 days between Kathmandu and Kathmandu from £2695 per person, kitty from US$2210 (£1,365). Total land price from £4,430.
Although Africa is a perennial favourite with gappers, travelling solo can be daunting, especially if its your first time there. These two trips encompass the best of the best, safari adventure with beach adventure and down time, too. Nights spent around the campfire in some of Africa’s National Parks are often the highlight of the trip.
Snap Gap: Nairobi to Dar Es Salaam, 14 days taking in the Maasai Mara and 3 day jeep safari, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, explore local village of Mto wa Mbu, end the trip with 5 days on the beach, first on the white beaches south of Dar and then on the spice island of Zanzibar. Price from £600 per person plus kitty of US$1,270 / £780. Total land price from £1,380.
Old School Gap: Nairobi to Cape Town 51 days encompassing safari and the Big 5 in the Masai Mara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, beaches and down time in the Spice island of Zanzibar, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Vic Falls, Botswana and the Okavango Delta and Makgadkgadi Salt pans, Namibia and Etosha National Park, Swakopmund and the Namib Desert with the world’s highest sand dune, Cape Town. Price from £2,034 plus kitty of US$2,880 / £1,767. Total land price from £3,801.
The longest trips in the world
The option for gap year students with time on their hands – and a big budget. For extended, trans-continental trips, Dragoman is the only overland operator to offer trips that cover the entire Silk Route, some 7,000 kilometres between Istanbul to Beijing or vice versa (96 days from £4,940 per person, kitty of US$3280 / £2038). Or, at just short of 10,000 miles, possibly the longest trip available on the travel market, Anchorage to Ushuaia or vice versa (207 days from £8,118 per person, kitty from US$6,200 / £3,852).
For bookings, Dragoman can be contacted on 01728 861133 or by visiting the website at www.dragoman.com