Interview: The ‘Snap Year’ vs. The ‘Gap Year’

In times of austerity, rising student fees and uncharitable statutory leave, the ‘gap year’ (or Gap Yah as it’s affectionatelyknown) has become a luxury that fewer can afford to justify.

In fact, a recent industry survey revealed that the number of people taking extended time off, of four months or more, has fallen by 69% in the last five years.

However, in that time there’s also been a 22% increase in trips lasting 2-3 months – a travel phenomenon that has come to be known as the ‘snap year’.

The shorter, cheaper, more compact version of its predecessor is most popular amongst university students during their summer holidays and young professionals on career breaks.

We’re mighty intriguedby this latest travel trend and spoke to Heather Lowe, a recent snap yearer and friend of the site about her recent trip and asked why she thinks the ‘snap year’ is a much better alternative to the gap year.

She also shared a few pictures from her journey, just to rub it in.

Where did you go on your snap year?

I joined an overland tour covering countries in Central and South Africa. It was an overland tour that travelled through Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.

How long did you go for?

The tour was over a two month period, travelling by road and camping the majority of the nights.

The truck we travelled on carried camping and cooking equipment and had personal lockers on board to keep all your belongings.

What inspired you to take this time out?

I had always wanted to travel further but after university I wanted to prioritize entering the job market and getting a head start on a career.

After three years working at the same company I realized I wanted a new challenge but wasnt sure what my next move should be.

A two month snap year seemed the perfect opportunity to travel without leaving the job market for too long and to contemplate my options before committing to another job.

Why a snap rather than a full gap?

My primary reason for a snap year over a gap year was the expense. I would have had to spend a lot longer in my job in order to save up enough to spend a whole year abroad.

In retrospect I also feel that a shorter amount of time meant I had the energy and money in order to do more optional activities during my time there.

If I had been travelling for a whole year I feel I would of missed out on many of the things that ended up being the highlight of my time away.

What would you suggest to others planning a snap year?

Personally I would choose a country/continent to visit that you wouldnt be able to make the most of in a few weeks.

Africa appealed to me as it was a more diverse place than I had ever visited and in two months I was able to see such a range of countries.

Each country in Africa is so different to the next and I feel so lucky to have seen the lush green jungles of Uganda and the vast stretches of the Namibia dessert all on one holiday.

However I would advise that the overland tour I did was a camping and participation tour. It can be tiring and a bit rough at times but for me that was all part of the adventure.

If you were to do it again what would you do differently (if anything)?

Honestly I wouldnt change a thing.

Acacia Adventure Holidays are a great company and I was lucky enough to have a fantastic tour guide and driver.

There was a great diversity of people who I met throughout the two months, some of who will be friends for life. It was well organized with a great selection of cultural and adventure attractions along the way.

Thanks Heather! No, we’re not jealous at all…

Time forOrlandoto record a sequel perhaps?

If you’re planning your own snap year, you can check out thousands of adventure holidays with great local companies around the world or get in touch with us for advice.