It’s time to jet off on a Gap Year Escape!


Gap Year EscapeWSGT’s next Travel Influencer is Amar Hussain of Gap Year Escape, which has grown into one of the largest Gap Year blogs on the web. It’s read in 138 countries and draws on the experience of veteran travellers across the globe.

1.)Where was the first place that you traveled that made you think WOW—travel is amazing (think history book come to life or …..)

I think most destinations seem to wow me. I’m a bit of a kid in a candy store when I go away, excited by anything different. My first backpacking trip to Rome was a pretty big eye opener being quite young but the place that really blew me away was Antarctica. Such an alien world, majestic views and of course so many penguins!

I think when travel is your work the lines do get blurred and sometimes you get a trip that feels like the first time all over again. Backpacking Sri Lanka was that for me and although a very busy trip as there is lots to see, I felt like it really rejuvenated my love for travel.

2.)If you had unlimited resources, where would you go and what would you do?

I didn’t have unlimited resources but I already did my big dream trip from Canada to Antarctica which took a year and a half. If resources were unlimited I think I would just do more of what I do now. I don’t think I’d change my travel style although I’d treat myself to a nice hotel now and again. Africa is still largely unexplored for me and well, after that I guess maybe Space travel? Who knows!

Gap Year Escape
3.)What were you afraid to do and how did you find the courage to overcome it?

I’m a really big wuss when it comes to heights and there was a rather embarrassing moment in Thailand when I climbed up a tree to jump into a lagoon and got so paralysed by fear I ended up staying in the tree for an hour. Although highly amusing for other backpackers and tuk tuk drivers it was rather mortifying for me.

The humiliation stuck with me and it drove me to conqueror my fear of heights. I ended up doing anything heights related from sky diving and bungee jumping to canyoning and jumping off bridges! I’m still scared of heights completely but I feel like I’ve redeemed myself and have nothing left to prove.

4.)What apps do you use regularly that make your life easier?

Google Maps, especially with the ability to download offline areas, is such a life saver when you’re traveling. Instagram is actually a great place to do research for upcoming trips. Finally, although I fail miserable at it, I do try and watch what I eat and track it using MyFitnessPal.

Gap Year Escape
5.)What place do you wish more people have seen?

Honestly, I don’t have a must see that I recommend to everyone. This is mainly down to the fact I think it’s kind of arrogant to assume that the experience I had in a destination will be what everyone else is looking for. I’d recommend everywhere I’ve been because good or bad, planned or unplanned I learned something about myself and had a unique experience.

For example, many people would say things like go to Machu Picchu, Galapagos, Kruger National Park and the list goes on. One of my favourite places in the world – Punta Del Diablo, Uruguay. There’s “better” places in the world but it’s one of the places I felt most at home and felt so at ease and peaceful. You could go and think “meh it’s ok”. Travel is so subjective.

My only real wish is that more people travelled and get out there if they are able. This doesn’t even have to be far flung places, go on a micro adventure or do a staycation near where you live!

6.)Best advice you have been given and by whom?

I was in Portugal with my friend Alex who runs the travel blog Upgraded Points and he saw me whip out my debit card to pay for something. On the scale of one to angry… he was not amused! Let’s just say he’s rather passionate about collecting points and with good reason. With his advice I’ve switched to putting everything through on an Amex and collecting points. I don’t spend any extra and being a bit savvy I’m well on my way to having enough points for a flight to Australia. It can get a little addictive but anything that helps with travel is a winner in my book!

Gap Year Escape
7.)When were you surprised by the kindness of strangers on a trip?

Years ago I had my portable hard drive stolen in Brisbane and I lost a lot of my gap year photos (always have a backup!). I must have had a face on that day for obvious reasons but it was amazing how strangers who don’t even know you can just sense you need cheering up. The gestures were small but they were many and it did mean I ended up with a smile on my face by the end of the day.

8.)What inspired you to travel for extended periods of time or live in a new country?

I think traveling through a destination is great but I also like to get a real feel for a place by spending some time there and attempting to be a local. It sounds strange but take your weekly food shop for instance. Even going to the supermarket in different countries is a weird and wonderful experience. If you were travelling through you probably wouldn’t experience something like this as you’d be eating out. I like doing the “mundane” in different places to get a real feel for a place.

Gap Year Escape
9.)I travel because….

The democratization of world travel has never been at its highest and we owe it to ourselves to explore this beautiful planet we call home.

Amar is a veteran 7 continent world traveller, published travel writer, author and entrepreneur. He has been seen in the likes of TIME, BBC, Entrepreneur, Lonely Planet and is a contributor to the Huffington Post. Amar has a keen interest in photography, history, writing, philanthropy and most importantly, travel. He wonders how you can know your place in the world if you’ve not seen it?

Amar enjoys taking amusing or shocking photography and this can also include animals (not like that). Favourite places Amar has lived in are London, Sydney, Medellin and Buenos Aires but generally just enjoys a roof anywhere in the world. Sometimes even the stars will do. Amar wishes that everyone, in some time in their life, would do a Gap Year.

Gap Year Escape

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Our next Travel Influencer interview will be up in a week, follow the series here.

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Caitlyn O'Brien

Caitlyn is a 26-year-old Canadian with a passion for travel, futbol, and more recently kayaking in her new Patagonian home: Futaleufú. She teaches English at a local school and loves turning her daily experiences into stories.

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