Tell us a little about yourself such as your name? Where you are from? What are your travel plans? Where you are in the world? etc
My name is Alex, and I created the blog Career Gappers together with my wife and travel partner, Lisa. In 2017 we both left our jobs to travel the world for a year, an experience that transformed our lives. Now we want to help other people to do the same! We’re currently living in London and working hard on the blog, but we’re hoping to get back on the road by the end of 2019.
1. Where has been your best travel destination and why?
Many people struggle with this question, but for me it’s quite an easy one: Patagonia. It quite simply has the most spectacular natural scenery I’ve seen anywhere in the world.
For those who don’t know (I get asked a lot), Patagonia is a huge region that covers the southern part of South America, straddling Chile and Argentina.
In particular, Torres Del Paine National Park on the Chilean side of Patagonia is a place of mesmerising beauty. We did the famous ‘W Trek’ in the park, which was a tough feat, but probably the most fulfilling experience of my life. Every step of the way we were surrounded by the most incredible landscapes of lakes, mountains, glaciers and forests.
2. What’s your favourite thing about travelling?
What I love most is the opportunity to learn how things are done differently in other parts of the world. I think that the more people travel, the more tolerant and understanding they become of other people and cultures.
When you visit new places, you soon encounter customs and behaviours that are part of the local culture, but would be considered totally backwards back home, and vice versa. This forces you to contemplate that maybe the way you do things in your own society isn’t necessarily the only way or the best way.
I think this experience has made me more open to new ideas and more creative.
3. Can you tell us a travel adventure that springs to mind, be that scary, exciting, happy or sad? etc
There are many to choose from! One that stands out is, unfortunately, a bad memory, but it did lead to good things. One Sunday morning during our travels in South America we were robbed in Buenos Aires. It wasn’t a violent robbery but a deception scam, the kind that you hear about a lot. It happens in cities all over the world, not just in South America.
In that moment – and it only took a few seconds to happen – we lost almost all of our valuables, as well as our passports. We were in a complete mess, we were utterly devastated, and we considered going home and calling quits on our journey.
After drowning our sorrows for an evening and then spending a couple of days to reflect, we decided to stick with it. We had to change our plans and we lost a lot of money, but in the end the experience just made us stronger. I don’t think we’d be doing what we are now if it hadn’t been for the robbery.
4. If a traveller was to visit your country, what’s the one meal that shouldn’t be missed?
We’re not exactly famed for our cuisine in the UK! If there’s something we’re good at though, it’s the ‘snack on the go’ – sandwiches, pork pies, that kind of thing.
My favourite is the Cornish pasty. A lot of my family are from Cornwall, and my grandmother used to make me pasties when I was younger. They’re quite similar to snacks you find elsewhere in the world – pastry filled with meat and vegetables. You’ll find them in shops all around the UK, but for the best ones you really need to go to Cornwall.
5. Do you get home sick, and if so how do you overcome this?
Homesickness has never really affected me when travelling. I do miss friends and family, but these days it’s so easy to stay in touch. We are usually around a lot of people when travelling as well, which means we are rarely lonely.
The one time I did miss home quite a lot was during Christmas a year ago. We spent the whole festive period in Sydney, Australia, and it was the first time I’d ever been abroad for it and not seen my family.
Lisa’s parents came out to meet us though, so we had a great time anyway. It was nice to have hot weather at Christmas for a change!
6. What is your travel style?
We describe ourselves as ‘in between’ travellers. We are far from being luxury travellers, but we’re not usually on a super-tight budget either.
We usually seek to save money on things like transport and accommodation, and spend more on cultural experiences, food and activities. We don’t mind taking overnight buses and staying in hostels if it means we can get more out of the experience when we’re at the destination.
7. Do you have any travel tips?
One thing I’ve learned after travelling for years is not to overplan. It’s good to have an idea of your basic itinerary, but if you lock yourself into too much of it in advance, you may end up regretting it.If you keep your plans fairly open, it’s less stressful and it means you can make spontaneous decisions, which are always fun!
I remember arriving in San Pedro de Atacama in Chile after six hectic weeks of sticking to our plan through Peru and Bolivia at the beginning of our travels. We decided to slow down and booked three extra nights in our hostel – we soon made a habit of doing this.
8. What inspired you to travel?
I’ve always had a curious nature. I come from a multicultural family, so I learned quite a lot about the world growing up. My grandmother was born in Austria and escaped to the UK as a refugee. My mother lived in Nigeria for ten years, and my older sisters were born there.
Having these amazing people around me who had lived in other parts of the world made me want to see more of it myself.
9. What has travel taught you?
Travel has taught me many things, but perhaps most poignantly is to be grateful for what I’ve got. You’re always told that there are less fortunate people in the world, but when you travel you see it for real.
The other side of this coin is that wealth does not equal happiness. When we travelled in Laos, I remember seeing a group of children playing together in a river for many hours on end. They had absolutely none of the privileges we have in the western world, but they were probably the happiest kids I’d ever seen.
10. How does travel make you feel?Travel makes me feel alive, adventurous and fulfilled. When you’re on the road you’re always seeing and experiencing new things, and nothing motivates me more than that. Travelling is learning, and I’ll never stop doing it as long as I am physically able to.