Gap years that last a lifetime
Our feature on pre-university journeys triggered happy memories of trips that instilled the travel bug. Here’s a selection
win this bidding game – hence my declaration: I was going to the Khyber Pass…
My bluff was called. Malcolm announced that he would join me – and so it was decided. There followed a most extraordinary adventure across the world. LIONEL CARTWRIGHT
Gap Year? I had a “gap month” after O-levels in 1954. Few went to university then, fewer went abroad, but my enlightened suburban London school packed us off to the Alps in Bavaria, a trip that certainly had a lifelong effect on me.
I learnt about other ways of preparing food, including adding delicious dressings to salads; that spaghetti didn’t come in tins – and that there was no doorstep milk delivery in mountains. I was introduced to blissful duvets. I climbed my first mountain, Zugspitze, albeit by cog train.
My host family’s father had recently returned from Russia, a POW for nine years, and this emaciated gentle man was very curious about the free British NHS system, something that as a girl I had never questioned. His astonishment “alles ist frei!” (everything is free!) remains with me to this day, as does my curiosity of other lands and ways of life… at nearly 80. I continue travelling and crossing continents thanks to my lifeenhancing “gap month”. MEGAN DUTTON
Australia by sea
Fifty-two years ago there was no such thing as a gap year, but there were working holidays. My girlfriend and I embarked at Southampton for a great adventure to visit Australia. The first port of call was a real eyeopener – Cairo, with the cacophony of sound, the dust and a belly dance
In September of 1969, long before gap years were de rigueur, I was dispatched to Quebec to finish my education. During the holidays our principal Mrs D (who took a shotgun with her as hand luggage – presumably to ward off bears and boyfriends) led us on expeditions across show – and then Aden. We had 12 days at sea, taking part in the “Crossing the Line Ceremony”, before at last seeing the coastline of Western Australia at dawn.
We had an amazing 10 months away, which included a coach camping trip around the centre and an impromptu three-week hitchhiking adventure in New America. In December we escaped the snow of Montreal and drove down the east coast of America taking in New York, Washington, Atlanta and New Orleans before travelling to Tucson, Santa Fe and the Grand Canyon, where we trekked to the base of the canyon.
At Easter we drove across the Canadian prairies to Zealand. On our way home we saw the “old” Singapore and Ceylon.
We made lifelong friends and travelling has been in my blood ever since. Having never been Interrailing, I am now planning to travel to Greece and beyond, with my husband, by train… JANE MARTLAND WINS A £250 RAILBOOKERS VOUCHER Calgary and Banff, arriving in Vancouver to catch the ferry to the island, where we camped for a week. Then it was up the Fraser Valley across to Yellowknife on the Great Slave Lake, where our small plane landed on the ice, before finally arriving back in Montreal.
We saw parts of America some can only dream of. SALLY ROBERTS