Gap years that last a life­time

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - YOUR TRAVELS -

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

Alpine ef­fect

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

Amer­i­can dream

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

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