• Claire

Reflecting On My Gap Year So Far | 3 Months Travelling Australia, Philippines, NYC and Canada

Updated: Nov 5, 2018

It's hard to believe it's been 3 months since I quit my jobs, sold a heap of my belongings and packed what was left into a backpack to head off on my 'gap year'. 3 months has seen me travel some of my home country, backpack the Philippines solo, visit New York City and begin a working holiday in Canada - and this is just the beginning!

The main reason for my gap year (other than my passion for travel) was to make the most of the time before I started full time work and have some fun before adult commitments and adult responsibilities came. .

How I've Spent My Gap Year So Far...

Two and a half weeks road-tripping down the East coast of Australia from Brisbane to Sydney + a trip to Melbourne

My gap year started with a road trip down the East coast. As my sister was moving to Sydney and my flight out of the country left from Sydney, it made sense for us to drive down to Sydney together. Whilst leaving Brisbane got a bit emotional, I was so ready for an adventure. My sister and I decided to drag out the trip from Brisbane to Sydney to spend some quality time together, catch up with friends and family members who lived along the way and enjoy the scenic drive. We stopped in Coffs Harbour, Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and the Blue Mountains on our way to Sydney. In the Hunter Valley we treated ourselves to a sunrise hot air balloon ride with a champagne breakfast as a birthday present to each other which was definitely a highlight. From Sydney we went to Melbourne for a couple of days for a birthday trip - spending time with family in the city and in beautiful country Victoria.

These two and a bit weeks were a great opportunity to learn to appreciate the beauty of my home country and to connect with loved ones before my big stint abroad.

The night before I flew out of Sydney my aunty showed me a letter my grandfather had written to her before she left on a year-long trip overseas. A particular sentence he wrote really resonated with me. He wrote about travelling: "there must be accumulated understanding and tolerance and perception absorbed through the eyes and ears into the mind and soul which will act as a battery to provide the energy for future undertakings". I think that to me, this is what this trip is all about.

I wrote a blog post about my Top 10 Road Trip Stops Between Brisbane and Sydney.

Lennox Heads, New South Wales

Hot Air Ballooning, The Hunter Valley

Three weeks solo backpacking in the Philippines

My trip to the Philippines was my first real solo backpacking trip - I had no tour guide, no travel buddy and to begin with, really no idea what to expect. Flying out of Sydney international airport, I had an overwhelming feeling of freedom. I looked out of the window down at thousands of sprawling houses filled with thousands of people going about their ordinary day-to-day lives and I couldn't quite believe I could be lucky enough to be able to drop everything to go and see the world.

The Philippines was definitely an adventure. I swam in some of the clearest water I'd ever seen, I scuba dived inside shipwrecks and slept in beach huts on remote deserted islands. The freedom that comes with having no plans, nowhere to be and the ability to book a bus ticket, hop on a boat or hire a scooter to explore somewhere as insanely beautiful as the Philippines was really incredible. As a solo female traveller I felt so safe the entire time and surprisingly, met many others doing the same thing.

The highlight of my time in the Philippines definitely was the Tao Expedition I went on. I go into more detail about it in my blog post, but I spent 5 days on a boat hopping between the most insanely beautiful islands, camping out in huts right on the beach and eating the best and freshest Filippino food.

I wrote blog posts on my 3 Weeks Backpacking the Philippines Itinerary and Budget and Exploring Remote Islands of the Philippines - My Tao Expedition Experience and on the Pros and Cons of Solo Travel - My Experience Solo Travelling.

Coron, Palawan

Swimming with whale sharks, Oslob

One week exploring New York City

Next I spent one week in New York City, swapping beaches and humidity for the big city. I don't think I've ever been so excited arriving into a city than what I felt sitting on the bus arriving into Manhattan. I'd seen countless photos of New York, seen it in movies and dreamed about visiting - to finally be there, really was a dream come true. There are so many iconic buildings and landmarks with so much history behind them all in one place. I was lucky enough to get really great spring weather and spent lots of my time riding or walking around the city.

The highlight of my time in New York was watching the sun rise over the city from the Brooklyn Bridge. Apart from the odd jogger that ran past every now and then, I was alone. It was crazy to me that in 'the city that never sleeps' and in a city of 8+ million people I could have one of the top tourist attractions - lit up by a beautiful golden sunrise - all to myself for a brief moment.

I wrote a blog post on how to see New York City on a Backpacker Budget.

Times Square, New York City

Sunrise at the Brooklyn Bridge, New York City

Six weeks into working at a summer camp in Muskoka, Ontairo.

I am six weeks into my four month stint working at a summer camp in Muskoka, three hours north of Toronto. When I arrived it was still very much winter - the lake was frozen over, it was snowing and it was freezing! But as the weeks have gone by the camp grounds have gotten greener, the lake's defrosted and it's slowly starting to warm up. Watching the seasons change has been really cool as it's something we don't really get back home.

I've been working in the Aerial Park helping to run the high ropes course and the zipline and I've been really lucky to work and live with a great bunch of people. In between working I've had a decent amount of time off to relax and to do things I was always to busy for at home like go hiking, work on my blog, read more books and attempt to learn Spanish.

Kayaking in the lake, Muskoka, ON

My little bunkie in the woods, Muskoka, ON

3 months in is just the start... I can't wait to see what the next 3, 6 or 12 months have in store.