Real Gap Experience

About

Real Gap Experience are the Gap Year experts! If you’re thinking of volunteering abroad, adventure travel or touring a country, look no further. Real Gap Experience offer travel opportunities in over 45 countries, with 150+ trips ranging from two weeks to two years. You can go all over the globe with experiences based in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Australasia. Country specific and multi-country travel options are available, including Around the World trips.

Real Gap Experience’s awesome portfolio offers meaningful travel opportunities which can enhance the best of CV’s. This includes; volunteer work, paid work abroad, community development, teaching projects, sports coaching and skills based internships. Or if you just fancy having some fun, meeting some great people and seeing the world they can sort it out!

Experienced travel specialists are available to answer any questions and help you embark on your big adventure. Visit their website for more details.

Headquarters

United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Chris
10/10

I had the most incredible time on the Big 5 reserve, the things I saw I will never forget!

Tracking the Big 5 was amazing and getting to see them up close in the jeep was unbelievable. The other volunteers I met were all really lovely and it was great to share my time with them.
The accommodation was so nice and in my down time I swam in one of their pools and played pool, darts, table football, air hockey and ping pong all for free, hopefully the gym will be ready on my next visit!

I would 100% recommend going for as long as possible to this reserve, you won't be disappointed!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Cally
9/10

I visited this project and not only was the project fantastic - you really do get up close and personal with the beautiful elephants that live on the safari - but, having visited maybe 25 countries over the years, Sri Lanka was by far the friendliest I have visited. Everyone smiled. They didn't stop smiling. Wherever I went, whoever I spoke to, everyone smiled!
I loved working with the elephants and getting to know the mahouts - even though they don't speak English, it was easy to interact and it was great to see how much they care about their elephants. The work was varied - mucking out, tidying the elephants' beds, planting food for them, washing them in the river, helping to entertain the tourists who come to ride them. And the community work was so rewarding. Again too many smiles to remember and really lovely kids enthusiastic to learn English. I loved it and would recommend it. Rosiee the coordinator made this trip - so warm, motherly and funny!

How can this program be improved?
Fewer geckos in the bedroom! But the mosquito nets meant we were safe when we slept!
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
mel33442
1/10

I cannot emphasise how much i would NEVER recommend this group to anybody planning on travelling.

To start off with, the night we arrived they had miscalculated the number of beds booked and did not have enough space to accommodate all the people on the group. Beds ended up being shared which is uncomfortable in small cheap accommodation and with new people. I do not expect nice dorms when travelling but i expect when paying such prices to be at least given a bed.

This happened on quite a few occasions and I am appalled at how the tour guides handled it.

When it came to the first day our guide was actually late and very disorganised, ruining our evening plans. This also happened when being woken up to hike the wall of China to see the sun rise. They woke us up too late because they overslept (a HUGE let down for us as we were all excited to see the beautiful view) and proceeded to lead us up a wall that was forbidden to walk up as it was unsafe and unstable.

They allowed us to camp outside when there was a huge storm with lighting striking the ground in front of us, we had no protection.

There was also a super-typhoon headed for china and so we had to end our trip early to head back to hong kong. They organised us to travel back to hong kong on the day the typhoon was meant to be hitting mainland china. The bus was shaking as we were being driven back and it was TOTALLY unsafe. When we arrived in hong kong they had put us all up in different rooms and some did not even have beds. They then told us to find our own rooms if we had issues with having no place to sleep. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND AFFORDABLE ACCOMMODATION IN HONG KONG AT 10PM.

The trips carried out were charged at extortionate prices in comparison to their true values and for the meals they took us out for at locals, we were ordered to pay the guides (who overcharged us and kept the remaining money for themselves).

I was absolutely horrified by this group's organisation, concern for our safety and value for money. I do not know where half of my money went but I would never recommend this to anybody who is planning on travelling with a group.

Response from Real Gap Experience

We are sorry to read this post and to hear again how disappointed you were with your experience. As you know we were in communication with you at the time to address your issues.

Our China Experience is hands-down one of the best and most popular trips we run and our feedback is amazing. Just look on our website. We hope that one person’s experience won’t discourage people from joining this fantastic adventure in future which is rated 9/10.

No, I don't recommend
Default avatar
adventurenat
3/10

Bottom Line: Don't waste your money doing this program through I to I. They offer minimal (and wholly expendable) additional assistance compared with just working directly with the turtle conservation site. It will cost you around $250 per week if you work directly through the conservation site. If you run a search, you'll see many programs advertising for the same beach--they're generally for the same site near Samara.

Cons of I to I:
Expensive, even in comparison with other programs in costa rica. This is clearly a for-profit organization, and they have no qualms about providing only $250/week to the volunteer site and pocketing the other (roughly) $900 you'll pay for "other expenses." The I to I workers visit the sites rarely, if at all. The meals provided by I to I before the project are small and clearly meant to be at minimal cost (not the ones on the volunteer site, provided by the actual program, those are basic but big and great). They'll transport you to the site, but on their times and terms. If you're ill, expect to wait until they have scheduled another drive--usually a week or so--and plan on being stuck in San Jose. The workers aren't friendly and the welcome briefings aren't particularly informative about Costa Rican culture. They advertise this as a surf and turtles program, but the program only includes one surf lesson per week. If you're there on your own, you can purchase individual lessons from the same folks. Really, please don't spend your money with them. You can get so much more if you go through a different organization or if you go out independently.

As for the site and volunteering program, I had an amazing time. The work is difficult but rewarding. The accommodations are basic but the people are a blast. Be prepared to get nature all over you. The waves are decent, but the surf lessons could have been a bit more helpful. I loved the food. Samara was fun to visit. Ultimately, I'd love to go back and stay for a month volunteering here again-- 2 weeks was too short!

No, I don't recommend
Default avatar
nicolette.rae
9/10

I did the English Teaching program in 2005. It was my first volunteer abroad trip and my first time traveling on my own. It was an incredible experience. When I arrived I was picked up by the country coordinator and taken to a hotel where I met the 2 other volunteers arriving that day. Over our first couple days we were shown around Bangkok a little bit, and then on day 3 we were taken to our placements.

I was placed in Ayutthaya, the former capital of the country, about 45 minutes north of Bangkok by train. I was given the option to stay in an apartment on the school grounds that I would be teaching at or with a family across town (it was a small town). I chose to stay with the family across town. I actually lived next-door to my host family. I had my own studio apartment with my own shower and toilet. The room was also equipped with a toaster and an electric kettle and a fan. I adopted a lizard friend while I was there. I think I named him Fred. He would come visit me from time to time. There was a banana grove outside my window and a river behind the building that carried everything from huge river barges carrying tons and tons of sand or other materials down to Bangkok to dinner karaoke cruises which were hilarious to listen to as they rode by. I was vegetarian at the time and my host mom was extremely accommodating with this when preparing dinner for me. I did have to pay a little extra for the meals she prepared which I thought was supposed to be included in my fee, but it wasn't much so whatever. My lunch at the school was included in my fee though.

My typical day would start around 8 or 9. I would ride my bicycle across town to get to school. Along the way I would pass by a half-dozen ancient temples that had been destroyed by the Burmese hundreds of years ago. Among the ruins that I would ride by every day was the old Grand Palace. Breath-taking. There was also an elephant nursery that would do elephant rides along part of my path, so I would get to dodge elephants along my ride to work every morning. I was given a schedule that had me in 3 classes a day teaching grades 4 to 6. Each class had about 35-40 students. I unfortunately was only able to spend an hour with each class every week so I wasn't able to make much progress with the students, but I know volunteers do help. Just being exposed to a native English speaker and getting to practice a little bit helps. After my work day I would cruise around on my bike for a bit or drop it off at home and wander around on foot. There were tons of markets to explore and of course the heaps of ancient temple ruins. There was one street in town with a couple hostels/guesthouses and a western style bar with super friendly staff for when I wanted a taste of home. I would go home for dinner during the week. The meals that my host mom would give me were all incredible! Best Thai food I've ever had and half the time I couldn't even tell you what I was eating. The family was all very nice, but their English was limited and my Thai was next-to-nonexistent so communication was difficult. Lots of smiling and nodding.

My weekends were spent hanging out with fellow volunteers in Bangkok or traveling somewhere nearby and exploring something different.

It was a great first experience and I never had any problems. Some of the other volunteers did have some issues though and while I can't comment on the issues specifically, it did concern me that they sometimes had a hard time getting in touch with somebody to help them. We did have a local contact, but there was no central office that we could go to with concerns. The program, as it turns out, is more expensive than other options out there that also offer more accessible in-country support. That is why I would not recommend this program.

No, I don't recommend

Programs

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$500
Real Gap Experience
90% 1 review
Thailand
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$500
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100% 1 review
South Africa
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$500
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90% 1 review
Sri Lanka
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$500
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10% 1 review
China
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$500
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0 reviews
Thailand
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$500
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0 reviews
Australia
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$2,000
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0 reviews
Tanzania
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$2,000
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0 reviews
China
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$500
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Namibia