Did you take a gap year? If so, where and what inspired you to go?
Yes I did, many actually, I spent about nine years on the road working and travelling in 14 different countries from eastern Europe to Madagascar, Canada, USA, Australia and, of course, New Zealand.
I am not really sure what inspired me, to be frank. I only remember the cringing feeling of having everything planned for me: studies, career, etc. and feeling powerless about it. I hadn't found myself and made my own choices, yet my life was already planned for the foreseeable future. So I packed my bag and never looked back. I found my own way on the road.
How does your organization differ from other ones in the industry?
We are actually backpackers, not travel agents. We focus so hard on sharing our experiences and giving you the tools that you need to have the best time here in New Zealand. You can't even begin to conceive how much work goes into this. Coupled with our very small group of five participants max, this gives you the best recipe for a perfect start to a gap year in New Zealand.
What would you tell a parent who's reluctant to send their kid abroad?
Oh well, I actually do that on a regular basis. The best thing that can ever happen to your kid is to take a gap year. Let me explain:
Taking a gap year will help your kids explore the world and gain valuable work and life experience before choosing a career path. It will actually help them choose the right career path too, as they will experience a few different entry-level jobs along the way. If this is about college that you are worrying, let me tell you, colleges LOVE travelers! On the road, your kids will learn to tightly manage their budget – a much-needed skill on campus!
If they are a non-English speaker, the argument of learning or perfecting a second language is pretty huge too. Finally, a gap year is also proven to build confidence and often makes a CV stand out. Many companies now look closely at overseas experiences.
Your kid will come back more cultured, independent and confident. They will come home an adult! If that is not enough to convince you to send your kids on a gap year, I don't know what will.
What are some of the most common concerns about taking a gap year from students you have interacted with? What are your responses to that?
The main concern that our Members express is about getting a job. Through our extensive job workshop and our great personalized help on their CV, we have a proven track record of helping our members get a job really fast and our reviews speak for themselves on this subject.
A few Members are also worried about safety. To that, we respond that New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world, rated way above Australia, USA and most other major working holiday countries.
Lastly, quite a few people are concerned about being a solo traveler. Let me reassure you, you will never be alone if you don't want to be! There are loads of young backpackers in New Zealand ready to go on a hike with you. If anything, you'll miss your alone time.
What keeps you excited about your job?
We get to meet young travelers every single day and help them make their gap year the most important, smooth and fun year of their life! We also catch up with Members on their way back home after their gap year. It's rewarding to hear all their stories, to see what they have become, and what they have learned. It's pure pride and joy every single time. I would not trade it for anything in the world!