How does your organization differ from other ones in the industry?
Sander: Being an international company, run by travelers themselves from all over the world and with offices in 5 different countries, we stand out when it comes to expertise and offering unique travel programs to many different countries and extended support. Traveling is all about learning other cultures and having fun with all kinds of people from all kinds of different backgrounds and cultures.
Traveling with Xtreme Gap means that you really get into the culture of a country instead of just being a tourist going sight-seeing, never really getting out of your comfort zone. Doing things together that you would never do back home, like jumping out of a plane or riding a camel in the desert, means that you get close with the people you travel with really quickly. With many of the Gap Year companies in USA and Canada you end up traveling with only people from your country, which is nice too, but we believe the whole international set-up of your group really adds to the experience.
What is your favorite story of a participant's experience in the program?
Sander: We had 2 girls come do the Xtreme Mexico Experience where they spend 3 weeks in Mexico with activities and Spanish included. On their last day, we took them for a one hour drive into the jungle where a well known Irish artist played a set for only 40 people or so in a ‘cenote’ or underwater sinkhole. It was absolutely magical and the setting was stunning. To see the look on their faces was priceless, floating on some paddle boards in the middle of the Mexican jungle watching this guy perform an amazing set. That was one experience that they will probably not top any day soon.
Which program is your most popular among gappers?
Sander: Working abroad is becoming more and more popular. It is an excellent way to go traveling even if your bank account is not in such a state that traveling is an option. US citizens can get a 6-month working VISA for Australia and New Zealand and Canadian citizens also for the UK. Not only can you combine traveling and making some extra money, it is also a great way to really get into a country’s culture and actually live as a local for a while.
It will be a very valuable experience that looks amazing on your resume and can really divide you from people who do not have this experience. If you travel between high school and college or university it will also make you a lot cooler than people who haven’t been so bold as to travel and work abroad!
What would you tell a parent who's reluctant to send their kid abroad?
Sander: I know it is not an easy thing for parents to let go of their children and the idea of sending them abroad must be a disturbing thought sometimes. But (millions) of young people travel all around the world every year without any incidents. Traveling is really easy nowadays, it has changed so much over the years and with modern technology it is also so much easier to stay in touch with the home front. And even most developing countries already have some form of infrastructure focused on tourism.
Xtreme Gap makes it possible for young people to have the adventurous travel experience they want so much, but in the safety of a group of like-minded travelers and local guides and with the support of Xtreme Gap Year’s year-long experience sending people all over the world. We believe that traveling is a unique opportunity for (young) people to learn about themselves and this world and they will grow so much from it.