The Bernadine Project

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My Gap Year…Two Years Later: Pre-Travel

As I said in my about page, I might actually get round to writing about my Gap Year at some point and here we are! It’s been coming up to three years since my year out started. A little background on my gap year, I spent September-March working at home and then spent March-June travelling before coming back home to work for the summer. I went away with my cousin who is exactly six months older than me and is one of my closest friends so it meant perfect sense to go away with her. 

To just break up the large blocks of text, I’ll post this in two different posts; pre-travelling and travelling. 

So, it all begins in September 2016; some of my closest friends who once lived just down the road from me had all moved across the UK. I won’t lie, at the start, I was thinking what have I done, this is all a mistake! However, those thoughts quickly left! During sixth form, I worked at my local Waitrose store and I was fortunate enough that they said yes to giving me more full-time hours throughout my year out. I worked a Sunday-Wednesday and very quickly got into a routine of life. When I wasn’t working I visited friends at their unis, I even spent my 19th birthday at my friend's uni accommodation in Bristol - thanks Mils - and also had a fair few days pondering about in London. 

Planning travelling took up a lot of this time, as I’d mentioned I went away with my cousin, Floss, and we had to find times that we were both free to organise what we’d want to do and where we’d want to go. I ask Floss to go travelling with me in the early months of 2016 and I won’t lie we didn’t really have a clue what we were doing. We went to STA in October and spoke to them about what we wanted to do and they were so helpful in setting up a route and planned all our flights. So by October, we had booked all our flights in/out of countries, I remember having a conversation with our STA agent and how it all suddenly felt very real that we would be going all the way to the other side of the world. Fast forward to the day before Christmas Eve and the rest of the money of our flights was due, meaning we officially had flights booked.

Christmas hols rolled around and all my friends came back home to the shire, it was so lovely seeing everyone back home again and we all spent a disgusting amount of time in the pub catching up with each other. For Christmas that year I was fortunate enough to get most of the items I would need for travelling meaning that it was an expense I didn’t need to think about. I had a rucksack from my DofE days so didn’t have to splash out on one. Soon enough my friends went back to uni and I was back to the working life of Waitrose. 

In the first weekend of February, myself and my mum went on a spa weekend to Centre Parcs, it was so nice to spend some time with my mum before leaving the country for several months. I think about four weeks before we were leaving England Floss and I realised how little we had arranged for our time, we sat down and worked out what we would need to organise and book. We returned to lovely STA and they helped us book a hotel in Vietnam for our first two days of travelling. We also decided that it would be best for us to book a group tour for our first two weeks of travelling. We decided on this as it would be the first time for both to be travelling and we just wanted a bit of peace of mind. I understand that this isn’t what other people would have done but it is what we wanted to do. We had arranged with some friends that would be travelling at the same time to meet up and go to an elephant sanctuary together so we both booked this to ensure we could get on the same weekend as each other. At this time we also bought our bus passes for transport in New Zealand and Australia. 

On February 22nd I had my last day at Waitrose, I won’t lie I was so excited to leave at that point! I had watched several other gap year employees leave and it was finally my time to go as well, walking out of the store that day was something else! I had a little over a week before we were to leave meaning I had a very busy few days filled with emotional goodbyes to my friends as well as doctors appointments to get my last travel vaccinations, dentist appointments, visits to the hairdressers, and also trying to pack and figure out if there was anything I had forgotten. 

So that was before I left: a lot of hours spent at Waitrose but also a lot of time spent with my friends at the pub! It was a very enjoyable six months that I look back on with fond memories!


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