As the Year of Travel rolls through the wilds of your imagination, it’s time to turn your attention to your own travel ambitions. And what better place to start than with an adventure that celebrates the very best of a region, with a good amount of time to sink your teeth into its culture?
Some call them Snap Gaps; some say Snap Years; others label them ‘mini gap years’; I simply prefer to call them by their proper name: a couple of months’ travelling.
Two months is enough time to unravel, and immerse yourself in the experience. It’s short enough, that with a little planning, you can slip it into a summer of seamless fun, or set off on a sabbatical of untold possibilities.
But where would you travel to? There are some fantastic destinations, that are conveniently located beside each other, and seemingly begging to be explored this year. I’ve rounded up some of my favouruite regions around the world, to give you a flavour of what you could achieve throughout your Year of Travel.
7 Ideas for your Snap Gap
Buckle up, you’re about to be swarmed with wanderlust! But here’s a heads up, in the unlikely event that you’re not interested in any of the following Snap Gap, then rustle up your favourite regions around the world and lay it in the comment thread below.
Philippines, Malaysia & Indonesia
These three sisters create the proverbial hop, skip and jump into your extended jaunt of the world. With a combined population of over 375 million people inhabiting almost 25,000 islands, with almost 100,000 kilometres of (mostly) beautiful coastline, this is one seriously attractive proposition for your snap year.
Lump in a whopping 15 World Heritage sites, including Indonesia’s beautiful Borobudur complex, and you’re set for a clash with some of the world’s richest, and most interesting cultures. And then there’s the food. We’re talking about some of the most delicious and exciting cuisines, from the fiery street food, through to the great value fine dining. Cliché alert: this is a foodie’s paradise.
Southern States USA
Rolling along the Mexican border, you’ll find California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, further east, you’ll find Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. If you’re not already hankering to get to the ball game, or snag a corn dog at the state fair, then you’ll be excused for skipping over this hunk of snap year inspiration.
This is where the music rolls along the Mississippi, and seeps into the swamps, pine forests, mountains, and high-desert plains. Not to mention the Grand Canyon, and enough Cajun, Tex-Mex, and gumbo to shake a root beer at. With a couple of months, and a Greyhound pass, you’ll crack into a journey of untold adventure, filled with character and flavour.
Turkey, Greece and Georgia
Bind these three together, and expect to experience some of the world’s most welcoming hospitality, through lands of ancient allure and modern dreams. This is where the Middle East nuzzles Europe, in splendid style, smeared in smiles and moustaches.
Stone heads of Nemrut Dagi
Turkey serves up a feast of unique sights, including the Gallipoli Peninsula and Istanbul’s irresistible bazaars. Georgia draws on its dramatic mountain landscape, dappled with idyllic churches and castles. Greece can inject some olympic adventure into proceedings, with the allure of the sun-drenched islands, perfectly laid out for the good times ahead.
Mexico, Belize & Guatemala
These three Central American gems are sure to see you knee-deep in Mayan mystery as you venture through the magic of ancient, ruin-speckled jungles and dip your toes in the blow-you-away blue of the surrounding oceans; a diver’s dream in the East and surfers’ paradise to the West.
Immerse yourself in the wondrous landscapes of Tulum, on the Mayan Riviera
Mexico dishes up full-on flavour with eye-watering coastlines, sleepy cacti-rimmed towns and heady, chilli-filled markets. Not to mention a casual Wonder of the World – Chichen Itza. Baby-of-the-bunch, Belize, takes on the tastes of the Caribbean with Creole-infused charm and laid-back island idylls with some of the best diving in the world. You’ll feel right at home with Indiana Jones amongst the emerald green Guatemalan jungle, brimming with crumbling Mayan ruins and broken only by sweeping cowboy ranches and peaceful, glassy lakes sure to wash all your cares away.
Southern India & Sri Lanka
Fusing India’s characterful southern states, with Sri Lanka’s refreshing landscapes has the ability to deliver an incredible two month stint of unadulterated travel, spliced with some of the most flavoursome food on the planet. Let the smiles lead you through the temple strewn state of Tamil Nadu, up and over the verdant Western Ghats, and its vein of hill tribes, into Kerala, India’s most magical state.
Wrap in a loop around Sri Lanka’s idyllic coastline, before rising into the lush tea country at the heart of the action, where ancient cities fall to crumbs, and the cool of the night air carries the aromatic lure of Sri Lanka’s fiery cuisine. This is a cure-all combo, fuelled with culture candy; a true travel experience.
Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania
Yanking at the sleeves of Lake Victoria, are three of Africa’s most enigmatic neighbours. Uganda, famed for being the source of the Nile, is staggering back to its feet to live up to its moniker as ‘The Pearl of Africa’. The big, black, hairy magnet is indubitably the chance to see gorillas in their natural habitat, in the Bwindi National Park.
Meet mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, in Uganda
The Kenya/Tanzania border split the Serengeti National Park and the Masai Mara, each offering untold opportunity to snag your safari fix, while the national parks and endless adventure will provide plenty of fodder for your snap year.
Japan & South Korea
Couple up this twain of oriental magnificence and you’ll be setting yourself up for two months of thrilling adventure, in two of Asia’s most noble, earnest, and exciting destinations. Spiralling off a plateau of ancient history, Japan’s slender lands play host to a unique blend of ultra-modern (and we mean ultra!) and peaceful enclaves.
South Korea, on the other hand, provides a spectacle of countryside, and a dusting of adventure islands, aching to be explored. Hike the Jirisan National Park, and spend some time on South Korea’s mystical, yet fun, island, Jejudo.
Do these ideas fit with your #YearofTravel? Now it’s over to you: you’ve got 2 months to travel, a whole planet to explore: where are you going? But it doesn’t stop there! Join the conversation on Twitter, by tweeting us the way that you’re making 2012 your #YearofTravel!