This week, STA Travel staffer Rebekah takes over the blog to tell us in her own words why she loves to volunteer abroad.
As I stepped off the plane in Cape Town, the warm summer air hit my face and utter disbelief set in. I was in South Africa. I shuffled through baggage claim wondering what I was doing. I set off to participate in a volunteer project, but I don’t think I had any idea what that actually meant, or how it would change me.
My volunteer coordinator, Kate, took me on an introductory drive through the Cape to show me where I would be working. Helping teachers in a pre-school in Masiphumelele, painting a wall in Oceanview, providing some much needed assistance at a pre-school in Redhill, feeding children before school in Capricorn, and playing with kids at a safe house in Noordhoek. My eyes were opened to the warmth of the people and the need in the Western Cape.
It’s time to kick start another week here at STA Travel Towers – and what better way to start it than with a run down the Travel Gauntlet? If you’ve not visited us here at the Travel Gauntlet before (where have you been?), allow me to introduce it.
I’m Emma, the Keeper of the Gauntlet (unofficial job title), and each fortnight I ask a member of our staff and one of you guys five tough questions. But these aren’t just any tough questions – ohhhh no.
These questions are designed to test, tease and tantalise. They’ll force our loyal staff member and curious blog reader to delve deep into their souls. They’ll ask our brave contenders to reveal their deepest, darkest travel secrets.
The best bit? You get to read the answers. Excited? Oh, you should be. But before we take a look at this week’s edition, do you know what’s possibly even better than reading the Travel Gauntlet? Taking part in it! If you want to lay your travel credentials down for the world to see, email me, and I’ll send you five questions of your very own to answer.
Now, before the excitement gets too much for you, let’s meet this week’s eager Gauntlet runners.
In the red corner, it’s…
…our very own Vicky Firman, Travel Expert at STA Travel in sunny Portsmouth! When it comes to travel, if Vicky doesn’t know it, it probably isn’t worth knowing. Here she is flexing her travel expertise on a trip to India:
Vicky discovers a lesser known tourist attraction called the Taj Mahal
What makes working for STA Travel so great?
As well as some great travel perks from a company that really understands the benefit of seeing the world (we like to practice what we preach), there’s also that fact that while you spend your days helping people create what will probably end up being one of the best times of their life, you also get to earn recognised travel qualifications as you do it!
A couple of weeks ago we met Alun Chapple, once of this year’s STA Travel apprentices, and this week say hello to Mog Lewin.
Mog hard at work at her desk in our Nottingham store
Welcome back to Ask the Experts, the weekly blog post that sees some of our finest Travel Experts racking their brains, flexing their travel knowledge and generally dazzling the world with their expertise as they answer your travel related questions.
One or more of our Experts are here every week, so if you’ve got a travel itch that you just can’t scratch, drop them an email and they’ll answer your question right here on the blog.
Travel Expert Amy from our store in Leeds Vicar Lane is here to do the honours this week and solve one lucky blog reader’s travel woes. So let’s hear from that blog reader! This week’s question comes from Alix, who wants to experience a different side to Thailand’s crazy capital, Bangkok:
I’m starting my Thailand adventure in Bangkok in November. I’ve been before, and didn’t venture further than the Khao San Road. How can I find a slightly more classy/less touristy side to Bangkok? Alix in York
It’s a great question, and one which every traveller should know the answer to. While Bangkok’s backpacker ghetto is a fun place to hang out, it’s definitely not all that Bangkok has to offer.
Amy is here to talk Alix through Bangkok’s different side. Read on, and find out where to go to get a fix of culture, shopping, entertainment and local living away from the cries of ‘Same same but different’…
What do you want your Australian adventure to deliver? Cool city living? Captivating wildlife? Superb beaches? Tonnes of adventure? The southern state of Victoria has it all.
Melbourne is the jewel in Victoria’s crown. It’s a magnet for a trendy laid back crowd and rich in arts, live music, chilled out cafes and some of the best (if not the best) shopping in Australia.
This amazing city maybe one of the top ‘must visits’ for any self respecting traveller but isn’t all Victoria has to offer – not by a long shot.
And on that note, let me introduce you to Kathryn, 27, from Nottingham. She can’t help but sing the praises of Victoria. She loves it, and she tells us why below, in the hope that she can inspire you to experience it for yourself.
One of the many beautiful beaches in Victoria, Australia