Flexi-Travel – Ultimate Asian Gap Year by Georgina Thursby
Georgie went on the ultimate Asian gap year but wanted the freedom to choose from activities (volunteering, road trips, and chilling out) once she was there and had settled in with new friends. Her five months doing the flexi-travel programme through Changing Worlds was the best thing she needed.
Why choose Changing Worlds’ Flexi-travel?
“When deciding to go traveling and doing volunteering it was daunting to see how many ‘gap year’ companies there were. All offer similar things – giving you the chance to go volunteer in another country, quite literally anywhere in the world. It all seemed great but it wasn’t until I came across Changing Worlds that I knew I had found exactly what I wanted. With their ‘Flexi-Travel’ option they offer, it gives you the opportunity to do a wide range of volunteering, whilst also being able to do leisure and recreational experiences.
This enables you to travel around the country whilst also giving to the local communities, which in my personal opinion is the best combination offered amongst all travel companies. Although Flexi-travel can take some time to get your head around, with the help from the Changing Worlds team once you understand, it’s easy to get carried away with buying credits as you want to do every single option they offer and go to every country they offer it in!”
Where did you travel to in your Asian gap year?
“I chose to go to Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Philippines, and Bali (Indonesia), all countries I have wanted to visit as their cultures are all different yet fascinating. I decided to spend 5 weeks in each country to allow me to immerse myself in the local life and culture. The accommodation provided in each of the countries isn’t in main cities, but more in rural areas which enables you to interact with the surrounding community. I found this really beneficial as you get to form a relationship with the locals throughout your stay whilst being able to see the effects of your volunteering and how grateful they are for you coming to help either them, their family or their everyday living environment.”
What did you do in your spare time?
“Having the weekends off volunteering, you are able to go on weekend trips to quite literally anywhere within the country to see the most beautiful sceneries and do the most incredible activities. Traveling around also gives you the chance to take all forms of public transport, ranging from buses and trains to the typical tuk-tuks and jeepneys, all very different from the transport back home – it’s a true experience! I was fortunate enough to see UNSECO sights such as the Underground River in the Philippines and the wonderful rice terraces in Bali along with the impressive mountainous tea plantations in Sri Lanka and gorgeous Thong National Marine Park at Koh Samui in Thailand.
It is really surprising how much you get packed in on the weekend but also during the day when you have finished your volunteering, as you only volunteer for around 4 hours a day. You can climb mountains during the night to see stunning sunrises in Sri Lanka and Bali, visit local clothes and food markets in Thailand or find a remote white sand beach in the Philippines to watch the sunset.”
What was one of your memorable experiences?
“The Flexi-travel also gives you the option of doing lots of cultural experiences. The one that stands out to me the most was being able to spend a week with hill tribes in Thailand. You get to hike between different hill tribes and stay the night with them in their local houses. At the end of the week, you get to witness and partake in one of the ceremonies. You get blessed 7 times and accept small gifts given to you. As a token of thanks, you get to make dinner, which has to be something that comes from your country, that you get to enjoy with the head members of the hill tribe. It was truly an incredible experience that I will not be forgetting in a hurry as their generosity and genuine interest in you is really something special.”
What is your opinion of Changing Worlds?
“I couldn’t recommend more using Changing Worlds to go traveling with, may it be for volunteering or something else they offer, such as paid work or undertaking a course, both allowing you to travel whilst gaining experience! The support from the team is incredible. They are always there for you to ask any questions you may have and respond promptly with a high level of detail. Once you are away on your travels, you still get that same level of support. Any problems you may have when away they ensure that they can help in any way they can to make sure your trip runs smoothly and you are enjoying your time away. I can’t thank Changing Worlds enough for giving me one of the best experiences of my life and I can’t wait to start planning my next adventure with them!”