I know you don’t know me particularly well yet, but I am useless. Common sense is not in my brain. I don’t have any, or if I did have any it wandered off aimlessly somewhere years ago and fell into the switched-off parts at the back. Bit of an exaggeration? Probably not. This made it increasingly difficult to imagine myself smashing continents off the bucket list because I simply couldn’t imagine being able to survive all alone in the big wide world. I hope this doesn’t sound princessey, because honestly it comes down to the fact that I am a squeaky clean, first time traveller with no real experience of the world.
To combat this feeling, I set out on a mission to find a travel company, with the end goal of finding a group of likeminded people to buddy up and travel with. I have decided to spend several initial weeks with this company whilst I find my feet, before spreading my wings and going at it alone. To be completely honest; once I found the Gap360 website I needn’t looked much further, and this is my ‘so far’ review of their service.
Description of service
Set up in 2011, Gap360 offers over 200 trips, spread across over fifty destinations. Each trip proposes a day by day itinerary which is pre-organised by the company (the activities are for the most part included in the overall cost). And you’d be fibbing if you didn’t admit all the planned activities look incredible. Spending two days with an Elephant herd in the depths of Northern Thailand? Yes please!
As well as this, important bits of your trip such as choosing a safe hostel or booking a transfer are already taken into consideration. This aspect added massive appeal for me! (But don’t go thinking I’m a lazy traveller, or anything.) You can relax knowing you’ll be staying in well-established and safe environments, eliminating any doubt or stress you may otherwise have had if you were travelling alone. I think this is the whole vision behind the company.
The company offers add-on’s such as flight packages and travel insurance, should you require. I opted to book my own flights as I personally found that to be easier. I did however use Gap360’s insurance policy, which when compared to your standard Post Office travel insurance, was cheaper.
It probably goes without saying that the company targets a young audience and it is actually stated on their website that the Gap360 service is “ideal for the first time traveller” and that most that go on a trip are between the ages of 18-22. Also other aspects, such as the ‘partying’ advertised with the Thai Adventure trip, indicate their target audience. Of course, this is a bonus for me as I feel reassured that I won’t end up with a bunch forty-something’s when I get there! (No disrespect to forty-somethings, but I am about 20 years younger than you.)
Their website was a huge selling point for me. On the homepage, you are greeted with their tailored search engine and the catchy line “Find my trip”. There are also the headings: “Where can I go?”, “What can I do?” and “Why choose Gap360?” If you’ve stumbled on the website accidentally, it’s not long before they’ve persuaded you to stay and have a browse. Navigating the site is simple and easy- tempting for those who are hunting stress-free options.
Once clicking on the destination of your choice the website provides a list of the trips offered, which you can then view the details of any trip as and when you please. Each web page thoroughly lays out each trip’s details so you know exactly what to expect before making any commitments. I think that being able to see an in-depth description of the service in consideration can really impact your final decision to buy, or not to buy.
It’s also worth mentioning that the website also includes a detailed FAQs list which- as a first time traveller- was just what I needed. I feel like through all this the company has become my all-knowing, seeing and loving ‘Travel Mother’, if you were. It’s great.
When you click on a destination, a pop up box saying “live chat” will appear. It’s worth noting that the live chat runs 9:00-17:30 only. I never realised this and assumed the live chat didn’t work properly, as all my questions were redirected to email. Personally, I see this as one of the companies’ downfalls. Most people work during the day and use their evenings to research their trips. A Gap360 rep who I spoke to told me that they are looking to extend this time to around 8:30pm, which I think would be a massive improvement. This is probably my only criticism.
The price of my chosen trip came to £1989 excluding flights. When I first saw this price tag, I thought it was a little steep considering I’m only spending five and a half weeks with the company. However once actually researching what is included within this price, I couldn’t complain. Just a few of the things included are: all accommodation, two internal flights, coach travel, ferry travel, two boat trips, day activities- such as an authentic Thai cookery class … The list goes on and on. You can have a look at what’s included/not included on the right hand side of this webpage if you’re interested; I was pleasantly surprised.
I have noticed that sometimes Gap360 has a sale on- such as Black Friday last year- where they advertised some of the most popular trips at discounted rates, so that’s another thing to bear in mind. And whilst we are on the subject of saving pennies, I have noticed that the prices do get steeper the longer you wait. For example if you want to now book onto the trip dates which I am going on, you’ll be paying about £30 more than I did. It doesn’t sound like much but c’mon, we’re gap year travellers, not Kim Kardashian! Every little helps.
Gap360 offers the chance to sort of subscribe (help, who even knows Facebook lingo anymore?!) to their Facebook travel page. From here, you can find the people who are going to be on your trip. This has been the most exciting part of my gap360 experience so far. It has been a huge relief to be able to speak with the people I am going to meet, as we have been able to break the ice, so to speak, online! I truly feel like when I arrive, I’ll be greeted with warm smiles and hugs from this group which won’t feel awkward or uncomfortable; Gap360 has done a fab job here of eradicating any of those nervy first-day feels. You go, Glen Coco.
So far, these are my thoughts, and I am hoping they will stay as positive throughout my experience with this company. I will definitely be back with a full review in due course! Until next time, adiós x
Have any of you lovely people had a good experience with a travel company? What about a bad one?