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Susanna ScottA veteran travel blogger, Amar Hussain is the Editor-in-Chief of GapYearEscape.com. Originally from Warwick, England, he started blogging in 2009 and since then has travelled the world and written about his experiences in his blog - which is a helpful guide for budget travel, backpacking, and adventure. He counts London, Sydney, Medellin and Buenos Aires among his favourite places but insists that he "enjoys a roof anywhere in the world." He wishes that everyone should do a Gap Year and explore the world.

Apart from travel and writing, he loves photography. He has been featured on the likes of TIME, BBC and Lonely Plant and is a major contributor to the Huffington Post. We recently spoke to him and this is what he had to say.

Tell us what inspired you to come up with this interestingly themed travel blog.

I started it on a whim if I am honest. I always liked writing and I was about to go on my own Gap Year. Someone suggested I start one so I did, a week before I set off. 8 years later, I'm still running the blog and what a journey it has been!

When and why did you decide to embark on your gap year travel?

It felt like the right time having done years of education. I'd just graduated and it was the recession so there were hiring freezes in a lot of the top firms. I thought why not take some time out? That's what I tell people anyway. I would have gone regardless!

Where did you go first on your Gap Year Escape and how was the experience?

My very first Gap Year was a round the world trip where I travelled around South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and USA. It affirmed the travel bug I already knew I had and really cemented the idea that I wanted to be a travel blogger full time. It was a defining experience for me.

Sri Lanka is one of your top destinations; which are the other popular spots for gap year travellers and what are the most exciting things to do there?

You are correct. Backpacking Sri Lanka was one of the most rewarding experiences I've had in all my travels and I think that is largely down to the locals. They are some of the warmest and open people I've had the privilege to meet.

The classic South East Asia and on to Oceania is a popular Gap Year route but I would urge people to consider Central and South America as they both have a lot to offer from mountain biking the death road in Bolivia to Sailing the San Blas Islands in Panama. The list is endless!

Amar Hussain Sri Lanka

You have scuba dived all over the world. Where did you enjoy it the most and why?

That's a tough one! I'd have to say the Bay Islands from both Roatan and Utila as the visibility was extremely good when I was there and there are some interesting wrecks. Close second would have to be the Galapagos and the Maldives and no real prizes for guessing why. Turtles and sharks galore!

Amar Hussain Galapagos

Which is that one place you still haven't ticked off your bucket list and are most excited about visiting in the future?

There's too many to list! Now I'm less about a place and more about experiences or adventure activities. I'd like to do a multi-day white water rafting trip of the Grand Canyon and have a recent interest in Samurai culture after reading some books by David Kirk so Japan is on the list too.

What advice and tips would you like to give to someone who is going on a Gap Year?

First thing is not to plan too much. Nothing ever goes to plan, you can miss a flight, things get broken, you might make friends heading in a different direction, hell you might even fall in love. Anything could happen. A year is a long time. Just take it as it comes.

I think another thing I see increasingly often is how much social media has stopped us from being present and in the moment. It's getting to the stage where unless it's on Instagram or Snapchat, it didn't happen. I may sound hypocritical as I run a blog with a large social media following but that's my job and also my cross to bear. I try and keep a balance and get the shots I need to fulfil my obligations and then the phone and camera goes away for me to just enjoy it.

Finally, I was very late jumping on the bandwagon but get into collecting points as it will pay dividends later. It makes me feel ill thinking about how many airline miles I've missed out on. Now I'm a little obsessed with it and saving up for a business class flight to Australia. There's lots of info out there on how it works but you can start with this beginners guide to points.

Tell us about your cross continent overland trip from Vancouver to Antarctica. Share some of the most memorable moments of the trip?

That was a pretty epic trip. I was travelling around Central America at the time when the idea came to do a big north to south trip. It took a year and a half to complete and continued a little bit after Antarctica. There was not much planning involved other than flying to Canada for some snowboarding and then a direction - south. Jumping off the zodiac and setting foot on a frozen beach in Antarctica felt like a massive achievement after all that time. As I said, truly epic.

Amar Hussain Antarctica

It can be pretty daunting to pack for a round the world trip. How do you go about it?

I think the way to do it is not pack for the whole thing. There are some things I won't leave without like electronics (camera, laptop, iPhone) as they can either be difficult or expensive to buy on the road. For instance in Argentina, it was cheaper and quicker to travel to Uruguay to get an Apple part than get it locally! I also have a prescription snorkel mask so I can actually see under water. Then that just leaves a passport and credit card and I'm sorted. I try not to stress about packing too much, especially clothes. As long as I have a good travel backpack and the essentials above, everything else I can get on the road if I forget anything.

Amar Hussain Digital

Where are you at the moment? Please share with us your upcoming travel plans?

I'm actually shortly off to Hong Kong and then on to the Philippines for a few weeks. There are so many amazing islands there so it is hard to pick between them. I've decided to spend time on Borocay and Busauanga (Coron) with some hiking in the rice terraces in Banaue. I'm particularly excited about diving amongst the World War II wrecks!

Amar Hussain

This interview with Amar Hussain is a part of Travel Trolley's ongoing 'Best of the Travel Bloggers' series. We are interviewing popular travel bloggers who encourage and inspire people to travel. Check out all the bloggers we have interviewed and learn about their interesting experiences, adventures, travel stories as well as useful holiday tips.

 

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