“Where are you going travelling then?” “Wait you don’t know?”
“Well Me, Pippa and Esmeralda are all going around South East Asia together – it’s
going to be such a unique and spiritual experience yah”.
Although these words are entirely fictitious (yet I imagine a group of girls in Surrey have said this to each other unironically) it reflects the perceived notions of Gap Year Backpacking. There’s almost an expectation from your peers that if you don’t go to the jungles for a few months like American troops in Vietnam then your gap year is of less worth than those who do. But not this guy, I was dodging the Gap Year Draft.
I originally intended to go Interrailing around Southern France, Italy, Slovenia and then into Croatia. It seemed like a fool proof plan, but I quickly discovered that even with an Interrail pass in both France and Italy, costly reservation fees were mandatory for any train journey. The seat reservation fee for a second class seat Paris to Milan on one of France’s high speed TGV trains is a backpacking budget destroying 69 Euros! Taking this all on board (bdm tss) I realised that my Itenary was incompatible with an Interrail pass and my shoestring budget. All in all my travel plans had lasted about as long as a coach window near Conor McGregor and thus I found myself back to square one as quickly as I had begun.
However, after many hours spent probing Tripadvisor forums and sitting through a numbing amount of Travel Vlogs on YouTube, I managed to settle on the Balkans as my travel location for my gap year, allowing me to explore the remnants of former Yugoslavia. My Itenary at first was entirely based in Slovenia and Croatia, but then I eventually added on Bosnia and Montenegro. Excluding Dubrovnik in the south of Croatia (which has become a haven for Game of Thrones fans due to Kings Landing being filmed there) the Balkans for the most part are devoid of tourist traps. This means you can visit landmarks mostly stress free and strike shitty poses for the camera without seven other people doing the exact same in the background.