We recently caught up with Lydia who is currently doing an 11-week ski instructing training course at Lake Louise in Canada.
Lydia and her boyfriend are currently in the second stage of their wider gap year. After travelling through South America learning Spanish. Now, they are now in Banff with EA Ski & Snowboard, and next, they’re off to climb to Everest Base Camp in Nepal and explore India.
Here is Lydia’s advice for anyone considering a gap year.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
I’m Lydia and I’m originally from Manchester but I now call London home. I’m doing an 11-week ski instructor training course with EA Ski & Snowboard at Lake Louise in Banff as part of my gap year.
What were you doing before your gap year?
I was working in a bank in London. I’ve taken a 12-month sabbatical from my job, but I plan on returning in August.
Can you tell me what you've done on your gap year so far?
My boyfriend and I travelled through Central America learning Spanish before coming to Canada to do our ski instructor training course. Next, we’re heading to Nepal to hike Everest Base Camp and after that, we’re going to go and check out India for a few months.
How did you plan your gap year?
The first thing my boyfriend and I did when we started planning our gap year was put a big bucket list together of all the things we wanted to do. Then, we managed to narrow it down to a few experiences based on things like budget, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, what we won’t be able to do when we’re older, and things like that.
It was also important to both of us that we learned new skills. That’s why we are doing a training course in Canada and why we went to language school in South America.
How are you budgeting so that you can take a whole year off work?
I started putting money away about three years ago for a gap year. To make sure we don’t run out of money, we have divided our trip to three portions - South America, Canada and Asia.
We have separate pots of money for each section and it’s super important we stick to that. For example, we have to be careful with our Canada budget so we don’t dip into our Asia money and end up running out of funds.
Why did you choose Canada to do your ski instructing course?
I’ve always dreamed of living in Canada one day, so we thought this would give us a taste of what it would be like. When we decided we wanted to do a ski instructor course, we initially looked at doing the internship program in Japan because Japanese work visas are easier to get than Canadian ones. However, when we figured out we could still afford to come to Canada, and we didn’t need a working holiday visa to do the training course, it was a no brainer.
What is the EA ski instructor training course like?
The ski instructor training course runs four days a week for 11 weeks. Level 1 training is focused on getting everyone skiing technically correct. It means going right back to the basics and breaking your old bad habits. As you progress through the training, the ski training becomes more advanced and you start to explore the instructing side. I have just completed my level one training. Now, I have a week of freestyle training and next, we start our Level 2 training.
Now that you’ve done the training course, would you like to be an instructor?
Yes! I have loved it so much. My boyfriend and I are already talking about when we can come back and actually work as ski instructors for a season.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learnt on your gap year so far?
The biggest lesson I have learnt is not to plan too much. Decide on a destination and how to get there. But when you arrive, go with the flow so you can be open to new opportunities that arise. You’ll meet so many people and learn so much while you’re away.
When I left, I was worried I might not want to return to work, but surprisingly my gap year has made me appreciate the job I do have.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced on your gap year?
The hardest part of travelling and not staying in one place for a long period of time is that it’s hard to form friendships.
On the skiing side, the training program has completely torn apart our skiing and I’ve had a lot of old habits to try and break. That’s been challenging because I’ve been skiing for a long time.
Are you glad you waiting a few years before going on a gap year?
I’m so glad I had a few years of work experience under my belt before taking a gap year. I’ve matured a lot and am now more open to trying new things. Also, I’m independent and have my own money and don’t need to ask my parents for money to help fund my travel.
What advice would you give someone planning a gap year?
When you’re planning your gap year, give yourself enough time in each place to enjoy it and do the things you want. Also, book experiences in advance! You’ll get to one place and not want to leave, so it’s good to have planned experiences to remind yourself to keep moving on. For example, we’re absolutely loving Canada and we don’t want to leave, but we’re excited to go to Asia and do the things we have planned there.
When you’re planning your trip, Lonely Planet is great for high-level planning advice. For example, what airport to fly into and local transport. When you arrive at your destination, travel bloggers are awesome for finding out what to do, where to stay and how to make the most of your time in a certain place.
What advice would you give someone considering a ski instructor course?
Buy your ski gear when you arrive. Don’t bring it with you from home (unless you already have it all!). You’ll have access to good advice and special deals. I purchased new ski boots before I arrived, they were quite cheap and I thought they were a good deal. When I arrived, I realised they were two sizes too big and I ended up having to buy new ones.
Keep up-to-date with Lydia's adventures on her Sabbatical From The City blog.