A Gap Year on a Budget
A ‘gap year’ can mean completely different things to different people. Do you picture yourself driving a campervan through National Parks in the United States? Meeting the elephants in Thailand? Or perhaps spending the summer travelling through Europe? No matter what the dream is – perhaps the only thing you can picture is watching all of your money disappear?
A gap year is known to be expensive, you are essentially planning to travel for a while without having a stable income – although, this can be one of the most worthwhile experiences of your life! If you are at a point in your life where you are ready to leave home behind and put your responsibilities on hold for a period of time, then with careful planning, a gap year is the route for you!
This guide will help you plan out the gap year of your dreams whilst budgeting every step of the way!
Choose the right gap year destination for your budget –
Where you choose to spend your gap year will ultimately determine how much money you’ll have to spend whilst your abroad.
Tip 1: Pick a budget friendly country!
By focusing on the key elements such as your budget, your bucket list and your ultimate goals, gap year programs can be budget friendly! Just be sure to consider the destinations economic health before you book and research into the costs of living. This research will allow you to work out an estimation as to how much you can expect to spend each day!
Don’t wait to plan the logistics –
To save money, adequate planning is key!
Tip 2: Decide to use middle men or travel freely
To avoid hassles, many people choose a travel company to help when planning their trip, or paying for a package. While this saves time and stress, it is a large investment! If you want to plan your gap year on a budget, cut out the middleman and do the research yourself, there is an abundance of information and personal blogs from those who have done it before, this raw research is always more helpful too! Saving this money and travelling from your own plan will also give you a great sense of achievement.
Tip 3: Book your travel now!
Once you have decided on a gap year program and destination, don’t wait to plan the essentials. Do this step as early as possible to save money as most travel is cheaper when secured in advance, but this does mean you need to be organised with a roughly mapped-out itinerary to plan effectively.
Tip 4: Plan for visas, vaccinations and insurance in advance!
If you haven’t already filed or even researched for necessary visas, vaccinations or insurance fees, do it! These are the most essential for your travels and take the longest to secure, you don’t want the hassle of dealing with the consequences of forgetting or simply leaving it too late!
Create a more flexible travel itinerary –
Even though this may stress you or those staying at home, it is the best way to get the most out of your gap year! Flexibility is key if you are wanting to stick to a budget, be adaptable and reap the financial benefits!
Tip 5: Be flexible in the length of your ‘gap year’
Planning a gap year doesn’t necessarily mean you need to plan and budget for an entire year, as that’s impossible! If you have a smaller budget, you can either choose shorter international tours and trips during the year, allowing you to see the places you want to see most. On the other hand, many travellers basically travel until they run out of money, they then settle somewhere for a while, find a job to make some cash for a few months, and then set off on their travels again! We suggest using your budget to plan how long you can afford to travel for, and planning from there.
Tip 6: A beneficial travel tip is to travel overnight rather than during the day
With your flexible itinerary, overnight travel can really save you money. Plus you’ll get to your destination with a full day to explore and save on accommodation for the night!
Really think about your gap year options –
Not every gap year is the same, and that’s perfectly okay! Various gap year plans can be much cheaper than others, but you don’t want to do something you don’t actually have an interest in just to save money, you are better off saving for longer and having the trip of a lifetime! Along with your flexible itinerary, try stepping back from ‘traditional’ gap year formats and get in touch with the locals and nature for a more budget-friendly experience.
Tip 7: Try hiring a campervan or camping
There are plenty of programs that offer gap year adventures in the wilderness, which can also save you money staying clear from the big cities! For example if choosing Australia for your gap year, accommodation is known to be expensive, so how about embracing minimalism and heading outdoors? Allow this experience to offer you a new perspective while saving money!
Tip 8: Become a volunteer
Gap years don’t always need to be about purely travelling, why not volunteer and give something back to the community or help others lives? Volunteering abroad can be one of the most rewarding experiences! (whilst also looking great on your CV)
Tip 9: Don’t be a stranger, hang out with the locals!
It is true that in order to truly discover a culture, you need to talk to the locals in order to physically see how they live and work. Locals have the ability to give you the best recommendations and advice, and the best places that are off the beaten track. As a bonus, this alternative style of touring can also help you to live more on a local’s budget too!
Top tip: Don’t try to see everywhere and everything
Not only does travelling from place to place eat away at your budget, if your trying to see too many places, you will end up exhausted with no real memory or connection to any of the places you visited. Your gap year should be filled with constant happiness and fun, remember to slow down and enjoy every moment – even if you have been travelling for hours on end or are stuck in a hostel room with like 20 people, it’s all an experience!
From using this guide along with money saving tips such as getting a currency card, budgeting apps or simply being smart with how/where you are carrying your money, you will be able to enjoy a budget-friendly gap year abroad.
The world is your oyster, we both know that right now is the perfect time for you to explore the world while you have the time! Travelling on a budget can be hard but with careful and precise planning, it can make you resourceful, creative and adaptable to all cultures, and lets you explore the world in a more personal way. Let’s estimate your budget and get planning!
By Jessica Hughes