With the average gap year estimated to cost around £5000-£7000 it can be difficult to ever imagine getting enough money to fund those travelling dreams- particularly if you have just graduated from university with a student loan.
But with a bit of time, planning and dedication you could soon be flying off to Vietnam, Morocco and Goa (or other suitably ‘Gap Yah’ destinations!); here at Savoo we show you how.
Unless you are lucky enough to have a couple of grand casually floating around your savings account, you will need to spend a few months working to raise the cash. Start by finding a fulltime job- if it pays overtime even better. Rather than desperately trying to find work in the field you graduated in, take whatever job you can get: retail and hospitality are two areas which offer plenty of hours for a reasonable wage.
Next, stop spending and get saving. Move back in with your parents, stop buying takeaways and start living on a budget. Don’t forget, a gap year doesn’t have to be an entire year; work in the UK for as long as you need to and then take a 3 month, 6 month or 9 month trip abroad.
Travel insurance might be an added expense, but we guarantee that in the event of repatriation, cancelled flights or lost luggage you (and your bank balance) will be happy you have it. Even if you are only travelling in the EU, European Health Insurance Cards have their limits; they only cover the cost of medical expenses in that country, not the cost of repatriation to the UK. And don’t forget to get the necessary vaccinations- most are free on the NHS, including typhoid, hepatitis A and cholera.
Book in advance to get the best price, and always shop around to find the cheapest quotes; check out Skyscanner to compare inexpensive flights. Try different dates and times to lower the cost- flying at unsociable hours or during low season will knock significant money off the price.
If you are travelling around Europe or the USA, taking a coach will usually be the most cost effective way of getting around- although it might not always be comfortable! And don’t forget about Interrailing. An InterRail pass grants you free rail travel around Europe within a specified time frame for up to a month.
When transport costs are getting out of hand, start thinking like a traveller not a tourist: slow it down and really explore the country you are in rather than ticking off as many places as possible.
Once you have left the UK you need to be able to access your money- preferably without any added costs. When you are abroad you have a few options:
- Cash: Ensure you always travel with enough cash to get you by, but not too much in case you get pickpocketed. Never change your cash at the airport- they will charge a hefty commission fee.
- Debit card: You can use these in pretty much any ATM around the world, but you may be charged.
- Credit card: Many credit cards charge a commission fee outside the UK, but travel credit cards are designed to be used abroad and will not charge you additional fees.
- Traveller’s cheques: A little old fashioned, but if they are lost or stolen you can get them cancelled and reissued.
- Prepaid currency card: Use this just like a debit card by loading money onto it through your bank before you leave.
Don’t forget to set up online banking so that you can access your account from across the world, and ensure that someone back home can get money to you quickly in case of an emergency.
You will undoubtedly want to contact your friends and family when you are travelling for a long period of time, but mobile phone charges are often forgotten when budgeting. To avoid coming back to a disgustingly large phone bill, invest in a global SIM before you go, and use Skype and FaceTime though internet when possible. Text rather than call, and never ever use mobile internet to update your Facebook status- turn off data roaming!
Money whilst travelling
Working abroad is a great way to get some extra money and integrate yourself into the local culture. Here are some ideas for earning money whilst travelling:
- Teaching English: Although you don’t necessarily need qualifications to teach English as a foreign language, they can be very helpful in finding work. TEFL courses are available in the UK for less than £200, and no experience is required to take them.
- Working Holiday: Working Holiday Visas are available for countries including Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and will allow you to travel and work in these countries for up to a year.
- Waitressing: Head to bars and restaurants and ask if they need any extra staff.
- Au Pairing: Au Pair World is a great place to start if you want to au pair in Europe.
Avoid expensive tourist restaurants and look for places that the locals are eating in. If you are in Asia eat the street food, and don’t forget to head to the supermarket if funds run really low.
Hostels are usually the cheapest accommodation available to travellers. In Eastern Europe, South-East Asia, India and some South American countries you are more likely to find hotel rooms for very low prices. But in Europe and the US, choose a hostel dorm room for a cheap night’s sleep and the chance to meet fellow travellers. Book your first night of accommodation in advance; after that you can shop around for potentially cheaper places.
Other options for cheap accommodation include volunteering through Workaway (where you will find a room and food in exchange for a few hours’ work a day), couchsurfing or camping. And you could always kill two birds with one stone and travel overnight on a sleeper train or bus for no accommodation cost.
What are your top tips for budgeting on a gap year?