Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer from the lovely “city of trees”- Boise, Idaho. Her love of writing pairs with her passion for social activism and search for the truth. You can find more of her writing on her Contently.
A budget friendly gap year is the perfect break between A-levels and university life. It’s a time when you’ll explore the world, mature as a person, and create life-long memories.
However, this year, you may be a little hesitant to book flights and accommodation for a gap year as the rising cost of living has got everyone counting their pennies.
Fortunately, not all gap years need to cost a fortune. You can easily take a budget-friendly gap year by planning ahead, taking advantage of deals, and doing what you can to reduce your cost of living while you’re abroad.
Creating a Budget
Creating an effective budget is your first step when creating a gap year financial plan. An effective budget should give you plenty of money to live on but still ensure that you stay under your intended spending cap.
Creating a budget friendly gap year is relatively straightforward. First, list all of your potential expenditures. Be sure to account for things like:
- Hotel/hostel costs;
- Visa/immigration costs.
Give yourself a range to work with, as fees for flights may fluctuate throughout the season when you plan to travel. Next, list your sources of income, such as:
- Pay from employment;
- Gifts, scholarships, and bursaries.
Now you have a plan view of your income and expenditures, you can start to build a financial plan to ensure you have enough money to have fun during your gap year. Create a financial forecast where you note down everything from predicted pay to the scholarships you hope to land to fund your gap year.
Remember that it is possible to work while in a gap year. This may sound counter to the idea of a gap year, but picking up a small part-time job washing dishes or teaching English as a foreign language can make a big difference to your quality of life during your travels.
Everyone dreams of a gap year in a popular location, like New Zealand or California. However, these destinations can be extremely expensive — particularly if you don’t have a stable form of income. Instead, consider opting for some cheaper, but equally eye-opening, destinations like:
- Costa Rica;
These destinations can save you money but are still high on adventure and provide plenty of opportunities to broaden your horizons.
Reducing Your Costs
During your gap year, you should always be on the lookout for ways to reduce your costs and stay within your budget. Savings a few pounds a day can add up towards the end of the trip and save you from stressing over finances.
When you make it to your destination, find ways to travel efficiently to reduce your costs. Efficient travel tips include ridesharing, packing light, and making the most of your available space. For example, if you have a rental car during your adventure, try to pack everything you need and utilize carriers instead of opting for a larger, more expensive vehicle.
Try to minimize the amount that you eat out. If you’re in a hostel with space for cooking, try to buy from a local store and prepare food yourself. This will develop your culinary skills and save you heaps of money over your entire gap year.
Before you travel, do your research and find out the average costs for things like taxi fares and necessities. While most vendors are reliable and trustworthy, you don’t want to start overpaying just because you look like you’re new in town.
Saving money is important, but you should never sacrifice your safety to save a few pounds. Traditionally, taxis are safer than ridesharing services. Depending on the location you visit, taxi drivers are usually required to complete thorough background checks. Just be sure to fully research the company first, and look out for any identifying information that may keep you safe.
When planning your gap year, try to find as many discounts and offers as possible. Good discounts can save you hundreds of pounds and make a meaningful difference to your overall costs.
When looking for discounts, be aware that some companies run false advertisements with plenty of fine print. Some deals are too good to be true, and you need to ensure that your travel plans aren’t scuppered by a dodgy travel agency.
In general, booking early through major providers will give you the best deal. Travel agencies for gap years benefit from deals and economies of scale, meaning they can provide a good service at a cheaper price.
Taking a gap year is a great way to broaden your horizons and learn about the world around you. However, as the cost of living increases, you may be worried about paying for your trip. Ease the financial burden by picking up a part-time job and travelling to cheaper destinations. This can easily save you hundreds of pounds and ensure that you can focus more on the road ahead rather than your account balance.