Earning money on a gap year

Home or abroad, there are opportunities for paid work to fund your travels

You don’t need to save up all the money you’ll need for your gap year before you go, and you don’t need to rely on family member to get you through the experience. Every year, scores of young people travel to continental Europe and beyond with only a modest amount of money in the bank and still make a success of their endeavours. Heading out to see the world during your gap year could be one of the best decisions you ever make, and you could learn skills that will set you up for life.

This doesn’t have to mean trying to survive on a shoestring, and there are many ways you can keep your bank balance healthy whilst you see the world. Read our tips below, which together with a bit of smart budgeting, may help you to earn, hold on to your savings and prevent any disappointment by running out of cash on your journey.

Make money on the move

The Internet has made it easier to make money whilst travelling. As long as you have an Internet connection, you can work on the move as you make your way from destination-to-destination.

Many gap year travellers have even been able to raise cash whilst away from home by house-sitting. You may not get paid for house-sitting, but you will at least manage to save the cost of accommodation and eating out, and if you do have freelance work to do, you can complete your tasks in the house you’re staying in.

There are many trusted websites that will direct you to quality house-sitting opportunities around the world.

Shorter programmes are gaining in popularity so you don’t necessarily have to take a full year out to enjoy a gap experience.

Most bookings with our members are now from people based outside the UK so be sure to plan ahead to ensure you get on your preferred choice of programme

Monetise your skills..

Do you have any skills that you can use whilst you travel? A large number of people make money whilst travelling by trying their hand at busking or showcasing other talents they have to a public audience.

You’ll need to do your research to make sure you’re not breaking any local laws, but you may be pleasantly surprised to see just how much money you can earn through street entertainment. Maybe you have skills you can pass on to other people?

Getting into tutoring whilst abroad can be a great way of making money, whether you can show other people how to play instruments, programme computers or help them improve their language skills. Social media can help you make the vital connections you might need to make money abroad.

They are so good that more and more adults with a few (or several) years work behind them are also taking up gap travel opportunities.

Families can travel together and for some it opens up a new career, or a second career after retirement.


Working in a bar, hotel or restaurant is another popular choice. Although you may be faced with tough competition, there’s a big chance you will be taken on if you are able to speak multiple languages.

Getting the right work permit or visa will also give you an edge over those that haven’t done so. You may even be able to get free accommodation as part of the deal

Have you considered beauty services? If you can do make-up, haircuts, manicures or massages, you may discover a number of opportunities for raising funds as you travel.

During a gap year, in an environment that may feel less geared toward academia, many young people discover a skill or a passion for something they had never considered studying before or now have a skill they can use to earn money during holidays (e.g. instructing or teaching).

Paid work

Paid work placements –although more limited in number, companies can offer you paid work, for example, housekeeping or as language teachers.  There is often an up front charge for the service but you can recoup this and come away with great experience and references.  Other companies can help you settle into a country, arrange work visas, set up a bank account and arrange interviews for catering and bar jobs. You could do this independently as well so weigh up the costs and benefits of each approach.

Seasonal work can also help you raise cash. Picking flowers, vegetables or fruit will get you out into the open air, keep you healthy and stop you from developing cabin fever from being stuck indoors.  Again companies can arrange farm work, including ranch work in the outback of Australia. Questions have been raised in the media about work on Australian farms so if you are looking at this as an option, book through a reputable provider e.g. Oyster WorldwideTwin Work & Volunteer or consider a volunteer farming placement with Projects Abroad. Sales jobs can also help you maintain a good bank balance as you travel, so if you do have the confidence to talk to people from all walks of life and feel that you have what it takes to drive custom, why not see what kind of opportunities are out there?

Although outside the scope of Year Out Group au pair work might be an option for you and it also offers somewhere to stay. It’s vital that you find a job through a reputable agency and don’t sign up for anything you can’t realistically stick to, like working seven days a week or a challenging number of hours.

Tour-guiding, blogging and photography

Perhaps you have exceptional knowledge of the area you’re heading to? Then why not share your wisdom with others and look into becoming a tour guide. The demand for knowledgeable tour guides is always high, and the more you know about the destination, the better. To become a tour guide, you could find work via a reputable agency or promote your own services to the tourists, cutting out the middleman.

You could even consider blogging about your adventure. If you can manage to build up an audience, you may be able to get more for your writing than you might expect. Video blogging can be even more lucrative.

Do you have a flare for photography? Then why not sell your travel photos to stock image websites? There is a big demand for stock images and you may be able to get a slice of any profits made after your photos are sold.

This article is provided by the International Association of Book-keepers the leading body of professional bookkeepers in the UK and offers financial accredited IAB qualifications and apprenticeships to students entering the world of finance, accounting and bookkeeping. For more information visit the IAB website.

Gap Year Activities

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