Gap Year Costs

Where your hard-earned money goes
Overseas gap year programmes can vary in price from organisation to organisation, even though the activities offered may appear very similar. There are many reasons for this and it can be difficult to compare like with like.

Price isn’t an indicator of quality or value. You shouldn’t assume that every programme you see on the internet operates to the same standards or with a level care that ensures participants, staff and your hosts are safe and supported.

If something looks like a bargain or appears to cost significantly more costly-ask why and what is included in price.

As a very rough guide, budget £500-£800 to cover the weekly cost of a program (up to 4 or 6 weeks, location dependent). Longer programs usually offer more value per week and you can still find 3 week programs for less than £1k.  You will usually have to add the cost of a flight but accommodation and some meals are often included.  Then you need to add your spending money and any costs prior to departure (insurance, kit etc.).  You can get an idea of local costs from various travel guides and this blog has a good summary of how expensive or cheap particular countries are. 

Do your research

The first step is to research what is or is not included in each programme that attracts your interest. 

You can obtain this information from brochures and websites but at some stage do talk to your potential gap year programme providers.

We have a list of questions you can put to companies offering programmes.

In addition ask to be put in touch with people who have recently returned from the programmes that have caught your eye.  You can then speak with them to find out more.


Programme costs

Prices will vary depending on your destination and the type of programme you book on and of course, how long you go for. Remember to work things out on a per week basis to get a true comparison.

Some organisations are entirely run by volunteers, which means they may simply ask for a donation. However most companies have to charge for their services. These are typically in the range of:

Short (1 wk)             £5-700
Med. (4-6 wks)           £2-3000
Long (3-12 months)       £3-8000+

Generally speaking, expect to pay more per week for specialist programmes and those that run in Europe, Australia and North America.


Add ons

You’ll usually need to pay extra for flights and often you will be asked to search for the cheapest flights yourself.

Accommodation and at least breakfast and supper are usually included in the price.

Don’t forget the cost of travel insurance, visas, your kit and travel in your home country.

Companies may also offer to help you with visa applications or work-abroad introductions. If you have the time, you can of course do these things yourself.

Where you gap year programme fee goes

(a typical volunteer programme)

  • Project management overseas 65% 65%
  • Management of staff & volunteers 25% 25%
  • Office costs, fees & insurance 7% 7%
  • Re-investment 2% 2%
Whatever your budget, you should be able to find an experience that is just right for you. You may have to compromise on a few things to come within your price range but don’t let that become an excuse for simply choosing the first and cheapest programme you find.
Think of this experience as an investment in your future and choose wisely.
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