A gap year abroad offers the prospect of great experiences, exotic travel and perhaps most importantly, a lot of fun. However, sustaining yourself for a long trip comprising of several months to a year of travel isn’t cheap so you’re going to have to make preparations if you want to avoid running out of money half-way through.
The earlier you decide where you want to go and what you want to do during your gap year, the better idea you’ll have of how much you need to save in order to turn it from a pipe dream into a reality. Want to explore a new culture, experience the Arab world? You can start by booking flights to Dubai. Want to ski the Swiss Alps? Research train fares, ski hire, and chalet accommodation prices. Keen to swim with dolphins in New Zealand? You’ll have to compare prices, look into car hire and, as with all your travel, factor in the costs of travel insurance. The earlier you plan your trip the more time you have to save.
Give yourself a weekly budget. Take the money out of the bank on Monday morning if it’s easier; just don’t spend more than you’ve allowed yourself. Being ruthless is part and parcel of making savings.
If you set a strict budget, you’ll find that the first things to go are the luxuries, but even if you’re not sticking to a set weekly amount, these are where significant savings can add up. Making lunch rather than buying it out, giving up those expensive takeaway coffees and not going clubbing every night will soon add up.
Compare deals online
The beauty of the Internet is that it gives you access to so much information — this is extremely useful in tracking down the best deals, particularly on big expenses like flights. Often, travel companies will offer good deals for early bookers and discounts when you book multiple flights together. So, for instance, a round-the-world ticket including flights to Johannesburg, Dubai, Tokyo, Los Angeles and New York is likely to be cheaper than booking each flight separately as you go.
Open a separate bank account
Having a separate bank account for your travel funds is a good way to track your progress. If you use an online savings account, you might have to wait a day or two to access funds from it, meaning you’re less likely to raid your travel money on a whim. The interest rates are often better, too, meaning your money is working for you.
Gym memberships are notoriously expensive and, let’s face it, often bad value for money if you don’t go very often, so give up the expense and exercise outside. You’ll get some fresh air, get fit and save at the same time.
Follow these tips and you should have a decent financial start to your year abroad. It’s hard to put a price on having fun. Put the money away, though, and you won’t have to worry about the financial side too much once you’re there. Splendid!
Image by JMR_Photography, used under Creative Commons license.