10 Ways To Budget For Your Gap Year

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Ashley Halsey is a professional writer at Assignment writer and Gum Essays. She has been involved in numerous projects throughout the country, including sharing tips on how to travel safely and on a budget. She also writes for Last minute writing service blog. A mother of two children, Ashley enjoys reading and traveling with her family in her spare time, as well as attending business training conferences.

A gap year can be an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. But it can also be a financially daunting undertaking. While there are certainly high costs involved, you can turn your dreams of a gap year into an affordable reality with careful planning and research. Here are ten ways to help you budget for your dream gap year!

1. Decide On The Type Of Gap Year You Want To Have 

When planning your gap year, the first thing you need to decide is on what type of gap year you want to have. If you decide to travel alone and do all your own planning and preparation, you can get some cheap deals. However, you’ll also have to budget for all your own food, accommodation and other necessities, as well as any activities you might want to do. 

Alternatively, you might want to look for a gap year opportunity that also offers a paid internship or job. These are very competitive to find, but allow you to earn some money during your travels. Another option is to find a volunteer position with an organization that provides accommodation and sometimes even food. These volunteer programs still involve travel costs, but they can help your money to go further and give you a super cool experience.

2. Destination And When To Travel

Woman looking at a map while she travels

Where you go will significantly impact your budget. Generally, Southeast Asia, Central and South America tend to be the cheapest locations to go to. Europe, Australia and South Africa are some of the most expensive. It’s also important to factor in additional required costs, such as visas, vaccines and currency exchange rates, which can increase the cost of your trip.

“Traveling during the “shoulder” or “low” seasons, when tourist numbers are lower, will be cheaper. Travel is also usually cheaper, particularly flights, during weekdays and when booked around two months in advance,” says Jon Meeks, a personal finance blogger at Writinity and Draft Beyond.

Related: How To Plan An Affordable Spring Break Trip [Saver’s Guide]

3. Flights And Transportation

The single biggest expense during your gap year is likely to be transportation, especially your flights to and from home. You can start by purchasing a one-way ticket, but you need to make sure that you have the flight fare for your return home safely budgeted for and kept aside. 

You’ll also want to consider how you’ll move within and between countries during your gap year. You can choose cheaper options to save money on transportation, such as overnight trains, coaches and busses. Traveling during weekdays is also cheaper, as is using budget airlines for internal flights. If you decide to fly, keep an eye on additional costs, such as luggage.

4. Accommodation

The most cost-effective option for most travelers is to stay at a hostel. Many hostels also offer private rooms. Although more expensive, these can be a nice alternative to sharing a room all the time. 

“It’s important that you check the hostel reviews to ensure that its overall quality and security are appropriate for you and your needs,” says Debra Green, a tutor at Research papers UK. “Alternatively, consider staying at an Airbnb, especially if you’re planning on a longer stay, as these can be equally affordable. If you’re staying in one place for several weeks or longer, you might want to consider renting an apartment or a room instead.”

5. Food

Woman sitting at a restaurant in china, eating

The most cost-effective option is to eat in, which is easy if you’re staying in a hostel or anywhere else that has kitchen access. However, you can also treat yourself to some occasional meals in mid-range restaurants, as well as food from stalls and local markets, to get a feel for the local cuisine. Depending on the country, the costs of food can vary significantly. It’s usually recommended that travelers plan on $400 per month for food.

6. Travel Insurance

This is an essential part of your trip and non-negotiable. Not only does travel insurance cover medical treatments and medications, but it also covers you for a range of other situations, including lost luggage, delayed flights and evacuations. Although costs vary, it’s worth budgeting around $40 per month for travel insurance.

7. Visas

It’s essential that you research any visa requirements for your chosen destinations in advance. Some visas require you to submit paperwork, often online, prior to your arrival. Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to apply for them. Visa costs can also vary anywhere between $25 to over $150, so they may heavily impact your budget.

8. Activities And Tours

Woman smiling and posing for a picture while she holds an elephant's trunk

Make a list of all the activities, tours or excursions you want to do at each of your chosen locations. If you spend some time researching the costs of these in advance, you’ll be able to factor them into your budget. Identify any activities that are a must for your trip and set some money aside specifically for those experiences. 

9. Additional Costs

Although they may not seem very expensive, the cost of some smaller items can quickly add up. One of the often overlooked costs is vaccines. Regardless of where you stand on the latest debate, countries have required vaccines long before the coronavirus. So be sure to verify what (if any) vaccines are required for your destination. Each can cost anywhere from $13 to $144. 

Secondly, make sure that you exchange money in advance. In particular, avoid exchanging money at airports, where commissions are particularly high.

Finally, avoid high phone bills by purchasing an international phone plan or purchasing a SIM card when you arrive at your destination. You also need to budget for items such as a quality backpack, travel/hiking shoes, travel adapters, toiletries and a camera. 

10. Emergency Money

Woman sitting on her pink suitcase with her trunk open. Her blue car has a flat tire.

It’s almost certain that you’ll end up overspending at some point on your trip, despite careful planning. So it’s always a good idea to budget a little more money for miscellaneous expenses. Additionally, consider having a money reserve for emergencies. It can be useful to store this money in a bank account or somewhere accessible via a money transfer service to make it less readily available or tempting for daily spending.

The World Is Calling! 

With some careful planning and research, you can have a rewarding and fantastic gap year experience that doesn’t break the bank. Be realistic about your budget and try to factor in all essential costs, as well as some emergency money. Although expensive, a well-planned gap year can be a worthwhile and affordable experience!

You might also be interested in: Bluffworks Travel Shirts Reviewed [Men & Women’s]

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