Gap year adventures are a trend that is continually gaining momentum. Statistics show that, annually in the UK, about 2.5 million students take a gap year before university. They are popular for a reason; known to boost academic focus, self-confidence, and personal development. However, they don’t come cheap and saving money is a large part of the process. Tempted by such a life changing experience? Below is our advice on how to save for your very own gap year adventure.
Find a job
Step one of saving for a gap year adventure: get a job. Working hard plays an inevitable and unavoidable role in making money. The sooner you get a job, the sooner you can start earning. So don’t be too picky looking for the perfect career role. Waitressing, bartending, cleaning, filing or reception work are all common jobs for gap year savers. Try to work as many hours as possible to boost your salary. Even if it’s a job you hate, stay strong and dream of your adventure! You could also try looking in to ways of making money online, in order to supplement your job earnings.
Additionally, you can start to look for paid placements abroad. Although it is advised to save up as much as possible before you go, since work abroad schemes can sometimes be even more boring and less well paid than work in the UK. Plus, the less you have to work when you are travelling, the more time you will get to travel, volunteer and have a fulfilling experience.
Make a budget
Make a budget for when you’re working – and stick to it. Give yourself a weekly allowance and refuse to go above it. You’ll be surprised how much things add up if you don’t keep track of your spending. For every purchase, you are about to make, think about what you could do with it while travelling. Would you rather a £5 pint or another night in a Thailand beach hut? If you’re terrible at budgeting, look at look at money advice articles.
Ask for money for Christmas
If you’re still around for Christmas and your birthday, ask for money rather than a present. Cash is a great gift that can go straight into your savings. But if friends and family really want to buy you something, ask for a new backpack, hiking boots, a travel diary or an adventure ticket – something for your gap year experience. This way, you won’t be the one to spend money on it in the future.
Factor in the hidden costs of your travels. Insurance, travel gear, vaccines, practical spending money; these are some of the smaller spends that slip people’s minds. Try to save more than you think you need and give yourself some spending leeway. It’s a lot more heartbreaking to have to cut your trip short rather than working an extra month before you leave to be safe. Like this Huffington Post article states, you don’t have to be rich to take a gap year – just sensible.
Give up bad habits
Most bad habits aren’t free. Smoking, drinking, buying coffee and mindless shopping are some of the biggest problems. Identify your spending weaknesses and cut them out of your life. Additionally, start making small changes. Quit the gym and start jogging instead. Limit yourself to one pint on a night at the pub. Walk to work instead of driving. It all adds up!
Open a savings account
Set up a separate account to hold your travel savings. It will be much easier to save money when you have the satisfaction of seeing that number grow month by month. It’s a good idea to create a direct debit, so the money transfers automatically from your account on a set date. That way, you save the money before you have time to miss it.
It’s easy to get downhearted when saving money. You restrict your enjoyment of the moment for the dream of your gap year adventure. But stay focused. When you’re feeling demotivated, research your ideal travel route. Check out the amazing places you will see. Read travel blogs and discuss your plans with friends. Stay positive! Learning to be frugal is also a great life skill. When you do have money again, you will appreciate it so much more and know the right skills to avoid wasting it.
Plan cheap travel
Cheap travel can begin before you leave by being organised. Ask yourself: is there anything I can prepare in advance to save money in the long run? Do your research – for example, use websites such as Skyscanner, to find out the cheapest time to fly, in advance. Save that money on unnecessary costs and spend it on a more enjoyable adventure!
You’ll never regret saving money for travelling – not when you’re relaxing on a beach in Bali, doing an epic bungee jump in Canadian mountains or trekking through the forests of South America. When you come back with a collection of life-changing experiences and interesting anecdotes, you will know that saving for a gap year adventure was all worth it in the end.
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