Most people have to save money before they can go away travelling and financing your gap year will probably be your top priority. You should make the most of your savings and try to find a bank account that pays a reasonable rate of interest. Having a separate account for your travel funds is a good idea. Only touch it if you have to pay any travelling-related expenses. It's best to set everything up before you go as part of your gap travel preparation.
Online banking is an easy, safe and efficient way of managing your money while travelling. Online banking allows you to easily access your account from anywhere in the world, meaning that you can check your balance and bank statements, transfer money, make payments and cancel direct debits.
Remember to contact your bank before you leave to inform them of your travel plans. If you don't, your bank may block your credit or debit card as they may be concerned that your cards are being used fraudulently overseas. In this event, you would have to go through the hassle of arranging new cards and PIN numbers. Delivery of these cards can prove difficult, especially if you are on the move, so tell your bank which countries you intend to travel to and when. Sometimes you can only tell them about two different countries at a time so if you are visiting multiple destinations you will need to remember to keep contacting your bank to update them on your travel plans. Online banking is great for this as you can take action simply, quickly and by yourself.
Consider giving someone you trust access to your bank accounts. You can easily organise third party access through your bank. It might be worth thinking about giving your parents access to your bank account while you are abroad, which means they will be able to help manage your account for you. It can save a lot of hassle and stop you having to make any expensive international calls to the bank. It also makes it easier for them to transfer funds if they are needed.
The easiest way to access your money overseas is with a debit card. However, this can be expensive. You should find out how much your bank charges to make overseas withdrawals through an ATM. Banks often charge 2% to use a cash machine abroad so it's worth looking around for banks which don't charge a fee. It's also worth thinking about taking a credit card with you as an emergency back up on your gap year. Talk to your bank and discuss your credit possibilities before you go. A prepaid travel card is a great way of protecting your money while you travel and is well worth considering. Remember to carry the emergency numbers for your bank with you in case your cards get lost or stolen.
If you are planning on doing paid work abroad, especially in countries such as Australia or New Zealand, it's well worth setting up an overseas bank account in that destination, so your wages can be paid in to that account. Most paid work travel packages will give you advice and assistance on how to set up a bank account abroad.
Transferring money between interenational bank accounts can be quite costly as most banks have hidden costs and poor exchange rates. A great and safe way to avoid paying big bank fees is to use a service such as Transferwise. Transferwise has no hidden costs and is really simple to use, you can find out more about this service here.