It's a great shame that a gap year can't be free, but unfortunately most travellers have to raise the funds themselves to make their dream trip a reality. It's important to organise your financing carefully and start thinking about how you're going to pay for your gap year before you commit yourself to a travel itinerary.
Your gap year doesn't have to cost a fortune. With proper planning and budgeting, you can make sure the greatest experience of your life doesn't land you in debt. Manage your money and make sure you can rest easy without the nightmare of money worries on your gap year.
Before you go on your gap year, calculate the costs of living in the destinations you'll be travelling to. There may be some costs you haven't factored into your budget, such as visas or vaccinations, so don't get caught out. Find out any cheaper alternatives that are available to you once you're on your gap year, such as staying with relatives or friends, or camping rather than staying in hotels.
A good thing to do is to set up a bank account specifically for your gap travel money. This way you can track how much you have saved and try to leave it untouched until you set off. You should also be able to get better interest and fewer fees on this kind of account, which will help save some extra pennies.
Another common practice is to get a part-time job either before you go, to save up funds, or to do paid work as part of your gap trip. This can be done for part of your gap year; with the rest of the time spent travelling. Or it can be done before you begin your gap year, leaving a whole year free to explore the world. If this is the route you're thinking of taking, be realistic about what you can save. You're bound to run into some costs, and it's unlikely that you'll save every penny you earn. Likewise, remember that you are saving; your end goal is your time abroad so always keep that in mind when you're tempted to spend money. There is no better incentive to get a job than the prospect of an amazing trip at the end of it!
If you're planning on doing charity work or something similar, you could raise some of the money through sponsorships; for example, finding groups who will pay for part of your gap year if you are prepared to do charity work. If you're spending your gap year volunteering abroad you should find out exactly what funds are available to you before you go. Many schools or colleges have a charitable trust and may be able to offer you a grant. Local organisations such as the Rotary Club have grants available for gap year travellers, so check all avenues.
Birthday and Christmas presents can become a good source of income. Let your family know you're preparing for a gap year and they'll be delighted that they finally know what to get you - whether that's helping out with money or buying essential items for your kit.
Why not ask for a Gap 360 voucher? You can buy our vouchers online or over the phone. Our vouchers can be used towards any Gap 360 trip and in conjunction with any special offer on at the time of redemption.
Buying second-hand can be a real money-saver. Second-hand packs, guidebooks, coats and whatever else you'll need for your trip can come at less than half price if you shop around on places like eBay and Amazon. Abandoning unwanted items during your travels will also feel less painful if you leave behind a shabby coat rather than a brand-new, shiny one.
In addition to this, you could run some fundraising events. Sell your old, unused possessions online, or get your friends to sponsor you to run a marathon. Events like those can often be a lot of fun, and raise a lot more money than you might expect. If you're going to be fundraising then make sure your fundraising ideas are as original and exciting as possible. Inform the local press about what you're doing; publicity will go a long way. Also be sure to get local businesses involved; they might be willing to give you money or offer you items to auction or give as prizes. Most banks have an allocated amount of money to give to charity, so try and make some contacts. Not only will fundraising get you a lot of money, it will also look great on your CV for any future jobs.
Sometimes, it is simply taking care of your spending that goes a long way. Be more conscious of what you buy, and see if there are cheaper alternatives. Don't buy things on a whim, and remember if you're going to be away for twelve months on your gap year, do you still need to own so many pairs of shoes? Will you still like that hoodie when you get back? These are all factors to bear in mind when thinking about raising the money for your trip.
If you are still having trouble raising money for your gap year trip, why not consider working out in your destination country? There are a wide variety of paid positions available so check out our paid work opportunities - not only will you fund your travels but you will gain some great work experience too!