Of all people, students know how hard it is to live on a shoestring budget to make your student loan last as long as possible. Be thrifty enough, and you could save enough for an amazing travel adventure.

So, the experts at Mystudenthalls.com – the original dedicated student halls search engine – have pulled together 11 things you can do to save over £1,000 a month towards your gap year, whether you’re a student or not.

1. Get a part time job

Average monthly income: £224

Whether it’s working in a bar, waitressing, babysitting or helping on a reception desk, you can earn a bit of extra cash by getting a job outside your studies. As well as looking good on your CV, if you’re earning the national minimum wage for 18 to 20 year-olds (£5.60 per hour), you could take home £224 each month from a 10-hour shift each week.

In just one month, you’ll have earned enough for an InterRail pass to travel around Europe (all you’d need to do is plan your route).

Paris on a gap year

2. Quit smoking

Average monthly saving: £250

Not only is smoking a horrible habit; according to Smokefree, the average smoker saves £250 each month by quitting. In your first month as a non-smoker, you would have saved enough to cover hostel accommodation in Thailand for a month.

3. Make your morning coffee at home

Average monthly saving: £49

Most of us are guilty of buying a morning coffee to kick off our day. Considering the average cost of a medium latte from Costa is £2.45, you’d be shelling out at least £12.25 each week (even more if you’re treating yourself to a coffee on weekends too) – that’s £49 per month.

Invest in a reusable ECoffee Cup for around £10 and make your coffee from home to take in with you. With the £39 left over, you could catch a return flight to Amsterdam for a different kind of coffee shop! 

Amsterdam Red Light District

4. Make your lunches

Average monthly saving: £34

Just like coffee, it’s easy to end up spending far more than you realise on lunches each day. Even if you’re trying to save pennies by going for a £3 lunch meal deal, you’ll be spending £15 a week. That’s £60 each month.

Buying the ingredients to make a similar lunch at home would cost around £8.50 each week. So, making this small switch could help you save around £34 each month. You could use the savings to eat street food in Bangkok for a fortnight.

5. Cancel unwanted gym subscriptions

Average monthly saving: £25

It’s easy to get sucked into that gym membership you always mean to use… but never do. Even with a student discount, you could be spending around £25 each month on a gym membership when you can still get some exercise by going for a run. That month’s savings could get you a basic pair of walking boots to get you out in the fresh air.

6. Don’t worry about council tax!

Approximate monthly saving: £100

If you’re a full-time student and either live on your own or only with other students, you’re exempt from paying council tax. Not only is it great fun to live in student accommodation with your friends, you’ll be spared around £100 a month depending where you live.

£100 can buy you a good backpack for when you’re living on the road.

Backpacking fun!

7. Have a spring clean

Approximate income: £50

If there are a whole load of items in your wardrobe you no longer wear, it’s probably time to have a clear out. If you sold 10 things for £5 each on eBay, you’ll be quids in. As well as earning £50 just by getting rid of things you don’t want any more, de-cluttering helps clear the mind so you’ll find it easier to concentrate on your coursework. Maybe that £50 should go towards some guidebooks to read when you need a break?

8. Get into gigs for free

Average saving: £60

If you’re a music-lover, you could get a gig handing out flyers outside music venues. While you may not always get paid (sometimes you do – bonus!), some companies run schemes where you and a friend into the gig for free in return for flyering the queue. Given you’d have to queue anyway, meeting new people outside plus saving around £60 on a pair of tickets for your favourite band isn’t a bad deal.

9. Walk the dog

Approximate income: £300

While you have to pay to play with pooches on sites like Borrow My Doggy, companies such as Tailster help you find paid dog walking jobs in your area. At around £15 per walk, you could be cashing in as much as £300 a month if you had a regular slot walking a local dog before lectures.

Do your research and you could fly to New York for that.

New York on a gap year

10. Go shopping!

Average saving: £75

What? Getting paid to go shopping? Shut the front door. But it’s true – sign up to become a mystery shopper and you pose as a customer to help companies assess their customer service levels. The great thing is, in return you could get your meal, hotel stay or items you’ve bought for free. Depending on the length and complexity of the assignment, you might get paid too.

Assuming you reviewed one three course meal with a glass of wine each month (let’s say it’s a fancy restaurant – why not, eh?) worth around £35 and bought a new pair of jeans (worth £40), you’ve probably saved enough to renew your passport – who knows how long you’ll be away?!

11. Get paid for your opinions

Approximate income: £50

There are paid market research companies that will pay you for your feedback about products and services as well as about your opinions on various issues. The amount you can earn varies with each opportunity but is usually around £50.

For an hour and a half out of your day, you could earn enough to buy a month’s supply of Toblerone at duty-free.


Mystudenthalls.com is the UK’s first and most comprehensive student halls search engine. The site saves hours of legwork for students looking for their perfect student accommodation across the UK. The super-fast, responsive site can be searched and filtered in seconds and allows students to contact their desired halls directly at the click of a button without having to create a user account.