Eating, drinking, looking cool and using toilet paper – there are ways to make these things cheaper. Here are my top tips for to afford a gap year. Take note of my expert tried and tested advice and you’ll find yourself on that plane quicker than you can say ‘travel’.
1. Paying for drinks in clubs
If you can’t get on the guestlist for free nights out or use your charms to wangle complimentary drinks from the bar staff, you need to get out of that bar or club via the first exit you see. Buying booze out is one of the biggest drains on our money, and £8 on a cocktail in Manchester city centre could be a whole day’s food, fluid and accommodation in Thailand. Get yourself home, invite some mates round and have a house party – they’re the best anyway.
2. Eating out
Eating out is soooo expensive. If you think you can afford this, you’re never going to board that plane. Even with 241 vouchers and special deals you’re looking at £10 for food and a drink or two. This is so much money in South East Asia. Pack lunches, eat noodles, become vegetarian and only go out for dinner when your parents are paying.
3. Buying bottled water
This is a great idea when you’ve actually made it abroad, but before you go it’s a ridiculous drain on the finances. Bottled water can be anything from 30p – £2.50 at special events. It’s a much better idea to use the free stuff you have at home, or bulk buy at Poundland and the like if you really need it to get you through the day.
4. Buying CDs and DVDs
Ever heard of this little thing called Spotify? It’s free, so long as you listen to the adverts, or pay a small fee a month and get ad free music. Money made goes back to the artists and it really is the best way to get music straight to your ears. As for DVDs, the best way to see the latest releases is to shimmy in on your mate’s Netflix (or similar) subscription. You really, really don’t need to buy CDs and DVDs when you’re meant to be saving for a gap year. No excuses.
5. Going to gigs
Sadly this one is off the agenda when you’re meant to be saving every little penny that passes your grubby little paws. I have two suggestions to get around this – get a job on the bar at a gig venue so you can get paid to see the bands, or bring up a recent performance on YouTube, turn it up loud, get your mates to come round and serve some cheapo supermarket beer in plastic glasses and stand around staring at the screen.
6. Buying new clothes
Absolutely no need – new clothes are so expensive and at the risk of sounding like your elderly fucking annoying relative, they don’t make them like they used to. Your best bet if you need some new togs is to hit the charity shops hard. Or, just wait till you’re out there, unless you’re going to outer Mongolia there will be shops (and maybe even then).
7. Buying presents for people
Chantelle’s birthday, Pete’s engagement, Jasmine’s bunny died, Rochelle had a baby, jeez, the list of reasons to buy presents is neverending. Don’t get sucked in. You’re going to be out of the country for a year or more, do you think they’ll be buying you anything? Nope, much better to reject this commercial society we live in, make up something about how you don’t buy into Hallmark occasions and paint them a picture / bake them a cake / write them a poem, instead.
8. Buying anything
You may be noticing a theme here. If you’re trying to save for a gap year – time that will potentially be the best of your life – you need to make some sacrifices my friend. Become a freegan, a freecycler, whatever you can to not buy or pay for anything and you will reap the benefits when you travel abroad. This includes doing your business in public toilets to avoid paying for toilet paper. If ever you do find yourself waiting in a queue, at a till, in some corner of the UK (or wherever you’re from) ask yourself ‘Will this [insert thing] make me happier than an extra day in Thailand?’ If yes, proceed. If no, flee that shop as if you’d just shoplifted the item and the po po are hot on your heels.
9. Lending money
- ‘Can I borrow a fiver?’
- ‘Have you got a pound so I don’t have to break my tenner’
- ‘Will you get these?’
Do any of the above statements sound familiar? If they’re not coming from your mouth, they’re not right. If you’re saving your money to afford a gap year you do not want to be giving handouts to all and sundry. Under no circumstances should you top up someone’s bill, get involved in rounds of drinks or offer to pay the tips from a group. Think stingy, think gap year.
10. Saying yes
You’re gonna have to stop saying yes to things unfortunately. No parties, weekends away or meeting your mate at the pub for a swifty. From now on it’s work, save, sleep. Whatever you can say no to, you must.
11. Saying no
RE that last point, sometimes you must avoid the ‘n’ word and just say yes. Circumstances for the yes include the following questions:
- ‘Can you work an extra shift tonight?’
- ‘Will you clean the kitchen for £2.50?’
- ‘I bet you £10 you can’t down that raw egg mix…’
12. Sponsoring friends
This is where no comes in. All those friends wanting a fiver here to climb Kilimanjaro, or a tenner there to run a triathlon, you tell them that charity begins at home. Your home. You might feel like a bit of a cheapskate, but you need every penny you can find if you’re going to make the most of your gap year.
13. Thinking too hard, just do
You need to stop sitting around and debating whether you can afford a gap year and just do. All that time spent discussing the pros and cons is time that you could’ve spent saving money and seeing it mount up. There’s only a certain period in your life that it will seem feasible to take the time out and go on a gap year, and that time is now.