Every penny counts when you’re planning your gap year, but you don’t need masses of cash to have a massive adventure. Money-saving website Money.co.uk has put together a list of smart tricks to help you have the time of your life for less.
Write a holiday hit list of all the places you’d like to visit. Work out how long you’ll need in each country to see the major sights and look at what you’ll need to spend on accommodation, travel, food and fun once you’re there. Total up the cost and you’ve got your target for saving up.
Hunt for super cheap seats
Round the world tickets can be a great option for long haul, but you can save a bundle by combining these with bargain local flights, especially across Asia or America. If you’re limited on the number of stops, search flight sales for cheap seats to add on. It’s worth checking whether extra stops or splitting your ticket can help you save too.
Sort your spending
Set yourself a country-by-country budget so you don’t run out of cash before the end of your trip.
Get a multi-currency prepaid card and top it up with cash from your current account as you go. Just check there aren’t any fees for use abroad. If you’re given an option, always opt to pay in the local currency; it’ll cost less.
You may not be able to use your prepaid card for renting scooters or cars or for hotel reservations, so it’s worth having a credit card with no foreign transaction fees just in case. You MUST pay this off when you get your statement otherwise it’ll cost you a bundle in interest. Don’t use your ordinary debit card though, as it’s likely to charge hefty fees – the same applies to withdrawing cash.
Trouble-proof your trip
Get decent gap year travel insurance that has at least a couple of million pounds’ worth of medical cover, pays out for cancellation, gives you protection against a decent range of activities and will sort you out with emergency cash if you need it. If you’ve got a fancy phone take out mobile insurance separately as it’s excluded from most travel policies.
Make money as you go
Volunteer or work abroad and you could get accommodation, food and transport for free; you’ll extend your budget and get valuable life experience. Explore your options before you go and check whether you need a special visa.
Get used to cold showers
Cheap accommodation is worth it so long as you feel safe – hostels, couch surfing and house sitting can all be brilliant ways to stretch your budget but make sure you and your belongings are secure.
Save shopping for overseas
Holiday clothes, sarongs, suncream, flip flops, insect-repellent and swimwear will generally be far cheaper while you’re overseas. Take the bare-essentials with you and sort the rest while you’re on the road.
Cut the cost of staying in touch
Data roaming, texts and calls can all be hideously expensive outside of Europe. If your contract doesn’t include international use then sort a bundle or a cheap SIM card that caps the cost. WiFi is your best friend so hunt it out when you can and download maps and apps that give you the information you need offline. Use Skype or Facetime to call home and WhatsApp and Facebook over regular texts.
Get good at haggling
If you haven’t travelled a lot then you may not have had much experience, but it’ll pay dividends when you’re abroad. Researching what things should cost will give you confidence to negotiate a fair price.
Stay clear of the tourist trail and you’ll get more bang for your buck – this applies to restaurants, transport and bars as well as shopping and sight-seeing. Speak to locals to get their top tips.