All of us on this site have one thing in common, and that is a passion for travel. About 90% of us aren’t in a position where we can afford to up and leave without worrying too much about the financial side, but in my opinion scrimping and saving every penny is the only way to do a gap year. Sure, it’d be great to have the funds to not worry about things, but how much can you learn about yourself if you can afford to live comfortably whilst travelling?
So, since I decided that this was what I wanted to do I have been planning a travel budget and cutting back. This hasn’t been easy, especially when you consider the global economy is pretty poor at the moment. I’ve used a few useful sites (especially the advice from other gappers on here, so thanks) to come up with a realistic budget of £10000 (plus flights) for a year abroad. So how the hell do I save that much money by the time I leave? Well, I have 8 months to do this and this is what I am doing. I try not to give advice as it usually backfires, but I hope this can help any people having a budgetting nightmare:
1. A really important bit of advice is to plan your budget. People will give you different ideas of how much you’ll need, so always aim for the highest figure. I could easily do this trip on £8000, but I want some fun and a bit of a safety cushion, £2000 should cover that. Pop over to the Messageboards and have a look at what other people spent in each country, work out roughly what it is you want to do and list the prices and finally use a currency converter to get your prices
2. Move back in with the ‘rents. This isn’t something everyone can do, but I was paying out £800 a month on rent and bills whilst living on my own. Now I pay my dad a bare minimum meaning I can save nigh on all of my wages, or £1200 a month (in 8 months time I’ll have £9600 from wages alone!). Who cares if your parents are unbearable when you can save that much money a month
3. This isn’t as easy as it was, but getting a second job is a good idea. My employer has cut all OT, and as I work on a rotation it is easy for me to work my spare time in a bar as well. Granted, this is only casual work, but it covers a night out once a month. Plus, if you’re working you can’t spend money
4. Following from that point, don’t go out or buy take away! And never, ever eat out! I’m not suggesting you become a recluse, however I am saying that an average 20something will spend a fortune on a night out once, maybe even twice a week. You add this up over a year and you’re wasting a huge chunk of your budget. Someone summed it up to me as “a pint in the local or an extra night in Thailand” (my local is expensive lol). If you’re single, stay that way as dating is expensive and you’re probably going to break up when you leave
5. Quit smoking! I’m not a smoker, but I know how much it costs to smoke. Not only does it eat away at your budget, but think of your health too!
6. Get rid of all your contracts. Back at home we feel we need Sky Plus and the like, but if you’re planning a gap year you seriously don’t as there’s so much to do. And I don’t think anyone has ever delayed their trip as they didn’t want to miss the Prison Break finale, so why get into it… The same goes for broadband, landline and mobile contracts. PAYG can be a lot cheaper, and there are enough wi-fi hotspots to get your gapyear.com fix lol
7. NEVER GO SHOPPING!! I am a self confessed DVD whore and recently worked out that I have spent my whole budget on DVDs over the last 8 years. That is a scary fact. When you are on the road you won’t need these things, so why bother buying them now? Someone suggested buying books about travelling, which is all well and good, but most of the information you need is right here on the internet
8. Finally, sell everything. I have already sold all my DVDs (I nearly cried) for a very low sum of money, but that money will pay for my Oz Intro. Plus if you sell everything it’s easier than storing it for a year. If you know you’ll NEED it when you get back, then loan it to a friend or family member
That’s pretty much all the advice I can think of at the moment. Granted, the next 8 months won’t be the drunken fun I’m used to, but I will certainly make up for it when I am sat in a bar in New Zealand discussing the rapids we’ve just rafted down…
Good luck to everyone with their saving