Many young people choose to travel in the time between finishing school/college and going to university, during a break in their studies, or before they go out into the real world once their time in education is complete. Before you have rent/mortgages, bills, a family of your own and other adult responsibilities to consider, it may be worth making the most of this freedom and see a bit of the world. There are a huge variety of different trips you can do – some obviously a lot more expensive than others. Read on for our guide to your different options, including how to fund your trip.
Plan Your Budget
Before you start looking at how you’re going to fund your trip, you’ll need an idea of what you want to do and where you want to go. Many young people taking a gap year tend to go down the charity or working route in order to get a good experience of the country or countries they’re visiting and to save money. Gap years aren’t about taking a holiday and sitting on the beach all day – they’re about learning, helping others and seeing the world.
Think about where you really want to go – is there a part of the world you’ve always wanted to visit? Is there a cause somewhere that you feel passionately about? Where could you go to gain information and skills which might help you with your education and career goals?
When looking at how much you’ll need, it’s important to find costing information from many different sources. Check out gap year forums, such as The Student Room or Lonely Planet, and read as much as you can about the experiences of others. Remember – it’s not just the flights and accommodation you’ll have to pay for – it’s likely you’ll need money for things like kit (backpacks, decent walking shoes, mosquito nets etc.) and injections before you go. You can get most overseas inoculations for free on the NHS, but for some types (rabies and yellow fever, for example) you’ll need to pay.
Make sure you budget in the cost of decent travel insurance which covers everything you’re going to do. This will help you should the worst happen, but only if you are adequately covered. For emergencies that your insurance can’t help you with, it’s always wise to have a small cushion of cash put away somewhere to dip into if you really need to. Always consider this when making your budget calculations.
When you’re looking at where to go and what to do, it can be easy to get swept up in everything you want to experience. You may also find that many people will have their own advice about how much money you’ll need to do what you want to do. Rather than take their advice as a given, look at guide book, travel company, foreign embassy and forum information, and budget for what you feel you’ll need.
Where To Go & Who To Go With
You may have always wanted to visit somewhere cold like Alaska or Canada, yet your dream experience may be working with tropical marine ecology. Working out the best trip for you can be tricky, especially when you could boost your experience of the field of study you’re interested in by making sacrifices on location. Remember – this trip is not likely to be the last one you’ll ever be able to take, so think about what is best for your future and general enjoyment of the time you have.
You can save a lot of money, meet interesting people and learn a lot of new skills by doing work for a charity or social enterprise within the country you’re interested in visiting. Some organised trips like this will be better than others, so always look for recommendations from previous travellers to help you decide.
If you choose an organised trip with a company, charity or enterprise, then it’s likely you’ll be joining a group of likeminded people. This can be a brilliant way to make friends, and is ideal for those who like company but who may not have any close friends to travel with. If you do go with friends, then be prepared to make some sacrifices on everything you’d like to do, as it’s likely they’ll have other ideas and goals. However, this also means that you may get to experience things you wouldn’t have thought of if you went on your own.
In order to travel for a decent amount of time, a lot of people taking a gap year will work in the country they travel to in order to fund their excursions and to gain important life skills and experience. From fruit picking in Australia to working in a bar somewhere in the Amazon – there’s something out there for everyone if you know where to look. Check out this site for more information.
Consider Funding Options
In order to pay for your trip away, you may want to save first, borrow the money to pay back later, or do a little bit of both. Working beforehand and saving all you can could take a while, but it’s a good thing to do if you’re not sure of your available cash for debt repayments. On the other hand, if you know how much you’ll have available to you while you’re at university, or if you have a job lined up for when you get back, borrowing the cash and ensuring you have the repayment money put aside for the couple of months you’re away could be the best solution for you.
As students are usually young people who haven’t borrowed before, some mainstream lenders may shy away from giving them credit. This is because your credit file needs to show that you’ve borrowed and can pay back credit successfully. Guarantor loans could be a good solution for those who have never borrowed before, as they use a guarantor (a friend or family member with good credit) to vouch for the borrower. This gives young people like you the opportunity to borrow up to £5,000 and pay it back over 1 to 5 years – something that other lenders may not agree to do.
If you can borrow money from family, then you may want to do this over paying interest for a loan, but your credit file will not see the benefits if you borrow privately, perhaps making it more difficult to borrow in the future. Family members may want to help by acting as a guarantor on a loan like this one if you’d prefer to borrow officially or if they are unable to front the money for your big trip
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