No matter where you find yourself over the course of a career break or student gap year, one thing is for sure: keeping to a budget has to be the only way to survive and successfully return to the work place intact and ready to progress.
Ensuring you have a reasonable amount of savings to come home to and as few debts as possible not only relieves the financial burden from your shoulders but also eases stress levels whilst you’re away which enables you to get on with having fun during your time off.
Take it from someone who knows, debt is not something you want to be facing when you get back home and following the tried and tested tips below will certainly allow you to face up to your finances whilst also having the time of your life.
Where to Stay
Always, always, shop around when you’re looking for accommodation and do your research with regards to price, safety and comfort before you arrive. If you’ve got plans to stay at one particular place for a while then your needs will be different to if you’re just passing through as from spending more time in your room to mingling with the other residents, making sure you know what you’re letting yourself in for prior to handing over the room rent is always best practice. Top tip: leave your bag at a train station lock up and give yourself plenty of time when searching for the best accommodation.
Best way to Travel
If you can travel for free by hitching a lift or making new friends then this is obviously the most effective means of exploring however, be careful not to take your ride for granted and always place safety ahead of spending plans. Coach trips may take longer but will allow you to get some rest, especially if travelling through the night which will also save you money on accommodation too. Travel with the locals if you’re taking the train and always check at your hostel if there’s anyone else who’s going in your direction as you may be able to get a group discount or share the costs of hiring a car or mini-bus.
One of the best experiences that you can afford when on a gap year is making new friends as from lifelong relationships to sharing new and important snippets of information, this is what travelling the world is all about. However, be aware of your budget and how it may differ from your new found companions. They maybe younger, wealthier or more carefree than you and getting caught up in an often hedonistic lifestyle could signal the end of your hard-earned finances and cause you to cut short your travels. Best advice: make friends but keep strong and learn to socialise as a group on the beach or at the hostel to avoid costly bar and night club rates.
Make some Cash
Working your way around the world is simply the best means of having a gap year that gives you value for money as well as plenty to come home to once your adventures have finally finished. Farm work, labouring, fruit picking or bar work are all great temporary roles that will help you see the sights, make new friends and save some cash as well as adding to your CV and work experience for when you get home. Even volunteering will save you money as often accommodation and food comes with the job so do your research and get working on your gap year.
What to Eat
When in Rome, do as the Romans and when travelling on a gap year eat what the locals eat. Of course, this may not resonate quite as loudly if you’re contemplating America holidays whilst on your year off however, in the main, ensuring you stick to street food vendors, find the best lunchtime offers and look for a supermarket, will always allow you to eat for less. Share the wealth: if you find some frugal-minded friends whilst travelling then consider making a bulk purchase and cooking for yourself – always better to cook as a group and have a kitty for food.
Sightsee for Free
Often a guided sightseeing tour around a city will lead to costly fees and although you’ll get to take in the sights you may not find much change left over for your budgeted evening meal. Always, always, take a guide book with you or buy or borrow a copy when you’re in resort. Making your own walking itinerary the night before you embark on your own sightseeing tour is great fun and absolutely free and you may even find some audio commentary to download direct to your MP3 player to help the experience even more. Alternative tour: find a friendly local or hostel worker on their day off and ask them to show you the sights in return for a free language lesson – simples!