Thinking of taking a year off from work or study? While you may have a dream trip in mind, a little preparation can help ensure you have the financial resources to make it a reality.
- Do your research: Investigate the cost of living and the cost of experiences in each of the destinations on your list. Some countries on your wishlist may be more expensive than others, so be ready to compromise if necessary. For example, you may decide to reduce the length of your trip or choose less expensive destinations if you think your budget won’t quite stretch.
- Save: Once you have an idea of how much you’ll need, set yourself a savings goal and make regular deposits into a high-interest savings account to help your money grow. A savings calculator can give you an indication of how long it will take you to reach your goal, and help you work out how much you need to save within a particular timeframe.
- Cut back: Look at reducing your current living expenses where possible so you have more money to spend on your gap year. For example, review your direct debits and cancel any subscriptions or services you no longer need. Look back at your transaction history over the past few months and take note of your spending habits. Be aware of any spontaneous purchases which, in hindsight, you could have said no to.
- Think ahead: While it’s tempting to focus on your travel plans, remember time flies when you’re having fun. So, consider putting some cash aside now to tide you over, and cover things like a rental deposit and immediate living expenses for when you return.
- Invest in peace of mind: Make sure you take out travel insurance to cover you before you go. It might seem like an additional expense when you’re trying to cut back, but it can help give you peace of mind and potentially save you a lot of money if things go wrong.
- Manage your money wisely: Once you’re on the road, take note of how much you’re spending. Be aware of ATM fees when withdrawing cash overseas, and stay aware of charges associated with credit card payments. Think about downloading your banking app onto your smartphone so you have easy access to your balance, and make note of any credit card repayments or other financial commitments you still need to take care of while you’re travelling.
- Look out for free activities: Rather than costing a fortune, some of the world’s best museums, experiences and attractions are actually free – so keep an eye out for opportunities to explore when you’re on a budget. In addition, some attractions offer reduced rates during off-peak hours.
- Stay in touch on the cheap: Make the most of Wi-Fi hotspots wherever you go; many coffee chains increasingly offer wi-fi so if you can, save non-urgent communications for your coffee break. Before you go, consider downloading some apps such as Skype, Viber or What’s App so you can share photos and keep in touch with friends and family back home on the cheap.
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