Travel demand has skyrocketed this year, so costs have gone way up along with it. A round-trip ticket to Europe is now 20% more expensive than it was in 2019. This shouldn’t stop you from being able to enjoy a gap year in this climate, though. It’s all about preparing your finances properly so you can enjoy time off without burning through all your money.
1. Check Your Credit
First, you should check your credit report to see how your credit standing is. This will help you get a clearer picture of your finances, existing payables, and credit score. According to this guide to hard vs. soft credit checks, you are allowed to do soft credit checks yourself without it affecting your credit score. Unlike a hard credit check (usually done by financial bodies), this kind of check also won’t show up on future credit reports.
2. Set Your Budget Ahead of Time
Set a budget ahead of time so you can start allocating funds right away. This also helps you avoid excess spending when you finally start traveling. Make sure you cover all the basics – transport, accommodations, food, activities, and emergency funds.
3. Be Prepared for Different Weather
Since you’ll be gone for a whole year, you’ll be contending with different weather (and even climates if you’re hopping from one country to another.) So, you’ll want to pack well for hot weather and cold weather to avoid any additional expenses that might come from unexpected seasonal shifts.
4. Book Your Accommodations Early
If you want a better deal for lodging, you should seek out your accommodations early. It’s less stressful than last-minute booking and tends to come with plenty of deals. You may even get further discounts for extended stays. There are plenty of hotels that meet all budgets, so give yourself time to find the perfect fit.
5. Look for Flight Deals
Just like with your lodging, you should check out flights way ahead of when you plan to take your gap year. Studies show that prices bottom out 44 days before departure for domestic flights. If you’re going international, the range for best booking expands to two to six months before departure.
6. Get Rid of Excess Payables
Check which expenses you will no longer actively make use of and cut these off for the time that you will be taking your gap year. This mostly applies to subscriptions, internet, and utilities, which you can suspend indefinitely for the period you’ll be gone.
7. Try to Get Some Remote Work
It’s always good to have a means of earning to maintain your finances on the go. A great option is to get into remote work as this allows you to continue working regardless of where you might be.
8. Make a Gap Year Fund
The best way to save for a gap year is to dedicate a fund directly to it. You can allocate a portion of your money to the fund regularly, and potentially even get some gifted funds from other people who want to support your gap year.
9. Check Out Other Travelers’ Experience
What better way to prepare your finances than by getting direct insights from other travelers who have made the same journey? Join communities, talk to friends who have traveled, and seek out honest reviews of different places. This can enlighten you on what you might have to spend on.
10. Get Travel Insurance
Protect yourself from major losses by getting travel insurance. Since you’ll be gone for a whole year, it’s worth the investment to cover medical expenses, cancellations, lost luggage, and emergencies.
11. Apply for a Travel Credit Card
If you have good credit, you may want to get a travel credit card for the benefits and waived foreign transaction fees. This is mostly useful if you plan to hop from one place to another throughout the year.
12. Consider Joining a Gap Year Program
Plenty of organizations offer programs that let people take gap years in exchange for volunteer work or academic learning. Statistics show that 90% of students who take gap years return to college within a year and do so to enrich their learning experience. This can help you manage costs in one place and even lets you spend your year with other individuals.
13. Start Selling Things You Don’t Need
You can easily get rid of a bunch of stuff that you likely won’t be needing in the long run. Clear out your space of junk and make some money that can go towards your pocket money. Clutter can damage your mental health significantly, so holding a garage sale or selling stuff online will help you in more ways than one.
14. Learn How to Make Budget Meals
Even if you opt for local meals and mom-and-pop shops, you’ll find that cooking yourself is still the cheaper option. Save yourself a ton of spending by learning some delicious budget meals that can fill your belly.
15. Look Up Free Activities
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to enjoy your gap year. Look up free activities where you plan to go, and you’d be surprised how much wonder there is out there that doesn’t cost a cent.
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