Travelling in a gap year: Budget issues

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If you are a student considering taking a gap year, then one of your biggest worries or concerns is likely to be money-orientated. If you’re hoping to explore the world in between or before your studies, you might believe that you need large amounts of cash in order to travel around the world.

However, in recent years, travelling gap years have changed considerably and you can now have an amazing time on a budget. Sure, it would be easier to not have to worry about money during your time travelling, but often doing things on a budget means that you get to experience things that you can only dream of or are least expecting.

But, budgeting on a gap year can be daunting and, if you are unfamiliar with budgeting whilst travelling, then you may run into some troubles pretty early on into your adventure. However, if you are in a place in your life where you are able to put your life at home on hold for a while, then with some careful preparation and planning, then there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a gap year just as much as everyone else!

Where do you want to go?

There are 195 countries across the world, so which ones do you want to see? Don’t be afraid to dream about new places, but it helps to be realistic about your budget. Understandably, some countries are much more expensive to experience than others, so this should be taken into consideration as well.

Countries such as the UK, Japan and Australia are high-budget countries and are the most expensive to experience. Brazil, New Zealand and Turkey are examples of mid-budget countries and low budget countries include Colombia, Vietnam and Thailand. Your money will, obviously, last much longer in the low budget countries,

Once you have a vague idea as to where you want to go, you should also look into the countries currency exchange rate. If you are someone who gets their holiday money last minute or, even worse, from the airport on the day of your travel, then this is something that you need to take seriously and plan well in advance. Some countries require additional travel costs for vaccines, visas and the kind of transport you need to take to get there. CompareHolidayMoney gives more information about entry requirements on each of the currency pages.


What kind of gap year do you want to take?

This should be one of your first steps after deciding that a gap year is for you. Having a vague idea of the countries or travel route you want to take is a great starting point and will help you to get your budgeting in check earlier, rather than later.

If you want something that is low-budget, then it may be worth finding out what kind of job opportunities are available for backpackers in the countries you want to visit in case you need to add some funds to your budget. It is also much cheaper to arrange your gap year yourself by finding the right travel routes, plans and accommodation beforehand so that you can make the most of any deals.

There are many companies who specialise in arranging gap year travel for students and these also come with the safety and security you might be looking for if you are travelling on your own or if this is your first time backpacking. However, these companies are often more expensive than arranging things on your own, so this is something to be aware of.

Plan logistics in advance

Your logistical plans will depend largely on whether you are travelling alone or as a group and, of course, your budget will differ varying on this. For example, hostels for individual guests can be extremely cheap, but if there is a group of you travelling together, then the price can increase considerably. If you are travelling to high-budget countries, then it may be worth looking at other options for your accommodation.

Europe is a great continent for travelling and is well-know for its good quality accommodation choices. Again, your choice of accommodation will depend entirely on your budget, where you are travelling and who with, so try to get this arranged before you set off for your travels. If there is a group of you travelling to countries such as Portugal, then look at accommodation choices in the larger towns and cities, such as luxury Algarve villas, city townhouses or beach-side apartments, so that you have a central base. Surprisingly, these can be cheaper than other accommodation types in these areas as they are not as popular for visiting families locals. If you are taking this adventure on your own in lower-budget countries, such as Vietnam, then shared hostels are better for your budget and are more patrolled, so you will feel safer if you are on your own.

One of the biggest costs, other than the travel and accommodation, for travelling students is visas, passport fees and vaccinations. When you have a multi-country travel plan in place, then you must ensure that you have the right vaccinations required by the country. Vaccinations will not only protect you from any potential illnesses but also the country you are travelling to, however, these are known for varying in price from location to location, so you must do your research early.

Visas and passport fees can also be pricey and, if you arrive at a country without these in place, you will either be charged considerably more or denied entry, both of which will cost you large amounts of money and take a chunk out of your much-needed budget.


When planning a gap year, preparation is key when it comes to budgeting. Having a plan in place, no matter how vague, will make things much easier for you in the long-term and enable you to relax and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience without having to worry and rely too much on your budget skills. If you need a little extra help budgeting, there are many gap-year apps available which you can use with no internet connection or you could use a currency card which helps you to keep track of your spending.

Remember, taking a gap year is all about the experiences and budgeting is part of this. No matter your budget or plans, you will have a great time and will have many stories to tell for years to come.

Posted by Natalie Wilson

Natalie Wilson

Natalie Wilson is a freelance writer in the travel niche and can provide advice on anything from packing essentials to hidden gems. When not writing, Natalie can be found reading a good book with a cup of tea or planning her next travel destination.

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