Taking the Gap

Backpacking Adventure
Unsplash/Austin Ban
For many, taking a gap year is seen as a rite of passage

If you are thinking of venturing far from home on a gap year, what are the things you need to consider?

Where to go

  • Travelling without doing your research could mean that you end up in towns and cities of little interest and paying way more for accommodation than you should. With review sites like Trip Advisor you can get advice and recommendations from other travellers, such as cafes where you can get a real taste of the local delicacies without paying tourist prices.
  • Investing in guide books like the Lonely Planet can also be invaluable, especially when travelling to countries where there are big cultural differences.
  • Remember to check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website advice for each country to see if you need visas or inoculations, or if there is any advice against travelling to certain areas. Ignoring this could invalidate any insurance you have.

Buying tickets

  • As you're thinking about your wanderlust wish-list, see how it could fit in with the nuts and bolts of international travel. You can get a round-the-world ticket valid for a year with several pre-arranged stops for less than £1,000 – though the more complicated your itinerary, the more it is likely to cost.
  • Travel agents such as STA Travel can help you to plan out your route, though once you've decided on what countries and cities you'd like to visit, it could also be a good idea to research your options for travelling overland by bus or train, or by domestic flight.
  • It can sometimes be more economical to book in local tourist offices along the way, or through flight comparison websites online. However, always make sure you book through a reputable agency; your travel insurance could be invalidated if you don't.

How to find work

  • There are many websites which offer help in setting you up with jobs abroad. This can be seasonal work, jobs which require existing experience, internships, or posts which will bring out your adventurous spirit.
  • For those that feel more comfortable having more of an organised trip, organisations like Bunac offer help arranging your visa, accommodation and with finding a job. If you're perhaps looking to gain more vocational working experience, teaching English is often an option, though you may need a degree or a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) qualification.

Where to stay

  • As with virtually any part of the gap year experience, comparison engines and budget booking websites make setting things up both easier and cheaper.
  • In addition to finding deals on accommodation both before you leave and on-the-fly, you can also try the various sites, such as CouchSurfing, which connect those looking for a cheap bed for the night with those who have them.

Keep your money safe

  • Even with the best-laid plans, your travel money is going to be vulnerable at some point on your travels.
  • Consider a pre-paid money card, which you use like a debit or credit card, but has the safety features of travellers' cheques in case of theft. Like a pay-as-you-go phone, you can't spend more than you've loaded it up with, meaning you will have to stick to your budget. Watch out for high charges for using certain services.

Based on article by Sainsbury's Finance.