Student Gap Year: Travelling The Globe Without Much Dough

Taking a year out to travel before uni is a great idea- there are few times in life where you have this kind of freedom. You’ve finished the first leg of education, now you have a chance to explore the world, ‘find yourself’ and generally have fun before buckling down to higher education. Later in life, you have jobs, mortgages, partners and children in the mix, which of course makes packing up and trotting across the globe that bit more difficult. Seize the day- if you’re toying with the idea, just go for it! The only problem with traveling when you’re younger can be the lack of funds. You might have been able to save from a part time job, but when most of your time is spent studying there’s not a whole lot of chance to go out there and earn money.

However, don’t let it put you off. You can go traveling for a lot less money than you think. Sure it might not be five-star luxury, but that isn’t what this trip is about. It’s about adventure, meeting new people, mixing with the locals and trying new things. Wondering how to travel the world cheaply? Here are some of the ways you can go about it without a whole lot of money.

When you’re traveling on a budget, hostels are the way to go. You’ll meet tons of other backpackers, and like minded travelers. You can sign up for a hostel ‘chain’ meaning you’re able to go to any hotels from the company, making finding somewhere to stay really easy regardless of where you are in the world. There’s generally the option to have a private or family room for a bit more money, or stay in the dorms- a shared room with lots of beds. They’re basic in their amenities but not as bad as you’d probably think. You have a roof over your head, a bed, a kitchen and a place to wash and shower- what more could you possibly need? Once you’re clean, fed and rested, you can get back to doing what you came to do. Travel!

One great, inexpensive way to travel in certain destinations is by hiring an RV and going on an epic road trip. This way you have both your transport and accommodation rolled into one. You don’t need any special licenses to drive one, just your standard driver’s license (although you should be comfortable with heavy vehicles). You have the freedom of going wherever you want, each evening you can either park up in a legal place to sleep or go to a campsite offering RV hookups. These provide you with electricity, water and in some cases even internet. If you’re backpacking, you’ll be covering a lot of trails on foot, otherwise, be using public transport to get around which shouldn’t cost you a great deal.

Forget five-star restaurants and luxury dining. When you’re traveling on a budget, you have to eat smart. Make stops at grocery stores for essentials, dine in cheap cafes and chain restaurants and taste the street food in the vibrant and bustling markets. You could work out a daily food budget and stick to that. If you happen to spend less on certain days, use the extra to treat yourself to something a little nicer one night. Another thing to take advantage of is all you can eat buffets. Avoid filling up on fatty and not very nutritious foods like bread and fries. Take advantage of the meat, vegetables, and seafood on offer. This allows you to have one large meal a day, then you can eat lighter for your other meals. You’ll save money overall and won’t feel like you’re missing out. If you avoid touristy areas for food (since these will be more expensive) and eat around where colleges and universities are located, you’re likely to find some far cheaper places to dine. If you’re smart about it, you go hungry and can stay well fuelled up on your trip even if you don’t have a lot of money. When you’re traveling, you need the energy, especially if you’re on foot a lot.

Don’t just pay full price for tickets. Buy the ones you know you’re going to need or want in advance, and shop around. If you go through a cashback site, you’ll get a little bit of money back too which is no bad thing. While you’re traveling on a budget, there’s likely to still be some touristy/ popular attractions you’ll want to visit. Scour websites for deals and offers, find out the cheapest times to go and generally just put the research in. You could save yourself a good amount of money overall. If you’re signing up to a chain of hostels, these will often give you discounts on different types of tickets. If you have some attractions that are a little more expensive, you can work this into your budget when you’re planning the trip to make sure you can afford everything overall. Buy tickets in advance where possible, some attractions don’t allow you to pay on the day, so you avoid disappointment. Plus once the tickets have been purchased, they’re out of the way, so you don’t have to worry about paying for them with your travel money. Don’t forget about free attractions too: museums, galleries, parks and much more are free to enter.

While ideally, you’ll have got together as much money as possible before leaving for your trip, earning while you’re away can be really helpful. Writing, blogging, Youtube videos and design work are all things you can do on the road. With a laptop and an internet dongle (or free wifi when it’s available), you can complete projects in your spare time for a little extra cash. In the run up to your trip, build this up to the point where you’re earning regular money. For example, you could complete writing projects on a freelance site to build up your reputation, increasing the chances of further work. If you have a blog or Youtube channel, work on getting these to the standard of sponsorships.