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Budget-Friendly Gap Year Tips

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Budget-Friendly Gap Year Tips

A gap year after your studies is an experience that offers many benefits, from personal development to better career prospects. However, financial concerns are often a barrier to starting this journey. We want to give you an overview of how you can easily minimise the costs associated with a gap year while maximising the experience.

Planning Your Gap Year: Budgeting and Financial Preparation

Planning your gap year is the key to a successful, budget-friendly gap year. Start by setting a clear budget. Consider all possible expenses, including travel, accommodation, food, insurance and activities. Research and list the average cost for each category. Use this information to create a realistic budget.

Choose a Gap Year Option That Fits Your Budget

A gap year does not mean zero income. If you choose wisely you can have an amazing time abroad while not fully emptying your pockets. In this article, we go deeper into different gap year options you might consider. Once you have set your budget, decided on an option and already fixed a location for your stay abroad it is time to see how to make that stay as fun, exciting AND affordable as possible.

If you choose that working abroad is the best option for you, we are just what you were looking for! We will help you find a job that offers you the lifestyle and perks you were hoping for from a life abroad, of course completely for free, because we also want you to save money!

Find a Job Abroad

Affordable Travel Options

Travelling can be one of the most significant expenses during a gap year. However, with careful planning and flexibility, you can reduce travel costs significantly. And with this we don’t only mean your initial flight to the destination but also your travel plans in between your stay.

  • Off-Peak Travel:Traveling during off-peak seasons can save you money. Flights and accommodations are generally cheaper, and popular tourist spots are less crowded.

  • Budget Airlines and Alternatives:Consider budget airlines for your flights like Ryanair or the Spanish Airline Vueling. Websites like Trip.com or Skyscannercan help you compare flights and find the cheapest option. They offer lower fares compared to full-service airlines. Additionally, explore alternative transportation methods such as buses or trains, which can be more economical for shorter distances. The Eurail Student Pass gives you unlimited travel on the extensive Eurail network, which covers 33 countries and offers access to over 40,000 destinations. With this pass, you can hop on and off trains and explore multiple cities and regions at your own pace.

  • Volunteer and Work Exchange Programs:Participating in volunteer and work exchange programs can provide free or subsidised accommodation and meals in exchange for your time and skills. Websites like Workaway, WWOOF, and HelpX offer numerous opportunities worldwide.

  • Working Abroad: If you choose working abroad as your best option to earn and save money, keep an eye open for job opportunities that also offer relocation packages or finance your initial flight ticket. Many of the positions we offer at Blu Selection offer this for example. So go ahead and have a look!

Find a Job Abroad

Cheap Accommodation Solutions

Accommodation costs can quickly add up, but there are various ways to keep them in check.

  • Short-term Rentals: If you are moving to a new city it is important to research neighbourhoods, prices and conditions before committing to a long-term contract. We recommend Housing Anywherefor your first rental, as you can do short-term rentals for the first weeks and then take a more informed decision once you get to know the areas and have some more local connections. Renting single rooms in a shared flat is also mostly the best option for young international living abroad.  

  • Long-Term Rentals:For extended stays (12 months or longer), consider renting an apartment with (new) friends. This will be significantly cheaper and more comfortable than living in a shared flat with 6 strangers.

  • Homestays and Couchsurfing: For your in-between travels Homestays and Couchsurfing allow you to stay with locals, often for free or a small fee. Platforms like TrustedHousesitters connect travellers with homeowners looking for reliable house and pet sitters. This arrangement allows you to stay in beautiful homes around the world for a small yearly fee in exchange for taking care of pets and maintaining the property. These options not only save money but also provide a deeper cultural immersion. 

Managing Daily Expenses

Keeping daily expenses in check is crucial for staying within your budget during a gap year.

Cooking Your Own Meals

We know, you want to explore the local cuisine and get to know the city and culture but eating out can be expensive. Save money by shopping at local markets and cooking with friends to create fun experiences. This also gives you the opportunity to try your hand in the local cuisine. 

Don’t Forget About Your Student and Youth Discounts

Many places or services (like public transportation) offer discounts for students and young travellers. Carry your student ID or youth travel card and inquire about discounts at museums, transportation services, and attractions. 

The European Youth Card is an essential tool for young travellers who want to explore Europe on a budget. This card is aimed at people up to the age of 30 and offers a range of discounts and benefits in 36 countries. Knowing how to use the EYC effectively can greatly benefit your gap year experience and make your travels more affordable and accessible.

Free and Low-Cost Activities

Research free or low-cost activities in your destination. Many cities offer free walking tours, public parks, and cultural events that provide entertainment without breaking the bank. Joining local Erasmus or international groups on WhatsApp and Facebook will help you find activities at a decent price. If you buy the Erasmus card, the cost of excursions will be even cheaper and you may end up making new friends along the way.

Health and Travel Insurance

Insurance is a crucial component of your gap year planning. While it might seem like an extra expense, it can save you from significant financial burdens in case of emergencies. 

If you choose to work abroad with a local contract you will mostly be covered by the public health insurance and some companies might even offer you private insurance as a benefit, so keep an eye open during your job search as you can save some monthly costs with this.

Use All Your Resources

When going abroad inform yourself about all your support options. The Erasmus+ program is a great option for many students doing an internship abroad or pausing their studies for a gap year. You can even make use of the program up to 12 months after you have graduated! 

When working abroad inform yourself about how to do your tax returns in your home country. You might get some money back for the time you spent abroad.

Some countries like Germany have child support (“Kindergeld”) which you or your parents can keep receiving even when you go abroad. Just make sure you and your parents inform yourself about the necessary documents needed.

Above All: Enjoy Your Time Abroad

At the end of the day, it is definitely important to pay attention to your finances and make reasonable travel decisions, but most importantly you have to enjoy your time otherwise however “little” money you might spend is not going to be worth it. 

Our suggestion is to combine your gap year with a job abroad, like this you earn your living and get a chance at an amazing lifestyle abroad.

Find a Job Abroad