For many young people, the months following graduation from high school or college are spent searching for employment, temporary or otherwise. For some, however, there is the lure of adventure and discovery, and the next stop after school ends is to begin seeing the world and traveling. Whatever the theme of the trip, whether for volunteer work, exploration or simply a chance to spend time in a foreign country, the first successful long term trip or gap year that a young person undertakes begins with proper planning of the budget.
Planning a Gap Year Budget
Though there are certainly exceptions, generally young people who have just graduated from high school or college do not have a great deal of money to spend, on travel or otherwise. That does not mean that a gap year is an impossibility; taking steps to map out the trip and prepare for all monetary needs, as well as emergencies, will ensure that the trip is memorable for all the right reasons.
Use online travel sites, blogs and guides to learn as much about the destination or trip as possible; also take advantage of review sites and traveler blogs, particularly if the contributors are gap year travelers as well.
Though ATM or debit cards may be suitable for short-term travel, for a gap year excursion it is wise to invest in a prepaid card. Prepaid cards offer all the benefits of ATM or debit cards, namely withdrawing funds through ATM machines and purchasing food, drink and other items, as well as paying for lodging or transportation, while foiling thieves. Since prepaid cards carry only the money that is deposited to them, they cannot be overdrawn and no bank account may be accessed if they are stolen.
Dangers to a Gap Year Budget
It may be difficult while traveling to keep track of the smaller amounts as extra items are purchased or certain extravagances allowed. However, if the initial budget planning did not allow for those things, they can add up quickly and unravel a tight budget in no time. Allowing an extra 20%-25% during the planning stages will help to ensure that a little extra will not result in a lot of worry later on.
Theft of physical money, credit cards, traveler’s checks, and ATM or debit cards can not only result in the loss of access to money while abroad, but may also cause lasting damage to the young person’s finances for years to come. Investing in a travel wallet, keeping all cash money and documents on one’s physical person at all times, and prepaid cards will help ensure against this common threat.
If money is still needed for whatever reason, it is important to know how to access funds. One of the best ways to get money from back home is via online money transfer sites. Family and friends can take advantage of the benefits of using TransFast, an online money transfer site, to send needed funds to someone on the road.
Planning for Gap Year Success
Taking the time to plan every aspect of a gap year trip, including planning a tight budget and factoring in emergencies and the unforeseen, is well worth the time and effort.
*Image of piggy bank with calculator via Shutterstock