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Gap Year Planning; Budgetting

If you go into any travel agent or speak to any person who has travelled themselves then the main defining feature of planning a gap year will almost certainly come back the same – money.

Despite what you may believe about the ethos of backpacking money is a central part. Without it there aren’t any flights.

Without it there aren’t any parties.

Without it there isn’t going to be a gap year!

But there are ways to make your money go further. However you have to start out by actually saving the money to go away with! It may seem rather obvious but there’s alot of people who underestimate the initial start up cost of going away and how much they can realistically save.

Before you leave

Depending on how much or little of your trip you are going to pre book (see our previous entry HERE for advice on planning it and winging it) there are going to be a couple of significant withdrawals from your bank account before you think about packing your bag!

These are as follows (I’ve included a guide price to help you out too);

Flights (approx £1500 for simply RTW ticket, £800 for an Oz return)

Insurance (approx £500 for 12 months premium cover – don’t worry there’s a post coming soon to help you with choosing this!)

Visas (approx £179 for an Oz WHV)

Backpack (approx £80-£100 – check out THIS post on advice)

Lets – for arguements sake – say your going the full works; RTW, Oz WHV, Premium insurance and a top of the range bag. Thats nearly £2500 before you’ve even left the country, let alone gone skydiving or sailing through exotic islands!

But fear not – there are a few simply tips to help you get the dollar behind you.


It may sound rather simple but you can only save as much as you can afford. The best way to do this is create a rough guide of your monthly incomings and outgoings, for example:


Wages – £1000


Rent – £500

Phone contract – £25

Car insurance – £30

Fuel – £45

Now it’s simple incoming – outgoings;

1000 – (500+25+30+45) = 400

Potentially you could save £400, but lets be realistic here – you going to need some spending money to make life at your 9-5 bareable! In this example we’ll say £100 per month.

Now that’s £300 per month into savings – happy days.

Now you simply have to calculate how much you’ll need and therefore how long you have left before handing in your notice and hitting the road!

While you travel

The long and short of it is most people will tell you that when backpacking an average monthly budget of £1000 applies.

Of course this is very much an estimate and depends entirely on a few variables and personal choices.

If you’re heading to North America the living cost is going to be very much higher than somewhere in Asia – and therefore your budget must reflect this.

Equally even if you’re in Asia if you choose to eat in restaurants and stay at top end hotels your budget will be alot higher than if you cooked yourself and stayed in dorm rooms.

Of course this variance in cost will equal out to some degree when traveling to many places – if you spend a month in Asia where you may only spend £650, but then your trip to Oz may cost you £1350, it all balances out somewhat.

To some extent your money will determine how long you can travel for, the standard of living whist you travel and in some cases even where you can travel too.

It all boils down to how much self control and sense you have with money.

My personal opinion on the matter though is that I’d rather explore a country and enjoy it to it’s full potential, achieving what I set out to do and spend less time there as a result than spend a longer period of time away but constantly be worrying about money and scraping along.

Of course this budget doesn’t factor in large tours and expensive activities – it’s mainly aimed as rough guide for a mid range standard of accommodation and food costs, with a few smaller activities thrown in.

At the end of the day budgeting is a very personal thing and only you can really say how much you’ll need.

Just save hard and spend wisely no matter what your financial situation – better to come home with a bit of cash in your pocket than come home early and penniless!

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