The gap year has long been a rite of passage for many young people enjoying experiencing some of the world before they embark on their university careers. Despite the current economic climate where money is tighter than it has been in previous years people are still choosing to experience all that a gap year has to offer.
In order to do so and get the most from the time away its important to be prepared, here are some tips on how to get the most from your gap year finances:
Research your finance options
When it comes to your finances it pays to be prepared, if you are taking cash and rely on changing your currency at the bureau de change at the airport, you will pay significantly more for it than if you shop around before you set off. Using cash can often be impractical when traveling for a long period of time and to several countries with different currencies.
Pre-paid cards are a great alternative to cash; most offer competitive exchange rates and some have the added benefit of no withdrawal or purchase fees. Of course do your research and shop around for the pre-paid card that offers the best deal for you.
If using a debit or credit card, speak to your bank before you travel so you are aware of any charges that you may incur whilst overseas so you don’t get any nasty surprises on your return home, again the same applies to your overdraft, unforeseen withdrawal charges and transaction fees can push you over your limit without you realizing and leaving you with more costs.
Check your travel insurance
Travel insurance policies vary a great deal and it’s important to make sure you choose the right travel insurance depending on where you are traveling to and what you plan to do whilst you are away. Many people on a gap year believe they are covered by annual travel insurance, however many such policies only cover for the policy holder to be on holiday for a maximum of 45 days per trip. The best option is to take out a specific back packer travel insurance that can cover you for between one month and one year.
MoneySupermarket.com recommends at least the following level of cover:
- £2m for medical expenses
- £1m personal liability
- £3000 cancellation cover (or enough to cover the total cost of your holiday)
- £1500 baggage cover
- £250 for cash
- Policy excesses under £100
- Delay cover
If traveling in Europe make sure you also have your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) although the card doesn’t act as an insurance alone, with one you are entitled to medical treatment at the same price as those who live in that country. In certain cases non-essential or emergency treatments can cost extra but it is an important to carry with you to avoid hefty unnecessary bills.
Using technology on your travels
Mobile phones, laptops and tablets have become part of our daily lives and this is no different whilst we are traveling, the desire to share your photographs on social media and keep in contact with your friends and family is strong but it’s important you know what charges you could incur if you do so.
Make sure your mobile phone tariff is designed for overseas use and ensure your data roaming is turned off at all times. Instead take advantage of internet cafes and free Wi-Fi zones in public places to update your loved ones on what you’re up to!