Gap years used to be the provenance of high school or university graduates, but in recent years it’s become more and more popular with people of all ages to take an extended leave from work – whether to take time out to re-consider your career options, learn a new skill, volunteer for a charity or just to have an adventure. The trip of a lifetime doesn’t come cheap – but some careful planning can set you up for success.
Itinerary… And Budget
One of the first (and most exciting!) things to do when planning your dream trip is to decide on where you want to go – and put a budget in place. Bear in mind that some places are likely to cost more than others; you’ll need to allow a much higher daily allowance for somewhere like Western Europe than you would for Thailand – but it is possible to travel for less if you get creative. Don’t forget that it’s always a good idea to put in a little extra contingency money (at least 10%) – things very rarely go to plan all the time, and having that back up could be priceless. Think as well about not just the funds you might need whilst you’re travelling, but what at-home costs might continue whilst you’re away. If you still have a mortgage or rent, or any regular outgoings that need to continue in your absence then you’ll need to allow enough money for them too – preferably in a separate bank account, so that you always know exactly what you have to spend. The last thing that you want whilst on your exciting adventure is to be worrying about your finances at home, or coming home to a nasty final reminder bill.
Get Your Finances In Order
Once you know where you’re going and how much you’ll need, you need to get your finances in order. If you’ve already got some savings put away then great, you’re one step ahead! If you’ve got debts like credit cards or loans though then it’s a good idea to get them paid down first and start from a blank slate – according to AAACreditGuide.com, debt settlement might be easier than you thought. See how much you can put away each month to get to your goal, and have a look around to see where the best place to put it is – some savings accounts have withdrawal limits attached, but if you know it’s going to take you 18 months to save up then a 12 month fix isn’t a problem. Keep yourself motivated along the way – a simple chart might keep you on track, or you could reward yourself when you get to certain points by buying something you need for the trip, whether that’s a new rucksack or a travel guide.
When you’re saving towards a goal every little helps, so think about creative ways to make some extra cash – could you take on extra hours at work, or a second job? Is there anything you don’t need at home that you could sell? Unexpected tax rebate? Put it in the pot! Even small things like doing online surveys at home in the evening can quickly add up!
Stay On Track
Remember that the first and most important thing to do when planning any trip is to decide on your destination and budget. Once you know how much you need, get your finances in order, boost your income in creative ways and get saving to fund your dream adventure.