When someone says they’re going on a gap year, images of extravagant European holidays that will cost at least a small fortune come to mind. But what if your gap year budget won’t even cover your flight to Europe, let alone allow you to indulge in luxury? There’s plenty of ways to take a gap year without spending every single penny you’ve managed to scrape together.
Forget an overseas gap year that’s going to cost you an arm and a leg. Road-tripping is cheap compared to jumping on a flight. Day trips, weekends away or trekking your way around Australia can all be done on a relatively small budget. You get to set your own plans, so you can spend as much or as little as you want on the road, plus, you can drag along your mates and share the costs. One of the major perks of road tripping is you don’t have to stress about things like paying medical insurance or flights and if you get super short of money, it’s always an option to get back into working for a couple of months without stressing about visas.
WWOOF gives volunteers the opportunity to live on small organic farms and work outdoors, nearly anywhere in the world. In exchange for working on the farm, your host will feed and accommodate you as well as show you what life is like in the country or town you’re living in. There’s hundreds of farms to choose from in Australia, as well as over 100 countries around the world looking for workers. It’s a great way to learn about life with the locals, gain some work experience and travel somewhere new, all on a minimal budget.
Considering that most of us are addicted to our phones these days, spending your gap year on a random farm in the middle of the bush is a pretty radical lifestyle choice, but it could also be a really rewarding one. And if you’re cash strapped but keen, it’s an option that makes a lot of sense.
Still want to head overseas but need to keep the costs to a minimum? Check out the UK Pubs Co gap program where you can get a pub, chef or kitchen work placement in places all over the UK. They set you up with a full-time job, cheap accomodation and free or discounted food for up to two years. To get it all organised, it’ll cost you under a grand so definitely cheaper than your average gap year- plus you’ll still have free time to do all the touristy stuff. Chuck in your details here if you want some more info on this one.
Workaway is an online space allowing volunteer workers and hosts to connect. Similar to the WWOOF program, volunteers are provided accommodation, food, and a taste of the local culture in exchange for helping out with any work the host needs done. The exact terms of the exchange are discussed between you and the host before you arrive.
There are so many cool projects going on all around the world which extend from a couple of days, to a couple of months in length. You can create a sustainable guesthouse on the south coast of Sri Lanka, help a family build stables for their farm animals in Frankfurt, Germany, or assist in establishing a local environmental project on the islands of Vanuatu to keep the beautiful beaches clean.
Sometimes you need a gap year to figure your shit out. But if you’re not keen on travelling (or can’t afford it) spending a year in a full time job can be on the cards. Being committed to a full time job, no matter how shitty it is, will give you some pretty valuable skills and help you figure out whether you want to go back to studying, keep working or try out different jobs.
Plus, there’s the whole money side of things. Going from high school where you might have a casual job and a couple of shifts a week, to earning a regular income is amazing. On top of all that, your ‘rents will be happy you’re not spending your gap year lounging around in bed all day.