Taking a Gap Year? Here’s how to prepare

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While we can’t travel at the moment due to COVID, there’s no harm in planning for 2022 – or going domestic. 

After a pretty bumpy 2020, plenty of people are looking to the new year as an opportunity for a fresh start.

While international travel remains off the cards for the time being due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still the option to either travel within Australia or to take an international gap year in 2022 (or perhaps even late 2021).

In any sense, one of the keys to a great gap year is often preparation. Here are some tips.

  1. Work out what you want from your trip

Everyone has a different gap year goal, whether it’s seeing the pyramids, backpacking across Europe or volunteering in Asia.

How much you will need for a year away depends on many things, including:

  • Where you’re going – for example, if you’re planning on spending the year in New York you will need more than if you’re planning on travelling around South East Asia.
  • How long you’re going for – A gap year isn’t always actually a year. Sometimes it can be as little a few months or a couple of years. Some people like to stay flexible with their plans, but having a rough idea can help with the budget.
  • Where you’ll stay – Some people are happy sleeping in basic backpacker accommodation, others prefer their own room.

To give you a ballpark idea, if you’re planning to stay in $25 a night hostels, a year’s accommodation would cost you around $9000.

  1. Work out your costs – and a savings goal 

Some of things you’ll need to budget for include:

  • Flights
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Sightseeing
  • Insurance
  • Emergencies 
  1. Find out about insurance

Insurance protects you if you’re in an accident or get sick when you’re overseas. It may also cover lost bags or flight cancellations.

It’s important to make sure the insurance you choose covers the place you are travelling to. It’s also important to compare the costs of different policies.

Depending on where you’re going, you’re probably looking at least a few hundred dollars for gap year insurance.

  1. Start saving

Once you know how much you (roughly) may need for your time away, it’s time to look for new ways to put away money.

Whether it’s selling unwanted items or cutting down on your spending,  there are a number of ways to save for a goal.

It’s sometimes easier to look at the end amount and then little steps that can be taken to get there. For instance, if you want to save $10,000, you need to find about $200 a week to put away for the gap year.

  1. Work out the visa situation

If you’re going overseas for a long time, you often need a visa. A visa means you have been given permission to live in another country for a set period of time as either a tourist or someone on a working holiday.

Each country has a different visa system, so once you have selected where you would like to go, it’s important to research the requirements.

  1. Get medical advice, including around vaccinations

Next, it’s time for a visit to the GP. Depending on where you plan to go, you may need to get some vaccines to protect you against diseases we don’t have to worry about as much in Australia.

  1. Research your destination

Some people like to know lots about a place before they get there, while others prefer the thrill of exploring.

It’s worth finding out about anything to be cautious about – for example, political instability – before you go. Often this can be found on the Smart Traveller website. Keep in mind, travel is prohibited during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re more of a planner, there are also various blogs and forums where people share their experiences and tips.

Happy preparing!

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