So, you’ve just finished school and are considering taking a gap year to do some travel, enjoy some soul searching, figure out what you REALLY want to do and (most importantly) eat some fantastic food.
First up – good for you! Whether you’re jetting off overseas, moving out of home, or looking to get some work experience, gap years are a great way to explore the ‘real world’ and recharge the batteries. That’s all well and good, but the question is – how will you afford it? From borrowing money to working abroad, let’s break down your best options.
1. Do some crowdsourcing
Thanks to technology, raising money online these days can be a breeze. From Indiegogo to Kickstarter to GoFundMe, there are plenty of platforms you can use. But to get people interested in supporting your plans, you’ll need to put together a pretty compelling pitch. Your friends, family and strangers will want to know the real value of their donation. While some people will be all for it, be prepared for others to say no. Just don’t be disheartened – every little bit counts!
2. Volunteer (and get sponsored)
Thinking of teaching English in Cambodia? Want to run after-school activities for kids in Central Australia? Interested in studying wildlife conservation in South America? For volunteering and charity work, it’s worth looking into sponsorship. For example, you could find a local group, grant, organisation, or program that will fund your flights or living expenses (or both!). If you’re deferring study, find out if your university runs a financial aid program or scholarship that can help offset the expenses.
3. Borrow money from your parents
Sure, not everyone can do this. But if it’s a genuine possibility, it’s definitely worth talking about. Experiencing what the world has to offer is important, and many parents will be more than willing to help out. In truth, it can be a better option than borrowing from the bank, as you’ll likely have a pretty relaxed repayment plan, or if you’re really lucky, no repayment plan at all.
4. Work for a bit
To be honest, a year is a pretty long time. So why not split it up between work and play? If you and your girlfriends are planning to travel the world for six months, make it count by saving up before you go. Mix cocktails at a bar, get a casual retail job, or do some tutoring. It doesn’t matter what you actually do – it all counts as experience. And most importantly, you’ll have plenty of bucks in the bank to fund your adventures.
5. Sell some stuff
During 13 years of schooling you’ve likely accumulated (and outgrown) a lot of possessions. If you’re looking to boost your gap year fund, why not sell some stuff you don’t use (or that doesn’t fit?) You could easily hold a car boot sale, hire a stall at your local market, or pop some things online. Use social media (such as Facebook’s new Marketplace feature) to raise awareness, and get all your friends and family involved. You’ll be amazed at what people will buy.
6. Credit cards and loans
Say you’re looking to get over to Europe for the summer, but you just don’t have enough cash. Well, you can always look into getting a credit card or taking out a secured loan. That said, this option isn’t for everyone. Chat to your bank or parents to make sure you have a solid repayment plan in place. If done right, it can be a great option to help you achieve your goals sooner.
A gap year can change your life. Whatever you end up doing, you’ll no doubt come out the other end with new experiences, stories and a fresh perspective on the world around you. And if it’s something you want badly enough, just remember that no matter how far out of you reach it might seem, there are some great financing options out there that can make an amazing gap year possible for everyone.