Budget For a Gap Year By Andrew Tipp
It’s usually a time that every parent dreads: their child leaving home for the first time.
If your son or daughter has an adventurous spirit or an unquenchable thirst for travel, the first time they properly leave home they might also be leaving the country. For six months. Or even a year!
Gap years can be stressful periods for parents. After 18 years of feeling like your child is relatively safe in familiar places, suddenly you’re getting emails from them in Brazil or Thailand or Kenya.
Help your child plan and budget for a gap year
Naturally most parents worry about their child being physically safe while they’re travelling, but the second most common concern is about money. Have they got enough? Will they need to borrow any? Why didn’t they take enough?
Thankfully, there is plenty you can do to help your child plan and budget for their gap year.
Paying for them
The easiest option is to just write your child a cheque for a few thousand pounds and send them on their way. But even if you can afford this, is it the right way to go?
Taking a gap year isn’t just a holiday; it’s a proper life experience. Should parents just be paying for it all outright? Arguably, your child would have a tougher – but more worthwhile experience – if they raised the money themselves.
Raising the money for their gap year themselves will give your son or daughter experience of being self-reliant and, ultimately, they’ll appreciate the whole trip more. Research shows that some 80 per cent of gappers raise the money for their trips themselves, so it really does seem that finding the funds is part of the experience.
Working for themselves
The most obvious way for an 18-year-old to raise the money to do a backpacking trip or a volunteering placement is to get a job.
But what kind of work? Most future gappers take work in supermarkets, bars and call centres. Office work is okay too, but shift work is usually the most preferable as there’s often the possibility of extra work.
As you can guess, as well as saving the money itself the experience of working hard for something you want is a worthwhile life lesson for teenagers. Much of modern life is designed to get what you want with as little effort as possible. This experience will be extremely valuable.
Fundraising the money – budget for a gap year
If your child is interested in doing charity work abroad or some other kind of worthwhile volunteering on their gap year, they might be able to raise money through fundraising.
There are literally hundreds of ways to fundraise travel money, but the principle is basically the same: people will give you money for doing something silly that embarresses you and entertains them!
For example, you can be creative and start a football fundraising event to raise money.
Sometimes it might not even be necessary to do any kind of ‘stunt’ – just letting people know that they’re doing some worthwhile work will be enough to encourage donations and part-fund your child’s trip.
Applying for grants
In certain circumstances your son or daughter might be able to apply for grants. It’s unlikely that your child will be able to raise all of the money for a gap year through grants, but certainly there’s the potential to generate a significant amount.
Often corporate organisations will have aims and objectives to fund and help young people doing worthwhile charitable work, and your child might be offered a few hundred pounds in exchange for doing a talk or report of their experience when they return.
Budget for a Gap Year – Getting sponsored
There’s a more commercial route that can be taken when raising money for gap years. If your son or daughter is doing a road trip or runs a travel blog, they could raise funds for their trip by offering sponsorship and advertising.
Companies might be willing to pay for their logo to be on the door of your child’s car, or a banner on their travel blog.
Obviously it will be up to your child to ‘sell’ themselves and convince any advertisers their brand will be seen by potential customers!
Selling their stuff
During their teenage years people collect an assortment of things that they no longer need as they move onto the next phase of their life.
It’s likely that your child has amassed a war chest of CDs, DVDs, video games, clothes and jewellery that they don’t want any more. Selling this through auction sites like eBay can raise hundreds of pounds towards a gap year.
As a bonus it clears out the house so mum and dad don’t have to spend years storing unloved possessions in the garage…
Making a plan
No matter how your son or daughter decides to raise money for their gap year, it’s important that they make a plan to stay on track.
There are two stages to the plan: pre-travel and mid-travel. The fundraising plan needs to create a realistic road map to raising the amount of money that is needed for the trip your child wants to do.
The mid-travel plan is equally important, and needs to outline how much is needed for day-to-day living, plus reserves for one-off experiences like safaris or skydives or day trips.
Read more about gap year costs: http://www.prospects.ac.uk/gap_year_costs_and_fundraising.htm
Learn more about volunteering abroad placements specifically: http://www.originalvolunteers.co.uk/
About the author
Andrew Tipp is a writer, blogger and editor. He’s spent more than a year backpacking and volunteering abroad, and used to work as a site editor for travel advice and community website gapyear.com.
Budget For a Gap Year is a feature post