Fund Your Gap Year: Finding the Money to Travel

If you’re wondering how you’ll possibly find the money you need to fund your Gap Year, this post is the place to start. It’s an excerpt from the fantastic and FREE GapYear30 planning resource, provided by BootsnAll. There’s a parent’s version too!

When considering fundraising for your Gap Year, take a three pronged approach to finding the money to fund your adventure:

  • Reducing costs at home
  • Reducing costs on the road
  • Making money
  • Find scholarships and grants

Reducing Costs at Home

The first, and most obvious, thing you can do to find the money to travel is to spend less at home. Every dime you save is a dime in your travel piggy bank. Give up your morning Starbucks on the way to class, pack a bag lunch instead of eating out, and bank what you’d have spent on an expensive Friday night out with friends. For some of you, that alone could free up almost $100 a week!

Learning to live frugally at home and hold yourself to a budget will develop the skills you need to travel more, and longer on the money you have.

Reducing Costs on the Road

When you worked on your budget yesterday, it’s likely that you planned for airfare, hostel stays, and figured a daily amount for eating breakfast, lunch and dinner on the road. Just like at home, there are many ways to significantly reduce the cost of your trip, and some of them actually add value as well.

For example, reduce your flights by traveling overland as much as possible. When I had to leave Thailand to renew my visa, I flew to Hanoi, Vietnam, and then spent a month traveling back, overland, through Laos & Cambodia. Overland travel, especially by public bus instead of tourist transport, is the best way to really see the places you travel through and meet the real people who live there.

Instead of staying in hostels, at an average of $10 a night, for the seven months of your trip, look into WWOOFing, or volunteer opportunities that will provide room and board for a few hours of work each day. You’ll learn new skills, meet interesting people and often have the opportunity to really make a difference in the places you visit.

Eating street food is cheaper (and often better) than eating in organized restaurants. Buying your own food in local markets is an education in and of itself and will let you discover a range of new fruits and vegetables and experiment with preparing them yourself. When I travel alone, I pick up bread and fruit for my breakfast and picnic for my lunch from local market produce, then I budget for a nicer dinner.

Making Money

The most obvious way to make money is to get a job, or maybe two. Think outside the box and consider what you could be doing online that would make you a few bucks, even if it’s not big money. Save the Student suggest 40 Easy Ways to Make Money Quickly. After Globe suggests Ways to Make Money Traveling. Finding ways to make money online means that you can keep making it as you travel. That would be good, wouldn’t it?

Consider running an indiego-go campaign, or otherwise crowd sourcing your funding. If you put together a compelling pitch as to why you need this trip to push you forward in your education or your career, you’re likely to find friends, families and strangers who will get behind your endeavor. Especially if they see you working hard towards a dream.

Write letters to the people in your life who will be confused by an online fundraiser or with whom you don’t have contact online. These people include aunts and uncles, grandparents, and maybe even previous employers, club leaders, or counselors of some sort. Explain your trip and your mission and ask for their support in practical ways. Some people will say no, but others will say yes, and every little bit helps!

Apply for Scholarships and Grants

Did you know that there are scholarships and grants available for gap year travel? Yep. There are organizations that believe in the educational benefit of travel and are willing to help you get out there.

The Gap Year Association has a list of scholarship and grant options, including financial aid for college or university later that is available only to students who’ve taken gap years. (How cool is that?! I want to go to THOSE universities!)

Travel Access Project awards up to 10 grants for gap year travel, annually. They’re valued at $3000 USD each and are available to anyone planning a gap year, from any country. Applications are open now (February 2019) and are open every spring. Be sure to get on our mailing list for notifications of when applications open every year.

Go Overseas has a great list of study abroad and gap year scholarships that you can apply to as well. Be sure to check them out!

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