Tips for budgeting and planning for gap year abroad

Atikeh Bana

Written by Frantzia Theodat | Photo Credit: Atkih Bana

So, you want to take a gap year. But how do you pay for it? Traveling or enrolling in a gap year program can cost a lot of money. Consider the following tips.

1. If you don’t have a bank account, open up a tax free savings account

That way, you’re able to save with higher interest added to your account based off what you’ve put in.

2. Start searching for jobs.

The job search is difficult and tedious, especially for those who don’t yet have any work experience. If this is the case, I recommend you work with employment service organizations. For example, AGILEC services is an Ontario employment centre. They help you with things like writing your resume, getting you in contact with employers, and coaching you through the interview process — all for free. You can also try asking your personal networks about job opportunities.

3. Ask your parents to contribute to the cost

If it’s a possibility, ask your parents to contribute to the cost. It may be hard, but if that’s an option, do it. Just make sure to clarify the expectations on both sides to avoid any unknown strings attached.

4. Set up a target for the amount that you’ll realistically need for your gap year

If you’re doing it in tangency with an organization, you should have an exact cost. If it’s independent, look up the places you want to go to and check the accommodation rates to get an idea of what costs to expect. Aim to save higher than necessary so that if an emergency comes up, you have nothing to worry about.

5. Notify your embassy in the country you’re staying in about your presence

If you are travelling, notify your embassy in the country you’re staying in about your presence. You can go on this site to register abroad for upcoming travel. Also, you can check the travel advisory from the Government of Canada before deciding to visit a country.

6. Buy a SIM card with a local phone company

When you arrive in a new country, you can buy a SIM card with a local phone company at the airport. I recommend a minimum 100 calling minutes for emergencies.

7. Download the offline MAPS.me app

I recommend downloading the offline MAPS.me app to help you figure out where you are. My first time taking public transportation in Senegal was a disaster. I got ripped off and played double the price for a minibus that I believed to be a taxi. Imagine my surprise when I saw 30 people get in, chickens being shared and people sitting on buckets on the bus in front of me. Worst of all, I didn’t know where to stop, so my dear friend used MAPS.me to help us find our location and get off at the right time.

8. Bring everything on this list

Important things to remember for travel:

  • Passport and two coloured passport photocopies
  • Bus/plane tickets
  • Travel itinerary
  • 100 dollars in cash from your country of citizenship
  • Visas
  • Government photo ID besides passport
  • Credit card
  • Vaccinations and international vaccination records
  • Medications
  • Small safe, preferably combination lock, for all the above

Keep in mind, some countries won’t permit you to enter into them without a certain vaccination and some vaccinations have to be given in doses over a few months.

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