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Great Gap Year Hunt

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Overseas Holidays & Travel Planning
37 replies 16.6K views
MSE_MartinMSE_Martin MoneySaving Expert
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Overseas Holidays & Travel Planning
Plan your gap year carefully and hopefully all you’ll come back with is dreadlocks and a piercing, rather than a massive credit card bill.

Whether you’re having a year out before uni or taking a well earned career break, I want to find MoneySavers’ top gap year tips.

Can you organise your own volunteer placement, to avoid spending £1000s on a structured scheme? Also, is it possible to combine trips to exotic climbs with paid work?

Please put:

The Gap Year Idea
Where is it?
How much does it cost?



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Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at www.moneysavingexpert.com/tips.
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Replies

  • gribs_2gribs_2 Forumite
    19 posts
    Have a look at "Overland Travel" companies. I did a load of trips using this form of travel. Usually, you get a kind of a cross between a jeep, a bus and a military personnel carrier. You turn up at a pre arranged destination with your backpack & sleeping bag and meet your fellow passengers. The bus/jeep has shared tents, cooking equipments etc... The trips are usually between one month and 3 months but can take as long as a year. The longest I did was from Dover to Katmandu, but the best was from Nairobi to Cape Town.

    They're pretty cheap and safe for young 'uns. At the end of the trip, you can carry on travelling to somewhere like Australia fo some apple picking work or something. I used this firm for my Africa trip:

    http://www.absoluteafrica.com/

    and this one to go to Katmandu:

    http://www.dragoman.com/

    Dragoman is more expensive and the other travellers were a bit dull... Absolute Africa was cheapest (£900 for 12 weeks) and was much more fun.

    If you look in Wanderlust magazine, they're always advertising fro people to work on these trips, so you can effectively do them for free!
  • amyparramyparr Forumite
    256 posts
    These websites all offer information on volunteering for FREE or VERY CHEAPLY in foreign countries:


    http://kidsworldwide.org/home.htm
    http://www.childrenwalkingtall.com/Volunteering.htm
    http://www.volunteeringinindia.org/

    South America:

    https://www.lifeargentina.org (Argentina)
    https://www.amanecer-bolivia.org (Bolivia)
    https://www.cenitecuador.org (Ecuador)
    https://www.voluntariosesperanza.org (Chile)
    https://www.perukids.com (Peru)
    https://www.cieloazul.org (Ecuador)
    https://www.nphamigos.org (Bolivia, Peru+)
    https://www.foxacademysucre.com (Bolivia)
    https://www.otracosa.info (Peru)
    https://www.streetkidscusco.8m.com (Peru)
    https://www.hampy.org (Peru)
    http://web.imige.cz/followyourdreams/index.htm (Peru)
    https://www.safepassage.org (Guatemala)
    https://www.fundacionsantamartha.org (Peru)
    http://ayni.footboot.net (Peru)
    https://www.f-h-n.org (Ecuador)
    https://www.centromuchachotrabajador.org (Ecuador)
    https://www.casa-guatemala.org (Guatemala)
    https://www.streetschool.net (Guatemala)
    https://www.animalaware.org (Guatemala)
    https://www.aktenamit.org (Guatemala)
    https://www.hogarjuanpablo2.org (Peru)
    https://www.aldeayanapay.org (Peru)
    https://www.volunteersouthamerica.net/ChildrenInternationalEcuador/cie_index.htm (Ecuador)
    https://www.volunteersouthamerica.net/HogarSantaMaria/hsm_index.htm (Peru)
    https://www.chicosdelacalle.org.ec (Ecuador)
    https://www.secretgardenquito.com (Ecuador)
    https://www.neweragalapagos.org (Galapagos)
    https://www.cmmb.org (South, Central America, & Worldwide)
    http://www.peruincasexplorer.com/en/texts/41 (Peru)

    Alajuela: https://www.hatchedtoflyfree.org

    Latin America: Centro del muchacho Trabajado - https://www.cocoliso.us


    Paying for a placement has it's advantages:

    - In country support
    - Pre-departure support
    - Other volunteers who speak English
    - Organised adventures
    - Charitable donations

    But can also have disadvantages:

    - Poor accomodation/food which you've already paid a lot for
    - Stranded without the support you thought you'd paid for
    - Too many other volunteers who speak English
    - Over organised adventures
    - Vanishing/wasted charitable donations


    I personally have opted for a paid placement with the non-profit gap year company Outreach International to work in a school in Cambodia. I've never travelled in South East Asia before, so I thought that this would be a good way to do it. I prefer having the in-country support, language training and organised work placement, but for more experienced travellers, doing something like the things listed above might be more suitable.

    I hope this helps someone :)

    Amy
  • shantishanti Forumite
    280 posts
    I went backpacking around the world for a year and found that even when staying in hostels the price of accomodation can really add up. I worked in quite a few hostels for a few hours per day and got free accomodation in return. If you are going to australia there is a scheme called WOOF (Workers on organic farms) that you can sign up for and again work for free bed and food on farms etc. Be careful with the woof thing though as some farms and eco lodges really work you to death!
  • twr18twr18 Forumite
    38 posts
    I'm not taking a gap year, but am going travelling in the summer between Sixth form and Uni. I looked at alot of places, and they all are very expensive. I couldnt find a decent volunteer organisation that actually discounted the cost, you had to pay £1000+ and still volunteer which is a rip off. Looked at America, Africa, Asia and Australasia.

    https://www.madventurer.co.uk are however a very good organisation and do trips all over the place. They are aimed at students whereas with overland tours you get all ages, which may/may not be a good thing for you. Dragoman is based just 5 minutes down the road from me in a very rural area of Suffolk, which is a strange place to run it from!

    In the end I decided to go to Europe. I got a £30 flight to Rome on 10th July and pre-booked a hostel from https://www.hostelworld.com, I will then go to Florence, Split in Croatia, Prague and Berlin although I havent booked anything else as I like to keep my options open! I've worked it out and it should be around £200 for accomidation and another £200 for transport for 3 weeks, plus food and spending money. Will hopefully get away with £500 for the whole trip.

    In my opinion you tend to get a few "daddys girls" on the foreign volunteer trips, give him something to talk about during tennis at the sports club. This is simply because it costs so much. The alternative is saving, but I cant see how many 17/18 year olds can afford £1000+ trips just before Uni.
  • amyparramyparr Forumite
    256 posts
    I think maybe that is a bit of generalisation about the "daddys girls" - the majority of people on these trips are people who have had part-time jobs during school, or who have worked after uni to afford them. If you go to gapyear.com there is a forum there with tonnes of people who are working their socks off to go on a round the world trip. The forum's also really useful for all kinds of info on travelling and gap years.

    Although the cost can seem quite high, I do think that it is worth the money. Going to Cambodia on my own does seem like a pretty daunting task - I don't know the language or anyone there. For about £2500, I am getting all of my accommodation and food paid for me for three months, a placement organised, an in-country rep who I have been emailing already, and the company of 6 other people in a similar boat to me.

    Last summer between my 2nd and 3rd years at Uni, I travelled round Europe for three weeks, visiting Paris, Brugges, Amsterdam, Berlin, Dusseldorf, and Paris again at the end. It cost me a total of £565 including an Interrail ticket, all of my accomodation etc. It did not however include food or spending money (which definitley adds up!). I stayed in the cheapest accommodation available to share with 2 friends in hostels and low star hotels (if they were cheaper than hostels) which were OK - as you can imagine the quality of the rooms was on the poor side! If you visit cheaper countries in Eastern Europe, I'm sure the cost would be less. Also, if you stayed in dorms with 6+ people you will also save money (although I didnt really fancy this). I would recommend doing a similar thing to me, although it will no doubt cost quite a lot for a few weeks - I think my trip to Cambodia is probably better value for money seeing as it will cover 3 months.

    Best Wishes,

    Amy
  • mookiandcomookiandco Forumite
    1.3K posts
    I took a gap year and did voluntary work with coommunity service volunteers.

    https://www.csv.org.uk

    I worked for 6 months at a residential school for autistic children and children with speech and language difficulties.

    It was the best 6 months of my life. I learnt so much and also got qualifications in sign language. It was also highly thought of with potential employers.

    They paid a small amount for your food and travel but as i was having meals there and staying there, it soon mounted up.

    I would thoroughly recommend this organisation as they try to match you with a project based on your interest, time you can invest and where you want to go.

    You could do this and also spend some time travelling before you start or after.

    It is always great to give something back as you might not get such an opportunity again.
    Proud Mummy to Leila aged 1 whole year:j
  • There is a directory of free and low-cost volunteer opportunities
    in South America here:
    www.volunteersouthamerica.net

    Some of the programs listed offer free food and board to longterm (3+ months) volunteers, others charge local prices (between USD $150 and $400 per month) for live-in food and accommodation.

    All the programs listed on the site require you to pay for your own flights, insurance, jabs etc.
    But this goes for the "structured" volunteer programs as well, even at the top-end, the prices you see advertised normally don't include flights.

    Free/independent volunteer programs exist everywhere, they are just very difficult to find on Google and other internet search engines.

    A couple of other sites that list free/cheap volunteer opportunities worldwide:

    https://www.truetravellers.org
    https://www.independentvolunteer.org

    HTH
    Steve McElhinney
    https://www.volunteersouthamerica.net
  • My daughter made a lot of money by working as a chambermaid in the Alps (in her case the French ones) during the ski season in her gap year. She got her job through an agency. It was very, very hard work (but good for her French). Sadly she blew all the money she'd made and more by going to Canada in the summer on a student work scheme. There are only so many ice cream sellers that Canada can absorb! She had a great time though...
  • Annie_FannyAnnie_Fanny Forumite
    1.2K posts
    [QOTE]In my opinion you tend to get a few "daddys girls" on the foreign volunteer trips, give him something to talk about during tennis at the sports club. This is simply because it costs so much. The alternative is saving, but I cant see how many 17/18 year olds can afford £1000+ trips just before Uni.[/QUOTE]

    In direct response to this....yes of course there will be a number of 'privileged' people on these trips BUT if you use that as an excuse to put you off then ultimately it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy! And as these trips are all about people from different backgrounds coming together and learning to get on then I think you are being prejudiced! I went on an expedition with Raleigh International on a bursary as part of their Youth Development Programme and as a 'working-class' 18 year old from Hull it certainly opened my eyes to meet the 'haves'! The whole experience certainly equipped me with the skills to deal with people from all walks of life - the 'haves AND the have-nots'.

    Also yes a 10 week expedition with Raleigh International is nearly £3k which is expensive but the emphasis is on fundraising this money which in turn equips you with even more skills and the knowledge that you can do this.

    My time with Raleigh International was absolutely amazing. I feel 'privileged' to have gone on expedition with them.
    "Debt makes plans for you" - A quote from my friend Catherine. How true!
  • shanti wrote:
    I went backpacking around the world for a year and found that even when staying in hostels the price of accomodation can really add up. I worked in quite a few hostels for a few hours per day and got free accomodation in return. If you are going to australia there is a scheme called WOOF (Workers on organic farms) that you can sign up for and again work for free bed and food on farms etc. Be careful with the woof thing though as some farms and eco lodges really work you to death!

    Speech-Mark-Left.gif

    WWOOF also exists in New Zealand and many other countries.
    https://www.wwoof.org/

    While in New Zealand with my girlfriend we spent 1 week each month on one of these farms in different places. That meant we could do things like shark diving and afford extras which would have bust the budget (£3,500 for 5 months).

    Every farm we stayed on was fantastic, hard work sometimes but that's what you're there for. To get rewarded with free accomodation and good food more than makes up for it and it was wonderful to get to know kiwis and their family life. It also helps you get accomodation in places off the beaten track like Great Barrier Island (our host took us round loads of different beaches every day, and she was a chef!). Made many great friends in the process and would recommend it to anyone.

    Best budget dinner too - a jacket potato with beans and whatever other leftovers you may have. I'm never going to touch super noodles again though!

    Speech-Mark-Right.gif

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