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How to Make the Most of Your Gap Year on a Student Budget

Charlie Stirzaker·Sep 14, 2023

If you’re desperate for a break from the conventional path of studies, a gap year is the perfect way to open a world of new opportunities!

Studying abroad is an exciting way to discover work experiences like no other and develop life skills that are sure to put you in good stead in the future.

Whether you’re taking a gap year midway through your studies or you’re craving a well needed break to enjoy yourself once you’ve graduated, we’re here to give you the ultimate guide on how to make the most of your gap year, whatever your plans and budget.

What’s in This Guide?

Navigating Gap Years on a Budget

Financing a gap year can be a challenge, but with some careful planning and a bit of creativity, you can enjoy a gap year like never before! We’ve found some ways you can get your finances in check so that you can live your best life and embrace new opportunities during your gap year.

  • 💰Part-Time Employment: Working part time will not only give you enough money to enjoy yourself during your gap year, but you’ll also receive well needed work experience which can be added to your CV.
  • 🛒 Sell Second-Hand: Selling second hand is the perfect way to earn some quick cash on items you no longer need. Whether you’re downsizing your bookcase or selling unwanted clothes, selling second hand is the perfect way to transform your unused treasures into a steady source of income.
  • 🏦 Savings Accounts: Start by saving money well in advance of when you are planning to take a gap year. There are plenty of online banking accounts which offer you APR on their savings accounts, making them the perfect solution for achieving your saving goals and improving your money management skills.

Planning your Travel Adventure

Looking to take a break from the classroom or office? A travel adventure is the perfect way to take a time out and explore new cultures and prioritise your personal growth overseas. Travelling abroad during your gap year allows you to broaden your view of the world and immerse yourself in new languages, cultures and traditions. 

Step outside your comfort zone and gain valuable experience and skills when you travel abroad during your gap year. We’ve picked out some of the most popular destinations across the globe that are budget friendly and offer an abundance of opportunities.

  • Australia: If you’re looking for short term employment opportunities and a working holiday visa, Australia is the perfect place for you. With employment opportunities available in bars, hostels and more, you can earn money and work experience on your travels whilst exploring the wonders of being down under.
  • Thailand: A popular choice amongst volunteers thanks to its cheap accommodation and opportunities to assist orphanages and teach English to locals. Apply for a teachers work permit today and embrace Thai culture.
  • Spain: Whether you’re seeking some sun during your gap year or looking to improve your Spanish speaking skills, Spain is a great place to spend time abroad. With a vibrant nightlife and plenty of work opportunities, Spain is the perfect place to study and work abroad if you’re on a budget.

Become the best version of yourself when you step out of your comfort zone and take on new challenges. Ultimately, gap years are all about personal development and nothing stands out more on a CV than an experience abroad.

Here’s our Top 4 Tips on how to best prepare for your GAP year:

1.📝 Visa Application Top Tips

  • Make sure you research your destination and become familiar with the Visa requirements at your destination.
  • Secure a job offer in a field that matches your interests and make sure the job aligns with the Visa requirements.
  • Provide evidence of your savings. Planning a gap year takes time and it’s important to have some emergency funds incase anything unexpected happens.
  • Make sure you are insured for the entirety of your gap year.

2.💰Budget Accommodation 

You’ve found a job overseas and your visa has been approved, now it’s time to find accommodation that doesn’t break the bank. Whether you’re looking to couchsurf, meet new people in hostels or you’re looking for an independent studio where you can relax, there are so many options available for bargain prices.

Discover all the cheapest hotels and hostels on sites like, plus you’ll also find cheap apartments to rent when you check out airbnb. There are many work-exchange jobs available too, this is where you’ll work abroad in your gap year and in return your employer will give you a place to stay. It’s important to plan your gap year in advance so that you know how much money you’ll need to live in your chosen destination well before you start earning cash on your trip.

3.💸 Earn Money Abroad

There are plenty of ways to earn money abroad, whether you’re looking for part time jobs behind a bar, volunteering, creating vlog content along your travels or working remotely.

We’ve found some of the best paying jobs that are sure to help you enhance your CV and gain some well needed work experience in your chosen field.

  • 🏖️ Work in a Holiday Resort: There are loads of jobs available in holiday resorts which require little to no experience and are an easy way to make some quick cash. Whether you’re a lifeguard sitting by the pool, working behind the bar, a rep at popular party holiday destinations or offering airport transfers, there’s loads of ways you can make money when you work at a holiday resort.
  • Bar Work: Another way to fund your gap year is by working in bars and restaurants. Enjoy the sunshine throughout the day and earn a living through the night. With flexible hours and the opportunity to pick up a rewarding tip, bar work is a popular choice for students looking to earn a side income whilst enjoying their gap year. 
  • Sell your Photography: If you’re travelling and you have a passion for photography, why not combine your passion with the need for income and start selling your photos online.
  • Become a Ski Instructor: During the winter months people around the world flock to the slopes. If you’re well skilled in skiing you can offer your services and become a skiing instructor, allowing you to enjoy your time on the slopes and earn money at the same time.
  • Work Remotely: Offer your skills and work from home with freelancing. Save on commuting costs and enjoy flexible working hours. Working remotely is a great way to stay in control and manage your time and workload during your gap year.
  • Find an Au Pair: An au pair is when a family welcomes you into their home and offers you a place to stay. In return you must help out around the house with housework and nannying. Au Pairing is a unique way to experience everyday life in a different country.
  • Internships: Explore internships related to your field of study and apply. These internships often come with a salary that covers your cost of living whilst your there and are a great way to improve your skills in a work environment.

4.✈️ Study Abroad

Studying abroad during your gap year is a great way to enhance your education, explore new horizons and embrace new cultures. Shape your future and meet new friends when you choose to study abroad. Your university will offer study abroad opportunities in a number of countries, as many universities have partnerships with overseas universities.

Not only will you make lifelong memories, but you’ll also have the chance to network with people which will be valuable in your future career as you’ll have international contacts you can trust in the same field of work! 

It’s important to start saving if you’re planning on studying abroad as the current student loan does not pay for your fees. However, experiences abroad are invaluable when it comes to employability and you’ll be sure to stand out from the crowd when it comes to application processes for your future career.

Maximising your Gap Year for a Secure Future

Your gap year isn’t a pause button, it’s a springboard for later life. The idea of rushing into a career for many can be daunting, and if you’re looking to bide some time before you make your decision a gap year can be the perfect solution. 

Not only are gap years fantastic for learning advanced skills and meeting new people, but they are also great for stacking your savings up so that you can stand on your own two feet before you take the next steps on your career path.

There are many benefits from taking a gap year, whether it be positive business ventures in the meantime, a reduction in money related stress in later life or even the ability to be able to build up an emergency fund in case your career plans don’t go the way you imagined them.

Long-Term Plans

If owning your home is a long term goal, a gap year can help you save money for a deposit on your first home. Employment during a gap year will also improve your credit score and put you in a great position for a more favourable mortgage rate. 

Financial Planning for Higher Education

Your gap year will help you explore potential career paths and help you gain clarity about where your career path will take you. Along with this, you’ll need to make sure your finances are in check so that you can enjoy your academic journey that little bit longer without the stress of juggling work in between your studies. Start saving money during your gap year and reduce your stress load further down the line.

Launch your Career with CV Crafting and Work Experience

Gap years are a great chance to gain real world work experience, develop your skills and craft an appealing CV before you launch your career. Set yourself up for a successful career and invest in your future when you join internships and grasp local opportunities that are sure to put you in good stead for your future career.

Here are some top tips to help you make the most of your gap year whatever your plans:

  • Travel as a Volunteer: Volunteering abroad is the perfect way to expand your horizons and meet new people. Teaching English is a popular choice amongst students who decide to volunteer abroad. There are plenty of opportunities available, whether it be in the healthcare or environment sectors and you’ll gain valuable international experience.
  • Freelance Freedom: Offer the skills you’ve learned over the years and build your own portfolio when you choose to freelance during your gap year. Whether you’re skilled in writing, graphic designing or even web development, there’s plenty of opportunities when you become a freelancer. Join websites such as Fiverr and explore endless remote opportunities and earn money your way.
  • Improve Skills with Online Courses: Enroll in online courses, enhance your knowledge and improve your skills. Whether you’re taking an online course on Microsoft software, learning new languages, or taking health and safety training, you can be sure to add some value to your CV when you pass an online course.
  • Document your Progress: Documenting your gap year doesn’t just have to be writing down all your experiences. Try taking pictures, create blog posts and vlog your journey. Vlogging your gap year experiences is the best way to showcase your skills and confidence to your future employers!

Explore your Creative Side

A gap year is the perfect opportunity to unlock your creative potential and take a break from your academic routine. Whether you’re looking to bring out your artistic side, join local theatre groups, or create your own side hustle that will make you a new income to help fund your gap year adventures.

When creating a side hustle it’s important to consider your interests, that way making money will feel less like a chore. Many students have turned to Content Creation as a means of income, whether that be through streaming their favourite video games online, or by sharing their life experiences on TikTok. Create content you enjoy and start earning commission, and if you fail to make money at least you’ve had some fun!

In a digital age not everyone can be successful online, that’s why it’s important to learn multiple skills that will not only help you earn money, but also improve your employability. Selling services is a great way to make money online, whether you’re taking photographs, taking spray tan bookings (yes it happens!) or selling cakes on social media, there’s a side hustle for everyone.

Save with NetVoucherCodes

So, now you’re clued up on all the in’s and out’s to your upcoming GAP year, it’s time to start preparing. That’s where we come in!

First up, head straight over to our Traveling on a Student Budget Guide to find tons of ways you can budget your finances and travel affordibly. You’ll even spot our travel guru, Ellie talking about her recent adventures exploring Asia & Australia and sharing her top student travel tips.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and book your tickets, look no furhter than our Travel Category. As well as tons of Student Discounts, you’ll find loads of travel discount codes helping you save money on flights, accomodation, package deals, train journeys and so much more.

And for more tips on travel currency, using your mobile abroad and all that important stuff, we’ve covered all that and more in our How to Save Money Abroad Guide.

And finally, Happy & Safe Travelling✈️🌎!

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