Finance your gap year

Gap year costs and funding – advice on saving, budgeting and getting paid during your year out.

Fruit picking If you’ve decided a gap year is right for you then as well as finding an internship or planning your travels you’ll also need to prepare yourself financially.

Going travelling?

What you’ll need money-wise depends on the kind of gap year you’re planning. For those aiming to go travelling, you will need to seriously think about your budget and work out exactly how much you need to have saved up before you go.

“It is important to budget for your gap year and work out how much you will need for the basics – flights, accommodation, food – and how much you will need for the fun stuff,” says Emma Jones, Author of Gap Years - The Essential Guide.

“Take into account where in the world you are travelling to and always overestimate. Balance this against the amount of time you will be working – here or abroad, and any savings you already have. Most gap year work is low paid as you will be doing unskilled jobs and usually for just a short amount of time,” she explains.

“Make sure you allow plenty of time to fundraise for your gap year,” continues a Raleigh International spokesperson. “Work out what you need to live on and make sure you look for any hidden costs such as visas, vaccinations and kit.

“Living costs vary from country to country so do your research beforehand to make sure you don’t get caught out. If you are going with an organised scheme find out how much it will cost and what is included in this cost. If they are a charity like Raleigh International you will be able to fundraise the money you need.”

Internships – Working during your gap year

Working during a gap year could form a sensible part of your plans, with Glassdoor stating that the average industrial placement salary is just over £17,000 (December 2016).

“Unlike many gap years, doing a Year in Industry (YINI) will earn you a salary. You therefore won’t need to fund this year and in fact it could help support the years at university,” highlights the National Director of The Year in Industry.

“Many companies also offer paid holiday work and see our scheme as part of their graduate recruitment process, and around 25 per cent of our students will be offered sponsorship by a company.”

Finding grants and bursaries

Many students may need financial support to make their gap year dream a reality and there are several organisations out there that can help financially.

The best place to start is to head to your local library and look through the Directory of Grant Making Trusts to search for grants from funding bodies, charities and grant making trusts. Also take a look online at the Directory of Social Change Grants for Individuals [new window].

Just some examples of organisations out there that can help include the Prince's Trust [new window], which offers development awards of up to £500 and Raleigh International [new window] which offers a bursary award open to anyone undertaking one of its expeditions.

The IET can also help. It offers two travel awards of £500 every other month to anyone who would like to broaden their professional experience through undertaking a study tour, working in industry or attending a conference. Head to the IET travel awards website [new window] for information on applying.

Further information on gap year costs and funding can be found at Prospects [new window], the UK’s official graduate careers website.

Originally published 2012, last updated July 2017