BY TIM HEDGLEY, GROUP TRAVEL EDITOR
YESTERDAY was a big day for many students and it was filled with nerves and excitement as they received their A-Level results.
However, the happiness wasn’t shared by all – some students were left disappointed after missing the grades they needed for their preferred university.For those who fell short, all is not lost.
The travel money specialists No.1 Currency have compiled a ‘Gap Year Survival Guide’ for those preparing to pack their bags, not for uni, but for working their way around the world.
No.1 Currency is a leading provider of foreign exchange services in the UK. The company is currently expanding its operations across the country, operating in more than 100 stores and employing nearly 400 people.
They offer the widest range of currencies available, have market leading rates and charge no commission on transactions.
One very useful service they provide is the new Home Delivery service which allows them to order currency for delivery to their door by visiting https://www.no1currency.com/home-delivery/.
- 1 CURRENCY’S SURVIVAL GUIDE COVERS THE GAP YEAR PREPARATION PROCESS
- No. 1 Currency offers guidance on visas and work permits for thrifty student looking to work overseas
- The travel money specialist also advises buying currency in advance to avoid airport rates, and keeping cash safe and secure once you arrive
- Additional tips suggest how to find appropriate accommodation and navigate public transport during your gap year
Working abroad is a good way to make a gap year more affordable while meeting other like-minded people in an exciting new environment.
However, it’s not always as straightforward as turning up and finding a job – UK citizens have the right to work in any country in the European Economic Area without a work permit, but you might need to apply for visas and permits if you’re travelling further afield.
For example, New Zealand offers a working holiday visa scheme, as does Australia, but it’s considerably harder to get a visa for casual work in the USA.
Make sure you do your research at home for minimum fuss when you arrive.
Some organisations, like Work Away, give travellers access to an array of voluntary work opportunities that include free accommodation for a membership fee of £22, while Escape The City lists paid job opportunities around the world, rated on a spectrum of ‘safe’ to ‘wild’, so there’s something for everyone.
Deciding where to travel is one of the hardest parts of planning a gap year.
Your budget will play a large part in where you travel, so if money is tight you’ll want to think about where offers the best value.
In Vietnam, for example, a pint of beer and a meal at an affordable restaurant will cost you just 62p and £1.37 respectively, while the same in Australia will set you back £4.07 and £10.46 respectively, so your money can stretch a lot further in certain countries.
Recent research from Abta shows that Australia is the most popular destination for gap year students, followed by Thailand and the USA, but you’ll also want to think about what you want from your travels.
Fiji offers travellers an idyllic paradise of beautiful beaches and blue lagoons, while you can find full moon parties and learn to dive in Thailand.
Head to India for a diverse landscape and temples, or try Peru for jungles and Machu Picchu. Importantly, these destinations are popular for gap year students, so you won’t struggle to make friends to explore with.
It’s also worth taking into account any vaccinations you might need when travelling in certain countries as these often need to be arranged in advance, so do your research and get any medical appointments booked in early.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t take wads of cash away with you, as this can make you an easy target for thieves.
That said, it’s important to take enough cash to cover the first few days after you arrive and anything you might need in that time. Setting up in another country can be expensive at the beginning so make sure you are prepared for this.
Also, ensure you order any currency in advance from a specialist provider like No.1 Currency to avoid being ripped off by airport rates. Always be careful when carrying a larger than usual amount of money on you, and, where possible, try to lock it up securely (for example, many hostels have safes where you can keep valuables).
Depending on your circumstances, you may require different types of accommodation.
Hostels are a great way for solo travellers to meet other people who are doing the same, but this can mean sharing a room with a dozen or more other people, so bear this in mind.
Airbnb is another option that works well for groups of friends travelling together, or solo travellers with a more flexible budget looking for a relaxed, comfortable environment.
Couch-surfing is the most budget-friendly option, but tends to take a little more time to organise (and is probably the least comfortable!).
Travel & transport
Getting around in foreign countries can be a bit of a struggle, so if you plan on using public transport make sure you familiarise yourself with a city’s local transport system before arriving.
For example, some countries may offer money-saving incentives like travel cards or passes – which means more cash to spend on your travels.
One popular example is the Interrail Global Pass, which costs £200 for five days of travel through 30 countries over a 15-day period.
If you plan on driving while you’re away, make sure you have your UK licence and always ensure you take out appropriate insurance if you hire a car.
Terrorism blights the world now and many tourist destinations can and have been targets.
So before you go check out the Irish and British foreign offices for consular information to make sure its safe to travel. If a consular office deeps it not safe to travel then there is a fair chance you insurance will not cover you to be there.
Probably the single most important thing you need to pack is Insurance. Don’t assume your European Health Card will cover everything.
It will cover some costs in hospitals but not all and it won’t fly you home.
I know there are many insurance companies out there and they are only as good as the service they provide when things go wrong.
I travelled to France in June and a vein in my leg burst, I lost a lot of blood and was rushed to hospital.
I had Multitrip.com insurance and all I can say was they were amazing, there are other insurance companies out there, but you have to go with what you know and they looked after me expertly.