Planning you gap year budget is one thing, but everyone always forgets about the pre trip expenses! Apart from the flight itself there are just some things that you can’t travel without. Make sure you plan accordingly and don’t get caught out by blowing your budget before you even get on the plane!
These are the expenses that will eat into your budget before you have even started your round the world adventure. Unfortunately as much as we may want to there is very little you can do about them, they are what they are, and they are necessary. So the best thing to do is proportion part of your budget specifically for them when you are saving for your trip.
This will probably be the biggest overall expense of your pre trip planning. There are plenty of great budget flights out there but in general terms long haul flights are expensive, and that is just the way it is, so no matter what you do you will have to budget for your flight costs before you even think about your daily busget.
There are a few ways to minimize the costs however. Flexibility is key, especially if you aren’t set on extremely fixed dates. Signing up to individual airline flash sale alerts and browsing agregate sites for deals are always a great idea as you can always grab an unexpected bargain. If you do want to travel on a rough date, looking a few days or a week on either side of the day you actually want to fly can sometimes save you hundreds of pounds too, and obviously try to avoid peak times like the summer holidays where they unfairly double or even triple the normal price. Odds are you will still pay out a fair chunk of your budget on the flights, but with good timing and a bit of luck, you still may be able to get a cheap flight.
A lot of backpackers, especially first time travelers, spend an absolute fortune on their kit before they head off on their round the world adventure. Expensive backpack, check. Whole new holiday wardrobe, check. The entire stock cupboard of the outdoor survival shop, check. You really don’t need to spend all that much at all. Obviously a few basics such as a good, solid backpack (but not necessarily the most expensive one), a good first aid kit, some mosquito repellent and a travel towel are generally good buys, but then a weeks worth of comfortable clothes suitable for the environment you are travelling in and a few other bits are all you need. I know all those expensive and flashy survival tools, camping gear and other bits that you see on the shelves of the outdoor shop look tempting, but unless you plan on roughing it in the jungle Bear Grylls style, you don’t need it so put it back.
I know, everyone hates paying for insurance, myself included. But it’s a necessity so just bite the bullet and do it. The best advice is to shop around and make sure that the policy covers your entire trip and everything you want to do in it. There is no point in paying for the cheapest, basic cover for a month when you will be away for six weeks and want to go mountain climbing which your policy doesn’t cover (yes, people do this and still assume they will be covered).
Depending on where you are going you may need to take antimalarials. If you do then you will obviously need to buy them and they don’t come cheap, especially if you are going for an extended period. See a travel health professional before you go to see if you need them or not, and if you do, don’t let the fact that you haven’t budgeted for them risk your health.
Non routine vaccinations, namely the ones that the NHS don’t give you automatically throughout your life but are still recommended for travel in certain parts of the world, are not free. You will have to pay for them. Prices range from approximately £40 to £100 GBP depending on where you get them and what you need, and if you need a few then the costs can really add up. I have heard the question ‘is it worth it’ so many times over the years, with backpackers choosing to take their chances without them instead with no problems at all, and the only answer I can really give to that is in the form of another question, do you want to risk your health for the sake of a bit of money?
I’m not trying to be a doomsayer here or deploy scare tactics to get you to spend money on vaccinations, in many cases they won’t be recommended for many travellers and the truth is the odds of you contracting many of the diseases are relatively low, in some more than others, but if you do get some specific diseases then the consequences can be quite severe or even fatal. As a health professional I can only ever recommend certain courses of action, although sometimes our recommendations are stronger than other times it is up to you whether you choose to follow the advice or not.