An Affordable Gap Year, Part 2

Photo: Courtesy of EnRoute Consulting

Julia Levine of EnRoute Consulting discusses affordable, varied and very exciting Gap Year Options. If you need assistance planning a gap year, or just have general questions on affordable options, contact Julia directly at EnRoute Consulting

An Affordable Gap Year, Part 2

In my last installment, I discussed affordable gap year options. In this article, I’ll go over a few tips to help those who are paying for their own gap year.

Budgeting: Developing a budget early on in your planning process will make everything a bit easier in the long run. Most parents are willing to put in some amount towards their child’s gap year, so sit down with your parents and discuss what they are comfortable contributing and what they expect you to put in. If they feel uncomfortable giving you a figure, suggest for them to donate to a specific aspect of your gap year, such as flights, vaccines or the program fee of your project.

Be realistic when budgeting for independent travel. You don’t want to run out of money on the road! Lonely Planet and other travel guides offer a daily budget suggestion, which is usually pretty accurate. Figure in extras like rafting or a nice meal, but be sure to give yourself some padding for the unexpected!
Saving: Many students choose to get a summer job during the summer leading up to their gap year. This is the perfect opportunity to save for your trip. Don’t spend too much before you leave! You’ll be happier spending that money on your gap year adventure.

Fundraising: First of all, only consider fundraising if you plan on full-time volunteering with an accredited non-profit or charity. Friends and family will not want to donate to that surfing camp in Costa Rica you really want to check out. However, if you are going to Ecuador to teach English or Nepal to work in public health, these are causes most people you know will be happy to contribute towards. Here are few fundraising strategies I’ve found effective:

1. Tell people what you will be doing and why. Don’t just say you’re traveling to Nepal. Explain that Nepal has one of the worst records in prenatal care for mothers and you will be working in communities to educate women about keeping themselves healthy. Give information on the background problem, and what you will be doing to improve the situation.

2. Start a FirstGiving.com page. FirstGiving allows you to create a webpage and have people donate online. This makes it easier for people and easier = more donations!

3. Utilize Facebook . Make sure to post your FirstGiving or other fundraising page on Facebook. Update friends with your goal and how close you are. People will donate if they know you’re getting closer to your goal.

4. Write well-written letters to local businesses. You never know who will donate!

5. Host a fundraiser. It’s a lot of work, but holding a Battle of the Bands or a quiz night in support of your project can bring in a lot of money at once if done properly. Enlist the help of friends and have fun while doing it!

6. Let the newspaper know what you’re up to. Hometown papers always need a good human interest piece. Tell them your story, and an article may stir up some donations!

7. Keep donors updated when you are on your gap year. Once people donate to your cause, you are obliged to let them know where their dollar went. Keeping a blog about your experience or e-mailing donors every month is a great way to make donors feel appreciated.

Hope that helps get your fundraising spirit motivated. Remember, with realistic goals and a solid plan of action, a gap year is within your reach!