How to fund a gap year (whenever you take it)

6 min | 20 March 2023

Emmy Jenkins

Whether you’re a student, on a sabbatical or planning a retirement trip, a gap year can be a wholesome, life-changing adventure. This guide gives you ideas on how to generate some money to travel the world and stick to your budget, no matter what stage of life you’re in.

Bear in mind you may need public liability insurance for some of these activities suggested.

6 ways to help pay for your gap year

1. Declutter your life

Consider selling possessions that you won’t need on your trip. Focus on those that could fetch a decent price first.

Take the opportunity to rid yourself of clutter. Sort through your belongings and sell your old clothes, electrical items and homeware online or at a car boot sale.

2. Host events in your local community

If you’ve got a skill or expertise to share, offer paid-for workshops to your local community, like:

  • teaching computer skills to senior citizens
  • hosting business seminars for aspiring entrepreneurs
  • teaching practical skills, like DIY, gardening, sewing or cookery
  • leading exercise classes, walking groups or yoga sessions

If you’d rather not take a teaching role, start a club or one-off event based around a theme. Charge a joining fee that allows for you to cover any costs and make a bit extra for your travel fund:

  • create a parents' brunch club
  • organise business networking sessions
  • start a hobby meetup group, like ‘Knit and chat’
  • build an amateur sports league
  • host an open-mic night, poetry slam or local music festival

3. Generate rental income

Rental revenue can give you a stable income both before you leave and while you’re away. You could:

  • Take in a lodger before you go. This can be taxable income, although HMRC Rent a Room Scheme (Opens in new window) relief can apply
  • Let your house while you’re away (if your mortgage allows this), remember rental income is taxable
  • Lease your car via a peer-to-peer car-sharing website. Check that your insurance is valid
  • Rent your driveway through a parking space app
  • Rent your garage, spare room or garden shed as a workshop, office or storage space

Check if you need your mortgage lender's approval and also check your insurance coverage. Because these can give rise to UK tax, consider your tax position.

4. Build a side hustle at home

Consider the skills you already have that you could spin into a money-maker.

Are you a keen cook or a brilliant baker? Look into selling your baked goods online or the feasibilities of branching out into catering. Got green fingers? Try growing fruits, vegetables and flowers in your garden, then selling your produce at your local farmer’s market, greengrocers, from home or even online.

Income from a business or trade is taxable, although the UK has trading allowance for trading or miscellaneous income up to £1,000 per year. If you decide to go down the baking or catering route remember to read up on food safety (Opens in new window) guidelines.

5. Take a redundancy payout

If your company is downsizing and you've always dreamed of travelling, now could be the time to go. If the numbers make sense, it could be the perfect time to accept voluntary redundancy and use some of the payout to fund your trip.

6. Create a passive revenue stream

A passive revenue stream is a business that operates automatically. With the right passive income channel, you could potentially make money before you leave and generate travel funds on the go.

Let’s say you’re an illustrator. You could build an online shop that sells T-shirts featuring your artwork. To do this, you’d upload your designs to an online marketplace that links to an online printing store. Once a customer makes an order, it’s sent directly to the printer, who prints and ships it to the customer without you lifting a finger.

A reminder that you should also consider your tax position on extra income.

How to avoid sneaky gap year costs

Before you work out a budget for your 'adult gap year' make sure you've accounted for surprise costs, like:

  • browsing premiums: when buying flights, insurance, activities and travel gear online, use a private browser. As Louis Bridger, ex-GM of International Currency Exchange (ICE) explains, “Airline websites use cookies to collect information about your user history. If you’ve searched for a flight before, this information can be used to influence the price you’re given for a flight.”
  • high prices for new gear: instead of shopping new, buy second-hand on online marketplaces and travel forums
  • luggage fees: If you buy clothes or souvenirs while on your trip, don’t get caught out by luggage fees on the way back. Always weigh your bag
  • high phone bills: check the roaming packages for your phone before you leave – including how they vary in each country you're visiting. The right roaming plan could be cheaper than using internet cafes
  • bank fees: find a bank that doesn't charge for using your card abroad. Before you leave, check to see if you'll be charged for using ATMs or paying by card
  • exchange rates: find out if it’s cheaper to exchange cash before you go, take cash out abroad or pay by card when you’re there

What now?

Before you jet off, check visa requirements for the countries you are visiting. Then it's worth putting together a trip itinerary and a budget. Start by sketching out essentials, like travel insurance and daily food, accommodation and travel costs – bearing in mind that rates will vary depending on where you visit. Then add in some buffer to pay for the fun things you'd like to do on your trip.Lastly, be sure to include an emergency fund for those unexpected twists and turns.

Now that you know the costs, you can get stuck into some creative fundraising ideas and make your dream trip a reality. You could keep your money in an easy-access interest paying account such as the Chase saver account1 until you need it.

118+, UK residents. A Chase current account is required to open a saver account. T&Cs apply.

More reading

The new way to bank

Get to know the Chase current account. It's packed full of rewards and clever features that we think you'll love.
Explore the account