With high unemployment, a gap year might be preferable until the job situation improves. The financial responsibilities of travelling require strict budgeting if you don’t want to find yourself stranded on the other side of the world requiring the help of parents.
Credit cards offer insurance on purchases, but can mean spending is difficult to control. Prepaid cards are ideal for gap year travel as there is no credit facility, so you can spend money without the risk of debt, yet at the same time the holder has the protection and flexibility of a credit card.
Peter Harrison, from price comparison site moneysupermarket.com, said: “Prepaid cards offer the best foreign exchange rates and anyone can have one. But you need to be sure to get one with the lowest fees. FairFX and CaxtonFX prepaid currency cards are currently the best in the market.”
The other advantages of prepaid cards is that should the ‘gapper’ run into financial difficulties their parents can top up the card from Britain. Mr Harrison warned travellers to beware of less competitive prepaid cards on the market that often have hidden charges such as an application fee, a monthly fee and overseas usage fees.
The Tuxedo Pay Monthly card for example, has a £9.95 application fee plus a monthly fee of £4.99. The onebanking Account prepaid card has an initial fee of £30 and an ongoing monthly fee of £12.95.
Discount cards can be applied for before leaving Britain and can significantly reduce the price of accommodation, travel and food and drink. The majority of gappers either camp or stay in hostels, and one of the most popular and widespread discount cards is from the Youth Hostel Association (YHA).
The YHA card gives access to more than 4,000 hostels in more than 60 countries. The benefit of staying in a hostel that is part of a chain means it is regulated to a universal standard, and you can ensure clean and safe accommodation. The YHA card, which you can apply for online is only £10 for those aged less than 25, and can save you up to £3 per person per night.
The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) offers the holder discounts at retailers worldwide, as well as restaurants, guidebook publishers and airlines. In order to qualify you must be a full-time student at a secondary school, sixth form or further education college or language school. The card costs £9 and can be bought online.
Don’t forget your cheap backpacker travel insurance!
You can purchase great value backpackers insurance direct at 24/7 travel insurance. For a 2-month trip in Europe, will cost you just £13.52* – a small price to pay to really enjoy your backpacking adventure all the more!
*Premium £13.52 includes Insurance Premium Tax based on an individual aged under 36 taking out a Standard Backpacker 24/7 travel insurance policy for 2 months in Europe. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (January 2010) and are subject to change.