Unlike most teenagers on a gap year, I did not start my gap year in September, and therefore did not have the opportunity to get a job and save up any cash. As a result I began my travels with a grand total of zero pounds to my name. I started my university course in September, and over the following few months realised that I had chosen the wrong course and needed to change. Over the Christmas period I therefore decided to put my studies on hold and set off to do some globe trotting.
With the balance of my bank account at the time, my options for getting out and starting were very limited. I needed to find a way to travel that costed absolutely nothing. I took to the web and decided that the best path to set off on was au pairing. As I did not have enough money in my bank account to get myself a working visa for somewhere like Australia or the US my search was limited to within Europe. Straight away I decided to narrow my search to Italy, by far my favourite European country, but any country would be equally as good. I’d just like to point out at this point that I had no prior knowledge of the language, definitely do not let yourself be put off visiting a country for lack of speaking the local language. I also had no prior experience of looking after children and no specific skill set that would make me particularly employable. I will write a separate post on how to find your perfect au pair family and how to make yourself desirable to them. Now I needed a £120 starter to pay for my flights out to Italy, specifically Sardinia, (the picture featured above is from the day I arrived in Sardinia, on one of the many beautiful beaches here). I used my overdraft from my Santander student account, but if you are starting without an overdraft as part of your bank account I would recommend pleading with your parents for a little loan, as you can easily pay this back in a couple of weeks. As a guide, au pairing for me pays £300 a month and I have my accommodation and food completely paid for and sorted so this is pretty much all profit. I am out here in Sardinia for 3 months meaning that by the time I return home, I’ll have just under £900. You will find that whilst you are abroad, you will have plenty of time to do some extra work during the days, (especially if you find a family as amazing as mine) and I will write a separate guide to working in a country where you don’t speak the language.
When I return from Italy, I will be using the money I earned to go to Thailand and travel around there for just under a month. I found my flights to Thailand for £320, using the wonder that is http://www.skyscanner.net. And as accommodation and general prices in Thailand are incredibly cheap, this means that my earnings from Italy will be more than enough to cover everything. I will do a separate guide to travelling Thailand on a budget when I get to that point.
Another great way I’ve found to earn a lot of money in a short period of time in order to get your bank account a bit more travel ready, is to apply to work at Wimbledon. If you have tennis skills that’s brilliant and there’s some roles that require tennis knowledge, if not don’t be put off because there’s lots of roles that require no knowledge of tennis whatsoever (e.g. catering). I’m sure if you have a specific interest in a different sport there will be similar opportunities working for big events but Wimbledon is a particularly simple one to apply for, just google “working at Wimbledon” and you’re away. My friends who have worked there previous years have earned around £1300 in two weeks. Not shabby at all. This is even better if you can find someone to stay with for free around this period of time, so I’m staying with one of my best friends from uni who’s also working at the competition, another cost managed and it makes it more fun.
From here on out you can pretty much go wherever you want to go, you have a few different options for getting out there and travelling, all you need is a bit of hard work and the courage to jump into a completely unknown situation. I will continue to keep everyone updated on my travels and where this adventure takes me. Hopefully it’s been useful.