What to Do on a Gap Year With No Money

person on a cheap gap year

You might be hustling and shuffling to make ends meet dreaming of that next great getaway. Or maybe you’re doing overtime in the library to finish that degree. Both? We feel your struggle and can testify that it is indeed real. The bustle of a busy life rarely seems to give you a break. So why not hit the road and take a cheap gap year? Because, yes — it is possible!

person on a cheap gap year
If you put in the research and planning, you CAN take a cheap gap year.

But now you’re wondering what to do on a gap year with no money, right? There’s often this connotation that you must have a lot of money to travel. If you’re only looking to fly tip-top class and stay in the most exclusive bungalows, then yes, yes it is. If this is the case, you probably won’t be reading this article anyway. But for the rest of us in the majority (aka the 99%), it’s false. 

Traveling can be real cheap and still comfortably correct. A gap year with minimal money is possible, and we’re here to help you with some of the know-how!

What to do on a gap year with no money

1. Volunteer 

Not sure what to do on a gap year with no money? Volunteering for part of or during your entire time abroad is an altruistic option. This might not be exactly free, though. If you go through an organization for a volunteer placement you’re going to pay a little.

The good news is that these fees usually cover your housing, meals, and administrative support to get you off the ground and in your host country. Not sure where to go? Maybe one of best places to volunteer in Europe! Who knows — maybe you’ll find yourself there next year.

2. WWOOF it!

person sitting on a peak in norway
Consider WWOOFing, and this is what you could be doing during your down time.

This has nothing to do with a barking dog that we know of. If you haven’t heard this term before, well, now you have. It stands for WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms (more like, WOOoF, if you’re looking to get technical). Anway, we shall not digress. This is how to take a gap year with no money!

This international organization has partnerships all over the world with enticing destinations for you to ponder. For example, check out this WWOOFing opportunity in Norway. What’s the kicker? In return for free housing and meals, volunteers donate their time to an organic farm. Each cultivator has their own terms and conditions, but ask anyone who’s done it and they will tell you it’s a really good deal.

3. Work

Wondering what to do in a gap year with no money? Let’s be real clear and state the obvious here: search for work. Find yourself a J-O-B and make the dough while you’re on the fly. Many folks that take a gap year do so with the intent to work. And those that party too hard their first month in Thailand usually realize that to sustain themselves, they need to work. Join the club! 

Working abroad is a superb way to immerse yourself in a foreign culture, improve your language skills, and perhaps gain some useful professional experience. Whether you’re a barista or studying for the bar exam, just about any job you could find at home exists abroad. And then some. Considering South America? Check out some of these paid opportunities in Argentina

Depending on how you look at it, a year can be a decent chunk of time. Maybe you’re not looking for a full-time gig, so a part-time position might be a perfect fit for yourself. Take a gander at some of these jobs and work abroad opportunities to start brainstorming.

4. Study a language

Consider studying a foreign language during your cheap gap year! You can register with a program that will organize your housing, help out with any administrative legwork, and provide around-the-clock assistance, but maybe you don’t know all the bells and whistles. Check into alternative ways to study the language of your dreams!

What could that look like? Maybe you can organize a language exchange with someone who wants to learn English (and trust us, someone absolutely will!) and in return they can help teach you their native language.

Don’t expect everyone else to do the work for you though. You will certainly need to start grammar exercises and pick up vocabulary on your own. If you’re thinking about Japan for your gap year, consider checking out tips to help you find cheap language schools in Japan. And then, devise your own strategy.

5.  Become an intern

Still wondering what to do in a gap year with no money? Why not a paid internship? Interning is an excellent window of opportunity into a new culture while collecting reputable professional experience along the way.

Imagine taking a year off to intern abroad to improve your skills and give yourself brighter prospects for your professional future. A gap year doesn’t always imply a year of wandering around the globe. Put your skills to good use to hone and obtain new ones.

6.  Teach abroad

person sitting on top of a car looking at stars
Go teach abroad during your cheap gap year, and you’ll learn a thing or two yourself.

This is another way to while away some time during your gap year with minimal money on hand. And a rewarding one at that. Why not volunteer to teach abroad? From adults to children, there are gobs of volunteer positions abroad to teach English.

Still wondering what to do on a gap year with no money? Well, opt out being a volunteer teacher and instead, find a job teaching. Teaching abroad can help you earn a decent living to support your cheap gap year. Sure, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so this is a way to pay for your own.

Don’t forget that many positions require a TEFL certification. The good thing? Certified teachers generally earn a bit more. Invest a little to increase your earning potential, folks!

7. Conduct research

Why not take a break from traditional studies and gain field experience conducting research? On the ground, out in the wild, or equally probably, in a controlled laboratory environment. One way to do so is to find an academic or professional expert who studies whatever you’re interested in and drop them a line.

Reach out to a professor in the respective department of your uni to see if they have any leads or contacts for you. They might need a research assistant with your street (or school) cred. If you already have a project in mind, you might consider applying for a grant to fund your research abroad, like the Fulbright Scholar Program. Yet another option on how to take a gap year with no money!

8. Stay home and take care of business

This is always an option, too. A gap year doesn’t have to be far, far away. Maybe you need some time to take care of personal matters or just want to give yourself a break. Well, take it! Like in policy, the “do nothing” option is indeed always an option.

Sometimes it’s just what we need to make a professional or academic move. You can still study a language, volunteer, or intern at home. The possibilities are really endless, and going abroad is an option that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Get your gap year money with FMT

Why not phone some friends and family, or even strangers on the web for a hand? It doesn’t cost you anything to ask for a little help. Create a FundMyTravel campaign to help off-set the cost of your gap year. Need money for a passport and that one-way ticket? Tell us about it! Tell them all about it! Crowdsourcing is better than sliced bread. You don’t have to pay for a thing nor do you have to hit your local grocer. It’s simple: create your account, explain what you need funds for, and share it. Don’t wait any longer — start fundraising now!

You CAN take a cheap gap year

person wading through river
Gap year money? Heard of it. But you don’t need it!

Heck, you might even be paid during your gap year. No money? No problems. There are plenty of stimulating ways to have a cheap gap year abroad. Money doesn’t need to be your determining factor. It also doesn’t have to be a dull, boring gap year if you’re short on cash. Make it an exhilarating one with some of these fresh ideas!

Create a Campaign for Your Gap Year with FundMyTravel

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