Best tips to earn more cash for a gap year

If you’re planning a gap year, or you’ve got a child who is, here are lots of ideas for funding the trip, which anyone can do…

Millenial man golding a globe and piggy bank

The subject of earning money before setting off on a gap year is close to my heart, having recently waved my teenage son off on his gap travels, and having spent about two years watching him work and save like crazy to fund his trip. He trained to be a lifeguard, which I’d recommend every teenager do who lives near a pool. It turns out that that training leads to pretty good, above-average pay for a teenager.

But if life guarding is not your “bag” there are plenty of other ways to raise the cash for a gap year.

There’s the conventional and the slightly non-conventional route. Let’s look at both options:


⊗ You could work as waiter, a cleaner, in a fast food outlet, in a bar, for a temp agency doing admin or clerical duties, or in a shop or factory.

⊗ You could wash cars, walk dogs, design and sell T-shirts, make cakes and biscuits for a market stall, baby-sit, mow lawns, deliver leaflets and walk dogs. My son’s friends did all these things.


These “non-conventional” ideas are, in fact, fast becoming conventional!:

⊗ You could become a tutor. Where I live in the UK tutors are like gold dust. Good ones of all ages are snapped up by parents frantically looking to support their children before GCSE or A Level exams. If you can demonstrate that you know the subjects – and got good grades – and find it easy to build a rapport with young students, you’ll probably be able to tutor. You might not earn as much as an experienced tutor, but you’ll probably get more than pot scrubbing at the local pub.

⊗ Sell your clothes online on eBay or through Depop, which is a bit like using Instagram, but for selling clothes

⊗ If you can sing and play an instrument, busk! Just look at Ed Sheeran and George Ezra!

⊗ Get free stuff from sites like Freecycle and then sell the stuff you’ve picked up at car boot sales.

⊗ If you’ll be at home before Christmas and you’re crafty, get making gifts for friends and family: 1. it’ll save you a fortune 2. they might like to buy gift from you.

⊗ If you’re still at home after Christmas, ask your friends and family to give you their unwanted gifts, which you can sell for them and take a cut of the proceeds.

⊗ Hold a nearly-new sale. Ask your friends and family to bring their good quality clothing to you, which you’ll sell at an event organised by you. They pay you a fee to sell them and they keep the sale price.

Two young men break dancing
Busk or put on a show

Move and make (and save) money

One not so obvious way to make and save money is to move to where you’ll be travelling before you travel. It’s much less expensive, for example, to live in Mexico than it is in London, and provided you have an Internet connection there you can carry on selling your stuff or doing whatever else it was that you planned to do online.

Here are some online money-making ideas that you can do anywhere:

⊗ Sign up to do online surveys. You get paid each time you do them. Examples include Crowdology, Toluna, and iSay. For the low-down on doing surveys, read’s ‘Top 25 Online Survey Sites’.

⊗ Be a freelance content writer. This isn’t going to happen overnight, so develop your plan and ideas and contacts before you leave, then go at it when you arrive.

⊗ Sell your photos. If you’re good at taking photos and good and thinking up reasons why someone would want your photos you should be able to sell them via stock libraries. Sign up to the best ones before you go, such as Shutterstock and iStock. Spend some time looking at other people’s photos. Beautiful scenes probably aren’t the best sellers, whereas Christmas baubles available in June might be.

All kinds of photos are bought from stock libraries…not just pictures of the Grand Canyon or the Amazon Rainforest!

The temptation at 18-23 years of age is to go out and party, at least occasionally. But doing that can blow a month’s SE Asia of South America living expenses in one night! So, keep thinking about the end game, about why you’re working and try hard to focus on the party when you finally go on your gap year.

And, if you get really desperate, hand out Smartie tubes to friends and family and ask them to fill them with their loose change. You’ll gather much more than you ever thought possible!

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