This photo was used under the Creative Commons license curtsey of Flickr.com
Most gap years are seen as yawning black cash holes which you have to save up for over the course of a year of poverty. Act a little savvy, however, and you could find that you can leave with little cash in your pocket and come back with a lump sum.
The beauty of this option is that you can do it virtually anywhere you like. While many people choose to do volunteering abroad in developing countries, there are plenty of paid options too. Japan is a popular destination, and is a good choice if you’re desperate to visit because the country is expensive to travel around otherwise. Saudi Arabia will offer the highest paid jobs and you will benefit from a fascinating insight into a very different way of life. Russia is perfect for those looking for more adventure travel in their gap year as the general lawlessness is not for the fainthearted!
The general rule of thumb with regards to salaries is that you will be better paid if you’ve graduated, and even better paid if you have a teaching qualification. Some countries don’t require any qualifications past A-Levels, but if you want to improve your opportunities, you can get various TEFL qualifications before you leave. Courses range from a super speedy weekend course for under £100 to more thorough month-long courses complete with real student sessions.
Doing a ski season
Even if you’re more snow bunny than experienced powder warrior, there are still opportunities to do a ski season. Chalet work can involve cooking, reception and cleaning, and is therefore relatively easy to get into. You get paid around £110 take-home pay per week for a chalet host role, which is on top of board and food – it’s hard work but can be really rewarding if you give it a chance. You can also get work at the slopes, preparing equipment and selling lift passes among other things.
Of course, if you want to be out on the white stuff all day, you can’t get better than an instructor job. These are open to experienced boarders and skiers, and are understandably in high demand. They are also the best paid jobs, with full-time instructors in Austria getting around €1000 per month. Don’t undertake this sort of project lightly: it costs a lot to get certified, so your gap year is likely to become more of a gap decade.
Freelance translation work
If you’ve got another language under your belt, you can make good money on the move with just a laptop and internet connection. There are countless freelance websites that you can register on for free and start building up a portfolio of work. Take time to do this before you leave so you know the ropes.
In some instances you may be approached by someone looking for someone to do some translation, but at the beginning you will most likely be bidding on jobs. Pay varies from the pitifully small to sexily large amounts. Don’t even bother with jobs paying less than £10 per thousand words (and that’s pushing it!) – the employers will be looking for very poor writing indeed, and it won’t be something you want to put on your CV, unless you’re really desperate!
It would be a shame to give up on a gap year dream for financial reasons. While backpacking might initially seem like a dreamy option, it can be a little too awe-inspiring to have all that freedom in one huge chunk. And don’t worry about not having much fun: working doesn’t mean that you won’t have time for an adventure holiday of a lifetime!
Lalage wishes you many more adventure holidays under your belt.