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Kids taking a gap year? Top money tips to help them on their way

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Written by: Rewan Tremethick
28/06/2016
If your children are thinking of taking a gap year it’s essential they’re prepared. Here are some top tips for your kids, whether they’re travelling, working or studying abroad.

Insure everything

Get the most comprehensive insurance package available; one that covers your health, your plane tickets and your gadgets by comparing quotes. Medical treatment abroad can be incredibly expensive without cover and most insurance companies will cover the cost of flying you home in emergencies. Losing your plane tickets could see you stuck abroad, which sounds pretty fun at first until you start to crave the things you’re missing out on back home.

It’s a good idea not to take all your electronics, but at least with insurance it’s not as bad if something happens to them. Just remember to back up your pictures and videos as you go, otherwise you’ll lose them if your device gets lost or stolen.

Look after your health

Preparing to look after your health while abroad involves a lot more than stuffing a bag with painkillers or plasters. Make an appointment to see your doctor and let them know well in advance that you’re going abroad. They’ll be able to advise you on the vaccinations you’ll need and when you need them. Some of the vaccines need to be administered weeks ahead.

Pack medication for the basic illnesses and ailments you might catch while abroad. These can seriously disrupt your trip if they aren’t dealt with quickly.

Have a plan and a budget

Unless money really is no obstacle, you’ll need a plan to help you keep your finances on track from the get-go. Arrange your trip in a logical order (so you don’t have to fork out for additional travel unnecessarily), have a list of all the things you want to do and allocate yourself a daily budget. Try and schedule it so that you mix the cheap activities with the expensive ones, so that even if you go over your limit one day, you can get back on track by being frugal the next.

Stay away from ATMs

Using your card to get cash out of an overseas ATM can see you being charged large fees for the privilege – ranging from 2% – 10% in total. If you’re using an ATM to withdraw foreign currency from your sterling account, you’ll be charged to do so and you’ll also have to deal with the exchange rate offered by your bank, which could be quite expensive.

In order to make your money go further, look into your options for accessing funds abroad – like using a specialist international payments provider which doesn’t charge transfer fees and is transparent about the exchange rate used, plus any minimum or maximum amounts that can be transferred. See YourMoney.com’s Ultimate money-saving hacks for holidaymakers and Prepaid cards: what are they and are they right for your holiday?

Get an international bank account

Getting hold of your (or your family’s) money while abroad can be tricky and expensive if you haven’t taken the right precautions. An international bank account will allow you to manage your money wherever you are and helps you avoid expensive fees. Barclays, HSBC, and Lloyds Bank all offer international current accounts.

These usually allow you to handle multiple currencies as well, so you can pay in your pounds and then convert it to the local currency as and when you need it. If your parents are prepared to support your trip, it might be worth them setting one up as well, then they can transfer money straight into the currency you need, saving you time and admin.

Consider a job abroad

If you’re planning on staying in the same place for quite a while, it can be useful to find some work, even if it’s part time. For one thing, it’ll reverse the trend of money leaving your bank account alarmingly fast. You could even use the money you earn to fund the next leg of your trip or extend the amount of time you can stay away from home.

Given the uncertainty caused by Brexit, visa restrictions and tax implications are likely to change for people looking to work abroad. In addition, visa restrictions will vary according to the country that you want to work in.

If you manage to earn more money than expected and you want to transfer it home, with some providers you’ll secure a better exchange rate if you move the money in one lump sum rather than in intervals.

You can also save money by using a provider which doesn’t charge transfer fees. Bank charges can vary from £10- £40 per transfer.

Leave the tech

Or, at least, be very careful what you take with you. The idea of going abroad without all your gadgets might seem horrifying, but the idea of losing all your tech abroad is even worse. If you’re travelling on a budget, staying in cheap accommodation and generally winging it then it’s especially worth making sure you don’t have much of value on you. This is also true if you are going to rural areas and plan on exploring the local landscape to the fullest.

Grab yourself an old school mobile for a tenner (or splash out £20-£30 on an entry-level smartphone if you can’t live without your apps) swap your sim and relax in the knowledge that all your expensive kit is safe at home.

Turn off your data roaming

A phone loaded with apps is constantly sending and receiving data, even when you’re not doing anything on the internet yourself. Make sure anything internet-enabled is set to send via WiFi only so you can turn off your data roaming. Check with your service provider what kind of overseas upgrades they offer.

Be aware of the local etiquette

It’s worth remembering when you encounter foreign cultures just how easy it can be to rub someone up the wrong way. Everyone makes the odd faux-pas, even in their own country.

However, each culture tends to have a handful of things that you would want to avoid if you don’t want to offend – although some idiosyncrasies aren’t likely to cause concern if you aren’t aware of them. Before setting off on your travels take five minutes to learn the big dos and don’ts of the country you’re visiting. The locals will appreciate it.

Rewan Tremethick is a currency analyst at TorFX

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