Plan Ahead for a Trouble Free Gap Year

Sunday, July 24, 2011

CHESTER, England, July 25, 2011 -

  • Offers Ten Top Tips for Gap Year Travellers This Summer

With many ‘gappers’ starting to plan their trips this summer, Bob Atkinson, travel expert at moneysupermarket.comoffers ten top tips to help those travelling to spend their money wisely and keep safe abroad.

1. Taking cash and prepaid cards abroad

If you rely on the bureau de change at the airport, you could pay a significant amount more for your currency, around £9 for every £100. Buy cash online before you go and if you need to exchange currency while away, shop around to find the best deal. Alternatively pre-paid cards are a great alternative to cash. Many offer competitive exchange rates on foreign currency and some come without the sting of withdrawal and purchase fees. The lack of credit facility on these products means you can’t spend more money than you have, helping you budget when overseas. For example, Caxton FX currency cards have no charges for ATM or purchases abroad. However, if you make sure you use a card which is designed for the currency you are using, otherwise you could end up paying additional fees.

2.Carry the right cards

Credit cards - Having a credit card in your wallet offers an invaluable degree of flexibility and safety in an emergency abroad. For example, the Halifax Clarity credit card offers a flat rate of 12.9 per cent APR on all transaction and can be used anywhere in the world without incurring any fees on cash withdrawals or purchases. Think about how you will pay off you card while away - either set up a direct debit to pay off in full each month, or make sure you have online access to your account.

Debit cards - Try to secure a debit card that doesn’t charge for purchases and cash transactions abroad as these small fees can soon mount up. Norwich & Peterborough Building Societies Gold Classic debit card for example, offers no withdrawal charges, retail transaction charges or handling fees.

3. Budget, and be aware of overdraft charges

Decide on a total budget you are looking to spend. Bear in mind that this will need to cover your travel and taxes as well as transfers, accommodation costs and food. If you are planning to use your overdraft as a back up, make sure you’re aware of any charges and make sure you stay within your authorised limit. Keep track of your spending by registering for online banking, or use a banking app.

4. Check your travel insurance

With policies ranging widely, it’s crucial to check the small print to ensure you are correctly covered for the trip. Most people may think they are covered under annual travel insurance, however this only allows customers to be away for 31 to 45 days per single trip, despite permitting multiple holidays. There are specific back packer policies for trips of more than one month and up to one year, which become void if you return to the UK at anytime during your trip.

moneysupermarket.comrecommends at least the following level of cover:

  • £2m for medical expenses
  • £1m personal liability
  • £3000 cancellation - or enough to cover the total cost of your holiday
  • £1500 baggage
  • £250 for cash
  • Policy excesses under £100
  • Cover for scheduled airline failure and end supplier failure is desirable
  • Delay cover (e.g. £20/hour for first 12 hours).

5. Stay covered with EHIC and health insurance

If you are intending to travel in Europe without a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) you could end up facing a hefty bill if you need medical care while abroad. Medical treatment in the EU and EEAs varies from country to country as well as being very different to NHS provided care in the UK. An EHIC is your ‘pass’ to get free or reduced cost medical treatment in any EU or EEA country. Don’t view it as a replacement for travel insurance, and be aware that any non-essential care or emergency treatments can cost extra.

6. Using your mobile phone, tablet or PC abroad

If you’re using your phone, tablet or PC while you’re abroad, ensure you know what charges are being applied for calls, messages and data downloads, as costs increase significantly when you leave UK and European shores. Ensuring you are on a provider’s specialised overseas tariff is one way to reduce phone and data costs. Also use free internet wifi hotspots wherever possible to minimise costs.

7. Check passport and visa deadlines

Check your passport is valid for a minimum of six months after the date you plan to return to the UK. You should also check whether you require visas for the destinations you are planning to go to, particularly if you intend to work abroad. These can take several weeks to arrange and are rarely free so check with the relevant embassies as early as possible otherwise your travel plans may well unravel if you don’t have the right documents.

8. Keep emergency numbers

Make sure you have all your details and numbers recorded, in the case of emergency. Keeping a note of cards numbers, ticket numbers, travel insurance details and telephone numbers such as your bank, insurer, or the British Embassy could be vital in time of need. Keep a physical copy of these numbers and a copy online which you can download in an emergency. Also leave numbers with a friend or relative in case you are unable to access them while away.

9. Using your driving licence abroad

If you intend to drive, you may use your UK licence for driving in other European Community/EEA member states. However, individual member states may apply their own age restrictions for entitlements and you may need additional documentation so check first. Outside this area, an International Driving Permit translates your driving license details into several other languages. An IDP costs £5.50 and you must be resident in Britain, have passed a driving test and be over 18 years of age - many countries insist you have this document before you are able to drive.

10. Protect your day to day affairs while away

It is vital you deal with your domestic arrangements when away. If you leave your house empty for the duration, you will need to inform your home insurance provider and discuss the implications of doing so. For those away for a long time, consider renting out your home for an additional income, and this can be done through a management company or family member who can look after everything. Ensure you have set up arrangements for bills to be paid and that you have access to your accounts via the internet when you travel.

Bob Atkinson, travel expert at said: “It’s not just school and university leavers who may be thinking about a gap year this summer. With more adults taking time out to travel and explore the wider world on a well-earned career break, or opting for a longer, more intrepid getaway, it’s vital that all those intending to make the trip consider all aspects of the gap year before they go.

“Planning really is the key when it comes to gap year finances and having the right products in your wallets can really save a packet, allowing you to make the most of the adventures while keeping covered. After all, no one wants to have to cut their trip short, or worse get stranded with no money, just because they didn’t plan properly.”’s customer commitment

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