Use these tricks and tools to save a boatload of cash on your gap year expenses:
- Save 90 percent on airfare by (1) using credit cards with reward points, (2) purchase tickets at least three months (or more) in advance or last minute, aiming to leave for both departure and arrival between Tuesday and Thursday, and (3) first use Kayak to obtain the cheapest departure date, second compare these rates against the airline itself, and third begin a bidding war on Priceline for an additional 50 percent off.
- For free long-term worldwide housing, check out Home Exchange, which lists more than 65,000 listings in more than 150 countries. Alternatively, you can use Hostels.com to search from over 33,000 hostels in over 170 countries.
- For cheap international calling, use Skype to call from abroad for $.02 to $.05 cents per minute.
Explore Current (Inexpensive) Opportunities
Consider these more-structured ways to take a gap year, both domestically and abroad:
- AmeriCorps: supports more than 75,000 Americans in an intensive service year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community organizations.
- Peace Corps: since 2015, nearly 220,000 Americans have joined this organization that immerses people in communities abroad to work side-by-side local leaders to help solve the biggest social problems.
- Service Year: designed by General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, this nonprofit aims to make a year of paid, full-time service an experience for one million young adults.