Before You Forget: 3 Must Haves for Your Adult Gap Year
Wanna go travel for a year? Sounds amazing right?
But before you pack your first bag or buy your first ticket you have some work to do.
Traveling for a grown up gap year requires careful planning and strategizing. What to pack, and what to leave behind were definitely questions I struggled with (I’m no Marie Kondo - everything bring me joy).
But there are a few things you should NOT go on a long trip without and today we discuss the most important ones.
Fee-free bank account
I have a checking account with Charles Schwab, and it has saved me so much money and time during my adult gap year. I never worry bout finding a money exchange, and about the rate they are charging when I get to a new country. I simply walk out of customs, go to the nearest ATM in the airport and take out as much cash as I need. (My rule of thumb is to take out the equivalent of $100 the first time - Globe Convert helps me figure out what I need.) .
I don’t pay Charles Schwab a fee to access my own money, and any fees charged by the local ATMs are reimbursed for me. This is so much more convenient and safe than trying to carry enough cash to cover your trip from the start of the trip.
My last tip was to save you money, but this one is gonna make you spend it. Buy travel insurance. Do it. Please. Do it for me. Do it for your family. Do it for yourself. Before I started this gap year I purchased an annual plan that covers me for all trips of 60 days or less during a one year period. I selected that over a plan that would cover all trips during a year, regardless of the length of the trip because I’m cheap, and my plan was thousands less than the other plan.
Slow down, don’t freak out when you see those numbers. I paid about $249 for travel insurance for a year, and it’s totally worth it for me for the peace of mind it creates while traveling abroad and anything could happen on your grown up gap year. I won’t get into the long list of misfortunes it covers, but I’ll leave you with this - if you know how much it would cost your family to bring your body home if something terrible happened, you wouldn’t think twice about getting a policy.
A good international phone plan OR the time and patience to get a SIM card in every country you visit.
I definitely got the former, because I don’t have the latter.
When I first set out on my mid-career gap year, I had a Verizon phone plan. And Verizon, while great in the US, is trash overseas. Don’t get me wrong, the service is excellent, but the price is no bueno. Verizon charged me $10 for E V E R Y D A Y I used ANY data. So I never used any data, because why… Say it with me…Because I’m cheap.
I switched to T-Mobile because they had a global plan that was comparable in price to my Verizon plan. YAY! I could use unlimited data overseas. Only to find out that by data, they meant my internet usage would be powered by an old guy on a bike riding as slowly as possible. Seriously, it should not take more than a minute to load every single page I tried to open, but that’s what I had with T-Mobile’s plan. Turns out they had a much faster Global plan, but guess what, I had to pay $50 more a month for it. This truly blows. But it is what it is, and I coughed up that extra $50 a month to T-Mobile.
I spent the majority of this trip moving quickly from one country to the next, If I was slow traveling (spending months in each country) I would have just ditched my US cell number and gotten local SIM cards for significantly less money. But when I’m moving quickly and don’t have a lot of time in each country, the last thing I want to do is to spend my time in line at the airport getting a SIM card. I’ve also arrived late at night and early in the morning when most businesses were closed, and I’m paying more for a US cell plan so I don’t have to deal with the hassle in every country. Choice is yours.
These are all options for you, and I’m not one to tell you what’s right for you (unless you want me to, then just hit me up and let’s discuss your life Iyanla Vanzant style - “Look at your life”), I’m just here to tell you to consider all your options and weigh them carefully before you start your gap year journey.
For peace of mind, these three things should definitely be addressed before you travel abroad on any trip, but definitely before your mid-career gap year. You’re supposed to be out in the world having fun, not worried about fees or bills. Your needs may change as your gap year progresses, but adjusting over time is easier than not having a good plan from the beginning.
If you’re interested in more detailed mid-career gap year planning contact me to discuss the services I provide.