Gap years: the cheapest destinations

AirportIf you're planning a gap year before going to university or prior to getting a job, the destinations you choose can have a massive effect on how far your money goes.

Traditionally school leavers have decamped to Australia and New Zealand for their gap year travels, tempted by the hot weather and lack of language barrier.
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But going Down Under can cost you a packet – not just in air fares, but due to the unfavourable exchange rate against the pound.

Where is the pound gaining strength?

According to research from travel money specialist Moneycorp and travel advice website gapyear.com, Brits heading off on a gap year over the coming months can make their money stretch further by avoiding the more traditional destinations and heading instead to Brazil, India, Nepal and South Africa.

The research looked at the 20 most popular destinations for gap year travellers, and compared destinations on the strength of sterling, and how the pound has performed against the local currencies over the past 12 months.

The table below shows the findings:

Ranking

Destination

Currency

% increase/decrease in strength of Pound vs Currency compared to 12 months ago

1

Australia

Dollar

0.03% increase

2

New Zealand

Dollar

3.82% increase

3

Thailand

Baht

2.66% increase

4

Cambodia

Riel

3.86% decrease

5

Laos

Kip

3.02% decrease

6

Vietnam

Dong

1.80% decrease

7

USA

Dollar

4.43% decrease

8

Fiji

Dollar

0.35% decrease

9

Malaysia

Ringgit

1.03% increase

10

Singapore

Dollar

1.15% decrease

11

India

Rupee

20.73% increase

12

Nepal

Rupee

21.55% increase

13

Argentina

Peso

5.72% increase

14

Brazil

Real

26.10% increase

15

Peru

Nuevo Sol

7.17% decrease

16

Indonesia

Rupiah

6.38% increase

17

China

Yuan

5.84% decrease

18

Japan

Yen

2.67% decrease

19

Tanzania

Shilling

2.71% decrease

20

South Africa

Rand

18.10% increase

Source: Moneycorp/Gapyear.com



As the table shows, the pound has soared 26%, 22%, 21% and 18% against the respective currencies of Brazil, India, Nepal and South Africa.

During the same period, the pound has weakened significantly against other currencies, making some popular gap year destinations far less attractive now compared to a year ago. For example, the pound is 4.43% weaker against the US Dollar and 5.84% down on the Chinese Yuan.

Where should you go?


However, this study is relative as it compares exchange rates to those of a year ago rather than the cost of living in each country.

For example, although the strength of the pound has decreased in Cambodia and Laos, these Asian countries are still some of the cheapest places to visit.

And although the pound has increased in strength against the Australian dollar, it is still an expensive place to visit.

But the study still gives a very useful indication of which places are becoming cheaper or more expensive.

So, are Brazil, India, Nepal and South Africa worth visiting?

Brazil

Great beaches, pristine rain forests and party cities such as Rio, as well as being the host country of the next OIympics – what's not to enjoy?

But although cheaper than North America, Brazil is still the most expensive country in South America. The Lonely Planet reckons you can get by on about US $50 a day if you keep an eye on your budget.

India

India's got it all – mountains, beaches, cultural diversity and crazy cities. It can be done on a tight budget or you can splash out on top-end hotels.

The Lonely Planet says mid-range hotels, decent food and travel by rickshaw or taxi can be done on between $40 and $65 a day.

Nepal

Wedged between the Himalayas and the steamy jungles of the Indian plains, this tiny mountain nation is popular with hikers.

If you stay in budget accommodation and stick to a predominantly Nepalese diet you could live in Nepal for $5 to $7 a day. Even a holiday of mid-range hotels and cheap restaurants will only cost about $20 a day.

South Africa

From hippos to penguins, South Africa is a wildlife lover's paradise. The country's still dangerous in parts but it's cheap enough to be able to stay in decent places and take taxis without breaking the budget. The Lonely Planet says mid-range travel will set you back about $45 a day.
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