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How to Take a Gap Year when You Can’t Afford to Travel

By Nomali Cele


The results are in. You did all you can do in your matric year and, regardless of your level of satisfaction with your results, the matric part of your journey is done. If you had unsatisfying results, this is how the supplementary exams work. Right! So you’re a learner post-matric but for a combination of reasons (financial, mental health-related, or other) you’re unable to get on a tertiary education path. Your late teenage years will always be a strange time to be making decisions for the rest of your life. Sometimes a break is in order.

At this point in your life, you’ve probably heard people talking about their gap years. How they plan to travel to a foreign land, have new experiences and find themselves. It sounds nice but it’s probably something you wouldn’t be able to sell to your parents or guardians, let alone afford to do.

With this in mind, how do you take a  gap year when you can’t afford to travel? And can you learn anything from the experience?

how to take a gap year on the cheap, how to take a working gap year, how to take a gap year if you can't afford to travel


If you have caught the wanderlust bug, this could be right up your alley! Whether working on a cruise ship or as part of an airline’s cabin crew, you will get to travel while earning money. Be warned, though, that when working, you rarely get to see the cities you’re in. But this is countered by the number of travel discounts and perks (especially when working for an airline) that you will get. Youn then use those perks to


Au pair

What you need to be a successful au pair:

A love for children

Must drive

Have first aid and CPR skills


Au pairs are people who, for a specified duration (generally after school) make sure that children are fetched from school, taken to their after-school activities and that their homework is done. You can be an au pair in your own city or move to a different country with a family that’s trying to maintain normalcy for their children.

Being an au pair in a different country is exciting because you will get to explore the city you’re in, meet new friends all while your living expenses are taken care of and you’re earning money. Working as an au pair locally will ensure that you have half your days to yourself while earning money and learning interpersonal skills. Even working as a local au pair, there are still travel opportunities.

READ: How to Deal with Bad Matric Results

Test your industry

By the time you reach matric, a few things are true: Your opinions about important things such as politics and equality are formed, you’ve known since you were, at least, four what you wanted to “be” and you’ve changed your mind countless times what it is exactly you want to “be.”

So before you invest in a (sadly) expensive education, why not spend your gap year getting to know your industry of interest? Most industries have learnerships where you’re allowed to learn some of the technical know-how you need to do the job. However, other professions require you to get the degree first.

Did you know that testing the waters in your industry can launch your career? Organisations such as Livity Africa and Umuzi are all about empowering young people who want to break into the media and advertising industry.


There’s probably no way that you’ll be able to sell your parents or guardians on the idea of you just taking the year off and simply doing nothing. These gap options create a balance by covering your desire to do something different while allowing you to earn money, which should keep your parents from worrying that you are throwing your life away.

Written by: Kayafm Digital

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