You have slaved away your school holidays working to save up for that ideal gap year, the results are out and you are ready to plan for the next adventure.
But money is tight for everyone, especially a young adult like yourself, so you need to know what will work best for you.
We broke down some of the key costs and visa requirements for some of the top gap year destinations in the world to help with budgeting for those expensive memories. This includes estimates for flights, visas and daily food expenses. With many gap year programmes accommodation is included and rent varies from city to town so that was left out.
And if you’re one of the lucky ones whose parents are up for sponsoring a year of ‘finding yourself’ then why not try all of them?
Flights are one way tickets to main airports
Exchange rates are from 16 August 2019
Number one on the list, with cheap flights and low living costs (that exchange rate ain’t too bad either), Thailand’s biggest attraction is teaching English at schools. Their visa process is also super easy and you don’t necessarily need a degree to teach.
Exchange rate: ZAR 1.00 = THB 2.03
Flights: R4 800 to R6 500
Visa: If you’re going to teach, you need a non-immigrant visa single entry,which costs R950 and lasts for three months. You can extend it after you’ve arrived in the country and settled in at your job.
Daily Food Expense: R250
Down Under is one of the most expensive places for South Africans to visit, but it also means you’re earning in a stronger currency, giving you a chance to save big bucks for when you go home. Australia also has a special visa for gap years that makes it easier to get into the country. Just try and keep your lovely South African accent intact.
Exchange rate: AUD 9, 642 = ZAR 1.00
Flights: R7 000 to R10 000
Visa: You can get a working holiday visa for $440 (about R4 670) if you do your application online and it lasts a year. Be sure to check their various work visas if you have an employer already lined up that can help get you a better work visa for cheaper.
Daily Food Expense: R490
Another country popular for teaching English and a nice exchange rate, Vietnam offers more benefits like free accommodation and health insurance for paid work, though you are required to have a degree already. You also need to have a job already lined up that can help you with your work permit and visa, but other than that it’s smooth sailing to the Land of the Dragon.
Exchange rate: ZAR 1,00 = VND1 524
Flights: R5 500 to R8 600
Visa: You need to get a work permit and a business visa, but these are normally organised through the company or school that will employ you. The price for the business visa varies depending on length of stay and you have to contact the Vietnamese embassy to get a quote.
Daily Food Expense: R150
South America is never the cheapest place to get to when it comes to flights from SA, but once you’re there living expenses are quite low. Luckily for us, Peru loves South Africans and has a visa-free policy for up to six months! That’s ample time to explore the country and maybe learn a few extra words in Spanish as well, amigo.
Exchange rate: ZAR 1.00 = PEN 0.22
Flights: R10 600 to R20 500
Visa: You do not need a visa for Peru for stays of up to 180 days, which you can do if you are going over to volunteer. However, if you are going over to work, you need to contact the embassy for details on a work visa (it’s in Spanish but Google translate will help you out.)
Daily Food Expense: R160
United States of America
Don’t let Trump stop you from living out your American Dream fantasies. Though the exchange rate may give your wallet a stroke, there are many work holiday placement programmes that help South Africans get a job to help make up for the initial expenses. The important thing is to read through their visa requirements with a keen eye and book a return flight, and prepare snarky comebacks for those ‘Where is South Africa?’ questions.
Exchange rate: USD15.22 = ZAR1.00
Flights: R8 600 to R10 800 (LA) and R5 300 to R7 500 (NY)
Visa: For the USA, you can obtain a J-1 Visa that works as an exchange programme, but you have to go through a sanctioned placement organization. If you want go on your own mission you can also apply for a temporary workers visa. Fees are between $160 - $180 (about R2 160 – R2 430), but check their website to see what works for you.
Daily Food Expense: R600
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