Wanderlust is the word used to describe the feeling of wanting to break free from your everyday cycle. This question has been asked often lately. How important is a gap year? It’s an opportunity to see what the world has to offer. This feeling isn’t uncommon, especially after the limitations imposed on most travelers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel Pulse highlights that 46% of Americans want their travels to provide new experiences for them. This can mean booking trips to lesser-known destinations, taking part in voluntourism activities, or just being immersed in local culture.
Some even take it as far as taking a gap year to visit all the places they want. But realistically speaking, this type of travel is not something everyone can afford; especially if they’re largely relying on credit. CNBC reports that US credit card debt jumped 18.5% at the end of 2022, with more users leaning on credit to afford increasingly expensive necessities such as food and rent. So before you pack up your bags and go, we encourage you to consider your financial status first.
How to Determine Bad Credit
Statistics say that one in eight Americans aren’t aware of their credit score. Moreover, one in four credit card holders doesn’t make it a point to review their card statements every month. However, it’s not that difficult to keep track of your finances. Credit users are entitled to a yearly free copy of their credit report from each of three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, or through paid providers like FICO and VantageScore. Credit scores are often considered bad if they fall below 670.
The Cost of Credit Checks
Another option is to undergo a soft credit check. According to a post on hard vs. soft credit checks by Upgraded Points, soft checks don’t affect your score negatively and will not show on your credit report. Soft pulls show the same information as hard pulls, which allows you to see your credit, loans, payment history, and any amounts that went or are supposed to go to collections. You’re also entitled to do multiple soft checks, so it’s a great way to check whether your efforts to improve your score are paying off.
Hard checks are performed when you apply for a rental, card, or application for auto, student, vacation, or personal loans. Unlike soft credit checks, these can lower your score by up to five points. The lower your score, the higher your chances are to experience trouble at the airport, getting a rental car, booking rooms, or even purchasing items cashless. It’s also important to note that travel and hotel credit cards will call for a good to excellent credit score.
The Effects of Taking a Gap Year to Travel
Taking a gap year to travel can be an incredible experience. But, gap year costs can vary greatly. It can cost a hefty sum even if you’re just traveling solo across the US. Google discloses $30,000 as the average spend per person for a year, give or take. Spending so much on credit without having a reliable source of income could be a risky choice. Besides the financial effects, transitioning back into the daily routine of school or work could be more difficult. It’s easy to get out of your regular studying and practicing your passions.
Working With Your Savings
If you decide that the cost of your gap year is well within your capacities, we still advise you to fully prepare for what comes next. You’ll need some time to apply to jobs or schools post-travel. Make sure your savings have that part covered as well. We also suggest traveling according to your budget. Opting for Airbnb over hotels, taking road trips instead of flights, avoiding tolls, and downloading coupon and gas-saving apps can be a great help in the long run.
Conclusion Of Taking A Gap Year
Ultimately, taking a gap year to travel is possible. A gap year is something that’s been done by many people before. As with all big life changes, preparation and wise decision-making are the key to helping you achieve your dreams. If you do decide to travel the country, start planning your budge. Save up as early as possible so you can get the most out of your trips. You should also get your credit score up as much as possible to get the best travel credit card deals, no-fee bank cards, and an overall easier time traveling.
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