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Dreaming of an adult gap year? Do it for less, sustainably 

For many, the daily grind of the nine-to-five leaves us longing for more excitement and adventure, with the idea of quitting our job and travelling the world being a commonly held dream. And with summer now here, our urge to travel to far-flung destinations increases.

However, as we become more conscious of our travel choices and how they impact the environment, the trend towards sustainable tourism becomes ever more important.   

According to our research, taking a sabbatical and travelling round the world for a year whilst adhering to a sustainable itinerary will cost on average £23,269 – nearly half the cost a schedule that uses flights and accommodation which aren’t eco-friendly which will set you back an average of £41,182

Many of the savings in the sustainable itinerary are down to accommodation and sometimes food costs being wrapped into the mode of travel or experience costs eg. cargo ship, overnight trains, volunteer projects.

Our analysis, which calculated in-depth costs for transport, accommodation, food, popular tourist experiences and visas, looked at a round-the-world, eco-friendly itinerary covering 28 countries across five continents, found that using sustainable modes of transport such as trains, busses, boats and cycling saves approximately 7,781 kg of CO2 compared to 13,176 kg of CO2 which a more conventional trip would produce.

The theoretical route starting in London which spans 72,050km, crosses The Atlantic to the States by cargo ship, then heads south to South America by train – and for the more physically fit, it could even take in some of the country’s e-cycling routes – to San Diego before crossing the border into Mexico. This is then the gateway to travel through Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.   

From South America we cross The Atlantic by boat in order to explore Cape Town, South Africa, and from there, sail north-east across the Indian Ocean to arrive into Port Klang to experience Malaysia.

From this point, you can explore by train, taking in some of the islands before journeying north by train into Thailand and then crossing the Bay of Bengal and hitting the famed railways of India, before a hop across to Sri Lanka.

You can then take a boat directly from Colombo, Sri Lanka docking in Gioia Tauro, Italy and return to Europe. This then allows the traveller to use a mix of trains and buses to take in cities across Italy, Switzerland and France before eventually returning us to London. 

Along the way, various experiences which have minimal, or even a positive environmental impact were considered. From appreciating the colonial Spanish architecture and the archipelago of islets so rich in tropical flora and fauna in Granada, Nicaragua, a four-week eco volunteering program in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, to the Monteverde cloud forest of Costa Rica, or one of India’s many National Parks.

But this dream needn’t seem so far away if you have prudent financial planning in place and active savings and investments. Assuming an initial investment of £10,000, for example, you could save for your trip of a lifetime in as little as seven years by contributing £250 each month into a portfolio with a 6% ROI. This, in theory, would generate £40,000, enough for two to travel the world in style. Of course, performance varies over time and across portfolios, but this is simply an illustration of potential portfolio performance.

“Whether it’s choosing to stay in locally-owned lodgings, using public transportation or opting for carbon offset programs, people are looking for ways to make their travels more sustainable,” explains Chris Rudden, Head of Investment Consultants at Moneyfarm.

“No matter how you choose to travel, organising a year-long trip requires prudent financial planning well in advance as you will need to think about not only saving for it, but then compensating for the ‘missed year’ of salary and pension contributions.” 

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