How To Prepare For A Family Gap Year

How To Prepare For A Family Gap Year

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When we started planning for a family gap year, we knew that there would be lots to think about.  As time has gone on, it feel like more and more things have been added to the list.


WE have had to think about our home, insurance, schools, dentist and health appointments, storage, passports, visas, driving licences and all sort of other things.


With our big trip only a couple of months away, it feels like I have learn a lot, and I felt that it might be useful to show you what we have done so far to prepare for our family gap year.


What to do with your home?

This has been a main focus for us for the last few months.  We will be renting out our house and this meant that we had a list of jobs to do.


The other would have been to sell our home, and although this would have given us more money we wanted to have a home to come back to at the end of our travels.


Preparing Your Home

There are several legal requirements when it comes to renting out your home.  Firstly, you need to have smoke alarms on all floors, a gas safety certificate, an electrical installation condition report (EICR) and an energy performance certificate (EPC).


Luckily, for us we already had an EPC but the others needed sorting.  Most gas fitters and electricians will be able to sort your certificates for you and fitting a smoke alarm is easy enough.


We have also completed a few DIY projects and repaired a few niggly things around our home.  We did this for two reasons: 1) to make our home more desirable and 2) to reduce the likelihood of issues from our tenants.


Finding a letting agent

Next up, you’ll need to find someone to market your home.  We asked some friends for recommendations and chose a agency accordingly.  On doing some research, it seems that fees across agents were similar so I happy to choose based on a good review.


Marketing Your Home

The letting agent will come and take photos of your property and discuss and specifics of the contract, such as length, strat date and whether you allow pets/smoking.  After this your property will be listed and you can start making bookings.


We followed our letting agent’s recommendation on what we should ask for rent on our property.  On conducting our own research it seemed like I fair price so we were happy to go with it.


Choosing A Tenant

We have found a tenant for our property now and I am very happy with them.  They were very keen on the property and have good jobs and a young baby.  It gives me confidence that our house will be treated as a home.


It was a big decision to make and these people are being trusted with our most valuable asset, as well as our family home, so they had to be right.


Non-resident landlord

If you are going to be making an income whilst renting out your house, you will need to apply to the HMRC to get the full rent payment then return a self assessment.  The form for this is called a NRL1i.


If you don’t do this then your tenant will have to pay 20% of their rent directly to the taxman, which does not sound fun to me.


Consent to let

If you have a mortgage on your property like we do, then you will have to ask your mortgage provider if it is ok to let the property out for a short period of time.  This is because you have a residential mortgage and normally there are other mortgages for rental properties.


There are usually restrictions on when you can do this and for how long, such as not within the first 6 months of the mortgage starting and for no longer than 12 months.  But all being well this shouldn’t be an issue.


What to do about school?

Our children are quite young, but Emily is due to start school in September.  Although, we had discussed travelling beforehand we still made an application to our local school and she was accepted.


It is worth speaking to your child’s school if you are planning to go travelling.  Given that such an experience will be hugely education, you will likely find that your school will be very supportive.  However, the age of your child and the popularity of the school may provide additional complications.


It is our intention to provided Emily with some informal schooling when we are out and about.  We will use our experiences to work on writing and reading, and geography, history and culture will be abundant.


What to do about your health and insurance?

This is a big one as you want to make sure that your family are good health and well-cared for wherever you are in the world.  With this in mind, we have taken the following action:


Preparing in advance

The last few weeks have included lots of visits to the doctors to ensure that we are all update with any check-ups and vaccinations.  We are not planning on going to any countries that require additional jabs (although I think our plans might be changing) but we needed to be up to date with the others.


There were also other appointments that needed sorting too.  For example, I was due a smear and an asthma review, so I completed both of those.  Alice is due her two-year check with the health visitor, so I made sure that I contacted them to let them know.


All of us are booked in with the dentist before we go too, with enough time for any follow-up appointments if needed.


The aim of this is to be in good health and have everything checked before we go, so that we do not missed anything whilst we are away.  This is quite possibly the healthiest I’ve ever been!



Making sure we are covered for medical expenses should they arise whilst we are away is important too.  Therefore, we have found a travel insurance company that we trust with a good level of cover.


Travel insurance when travelling the world is a little different than normal insurance.  This is because you need cover for longer periods and across multiple countries.  Fortunately, there is backpackers’ insurance which is offered by lots of companies.  Just make sure you checked what is covered.


What to do about money?

Money is a big one.  You need it to travel but how do you know how much and what to do with it when you are out in the big wide world.

Planning to have enough

I personally think that there is no magic number when it comes to travelling.  You could leave with a fiver in your pocket and you will find a way to make it work.


We have sat down and worked out how much money we think we will need to make us feel comfortable.  Ideally, I’d like more but I’m not sure I’d ever get to point where I felt it was right.  You can always spend more.


You need to consider any income streams that you will have when you are away.  For us, we will have some revenue from renting our house, plus I will still be able to run my business and do a couple of side hustles.  Therefore, I know that we will have money coming in.


To help you decide on your magic number, take a look at the sort of places you would like to stay, the costs of flights/train tickets and any activities you’d like to complete.  Then aim for that.


Accessing money abroad

As we haven’t left yet, I can’t comment on this from a position of experience but I can tell you what we plan to do.


On a recommendation from my friend Andrew who writes at Capital Matters, I have signed up with Starling bank.  They have no fees for using ATMs abroad and no fees on currency exchange.  Therefore, your money is exchanged at the current rate with no additional cost.


It is my intention to use this card for the majority of our spending abroad.  We will withdraw some cash to use but with their app it is easy to track and manage your spending.  Plus, they have great security features too.


What to do about travelling?

You’d think that by the time you got to this point that you could just focus on the actual planning of the trip.  The fun bit!  But actually there are still a couple more things to organise.


European Health Insurance Card

If you are planning to travel in Europe, you will need to get one of these.  At the moment, we are still clueless as to what is going on with Brexit and I have no idea what it will mean for the EHIC, but for now, you’ll need one.


You can easily renew them for free through this website.  There are other websites at there that will try and charge you for it, but this is not a part of the service.



Kind of important.  Make sure you’ve got one and make sure it has long enough left on it for all the countries you want to visit.  I’d say you want at least 6 months left after your proposed return date to be on the safe side.


Renewing your passport does cost money, but you aren’t going far without it so make sure that you get it sorted nice and early so that you will not be waiting for it to come.



Different countries have different visa requirements and this will depend on the duration and purpose of your visit.  If you are planning on staying in one country for a long time, or if you are planning on working in that country then you will need to apply for the appropriate visa.


These cost money and you will need to apply for them before you leave so they are worth investigating.  Some countries will allow you to return to that country on the same visa if you return in the initial period of validity.


International Driver’s Licence

If you are planning on driving whilst you are away like we are, then you will need to get an international driver’s licence.


You can get these from the Post Office and you will need to take along your passport, your driver’s licence proof of address, a passport photo and an idea of the countries you want to drive in.  They will be able to issue them there and then, but you might need more than one depending on the countries you intend to visit.


The fun bit

Once you’ve got all of that done, you MIGHT be able to think about all the amazing places that you want to visit, how you are going to get there, where you are going to stay and what you are going to do.


I say “might” because we aren’t at that stage yet.  Well, I joke, we have a few bits booked up but there are still a few admins bits to sort yet.  I’ll come back and update this list if anything else crops up.

There's a lot to think about when you are packing up your home and jetting off around the world for a year. I thought I'd write down everything that we have done so far. Or at least everything I could remember, with the view that it might help someone else.

Disclaimer:  Remember the information you read here does not represent advice.  Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you.  Read the full disclaimer here.

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