So you are coming to Australia for an awesome year of backpacking, traveling around and making money on the go. Good plan. To make your life easier when you arrive, take the following 6 things into account.
(1) AUSTRALIA IS ENORMOUS AND THE WEATHER IS EXTREMELY DIVERSE
Cyclones not your thing? Consider the season of your destination before booking your flight! You may avoid some nasty surprises. Australia is an enormous country (read: continent) and the seasons are completely different depending on where you fly. For instance, when it is summer in the South (e.g. Melbourne, Sydney, Tasmania, etc.) it is wet season op North (Darwin, etc.). Flying to Darwin in the wet season is great if 80% humidity and 35 degrees celsius are your thing. If not, you do not want to be there at that moment. For more on the seasons in Australia visit the Australian governmental website.
Also, consider Australia is really immense. So when planning trips make sure to give yourself enough time to enjoy the ride. For instance, Sydney to Melbourne will take you 9 hours. A flight from Darwin to Brisbane will take you 4.5 hours. Take this into account or you will not be having a good time…
(2) CITY, OUTBACK, PARTY OR LAID BACK?
Consider what you want before booking a ticket and coming over. Do you want to do a shit ton of partying? Then the gold coast during the summer season might be your thing! Are you more into (hipster) city life? Melbourne may suit you well. Or does nature and travelling solo make your heart leap? You might want to rent or buy a car/4×4 and travel through the outback.
Consider that the East coast is pretty touristy, especially during the high season while the West Coast is a lot rougher. You can go for miles without encountering anyone – or anything for that matter…Also consider cities are a lot more expensive then rural areas, but if you do not have your own transport cities might be better as public transport is not really a thing around rural Australia.
Everything has its pro’s and con’s, just figure out what your priorities and goals are and go for it!
(3) PRACTICALITIES: WHAT DO I NEED BEFORE I CAN WORK IN AUSTRALIA?
You can take care of certain practicalities beforehand, or at least know what you need to do when you arrive. Make sure you get the following sorted as soon as possible:
- Sim card for your phone;
- Tax File Number or Australian Business Number (TFN or ABN);
- Superannuation bank account.
There are company’s that will do these things for you, but it is not worth the money to be honest. It is a very simple process. You are not the first, and definitely not the last backpacker that will need these things and it is made pretty simple for you here.
(4) WORK? HOW ABOUT SOME SLAVE LABOUR?…
Be careful where you go to work. Make sure you don’t get ripped off. Backpackers are taken advantage of. Period. Distances are enormous and it is not uncommon to have to fly to your new job. Employers know this and might take advantage of it. Always speak to the potential employer on phone or Skype. Make sure it feels right before you book the ticket. Use common sense. If you don’t plan ahead you might get stuck, without money, in a place you rather not be. Just another warning: it is pretty common for working hostels to charge you a ‘retainer’ that you only get back after working for three months. While working, you have to pay for your accommodation at the hostel, however if there is not enough work you will only be paying for your accommodation and not saving anything. Or if you really hate the work you can not leave without losing your retainer. It is a way for the working hostel to ensure people stay, but be aware of this before you sign up or you might lose money. Check reviews on Facebook, TripAdvisor etc. and ask fellow travellers if they know anything this place you want to work at.
TIP: A great Facebook group to follow in this regard is Backpackers 88 days and counting. Headed by Rosie Ayliffe it is a message board for backpacker job experiences and (possible) employer abuses.
(5) Cash money
Australia is expensive. Make sure you bring enough money. The government tells you to bring 5000 AUD when coming to Australia on a Working Holiday Visum (WHV). I have not heard of it being checked on arrival. However, you do not want to get stuck doing slave labour because you did not bring enough money. Although money is not everything, it does provide you with the flexibility to move around and say: “fuck this shit, I’m out”. Coming over with around 2k EUR should be enough to get you set up. Also, if you are low on cash consider WWOOFING or HELPXCHANGE. You do some work in exchange for food and accommodation. However, as with work, make sure you are not being taken advantage of. For casual work you should be getting at least around 22.50 AUD. So working six hours for food and accommodation might not be worth it unless the work is great and they feed you a cow a day.
Keep in mind accommodation will probably be your biggest expense. Hostels usually go between 20 to 40 dollars a night (for a dorm bed), depending on the season and location. If you bring around 2k EUR or USD you should be OK for a month. This will allow you to get set up and find work.
(6) DO YOU WANT A SECOND YEAR VISA?
Decide whether you want to stay for a second year as soon as possible. Obviously, you do not have to figure this out before you leave, but it does help to have an idea. In order to extent your work/holiday by a year you are required to do 88 days of regional work. Depending on your visa this could be farm work or hospitality work in the middle of nowhere. Check the governments website with regard to what work counts towards your 88 days. It could be an epic experience, but if you wait until the last months of your visum to do this you might end up not having enough time. Also, consider that if you work for one employer for three months on end you can count the weekends for your 88 days. So – in sum:
- Figure out if you want to stay another year;
- Look into what work counts towards your specific second year visa;
- Find a job that qualifies and go for it!
Any other tips & tricks? Comment below!