Maria is one half of Learning Life’s Lessons The Fun Way, a travel blog set up with her partner Charlotte to share their experiences travelling the world full-time on a budget. She went to Australia seven years ago and is returning later this year to complete her second year visa.
Australia was my first experience travelling so far on my own and I was only 19 so I decided to go partly because it was English-speaking and would have less of a culture shock, but also because I had some friends there already.
I didn’t have the money to travel solidly so I needed to be able to work. I always wanted to see Australia, the ability to work meant I could fund my travels whilst experiencing the country and it also gave me a full year to be able to slowly travel and really get to know the culture.
What kind of work did you do?
I did anything that there was. At that point in my life I only had bar experience so I worked in bars, restaurants, cafes etc. I also did some unskilled manual labour like fruit picking, cattle station work and farm labour. It was fairly easy to find work. Sometimes it took a while but there;s a big backpacker infrastructure in place to help. The work was generally pretty demanding with long hours and not the best pay but it was simple enough and short-term so fine.
How did you balance travel and work?
I usually worked for 3-6 weeks then travelled a bit and found more work. Working added to the experience, I don’t think you can ever really get to know a culture until you’ve lived and worked there with the locals. I think it gave me an insight into Australia that I wouldn’t otherwise have seen as well as giving me a break from the backpacker scene and taking me off the beaten path.
Did you think about staying for a second year?
You can get a second working holiday visa if you do three months (or 90 days) in total of seasonal work. I did it, although I had to come home to attend university. Now with my degree in hand and a few years of travel experience behind me, I’m going to be heading back this year to complete my second visa!
Amazing! Do you have any advice for WHV travellers?
I would say get your visa yourself, it’s expensive as it is so don’t waste money on an agency because it’s really not that difficult to obtain.
Think about what job you want when you get there, if you have time try and boost your work experience, edit your CV to an Australian template and if you want to work in hospitality, get your RSA (responsible service of alcohol) certificate as soon as you get there. It’s a legal requirement to work with alcohol in Australia.
Don’t stress too much about having loads of money for when you arrive, have enough to live for a month (possible to do on a tight budget) and plan on finding work straight away. It’s relatively easy if you do your research, but remember you’ll be competing with other backpackers so try and bulk out your work experience and CV if you have the time.
Australia is a great country to travel in, it’s geared up for backpackers and is my favourite country in the world for the atmosphere. It’s so laid back.
Thanks to Maria for sharing her working holiday story. I hope you enjoy your second year down under!
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