With my 3 1/2 month trip to Australia only a mere 22 days away, I am getting down to organizing the last minute finer details. Here’s a guide to anyone looking to do a Working Holiday and what they should do to prepare.
Thus far to organize my trip I have:
- Applied for my Working Holiday Visa. As a Canadian citizen under 30, I was eligible to apply for a working holiday visa that lasts for up to 1 year from the day of entry into the country. It was really as simple as 1-2-3. I went to the website: Working Holiday – Visa & Immigration and applied. The application itself took about 15-20min to fill out. I received my visa within 12 hrs of applying. It was so simple. The visa is simply attached to my passport number, so when I go through customs in Australia, they will already know that I am supposed to be there.
- Booked my flight there. Originally, I was planning on staying for 9 months. This, however, has been cut back significantly, due to the fact that I got a new, full time job. I figured staying 9 months probably wasn’t the best choice. Since I originally didn’t have an end date in mind, I only booked a one-way ticket. Looking back, I really should have booked a roundtrip/open-ended ticket. Alas, considering it was only one way, I think I got some rather good deals. I am flying from Toronto to LA on Air Canada and that flight cost me around $350. I am flying from LA to Sydney with Virgin Australia and that flight cost me around $750 or so. My advice though would definitely be to book an open-ended round trip ticket to avoid paying higher fees.
- Booked my hostel. Once I had the visa and had the flight, the next thing on my to-organize plan was my living arrangements. I booked a bed in a 4-person dorm at the WakeUp! hostel in Sydney. To do my research, I went on HostelBookers and read through the reviews and looked at the more higher rated hostels. Due to the fact that I am booking over New Years, their policy was for me to pay everything upfront, and it was non-refundable and non-transferrable. So if you are booking during this peak season, be aware of those limitations.
- Gotten in touch with people over there. So another big thing that I have been doing is getting in touch with people I already know who are living on that side of the world. Friends are generally good about offering up a couch or at the very least an area in their house for a little bit. I have gotten in touch with a number of people and they have all offered up a place for me to stay. Of course I do not intend to overstay my welcome, but any little bit of help in the accommodations department is seriously gonna help out with the budget.
- Made a list of must-see/must-do things. I have also done research into different things that I would like to do or see while I am there and have made a wish-list. Look into buying a guidebook that may be helpful with describing different areas.
- Booked my flight home(ish). After deciding that I had to come home earlier than originally planned (also due to one of my best friend’s wedding in Florida), I picked out a date that I was going to be attempting to come home (to North America… I’ll be going to Tampa for 5 days before returning to Toronto). My dad was kind enough to offer to put this flight on his Aeroplan points, since he has accumulated quite a bit of points due to traveling for work. This was actually the most frustrating part in my organizing, thus far. Getting a flight on points is so incredibly frustrating as there are only a certain number of seats available per flight and only on certain airlines. After calling Aeroplan 3 times and being on the phone for 3 1/2 hrs, I finally managed to get my flight from Sydney to Vancouver to Chicago to Tampa all sorted out
- Put my mom as a power of attorney on my bank accounts. I had never had a power of attorney or joint account with my parents. Since I will be away for so long I wanted to have somebody back here able to deposit any cheques that I may receive while I’m away and just look after my finances from in the country. Of course now with the wonderful world of the Internet available, online banking is very simple and accessible, but you can’t deposit a cheque if you’re not in the same country. Not to mention, God forbid, if anything bad were to happen to me, my family would be able to have access to the money I have in my accounts.
Still left on my to-do list:
- Get travel insurance. With being away for so long, this is definitely a good idea. And at the end of the day… what’s $350 for 3 1/2 months? I had originally looked at World Nomads. But my dad insisted on taking care of getting me the insurance through his insurance company. The policies are both very similar. But just make sure you read the fine print.
- Make list of anything I may need to buy. Pretty self explanatory. Everything from my favorite brand of deoderant to a bathing suit to prescription meds that you may need to bring with you.
- Pre-pack. Mentally pack. Think of what you would like to bring with you. What is practical, what is impractical. I am backpacking. And after going to Europe with a 35lb backpack… I definitely need to learn to downsize and not pack as much. Also due to the fact that it is going into winter here and I really don’t have much of a summer wardrobe as it is, I am planning on buying a lot of my summer clothes there – shorts and skirts and such.