Firstly, fantastic choice! But I know it can be a scary decision. When I was 18, I planned on going straight to university and starting a career in Media. But if I’m honest, I was sick of exams and overbearing teachers trying to push me in a direction that I just didn’t know was right for me. So, I packed my bags and got as far away from academic studies as humanly possible and wound up in Australia for 8 months. It was hard, especially financially but hands down it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I over planned and over spent on a lot of things, but I’m able to use that to help others not make those same mistakes that I did. I’ve had quite a few messages and conversations with both friends and strangers wanting to embark on a similar journey, so here’s my best advice written on the internet (mainly to stop me repeating myself every other week when people ask me what they should do!).
In this series I’ll explore the FAQs of a year abroad with brutal honesty, no affiliate links can have some perks! I had plenty of great experiences, but some awful ones too, so here’s what to expect. Not from a travel company or influencer earning money off your experiences but from my own views with nothing held back.
Q: How much money do I need to take with me?
This is probably the most frequently asked question: how much do I need? It largely depends on if you plan on working and what time of year your going out. If you want to work, you’ll earn a minimum of $20 an hour, so it makes more sense to earn more in Aus, since you’ll earn more! But be careful, it’s not always easy to find work outside of the cities and even then it can be a struggle! I’ve written about my experience working on the Central Coast (here) and I found myself just about afloat working 25 hours a week in a store and the rest freelance writing (where I got paid in GBP, but in Australia). The best thing you can do is save as much as you can, but realistically you need enough for a return flight to Australia and enough to keep you going for your first month- so anywhere between $2000-$4000 depending on how much you want to explore before you start work. I took £600 with me, but I was lucky enough to only pay $50 a week in rent and find a job within my first week in Australia. After this job ended I spent six weeks unemployed, with barely enough cash to get to job interviews and looking back I do wish I’d taken a bit more before I started!
Q: How do I book my flights?
Get your outward flight booked! Whilst flights to Australia can vary in price, you can usually get a one way ticket from the UK for under £400. Either book it yourself or have a chat online or in store with STA Travel: they’re brilliant at helping you find the best options and they’ll match any prices you find online, making it a fail safe option and help you to put any nerves to rest. My partner and I worked with Melissa Pimblett at the Manchester Deansgate STA over a few appointments to come up with the best deal for our Aussie and Asia travels and have nothing but praise for her patience and she even helped us to change the dates of our onward travels when we wanted more time in Australia!
Q: What should I pack?
Don’t worry too much about what you’ll need. If you’re planning on spending a few months down under, I guarantee you’ll be replacing every item in your wardrobe with Cotton On and Target goodies anyway! As a general rule just pack like you would for any other holiday (yes, take those jeans and coat you’ll need them on a rainy day) and focus on making sure you have the practical gear- sleeping bags etc- rather than what outfits will work together!
Q: Do I need a Visa?
You’ll need a WHV (Working Holiday Visa) if you intend to spend more than three months in Australia and if you want any kind of employment during that time. It’s easy to apply and only takes a few days to process meaning you can make your plans in no time! Most employers will ask for a copy so make sure you’ve got it saved somewhere on your laptop and a physical backup to avoid any unnecessary stress!
Q: Do I need to find somewhere to stay before I arrive?
Yes, absolutely! Whether it’s with distance relatives or a dingy hostel, if you get your visa checked you’ll be expected to show proof of where you’re staying so make sure you book a few nights in somewhere, even if it’s just for the sake of your visa! I stayed with my partner’s family, making it a stress-free transition, but I did my fair share of hostel and camping trips too! Try hotels.com or hostelworld.com for some cheap and friendly options- it’ll help you to make a few contacts too!
Is there anything I’m forgetting?
Probably! But that’s all part of the fun! You’ll never be fully prepared for the 45 degree heat or the extortionate prices of Sydney’s nightclubs but that’s okay. Just make sure your flights and visas and somewhere to stay for the first few nights and you’ll be fine, promise!