Almost everyone wants to visit Australia at some point in their life. But it’s an expensive destination, both in getting there and in traveling around the country. And there is so much to see! It’s a really big, diverse country. If you visit on a two week vacation, you will only scratch the surface of what there is to see and do in Australia. But what if you had an entire year? Think of how much you could see then.
I always knew that someday I wanted to visit Australia. But it was so far away. And so expensive. I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars to just spend a few weeks there. And I wanted to see as much of it as I possibly could. Which is why when I heard about the work and holiday visa (subclass 462), I knew that was what I needed to do.
Getting a work and holiday visa
The first thing I did was research how to get the visa. I read that you had to apply before you turned 31, which meant I had a limited window of time to apply (I have read that this age limit will be changing in the near future). I also read that because I had lived in Russia in the recent past, I had to get x-rays done to check for tuberculosis. There are several requirements that you must meet in order to get a visa, so make sure you do your research before applying. Getting the visa, however, is a fast process. I had the confirmation that my electronic visa had been approved almost immediately after my medical paperwork was submitted. You won’t have a physical visa to put in a passport, but the electronic visa gives you up to six months to enter the country and then one full year of multiple entries to live and work in Australia.
Finding a job
Once you have your visa, the next thing to secure is a job. Many people opt to show up in the country first and then hunt down a job. I didn’t feel confident in going that route, however, and decided to find a job before I arrived. I also decided that I would prefer not having to look for a place to live and a car to drive to work. Because of those reasons, along with the fact that my goal was to have a flexible-enough schedule to travel around the country, I went the au pair route. I highly recommend getting an au pair job if you are not just looking to make money. Becoming an au pair won’t give you a lot of cash to travel, but it will give you flexibility and a place to live and usually a car to drive and food to eat. Because my expenses were low, and I was free on weekends, I was able to explore the local area wherever I lived.
Traveling the country
Once you decide whether you are going to take shorter trips and work an au pair job, or work several months to save up a lot of money and then hit the road for a few months, either way you will hopefully be traveling around Australia. That is probably your goal in being there.
You will need a car
Australia is a big country. And everything is far away. You will definitely need a vehicle of some sort to get around and see the sights. Some people prefer to buy a car from backpackers who are leaving the country. And others prefer to rent a reliable car. Because I was living with a family, I often had a car to use on weekend trips. And the times I didn’t, my au pair friends usually did.
You will need friends
Having a network of au pair friends added so much to my Australia experience. Not only did it give me people to have fun with, but it also provided safety. I don’t recommend traveling alone in Australia because of the long isolated distances. And having people to share the driving with helps when you get tired. Be sure to connect with a travel group once you arrive in the country, or even before! I joined a few au pair Facebook pages before I moved to Australia, and thanks to those groups I met several great girls who I am friends with to this day.
Explore, explore, explore!
Australia is an incredible country. There is so much to see and do there. Make the most of your time and get out and explore any chance you have. Australians are friendly and they love helping you experience their country. So don’t be shy!
If I could give everyone one piece of travel advice it would be this: get a work and holiday visa and go spend a year in Australia. I promise you won’t regret it!