Australia is a perfect place for backpackers to combine work and travel. There is a huge range of jobs for foreign travellers, the wages are decent, and once you've saved up a chunk, you can go off and explore the country!
1. Make sure you're eligible
First things first.
• Are you aged 18-30?
• Are you from the UK, USA, Canada, or any of the other countries whose citizens are eligible to apply?
• Does your passport have at least 6 months validity after the date you want to leave Australia?
• Do you plan to travel without a dependent child?
If you found yourself vigorously nodding your head at those questions, read on - working in Australia could be for you!
2. Know your 417s from your 462s
Now it's time to figure out which of the two identical-looking working holiday visas you will need.
Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) - for citizens from the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Taiwan.
Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462) - for citizens from the USA, Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey and Uruguay.
Okay... so what's the difference?
In a nutshell, those with a 417 visa are allowed to apply for a second yearlong working holiday visa on the condition they complete three months in unskilled employment. Those with a 462 visa are not allowed to apply for a second year, and also must have a letter of support from their government for their initial application, whereas those with a 417 do not need this.
3. Or just talk to a youth specialist travel agent
If you're still not sure, just give one of the experts at StudentUniverse a ring on 0333 333 9923.
They'll not only confirm exactly what visa you need, but will also be able to organise it for you as part of your wider trip. It's really no sweat for them, whereas it can be quite stressful for you if you take it on yourself - plus, you have enough things to worry about!
4. Apply BEFORE you go
However you decide to obtain it... Make. Sure. You. Apply. Before. You. Go. It's only possible to get an Australian working holiday visa when in your native country. There is absolutely no possibility of applying once you're there. The Aussies are a laidback bunch, but they take this stuff pretty seriously.
It can take four weeks to process an Australian working holiday visa, so ideally you should be sending off for it well before your departure date. Once received, it can be activated at any point in the next 12 months, and once activated, it's valid for 12 months.
5. Get everything else booked
As you may have noticed, Australia is quite far away. You might be feeling a bit daunted about certain things, like how to get there, what to do once there, meeting people, finding accommodation, and indeed getting a job.
Fortunately there are some amazing options available that cover all these things and more. One is the Work Abroad Package from StudentUniverse, which covers return flights, your working holiday visa, travel insurance, airport meet-and-greet, and a week-long welcome package. It also includes a dedicated in-country employment service, which takes care of all that complicated but essential admin, like setting up a bank account and getting a tax file number. And of course finding you a job!
6. Decide what kind of job you want to do
The kind of work available will depend on your existing skills or qualifications. If you have already begun a career in a certain field, like marketing or accounting, you'll find plenty of well-paid opportunities, particularly in the major cities. But even if you're currently unskilled, there are heaps of jobs out there for you, particularly in rural areas, including bar work, fruit picking and general labouring.
7. Save enough dough
Sometimes, the Australian government will want proof you can support yourself financially, so will ask to see a bank statement showing at least £3,000 in your account. This doesn't mean you'll need to spend all that; if you get a job as soon as you arrive, you might not need to spend any of it.
But wherever you go, saving for your travels is generally a very good idea, and a big part of planning your trip, so don't ignore it!
8. Have an absolutely incredible time
Finally, let's clear up a common misconception: having a working holiday visa does not mean you have to work for the whole year. Or even a whole day if you don't want to. It simply means you have the option to legally work if you want to.
Don't forget you're out there to have a whole lot of fun, too. Australia is home to some of the world's most extraordinary natural wonders, including Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef and Fraser Island. Combine these with stunning weather, a ridiculously friendly population and a whole load of adventure-seeking backpackers just like you, and you might just have the time of your bloody life, mate.