It's no surprise that getting to this side of the world is one big and expensive pain-in-the-ass. It usually involves a $2,000 ticket, 3 separate flights, and 35 plus hours of traveling across the pacific just to get here. And the icing on the cake? It's also one of the most expensive countries in the world.
With that being said though, it's one of the greatest places on earth, in my opinion. Any visit to Australia is worthwhile, and it really is as beautiful as you've always imagined. But I wouldn't say it's ideal to spend years worth of savings for a quick stop at the Opera house, either.
You see, Australia is an often sought after travel destination, and with good reason. But with limited vacation time and price tags that outrageous, it's not unreasonable to consider it "unrealistic" or to wait until retirement to take your dream trip. But if you're not a wait-until-someday kind of person or don't want to spend a fortune, there could be a perfect solution.
Work while you travel.
If you're between 18 and 30 years old, with no dependents, a valid passport, and a desire to travel the world, why not travel and make money doing it with a Working Holiday Visa ? It allows you to live and work legally in Australia as long as you meet the above requirements. And with jobs booming in tourism, hospitality, farming, mining, and childcare, surely there's a fit for you here somewhere.
So why Australia, you say?
It's legal: It's one of the only countries in the world that offers a one year working holiday visa to Americans (womp womp.) Which means, that it's also one of the only places other than our home country where we can work legally without being limited to one particular career path (i.e. teaching abroad.) And the best part is, the process itself was ridiculously easy. Simply apply online, pay a fee, and wait to hear back via email. I was accepted in minutes, although it can take a few days or so. And that was that! You can arrive at any time within the next 12 months and start your year abroad from the day you enter the country.
It's easy: Because of the backpacker culture, jobs are SO easy to get. Travelers are in and out of cities, and the turnover rates for jobs in things like fruit picking, bartending, childcare, and serving are quite high. It's as simple as doing a little research, walking around with your resume, and looking presentable. Gumtree (The U.S. version of craigslist) is also a great resource.
Minimal culture shock: Aside from adjusting to a few new words and training yourself not to swoon over every accent, it's a relatively easy transition for a first big move abroad. The language is the same, the people are nice, and the food is just as delicious. And other than your accent, you'll fit right in.
*Note: If you're looking for a drastic change, this probably wouldn't be the best place to start. It's so similar sometimes that I forget I'm not in North America, aside from the pesky June winters and the lack of ranch dressing.
Money, money, money: With a minimum wage of double that of the United States, if you play your cards right, you can actually come out of traveling a beautiful country with a decent bit of cash. And if nothing else, you will have funded an entire year of travel with the money you've made along the way. What could be better than that?
*Note: Yes, the cost of living is more expensive, but being mindful of your spending and finding ways to save on big expenses like rent and food is key. I will be posting more on the cost of living and my personal experiences with saving money in an upcoming post.
Aussie animals: 'Nuff said. Those koalas and kangaroos you've always dreamed of meeting? Yep. You'll see them too!
It's stunning: You could travel all around Australia for a year and never get bored. Believe me, I've tried. In fact, I could live here for the rest of my life, and undoubtedly be the happiest person on earth. Everywhere I go is its own little pleasant surprise. And every time I think it can't possibly get any better? It does. Spend days learning to surf, snorkel and dive at some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Get cultured and artsy and eat to your hearts content in Australia's biggest cities. Visit wine country and breweries until you are forever cured of your desire for alcohol. And... enjoy views like this all too often.
See what I mean?
The saddest reality of the working holiday visa is that, for Americans, it ends after one year. There is no renewing, and that's the biggest pain-in-the-ass of it all. Without getting sponsored by an employer, becoming a student, falling in love (or faking it), or working illegally, there is no real way to stay long-term. This is a reality I'm not particularly excited about facing. But in every situation, the adventure is almost always worth the heartache, and this experience is no exception. So come on my fellow dreamers, what are you waiting for?