After having dreamed of it for a long time, you decided to do Work and Travel in Australia. That’s exciting, right? You are wondering how to best prepare for your trip. Don’t panic, you’ve come to the right place. We guide you through the steps to take before going for Australia with a WHV. Here are all the thing you should know before going to Australia.
Table of Contents
What is Work & Travel?
Work and Travel, also known as a WHV (Working Holiday Visa), encompasses subclasses 417 and 462. It’s a visa program that grants young individuals the opportunity to travel and work in Australia for up to a year. The age limit to be eligible for this program is typically set at 30 or 35 years old, depending on your country of residence. Notably, the age limit for UK passport holders has increased to 35 years old (inclusive) in July 2023. If you meet all the requirements and fulfill your specified work obligations in Australia, you can even renew your WHV for an additional year, twice.
The Australian government has clearly outlined the types of jobs and regions where you can renew your Working Holiday Visa. Backpackers who opt for visa renewal often find employment in activities like fruit picking.
However, there are numerous other work sectors open to backpackers, including fishing, mining, construction, landscaping, and more.
“TRAVEL BECAUSE LIFE IS SHORT AND THE WORLD IS HUGE.”
Many seasoned backpackers will attest that embarking on a Work and Travel journey in Australia is a life-altering experience. It provides a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture, enhance your English language skills, or simply indulge in diverse experiences while realizing long-held dreams.
When to go to Australia?
Choosing the right time to visit Australia depends on a variety of factors, including your personal plans and your situation back home. Whether you have exams to complete before your departure or a fixed-term contract to consider, there are several considerations to keep in mind.
Australia enjoys a generally sunny and warm climate, but it’s essential to note that the country experiences its own seasons. If you intend to arrive in the southern regions (such as Perth, Melbourne, or Sydney) during the middle of winter (June or July), be prepared for cooler weather and consider packing warm clothing. Conversely, if you plan to explore the northern parts of the country, it’s wise to avoid the rainy season, which typically occurs between November and March.
Beyond weather considerations, your choice of timing should also align with your budget and your goals for your Australian adventure. For instance, if you need to secure employment immediately upon arrival and you’re interested in working in the hospitality industry, you may find it more challenging to find a job during the off-peak season, which corresponds to the winter months. On the other hand, if you’re open to fruit picking or farm work to bolster your finances and potentially extend your stay for a second year, it’s crucial to research the harvest seasons and identify the prime job opportunities in those areas. Planning your trip with these factors in mind will help ensure a more successful and enjoyable experience in Australia.
Planning Your Trip to Australia
How Much Time Should You Allocate for Trip Preparation?
The timeline for preparing your trip to Australia can vary widely among travelers. Some meticulously plan their journey a year in advance, while others prefer a more spontaneous approach and organize everything within three months or less. To ensure ample time for comprehensive preparations, we recommend allowing a window of around 6 months. Regardless of the duration you allocate, the essential steps remain the same.
Organising Your Visits and Activities/Excursions
Before embarking on your Australian adventure, compile a list of the places you’re eager to explore. Some may have their hearts set on experiencing the pristine beauty of Fraser Island, while others can’t imagine missing the breathtaking New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney. Create a list of your must-see destinations and experiences. If you have specific locations or dates in mind, plan your itinerary accordingly.
For special activities like diving in the Great Barrier Reef or swimming with whale sharks at Ningaloo, it’s crucial to make advance reservations. Additionally, research the optimal seasons and timings for your chosen excursions and activities.
Estimating Your Budget for Australia
Estimating your budget is a crucial step to ensure you are financially prepared for your Australian adventure. In addition to expenses incurred in your home country before departure, you’ll need to account for expenses while in Australia. Here’s a rough estimate to help you get started:
Before you leave, you need to invest a certain amount of money in preparing for your trip: if you take into account the cost of your visa, passport, plane ticket and health insurance, plus the minimum amount of funds required by the Australian government, we recommend that you budget for €5,500.
- Visa‘s fees ($635 or around €400)
- Passport (if you need it done or redone)
- Purchase of plane ticket (900€ to 1400€)
- Health insurance (€400 – less if you do benefit from Medicare)
- Minimum Funds Required by the Australian Government ($5000)
Upon arrival, consider the cost of living in Australia:
Cost of life in Australia
If Staying in a City
Budget around $550 per week per person for your initial weeks in Australia. This should cover accommodation, food, public transportation, and entertainment. Hostels and Airbnb are good initial lodging options to allow time for finding roommates. While slightly pricier, they offer security. Opt for central locations to save on transportation costs. Keep in mind that expenses may vary based on your individual needs and lifestyle in Australia.
If going on a road trip
If your plan involves a road trip, calculate the budget for purchasing a vehicle. You can find budget-friendly cars starting at $4 000 and fully-equipped vans for up to $10 000. Prices may fluctuate based on location and season. Additionally, consider expenses for fuel and food. Generally, life on the road will be more cost-effective than living in a city.
Essential Pre-Departure Steps
Obtain your Working Holiday Visa – WHV
Your gateway to Australia, the WHV allows you to legally live and work in the country for up to a year. Apply at least 3 months in advance through the Australian government website. The online application takes approximately an hour to complete, and WHV applications are typically processed swiftly. The cost of the visa is $635.
Some websites offer to apply for a visa for you, but it is simply a scam. You are the only person authorised to submit your visa application, and this via the Australian immigration site.
Book your plane ticket
The plane ticket to Australia represents a certain investment. Many airlines fly to Australia. These include Qantas, Emirates, Etihad and Singapore Airlines.
THE JOURNEY IS ABOUT 24 HOURS LONG WITH A STOPOVER
Some companies offer stops on the way for the same price … this could be the opportunity to make the first stop in the sun!
Prices of airline tickets vary greatly with the seasons and the time you are making your booking.
The high period is from December to March, the lowest season from April to October. Allow at least $1800 for a return from London – Sydney, but prices can increase during school holidays. Also, note that often it is more beneficial to take a return ticket when buying your departure. Finally, the earlier you book your flight and the cheapest it will be!
Get your Travel insurance
The Australian Government has agreements with New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia and Norway. This means that residents of these countries can benefit from Medicare with some essential medical treatments while visiting Australia.
However, we suggest that you take out private health insurance to travel to Australia. Backpacking through Australia is only safe if you know you don’t have to worry about health costs.
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Preparing for Your Arrival in Australia
Obtain the necessary documents
If you do not have a valid passport or if it’s approaching expiration, it’s essential to request a new one. Your passport is not only required for entry into Australian territory but also for various essential procedures such as purchasing plane tickets and applying for your visa.
To obtain or renew your passport, you’ll need to submit an application to your local town hall along with the required supporting documents. You can opt to visit the office in person or initiate the process with a pre-request online. The cost for a passport (first-time application or renewal) is £75.50 when applying online in the UK.
If you plan to drive in Australia and your current driver’s license is not in English, obtaining an international driver’s license is crucial. Please check the specific requirements and process for obtaining this license in your country, as it should be completed before your departure to Australia.
Choosing Your Arrival City in Australia
Australia boasts several vibrant cities, each with its unique advantages and characteristics. Here’s a brief overview of some major cities to consider for your arrival:
- Sydney is often seen as the most “logical” choice to start your Working Holiday Visa (WHV) adventure. It’s the most popular tourist destination in Australia and offers a wide range of opportunities.
- As the second-largest city, Melbourne exudes European charm with its narrow streets and Victorian architecture. It’s a compelling choice for those seeking a cosmopolitan atmosphere.
- Canberra serves as the official capital of Australia, known for its modern architecture and political significance. However, it may not be the top preference for backpackers.
- Brisbane attracts backpackers due to its favorable climate (with approximately 300 sunny days per year) and proximity to the Gold Coast.
- Situated on the west coast, Perth is a growing city that appeals to those eager to explore Australia’s wilderness.
- Known as the “city of churches,” Adelaide is more alluring than it may seem at first glance.
- Located in the far north, Cairns is a small paradise and serves as a perfect gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.
- In the northern reaches of the country, Darwin offers a culturally rich experience with a significant Aboriginal population and a prominent Asian cultural influence.
Your choice of arrival city should take into account various factors, including your arrival time, vehicle purchase plans, job-seeking objectives, and personal preferences. Carefully consider these criteria to make the best decision for your Australian adventure.
Which city to choose for your arrival?
Choosing the right city of arrival will allow you to save money, help you with your job search and enjoy the best climate during your trip.
Seasons in Australia
Australia is located in the Southern hemisphere, which means that the seasons are the opposite of those in the north. When it’s summer in Europe, it is winter in Australia and vice versa. The country is divided by the Tropic of Capricorn, to its the north, the climate is warmer, while in the south it is more temperate.
Here is an overview of the different climate zones in Australia:
- Temperate zone includes the south of the country (climate similar to European countries)
- Subtropical zone (the middle of the country with pleasant temperatures all year round)
- Tropical area with the wet season from November to January, cyclones in October-November and the dry season from April to November with tropical temperatures
- Desert area, land inside the country with very hot days and very cold night
The best time to visit Australia depends on its region. In the Northern half, the months from March to August are recommended and for the Southern half, it is the opposite! In short, for those who wish to travel for a year around Australia, the aim is to be in the Northern part in winter, and in South for summer!
Open a bank account in Australia and transfer money
To save time when you arrive, you can open your Australian bank account from the UK with some banks. This will allow you to send money there and also avoid additional costs related to the use of your UK bank card in Australia. The process is simple and will not take you more than an hour. When you arrive, go to a branch to finalise the process and activate your account.
In order to transfer your savings to your Australian account, we recommend that you go through a company specialising in international transfers. It will cost you much less than going through your bank! The costs of international money transfers through a traditional bank are often very high and the exchange rates applied are unattractive.
Transfer money to Australia
Save money when transferring money to Australia.
Find Accommodation in Australia
To find a place to settle, you have several options. You can post an ad on Facebook and all the pages dedicated to Australian cities or backpacker groups. There are specialised sites to find accommodation in shared houses or rooms such as Flatmates, OzFlatmates, FlatmateFinders, etc. You can also visit Gumtree.
Book a hostel
Before your arrival in Australia, it’s highly advisable to book a hostel , commonly known as a Youth Hostel. Booking for at least one week will provide you with the necessary time to sort out administrative requirements such as obtaining a TFN (Tax File Number), setting up a bank account, and potentially securing a job. Additionally, booking for an extended period, such as more than a week, can often result in cost savings.
Australia boasts a plethora of hostels, each offering varying services and levels of quality. To make an informed choice and compare rates effectively, consider using a reliable comparison platform like Booking.com.
These hostels also serve as excellent hubs for connecting with fellow young travelers on a Working Holiday Visa (WHV). You’ll find that fellow travelers are eager to share their experiences and offer valuable tips. Don’t hesitate to engage with them and ask any questions you may have – they can be a valuable source of information as you embark on your Australian adventure.
Pack your bag for Australia
The first question to arise here is whether to go for a backpack or a suitcase, then comes the question of what to take and how to not forget anything. For this, you can refer to our checklist in the Backpackers Guide. Most travellers won’t bring their suitcase while backpacking through Australia.
With an amazing rate of sunshine and temperatures that can exceed 40° C, it is essential to bring sunscreen and sunglasses. For clothing, shorts and T-Shirts will also be essential, but beware, it is not always easy to avoid winter in Australia and you will need to bring some warm clothes for your travel.
For those who intend to work in farms, you will need to buy some used clothes in second-hand shops such as Salvation Army etc once arrived.
Remember that airlines only allow a limited baggage weight, generally 20 or 23 kg but this can go up to 30 kg with some companies. Your hand luggage may reach 7 kg. So try to travel light!
The departure checklist
- Passport (valid for longer than the length of your stay)
- Copy of your granted Working Holiday Visa
- Printing of your plane ticket
- Details of your travel insurance
- Driver’s licence
- Photocopy of your ID
What better way to get good advice than to ask former backpackers? Join Facebook groups or learn about yourself, you will learn a lot. To help you, we have put together all the useful information and tips that we have collected over the years in a free guide to take with you.
Download the Backpackers Guide
Our FREE 400-page eBook contains all the information you need for your WHV in Australia :
- administrative procedures
- transport and ways of travelling
- jobs & +500 fruit picking contacts
- regions and practical life
- numerous discounts