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My guide to a working holiday in Australia and New Zealand!

A working holiday is where a country provides a visa, usually starting for 6 months to a year but varies by country, which allows you to work and live in their country for that set amount of time. They are given to 19-30-year-olds, however, some countries stretch to 35-year-olds. Each country has different rules, but a common condition is for you to either be a student or that you only work at one workplace for a maximum of 6 months. There are many countries offering these visas; however, as I have only had one in New Zealand and Australia, I am only going to be discussing my experience with them.

When and why did I take a working holiday?

I took a gap year when I left college with the intention of doing little city breaks and long weekends in the UK, as I really didn’t have the money or the knowledge to even consider doing backpacking or anything of the sort. All I knew is I wanted to take time out to solo travel, as it was a big personal challenge to myself. Thanks to a little event happening, you might know of it, coronavirus, my entire ‘gap year’ just turned into me working a part-time job watching Tik Toks of people traveling to the most amazing places: which eventually evolved into “why am I going to university? I want to see the world and I am not ready to be tied down just yet.”

However, as I mentioned, I was a very typical broke, irresponsible with money, 18-year-old girl. As I researched ‘How to travel with no money,’ the first thing that came up was a blog quite similar to this one, ‘What is a working holiday.’ This idea was perfect for me as most countries provide you with a guideline/requirement of money needed to enter the country, so I had a clear goal and knew once I was there, I would be able to generate an income and wouldn't have to survive off what I came with for however long. It didn’t take me long to realise that Australia was the perfect location for me, as I’d dreamt of visiting from a very young age, having friends move over there.

New Zealand was never somewhere I had thought of too much really, but once my Google and social media searches flooded with Australia content, my exposure to the surrounding countries did too; this is why I also ended up taking a one-week trip to Fiji, but that’s a story for another day. I ended up in Kiwi land in January.

What did you do on your working holiday?

I never had a very highly paid job in either country, which I didn’t mind as I was okay with consistently working. I was either an au pair or demi pair for basically the entire duration of my travels, as although I enjoy and recommend staying in hostels, I personally cannot fathom living in one long term. I need my privacy! This was all I did in New Zealand, as I was only there for three months so just wanted to have as much free time as possible, without worrying about going homeless or starving.

I also picked up bartending work at odd events, such as cricket matches and carnivals. To do this in Australia you need an RSA (Responsible Serving Alcohol) check, and yes, they do check. Barista work clearly wasn’t for me as after one shift I was sacked. It was because they couldn’t allow me the time off that I needed that was already fully paid for, but it sounds more dramatic that way!

Most of the friends I met out there opted to do short periods of long hours and heavy labour, such as farm work and construction, then taking a few weeks off to travel around. Both paths work and are great ways to travel, but it’s completely optional. Or you could even do periods of both!

How will I make friends?

Honestly, I don’t think there is a single person who goes on a working holiday (or any solo travelling for that matter) and doesn’t have the ‘What if I don’t make any friends’ fear. Which is exactly why you don’t need to worry about it! Everyone feels exactly the same, making them very approachable and a million times more likely to come over to you first. You have to push out of your comfort zone and talk to people, DM them, request them, go over to them. I promise you the worst thing they can do is say no, and that very rarely happens.

Living in this day in age, it is even simpler. Social media makes meeting people that feel the exact same way you do so much more accessible. There are endless amounts of Facebook groups and Instagram accounts literally designed to help you make friends. Off the top of my head is @sydneyworkingholidaygirls, one where I met friends I have made for life. One is even coming to visit me from Canada soon. I cannot wait!

Why you should do one:

I know I speak for a lot of people when I say that when I left college, I had no idea what I wanted in life and felt so pressured by the expectation to be doing something or working towards something. Which is crazy to think about now because why should an 18-year-old know what the rest of their life entails? Anyway, I learned more about myself in those 14 months than I had in the 19 years prior. I can’t tell you how shy I used to be. I was the friend that made you order their McDonald's because they're too anxious, or your classmate who shocks you when they talk for the first time in what seems like the entire school year. Now I am the loudest person in the office, and I think my friends wish I was shy again!

Also from the experience, I realised what I wanted to do, which I genuinely thought would take me until I was seventy-eight and about to retire. I spent the year capturing my travels and documenting them online and wondered how I’d never realised my love for creating content and working digitally. Which is what led me here, The Juice Academy doing a Content Creator Apprenticeship with the best company. I don’t know how long it would’ve taken me to discover my passion without going, and I also don’t know who I’d be if I didn’t, I know that sounds very cliche but I really don’t!"

Saskia Robinson, Cohort 39, Digital Communications Apprentice at MCS


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