Are you thinking about going on a Working Holiday Visa in Australia? That’s perfect!
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I went to Australia on a WHV for a year, back in 2015. It was an amazing adventure and the trip of a lifetime!
I loved it with every single fibre of my body and that’s why, now, I want to help other people to do the same. Here is my ultimate guide to planning a working holiday visa in Australia.
1 – Make the decision
Going to Australia on a working holiday visa is an experience of a lifetime. It means quitting everything you have, your job, your family, your house… literally everything. This is no little decision. It takes bravery, excitement and a tiny bit of craziness.
This is scary. It seems like such a big step and technically speaking, it kind of is but it’s also the best things you will get to do in your life.
If you are looking at this article, I presume that you want to do it.
Wanting to do it is the first step towards it. Now you just need to actually make the decision.
Making the decision is the most difficult step because that’s the hardest to get to and the scariest.
But let me tell you something, once you’ve made the decision, the worst is behind you. Everything else will just flow!
As Mark Twain would say “I rather say I can’t believe I did that than What if I had done that”.
I guess what I am trying to say is: Are you going to regret more having done it or not having done it.
2 – Get your passport
Australia is a country only accessible with a passport. If you are American you will find that statement obvious but for most Europeans, it’s worth mentioning.
Even before thinking about sorting out your trip or visa, you need to make sure you have a valid passport!
If you don’t already own a passport, get it touch with the relevant organisation to get it sorted. It generally takes up to 6 weeks so make sure you request it as soon as possible.
To get a passport, you will generally need:
– Proof of identity
– Proof of residence
– Pay a fee
If you already have your passport, please check the validity date. Your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months after you leave Australia. This means that if you are planning on leaving in 6 months and staying in Australia for a year, your passport needs to be valid for another 2 years from now.
3 – Get your visa
Alright, so you’ve made the decision and got a passport: you are going to Australia! Yaaaay!
Now let’s get down to business!
The first thing you need is a visa. You can try to plan everything else before it, it’s pointless as long as you don’t get the legal right to go and stay in the country.
Applying for a working holiday visa is a pretty straightforward process if the country you are from has agreements with Australia.
If you are from the UK, USA, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada… you will be just fine.
If you hold a Spanish passport though, it can be a bit trickier and the following process won’t be quite right for you.
Just go onto the official WHV of the Australian government and start filling out your request.
You will need to know your ideal entry date (although after that date, you have 1 year to actually enter the territory and start your WHV) and your passport details.
Providing your file has no issue (criminal convictions…) you should get your visa approved within a month.
Most Working Holiday Visa gets approved in the next 24h but it can take up to 5 weeks so don’t get too worried if you have to wait, it doesn’t mean something went wrong.
If your request is still pending after 5 weeks, I would advise to contact them to know what is going on.
4 – Book your flight
Hey! We are getting to the good stuff now!
Once you have your visa and passport, you can finally book those flights to Australia.
To get the best deal on your flights, there are 2 options: book them yourselves or go through a travel agency.
There is no better option as it depends on what your plan is and how much flexibility you require. I will indicate which option works the best in each case.
No matter what, I recommend to check both options as it might help you deciding where to book.
To book your flights to Australia directly:
– Check Skyscanner
– Check Momondo
– Check Google Flights
These 3 websites are the best flights comparison websites and shall give you quite a few alternative.
Generally, when we leave for such a long time, we are a bit flexible on the date of departure. I mean, at that point whether it’s on a Tuesday or Thursday, it won’t make much of a difference. You might also be flexible on the destination and departure.
When I went to Australia, I flew to Paris even though I was living in Toulouse back then. I just booked a train ticket to Paris and 6 hours later was there. I actually even stayed there for a couple of days to visit a bit. The train ticket was 15 euros which is nothing and I got a really good deal on the flights. Flying from Toulouse would have been both less convenient and more expensive.
The brilliant thing about Skyscanner, Momondo and Google Flight is that you can choose a country as a destination (or departure). This way you will get to see the best prices all at once, rather than having to check all options.
For example, instead of checking all UK airports and all Australian airports. You can put “United-Kingdom” to “Australia” and it will show you all the options, starting with the cheapest.
You can do the same thing with your departure date. You can select a “whole month” and even “cheapest time of the year”.
These tools are a game-changer! That way you are sure to get the best deal in only a few clicks. No need to spend hours looking at all the options!
When should you be using Skyscanner and Momondo?
– If you are on a budget
– If you don’t need an open ticket
– If you are only taking a one way
– If you want to get the best price
If, on the other hand, you are not sure about your return date and want more flexibility, going through an agency is the best option.
Just type “Australia working holiday flights agency” in Google and you should find plenty of agencies specialising in this.
Back in France, I used “le cercle des vacances”.
The great thing about agencies is that they will do the work for you. You tell them when you want to go, where to, where from and all your requirements (open ticket, layover in a specific city…) and they will find you the best deal!
If you need flexibility, it’s definitely the best call.
Personally, I chose to go through an agency because I wanted:
– An open ticket (changed my return date twice)
– Layover in specific countries and for a specific length (1 week in Singapore and 1 month in Thailand)
– Different arrival and departure airports (I flew into Melbourne and back from Sydney)
It’s a great solution to hit two birds with one stone, you can spend as much time as you want on the layovers!
When should you be using an agency?
– You want specific layovers
– You want a multi destination flight
– You need flexibility
– You can’t be bothered to research the flights.
In terms of pricing, agencies can be pretty competitive as well.
I paid 1,300 euros for my return flight to Australia and did:
Paris to Singapore – Stayed a week in Singapore – Singapore to Melbourne – Stayed a year in Australia – Sydney to Bangkok – Stayed a month in Thailand – Bangkok to Paris
What do I recommend?
Back then, I chose to go through an agency because it reassured me and made it very easy. Financially it didn’t cost me any more and was giving me way more options than booking it myself.
However you ticket is only flexible for a year, which means that you have to come back within a year. If I were to do it again, I would take a cheap single flight and just book the return whenever I’m ready. The reason for that is that Australia will change you and you might want to come back sooner, later or even go somewhere else.
I actually wanted to travel another few months in Asia but didn’t because I had that return flight to Paris. I had paid quite a bit of money for it and didn’t want to let it go to waste. But now, I wished I had the flexibility to just book whatever I wanted.
I was very flexible in terms of dates and times. I didn’t mind if it was in the middle of the day or the week, I wasn’t working so could do what I wanted. Because I was so flexible, I could have found some great flight deals and make even more of my travels.
But this, my darlings, is up to you! Just do whatever you feel comfortable with! That’s all that matters!
5 – Sort out the first couple of weeks
Alrighty! So now that everything is done and you are physically going to Australia, you can start planning out!
Before you just go ahead and start planning your entire year read the following facts!
Here are a couple of things we don’t realise before getting there but yet can’t be more accurate:
– Plans will change
– You will not do what you think you will do
So, now that you know that, we can start talking! 😉
Let me explain. When we leave for such a long time, we kind of want to plan everything ahead. We want to be prepared and make sure we don’t leave any room for mistakes.
The thing is: “ain’t gonna happen Mate”.
You don’t know what you are going to get. You think you might like a specific place or job and will spend a lot of time there, for example but you might not.
That happens very frequently. People imagine it’s going to be a certain way. They have expectations and if these expectations aren’t met, they are disappointed. Generally that’s how they end up hating the experience and going back home early.
If you want to make the best of your experience, don’t have expectations and take it as it comes.
Your adventure will depend on:
– the job you found (can be super cool, can be horrible)
– the people you meet (some could become your best friends, some could make it very hard for you)
– the place
– the atmosphere
– the climate
– the accommodation
– the car (could be a great car, could break down all the time and cost a bunch of money)
Anyway, you get my point.
You can’t control all these parameters. Therefore don’t plan your entire year. Plans will change and that’s ok. That’s exactly how to get to live the best adventures!
So, to get back to the planning. Only get your first couple of weeks sorted.
As much as I am saying you shouldn’t plan, you always kind of need to know what you are going to do for the next two weeks. Nobody wants to end up homeless for the night. So pick a place that you think you’d like, look it up and find a place to stay.
Depending on your budget and wishes, you can book your accommodation on:
Get yourself at least one or two weeks. This will give you time to see if you like the place and fancy staying. You might also get a job within these 2 weeks.
After two weeks, if you want to stay, you can start looking into some more permanent accommodation. Here are a couple of websites to check out:
If you don’t want to stay then just repeat the process somewhere else.
Having your accommodation sorted for the first couple of weeks will take pressure off your shoulders but also give you more time to do the important stuff such as:
– open a bank account
– get your tax number
– find a job
Ideally, prepare your CV (or resume) before going to Australia, that way as soon as you get there you can start looking!
6 – Exchange money
Once you get to Australia, you will need to open a bank account (and we will get back to that) but meanwhile, you will need to come with at least a little bit of money. Exchanging money can get very expensive.
I personally tried pretty much every possible way to exchange currency and I came to the conclusion that using Transferwise was the best option.
Also, I believe that for this kind of experience, Transferwise covers all money needs. It’s an all-in-one solution and that’s why I can’t recommend it enough.
Basically, you can create a free account with Transferwise where you will get a master card debit card and access to various currency wallets. You can either load your debit card with various currencies, transfer money to a bank account or use these wallets as bank accounts.
The best thing about Transferwise, besides all the things you can do with it, is that it works out very cheap. Transferwise doesn’t work like normal banks. They don’t actually change the money. You transfer money into your main currency and they will transfer the money into the chosen currency to your wallet (or bank account). That way, they never exchange the money, they just move it around in a smart way. And you, as a customer, get a way better deal. They provide a better exchange rate and very low fees.
Personally, I couldn’t live without it . Well I could but it would cost me way more money. So the best piece of advice I would give is for you to give it a try. You can create a free account here and use the simulation module. They will tell you exactly how much money you will get and what the fees will be. You can then compare it to other options.
I hope this guide to plan a Working Holiday Visa in Australia was helpful! Let me know in the comments how it’s going for you!
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