Thousands of students every year apply for visas to allow them to live and work in Australia for their gap year, where they can spend up to 12 months travelling and experiencing one of the most popular gap year destinations in the world.
For a really different and rewarding experience, one of the many volunteering programmes could be the best choice. These include working on coral reef projects at the Great Barrier Reef, teaching English, helping refugees or working with wildlife such as kangaroos, dolphins, marine and conservation projects.
Gap year tours
You could plan your own itinerary or join a gap year tour – there are many trips for any budget. The good thing about tours is they can be booked in advance and there are departure dates all year round.
If you’re between 18 and 30 years old, you’re eligible for a Working Holiday visa that will allow you to live and work in Australia for 12 months, allowing you to earn as you travel to fund your trip. If you arrive in Australia without a work permit you’ll need to leave the country to get one, so make sure you’ve got everything sorted before you get there.
You’ll need to have enough money up front to support yourself for the initial stage of your working holiday and you’ll also need to have a return or onward ticket or prove you have the funds for a fare to leave Australia.
The Australian Government doesn’t allow Working Holiday visa holders to arrange employment before arriving, so someone like Smaller Earth Work and Travel Australia (see the site here) is perfect to help you get set up during the first couple of days and, crucially, give you access to job listings.
Get comprehensive travel and medical insurance before setting off. Compare different packages and make sure you get the right one for you – for example, think about any kind of random activities you might choose to do. Your policy needs to cover medical costs, including air ambulance.
Keep up-to-date with your country’s travel advice for the region and learn from their recommendations. See the TRAVEL.STATE.GOV website for travelers from the US or the FCO website for more information on all the FCO advice for the UK in Australia.
It’s also vital to be in touch with your fellow travellers and people back home. The best way to do this, and keep your costs down, is buy a pre paid local SIM card for Australia before you leave. Check out Australian SIMs at ritesim.com for some pre loaded local SIM cards with different credit and data packages.
The beauty of these are they give you a local phone number, local rates for texts, calls and data, free incoming calls (so those at home can get in touch at any time with no cost to you) and free local calls between the network provider numbers. It basically gives you the option to use your phone much as you would at home, for much cheaper than if you were to use your current provider.
Above all, have a great time – it’s a once in a lifetime experience – enjoy every minute!