Planning your trip to Australia
by Sam Daams, 14 Nov 2003
So, who is this experience set aside for? Unfortunately not for everyone! The visa requirements stipulate that this visa is only available to passport holders, without dependent children and between 18 and 30 (incl.), from the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Ireland, Korea, Malta, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Hong Kong SAR, Finland and Cyprus.
Of course this doesn't mean you can't travel to Australia and backpack the country, it just means you don't apply for this specific visa which allows you to work there. From most countries though, getting a three or six month tourist visa or ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) is very easy and applies to nearly everyone, regardless of age.
Per country there might also be other possibilities to obtain some type of working permit in Australia, for example the Special Program visa which allows work in Australia through pre-approved programs. Check out the Australian Department of Immigration to find a visa that might apply to you. You will also find links here to apply online for the Working Holiday Visa and other visas to Australia. These online applications are extremely quick and this way you know you are never paying too much.
The most expensive part of any trip to Australia is inadvertently the flight, so anyone on a budget does well to start looking into tickets well in advance. The time of year you are flying will influence flight prices more than anything else, with flights around Christmas and in the nothern hemisphere's summer especially high. Generally, off months like March and October will guarantee you the best rates which is good to keep in mind if you are flexible about when to depart.
Another major influence on the pricing of your ticket will be the length of time you want to travel for. Open ended tickets that are valid for up to one year are going to cost substantially more than a ticket that is only valid for a maximum of three months with a pre-booked date of return. This is also the time you want to start thinking about adding in any stopovers on the way to and from Australia. South Eastern Asia and New Zealand are often included as stopover destinations, but there are other otions like the Americas and Africa which might be interesting, either for personal or financial reasons.
Keep in mind when looking at tickets that the seasons on the southern hemisphere are opposite to the nothern hemisphere and make sure the city you fly into is a decent destination at that time of year. People who have flown into Darwin in the middle of the rainy season or into Cairns while the box jellyfish are lurking off the coast will be able to convey the importance of this. For more detailed information on the average temperatures and weather in Australia have a look at the Weather Chart of the largest cities in Australia.
Although you always expect nothing to go wrong on a trip, it is best to be prepared for the worst. Good insurance is a must on any trip and when you are travelling for anywhere up to a year, this is no different. Although a lot of countries have reciprocal medical coverages with Australia, it is advisable to take out your own insurance as the coverage offered by the Australian government only covers basic medical treatment.
Coverage wise, it is also important to make sure that you are covered for any work related accidents, for basic 'adventure sports' like diving and white water rafting and for a decent amount if your luggage is stolen, as this is where the vast majority of all claims are made. Other areas to look at are medical, emergency, accident, repatriation and legal cost coverages among others. It really depends on you and what you are comfortable with leaving out or wanting to include. If you have any pre existing conditions, make sure the insurance company is well aware of these in advance so as not to run into any unpleasant surprises when submitting claims at a later stage.
Many travellers either extend or cut short their trip by a few months so making sure your insurance company will easily (and cheaply) allow you to purchase extra months or get a refund is something you definitely want to look at. Any insurance which is extendable up to 18 months should give you plenty of room to manouvre. As you are often not covered for medical expenses the first months after returning home, it is also smart to think about purchasing an insurance that allows you to add this type of 'return home' medical coverage on to the regular insurance.
When on a budget, insurance is an area you want to look into well as there is often money to be saved here. The huge differences in sales prices offered by different insurance companies in one country are certainly not always justified by a difference in coverage. With a commission percentage of up to 50% on insurance sales, there is some room to play with the sales price largely depending on how many intermediaries there are between the underwriter of your insurance and the seller itself. Be sure not to overpay, but also not to under insure!
By yourself or with a group?
If you do not have any friends interested in travelling with you, the choice to travel for such a long period by yourself is not always an easy one to make. Although you will inadvertently find that you are never alone for very long as a backpacker in Australia, some prefer the security and comfort that travelling with a group brings along. To accommodate in this, and to help arrange all other aspects of a backpacking trip to Australia, different organizations sell pre-arranged trips to Australia which include things like flights, pre departure information, airport pick up on arrival, an orientation session, a few nights in a hostel, insurance and so on. Although it might not always be your idea of an independent trip, these pre-arranged packages do include benefits like getting to know people quicker and getting some of the labour intensive arranging work taken care of. Also, because they often purchase flights in bulk, a fully pre-arranged package can be as cheap, if not cheaper, than doing it all on your own.
Click on the country of your citizenship below to open a new browser window that will take you directly to an organization in your home country specializing in working holidays in Australia.
More Australian resources before your trip
Check out these valuable travel resources when researching a trip to Australia. They will open in a new browser window.
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