If someone asks me what is my favourite thing in the world, I say‘travelling overseas’ without even thinking about it.I had many different jobs while I was at school and uni, and everypenny I made went towards my next holiday. First I conqueredEurope, then Canada, then Southeast Asia. I never spent much cashon extra clothes or entertainment; I wanted to make sure I got to goon that next holiday—which in my case was always a backpackingor working holiday.The aim of this book is to help you plan, save and follow throughwith your next overseas holiday—whether you are 17 and havingyour first backpacking experience, or 24 and conquering your lastcontinent. If you are planning a trip to Club Med Bali, a whirlwindContiki tour of Europe, or an end-of-season footy cruise, this bookis not for you.Most people can organise a short-term overseas holiday, but abackpacking expedition or working holiday requires more prepara-tion than just choosing a destination and booking a ticket. So themajor focus of this book is the backpacking holiday and the workingholiday—if you fall into one or both of these categories you need toread this book. Backpacking is where you take the time to really ex-perience an environment and culture different to your own—it is not for those who want a short relaxing break. The challenge most of usface is getting together enough money to support a sufficientlylengthy adventure, and that’s why so many people work along theway—instead of just backpacking they go on a working holiday.I know that making mistakes and learning from them can be halfthe fun of travelling, but I hope I can help you to not make the majorkinds of mistakes that can wreck a holiday.This book goes through all the things you need to sit back andplan properly before you set off.It covers all the countries Australiansand New Zealanders can get working visas for, the conditions of thosevisas, the processes to go through and how much they cost.Remember, though, that visa conditions often change so it’s a goodidea to double-check everything before you plan a trip. And if there’sa country you really want to work in and it’s not on the list, checkwith the embassy as countries are regularly developing workingholiday programs. At the end of the book there are a few job ideasto help you get started when you arrive at your destination.Overseas travel is definitely not cheap, especially when you go foran extended period of time. These days most backpackers combinesome kind of work with travel to help pump up their bank balancesand add to their overseas adventure. Working and living a day-to-day life in a different culture is an unforgettable experience.I am addicted to travel. The only way that I was able to fund twoof my major trips was by working while I was overseas, and it defi-nitely added to the experience. Not only was I able to earn moneyand experience a different culture on a day-to-day basis, but I alsomade a stack of friends from all over the world.I’m not saying that I am an expert on travel. But after researchingand writing this book, and drawing from my own experiences, I feelthat I have a pretty good idea of how things work. I hope I can helpyou to have a successful holiday, no matter what your destination.
1-What sort of travel?
BACKPACKING/WORKING HOLIDAYSThe majority of people who plan a big backpacking trip end upworking for some part of it. At our age the major problem that weare going to face on any trip is cash—and not having enough of it.Practically speaking, combining a backpacking holiday with an over-seas working experience isn’t a bad idea.I have done both the backpacking holiday and the workingholiday, and have a pretty good idea of what the major pros and consare of each option.
CHOOSING A DESTINATION
Trying to decide where to go when you are planning a major over-seas experience is a big decision—there are just so many options.Not only do you have to decide where you want to go, but you haveto find out what it will be like at the time of year you are planningto travel. You also need to think about things like major festivals andholidays, which can mean that travel is impossible for a couple ofdays, even a week sometimes, because you won’t be able to get a roomin a hostel or a seat on a train.Here is a bit of food for thought.
Best time to go
Between November and February, when humidity is low, it isn’t toohot and there is little rain.
•Grand Palace—Bangkok, Thailand
•Trekking—northern Thailand and northern Vietnam
When travelling in Southeast Asian countries be aware of theholiday period for Chinese New Year in February, when the entirecountry may virtually shut down for a week. On my trip I was inVietnam at the time of the Chinese New Year—called the Tet Festivalin Vietnam—and for the three days we were in Ho Chi Minh City we had to eat at the same restaurant every night because most of theothers were closed .
Best time to go
Spring (March to June) is definitely the best time to visit Europe. Thedays are getting longer, the weather is generally mild, prices are lowerthan in the busy summer months. Autumn (September to November)is also a nice time to visit, but the days are getting shorter, meaningthat by November there is limited sunlight, and the mornings andevenings can get pretty cold.Peak tourist season in Europe is the summer time—July toAugust. Although it is warm, this is when the crowds are the biggestand the prices the highest. Try and avoid the winter months, particu-larly in northern Europe, where it can be very cold and where youmay find that major attractions have shortened hours—some maynot even be open in the winter months.Having said that, a lot of people successfully backpack aroundEurope for an entire year—it is all about planning where you wantto be in each season. You might like to spend the winter months inthe southern countries around the Mediterranean, like Spain, Greeceor Turkey, where it is still warm, then spend the busy summer monthsin parts of northern Europe that are less travelled, like Hungary orFinland.If you are planning on working in the UK or Ireland, like millionsof other Aussies and Kiwis, why not work during their summer time?That way you avoid the crowds in mainland Europe, and get to enjoythe best weather the UK and Ireland have to offer.Major attractions
•Buckingham Palace and Big Ben—London, UK
•The Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa—Paris, France
•Sistine Chapel and the Colosseum—Rome, Italy
•Leaning Tower of Pisa—Pisa, Italy
•Battlefields and cemeteries—north-western France, Belgium andGermany
•Scenery and glaciers—the Alps, Austria and Switzerland
•Ancient ruins—Pompeii and Rome (Italy), Athens (Greece) andCrete
•Beautiful architecture—Eastern Europe
•Beaches—Spain and Greece
Best time to go
Like Europe, the peak tourist season is between mid-June and mid-September, so if you want to avoid the crowds it is best to go in springor autumn. But remember that although things will be cheaper inthese months, some major attractions could be closed.It really depends on where you want to go and what you arelooking for—for example, autumn is a great time to see the colourschanging. If you want to work, tourist operators are looking for extrapeople in the summer months. If you want to ski while you are inNorth America, or if you are going there to work in the ski season,you will obviously want to go in their winter months (December toFebruary). Alternatively, if you are planning on camping or visitingthe far north of Canada, summer is the best time.
•Amazing scenery—Canada and Alaska
•Grand Canyon, deserts and cowboys—Texas and Nevada
Best time to go
Northern Africa—The best time to visit is spring (March to May)because the weather is warm enough to hang out at the beach withoutany crowds. Summer (June to August) is the worst time to go becauseit is really hot and is peak tourist season.Central Africa—The best time to go is January and February,when the weather is hot and dry. The worst time to go is March toMay when it rains virtually 24/7.Southern Africa—The summer months (December to February)are very unpleasant in the lowlands where it is very hot. Althoughtemperature-wise this is a good time to visit higher altitude areas,be aware you could experience a bit of rain or mist.Major attractions
•Game parks—South Africa Middle EastBest time to goSpring (April to June) and autumn (September to November) arethe best times to go. Summer is hot and dry, while winter is wet andcan get quite cold in some parts, like Turkey and Iran. Make surethat you take into account the major religious holidays when trav-elling to the Middle East, as some countries fill up with pilgrims andthe cost of living can greatly increase (accommodation, meals, etc.).
Before you attempt to go and visit any of these major attractions,make sure that you research how safe the area is for tourists:
•Jerusalem and Bethlehem—Israel
•The Dead Sea—Israel
•Petra (a city carved into a cliff face)—Jordan
South and Central America
Best time to go
Central America (including Colombia and Venezuela)—The besttime to go is over the warm and dry winter period (October to May).The summer is very hot and wet.Northern South America—A great time to go is in the wintertime (June to August) when there is less rain than the humid summer(January to April).Southern South America—the best time to visit is in the wintermonths (June to September) because there is less humidity.During the South American summer, accommodation and foodprices skyrocket, as the locals flock to the beach to go on their annualholidays.Major attractions
•Iguazu Falls—Brazil and Argentina
•Beaches—Caribbean (Mexico, Bahamas, Jamaica, etc.)