Doing a gap year in Australia? Everything you need to know is below.
With my trip coming up to Australia, a lot of people have been asking me what do they need to do/sort. It sounds a lot, but it’s actually pretty simple and straight forward. DO NOT PAY for a company to do these for you. A quick google search, or I’ve posted some links below to help you, and it’s straight forward, and most are FREE to sort.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE:
These are things to do while you are still at home, before you arrive in Australia. Start to sort these around 3 months before you plan to leave for Australia.
* Working Holiday Visa – This can be sorted up to 12 months before you plan to leave for Australia. If you have no criminal convictions, don’t want to work in a hospital or with children, it should be pretty straight forward, and pretty quick to sort out. But it is advisable to not leave it until the last minute. Check out my blog post about everything you need to know about a WHV here.
* Unlock your phone – Get an Aussie sim card when you are in Australia, as it’ll be loads cheaper for you, but your phone needs to be unlocked so any network can work on it. Local markets usually have someone that will do this for you.
* Open an Aussie bank account – Do this while you are still at home. It literally takes 5 minutes to sort, then it is done. The main reason for sorting it before you leave, is because it can take 10 days to transfer money across. So it’s easier to sort before you leave, then the money is in your account, ready to use for when you arrive in Australia. I went with Commonwealth, which is a really popular bank in Australia. It is the Everyday Smart Access Account that you want to open. They’ll ask you a few questions, including what you’ll be doing for work and what you are earning. Just select you are unemployed and you don’t know what you’ll be earning. Select a branch that will be near your starting point in Australia, then once you are in Australia, just go there, and you’ll collect your debit card. You will need to take your passport, and your visa grant letter with you. To open a Commenwealth account, click here.
* Let your UK bank know – Even if you don’t plan to use your card abroad, let them know. That way, you won’t have to make any expensive long distance phone calls to them once you are down under.
* Sort out travel insurance – This is a must!! If you’re not clued up about travel insurance, check out my blog post about the basics, here.
* Sort out CV – Update your CV before you leave, and take a hard copy with you, as well as a digital.
* Find and book a hostel/hotel for the first few nights – Last thing you want to do after such a long haul flight, is mess around trying to find somewhere to sleep for the night. Always book a few nights accommodation before you arrive somewhere completely new. You can wing it as much as you like once you are there.
* Don’t plan out a few months – Plan the first few days, a week at most. Because your plans WILL change. Doesn’t matter how set you are on them, they will change. You’ll meet people, and you’ll decide to go off with them for a bit. Don’t have a set itinerary for months because you won’t stick to it.
ONCE YOU ARE IN AUSTRALIA:
These are things to sort out once you are down under. Again, they’re really quick, simple and easy. Don’t put off sorting them, and try to sort them within the first couple of weeks arriving in Australia.
* Collect debit card – Collect your debit card from the branch you selected. (See above.) You will need to take your passport and visa grant letter with you.
* Medicare – Apply for Medicare. Basically it is Australia’s equivalent to the EHIC card. It will allow you to get free medical care, as the UK is part of the Commonwealth. Although, you will still need travel insurance! It is limited to how much it will cover, and obviously doesn’t include loss/stolen possessions and any legal fees etc, which your travel insurance will cover. Just fill out the form, and your card will arrive in a few weeks. It is FREE. Click here to apply.
* Tax File Number – Really important, as you need this for when you start working. It can take a few weeks for them to sort it, and get you on the system, so is best to not leave it until you are searching for a job. Again fill out the form, it’s free. Click here to apply.
* Purchase a SIM Card – Get an Aussie sim card, as it’ll be handy when applying to jobs, meeting up with friends etc. Most people get a Pay as You Go sim. Vodafone, Optus and Telstra are the 3 networks in Australia.
* Search for a job – Decide if you want to do 3 months farm work, or maybe work in a bar, in which case you’ll need an RSA (licence to serve alcohol.) Retail jobs are also popular with Working Holiday Visas.
Last of all, have fun! Despite it being a Working Holiday Visa, you are still travelling, so don’t forget that. I’ve met so many people that say they hardly saw any of Australia while they were over there, because they were too busy working. That kinda defeats the point of going over there to travel in the first place. Yes you need money to enjoy those things, but lay off the alcohol and nights out for a bit, and you’ll soon save the money up.