This is a topic I considered at great lengths before my big RTW backpacking trip. I mean a working holiday is super popular with the backpacking crowd and they definitely present some attractive possibilities, but they also come with some negatives. Here’s what you need to weigh it up.
The Benefits of a Working Holiday
The best thing about doing a working holiday is that you don’t have to save up as much cash before you go because you’re going to be earning dollar out there. Which also means you don’t have to wait as long before you jet off. Don’t get me wrong you can’t just up and leave once you’ve got enough for a plane ticket and a visa, you also need a bit of backup cash in case you don’t get a job right away, but it’s definitely quicker than saving up for a 6 month adventure where you won’t have any money coming in.
Another totally awesome thing about working holidays is that you get an authentic travel experience. When you’re living and working abroad, you meet locals in a more organic way, in your job or through your neighbours. They’re a different kind of people to those you’ll meet in hostels or on tours. You also tend to see the country in a more in-depth way when you’re food shopping and going to the bank and doing everyday things in a new country. It’s definitely a different kind of adventure.
Also, a massive perk of a working holiday is that if you use it to do something to do with your career, it’s a MASSIVE CV booster. I mean, a year working abroad in your chosen field makes you look like a total pro and it’s something not everyone with have on their LinkedIn profile. Hello job-finding game changer when you get home.
Finally, the thing that attracted me to my working holiday in Australia a few years ago was that it meant I could travel for longer. I’d been travelling Asia for 4 months and the cash was dwindling down to about 2 months left of travel and I decided, you know what, 6 months isn’t enough. How about another year in Australia? Score. It’s definitely an upside to choosing a working holiday y’all.
The Downside of a Working Holiday
It’s not all sunshine and roses though guys. Sure a full year of travelling a new country whilst working along the way to fund your adventures SOUNDS amazing, but is it as good as it sounds?
Well first you have to remember that when you’re on a working holiday, your adventures are limited to the weekends if you have a 9-5. For most of my time in Australia I worked Monday-Friday, went out on Friday night then was too hungover to go anywhere on Saturday. So basically it was the same as my life at home. Obvs this isn’t the case for everyone and you can totally see the city you’re living in on the weekends, but I struggled to travel as much as I had hoped. It’s only now that I’m returning to Australia on a holiday am I able to do some of the things that I couldn’t do when I lived there. Go figure.
Also, before my working holiday I had thought that I would work in a city for a couple months at a time, then move onto another city and pick up another job, working my way around the country. But whereas when you’re backpacking you can just wake up one day and decide to jump on a bus to Sydney, when you’re on a working holiday you have to give your job notice, give your landlord notice, go through the stuff you accumulated because you were in one place (it happens) and start looking for a job in the new destination. It’s not as spontaneous and it’s easy to get stuck in the same city.
I mentioned above that you make more local pals when you’re doing a working holiday, which is great. But the thing is, those friends are much like making friends at home when you have to gradually build up friendships, rather than the people you meet in hostels who are instantly your best friends. What I mean is, it might take a lil longer to find buddies you can go out with. Although a happy medium to this is to do a few weeks in hostels and on tours first before you settle down in the real world. Hello beer pong pals.
So what should you do?
I think it’s important to weigh up these pros and cons before you decide if a working holiday is for you. You need to think about what job you would do out there and whether it would benefit your career. Or do you just want easy casual work you can pick up anywhere?
If you want the freedom to travel around the new country, is a job going to tie you down too much? Or are happy to be a bit more settled and fully immerse yourself in a new culture?
Is it worth waiting more time to save to just travel or do you want to leave as soon as possible and save on the road?
Only you know what you want to get from your travels, I just think it’s important to assess the pros and cons before you jump into it.
Would I do a Working Holiday again?
754789% I would totally do it again.
It’s a completely different experience from what I had expected but my working holiday in Australia gave me some cool life experiences and unexpected adventures. I mean the reality of it happening again is slim as most countries only allow you to do them if you’re under 30 and hello 29 is round the corner for me. Shit.
But I think they’re really great. You just need to know what you’re getting yourself into, playa.
Are you considering a working holiday or have you been on one already? Let me know what you think in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!