Everything you need to know about working on your working holiday visa in Australia!
So you’ve decided to start your adventure in Australia: amazing! Australia has an abundance of opportunities when it comes to travel, adventure, finding friends, finding yourself and earning some money!
Saving for travel is the tough part but how can you make your budget last longer while you're on the road? Read on to find out...
We all know how it goes. You’ve spent months, maybe even years (or a few hours in transit, no judgement) thinking about all those precious dollars you have for your travels. You want them to last as long as possible, to be stretched to their very limit over the course of your trip. Fast forward a month or two and suddenly you’re re-assessing. Where’s all your money gone? You swear your bank account was looking a whole lot fatter than it is now. Where did this lean, mean bank account come from??
Even the best-laid budgets can fall by the wayside, but you don’t have to suffer through that. Here’s my top budget ruin-ers, based on way too many mistakes on my part. Learn away!
One For The Road
So you’ve budgeted for food, congratulations! But have you budgeted for alcohol? Most of the party hard people will probably be nodding their heads thinking, “Hell yeah I have, budget thought numero uno!” If you haven’t, definitely do that RIGHT NOW! Even if you’re ‘not really thing party type’ it’s still worth getting that into the budget because believe me, people change on the travel circuit.
If you have budgeted for alcohol, well done. But what about water? I’m a big fan of travelling in Asia, and one thing I’m always blown away by (hey, I made this mistake too) is that people don’t budget for buying bottled water. In most Asian countries tap water is not drinkable, so you really have to beef up your daily budget to keep yourself hydrated. Annoying? Maybe. But for Asia, totally worth it!
Research, Research, Research!
So you’ve heard a whole lot from everyone who has travelled to this place you’re going about how damn cheap everything is. Awesome. You can totally stay everywhere for $5 including breakfast, and food? That’s basically free!
There’s nothing travellers love more than telling stories of the cheap destinations they go to, and then exaggerating that tiny little bit extra. Don’t just listen to your friends. Get a third, fourth or even fifth opinion from somewhere reputable, like the internet. Well, maybe not reputable, but at least you get a wide range of opinions, and there has to be somebody telling the truth in all that madness.
Maybe you do want to stay at places that are $5 a night including breakfast. If that’s the case, be ready to accept what $5 a night means. In most places (but not all) it doesn’t mean a villa on the rice fields or a bungalow with a front step straight to the beach. It probably means something a little bit more modest, and probably nothing luxurious at all. I know people who seek out these places and enjoy them (I’m one of them). But if that’s your budget don’t go on a rage about how your bathroom tap leaks or your floor tiles are uneven. Welcome to budget living.
Where To Now?
At some point in your travels, you’re going to throw away one travel idea for another. If you’re a super organised traveller, this might mean losing money on an airfare/bus ticket/activity that you’d pre-booked. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do this for the sake of your budget. As far as I’m concerned this is what travel is all about (probably why I rarely book in advance).
Even if you’re not super organised and you haven’t booked in advance, this new travel idea might end up costing more than you’d budgeted for. Does this mean you shouldn’t do it? Well, if you’re smart, no. And why is that? That is because smart people always OVER budget, so when the opportunity comes to do wild stuff (and possibly make some bad decisions) they have the coinage to accomplish that. Moral of the story, the shoestring is great, but have a little tucked away for a crazy day.
Have you had any travel experiences that have ruined your budget? Let us know in the comments below!
Speaking Australian; pretty simple, right? Wrong! Beverley gives on how NOT to confuse your snag with your stubbie!
Yeah I know what you’re thinking; Australian people speak English, I speak English, you speak English, what more could there be to learn, really?!
Spend just a few days in Australia and it becomes clear that language barriers do exist….you just have to know how to get round them!
It all starts with a visit to the pub, of course., or hotels as they’re sometimes called in Australia. You’re ready to order a pint of whatever it is you’re drinking and suddenly notice something rather alarming;
Wait, those aren’t pint glasses!
No, they’re schooner glasses and it’s basically the norm in Australia for a lager or ale to be served in one. A schooner is 425ml, about 3/4 of a pint. A friend told me a few weeks ago that beers are served this way as, if you were to sit in the Australian sun with a pint you’d probably get halfway through and find yourself drinking warm beer (never good) but I also sense it’s something to do with the stricter alcohol rules which Australia also has in place.
There are some pubs where you can buy a pint but you can also ask for something called a pot which holds 285ml – you’ll often find that you’ll get a free pot of beer with a meal in some pubs as a meal deal.
The above applies to Queensland and Victoria but in New South Wales for some reason a pot is called a middie.
In South Australia and pot is a schooner.
In Western Australia a pot measures 575ml which, being slightly more than a pint, is usually just called a pint by all the English people living there.
Maybe it’s time for a lie down……but not on the duvet. Nope, in Australia a duvet is called a doona.
Maybe you wanted to drink at your hostel though instead of at the pub? For this you’d need to go to the Bottle-O or bottle shop, generally an off license where you can buy 24 bottles or cans in a carton called a slab, a few stubbies (small, 375ml bottle of beer) or a tallie (a long-necked bottle of beer.)
Ooooh and don’t forget the goon; yes, it’s a gross cheap wine in a bag but it’s cheaper this way to get blotto, loose or magotted!
At some point you’re going to have to eat though right?
In Australia a pepper is a capsicum and an aubergine is an eggplant.
A courgette is a zucchini and if you want a toasted sandwich you need to ask for a jaffle.
A chicken is a chook and a lolly is what we’d probably refer to as sweets or candy.
tasty cheese is cheddar cheese and cheddar cheese is that plastic cheese normally reserved for barbeques and kids lunch boxes.
Want a sausage from the barbeque? Ask for a snag and if you’re having it in between two pieces of bread it’s a sanger.
Many of the food names though are just shortened versions of the original. If a word can be shortened you can guarantee that it will be in Australia:
Avocados are avos
Brecky is breakfast
Throw another shrimp (read prawn) on the barbie and get a stubbie from the Esky – an esky is an insulated container for food and drinks, usually taken to the beach to keep your beers cold!
That famous Australian dessert, the pavlova? Call it a pav.
Need to pop to the corner shop? Here it’s a milk bar.
And there’s no need to waste your breath asking for a cappuccino, that’s far too much effort, just call it a cap!
And these are just a few of the many ‘Australianisms’ I’ve come across! Can you think of any more?
The East Coast of Australia, from Melbourne to Sydney (oh and Canberra.....) and finally up to Cape Tribulation in the far North of Queensland, is probably the most popular and most visited part of Australia and with a huge amount of exciting cities and beautiful beaches to explore we can see why. But how can you travel Australia's East Coast and see everything it has to offer? 1. Take a flight There are two main budget airlines for domestic flights in australia are Jetstar and Virgin Australia (formerly Virgin Blue), both will get you pretty much anywhere on the East Coast, providing you're not fussy about having to get a bus or taxi from the airport. How about flying from Sydney or Melbourne to Ballina where, after a 30 minute bus journey you could be exploring Byron Bay or fly from Brisbane to Prosperine where you can sail, dive and snorkel your way around The Whitsunday Islands? You can easily plan your trip to Gold Coast with Expedia and try your hand (or feet!) at surfing in Surfers Paradise, touch down at Cairns airport to explore the Great Barrier Reef, stick around Sydney to find the perfect balance between beach and city-living and while away your time in Melbourne with coffee and cake in one of its many cafes. Flying isn't always the cheapest option but if you're looking to get somewhere quickly and conveniently then it's definitely the way to go. 2. Book a bus journey Greyhound Australia and Oz Experience both have different packages you can use to travel Australia's entire East Coast in one go or, if you're planning on working in Australia or just staying longer in places you like, you can opt for a 12 month pass - just use the calculator on their website to work out how many kilometres
The East Coast of Australia, from Melbourne to Sydney (oh and Canberra…..) and finally up to Cape Tribulation in the far North of Queensland, is probably the most popular and most visited part of Australia and with a huge amount of exciting cities and beautiful beaches to explore we can see why.
But how can you travel Australia’s East Coast and see everything it has to offer?
1. Take a flight
There are two main budget airlines for domestic flights in australia are Jetstar and Virgin Australia (formerly Virgin Blue), both will get you pretty much anywhere on the East Coast, providing you’re not fussy about having to get a bus or taxi from the airport.
How about flying from Sydney or Melbourne to Ballina where, after a 30 minute bus journey you could be exploring Byron Bay or fly from Brisbane to Prosperine where you can sail, dive and snorkel your way around The Whitsunday Islands?
You can easily plan your trip to Gold Coast with Expedia and try your hand (or feet!) at surfing in Surfers Paradise, touch down at Cairns airport to explore the Great Barrier Reef, stick around Sydney to find the perfect balance between beach and city-living and while away your time in Melbourne with coffee and cake in one of its many cafes.
Flying isn’t always the cheapest option but if you’re looking to get somewhere quickly and conveniently then it’s definitely the way to go.
2. Book a bus journey
Greyhound Australia and Oz Experience both have different packages you can use to travel Australia’s entire East Coast in one go or, if you’re planning on working in Australia or just staying longer in places you like, you can opt for a 12 month pass – just use the calculator on their website to work out how many kilometres you’ll need over the year and you’re away!
The great thing about travelling by bus is that it actually stops at the most popular destinations – you can see the entire East Coast by bus easily without the hassle of airport transfers and departure lounges and you’ll easily make friends along the way. Prepare for a bumpy ride though!
3. Hire a Campervan
Ah the traveller’s dream! Riding around the country in a campervan, getting back to nature, cooking on a camping stove, beers on the beach – perfect. Thankfully there are a huge amount of companies in Australia who want to make this dream come true, for a price of course.
The most popular choices are Jucy, Wicked Campers and Spaceships but there are smaller companies as well. This is when your negotiation skills come in handy as your try and play one of against the other in a bid to get the best deal: to be honest, it works!
You can also check to see if there are any relocation deals available too – this means that, usually for something ridiculous like $1/day, you can ‘relocate’ a campervan to a specific depot in a certain amount of time.
Campervanning is the ultimate adventure and ensures that you get to see, stay and do whatever you want in your own time frame.
4. Hitch a Ride Part 1
This one takes a bit of courage but once you’ve stuck your thumb out a few times you’ll get used to it. Obviously hitchhiking your way up the East Coast isn’t the most conventional way to travel and so you’re going to have to get used to being flexible. There won’t always be someone driving where you want to go and you’ll have to change plans – it could be the best thing you ever did though; meeting new people and living one day to the next without any plans can be exciting!
Obviously if you’re going to hitchhike it goes without saying that you need to be careful and stay safe especially if you’re travelling alone. Stay in contact with friends or family via text, keep your wits about you and don’t try and hitch a ride in the dark.
5. Hitch a ride Part 2
Wait, didn’t we already cover this? Well, no. Scour the noticeboards in any Australian hostel or even just pop onto Gumtree and you’ll find heaps of people already driving somewhere who want a road trip buddy or are willing to take a passenger, usually just for the cost of petrol money.
Again, this requires a lot more planning and a flexible approach but it’s definitely a fun way to meet people, have an adventure and catch a cheap ride!
In honour of London Fashion week we're talking about the latest backpacker fashions.
It’s Fashion Week which means that models from across the world will be strutting their stuff on the catwalk, showcasing the latest designer trends and inspiring high street designers to turning them into every day items we can all wear.
Will we be wearing any of these new trends though? Probably not. As backpackers we don’t have the room in our luggage or room in our budget to keep up with the latest in fashion.
So what do we do?
Well, we come up with our own. The RTW Backpackers team don’t claim to know a lot about fashion but if you’re confused about what you should wear if you want to rock the Backpacker Look this season then just follow these simple steps*:
1. Girls you absolutely must wear a bikini top every day even if you’re not going to the beach. Even if it’s raining. Even if it would probably be more appropriate to wear a bra.
In fact, don’t even bother packing a bra. You’re living life untethered now and if that goes for your body as well as your travels then you sure as hell don’t need the restrictive feeling of two curved pieces of wire digging into your ribs every time you move.
2. Boys the same goes for wearing anything but board shorts on your bottom half even if you’re not going anywhere near a beach. Even if it’s cold. Even if it would more appropriate to wear jeans or, shock horror, actual shorts. Nothing screams Backpacker Fashion like a brightly coloured pair of board shorts on a rainy day
3. Don’t even think about wearing anything on your feet except flip flops. Any brand except Havianas is unacceptable. Yes we know they’re more expensive than your average family car but there are times when you have to make sacrifices in the name of fashion. And this is one of them. Failing that you could follow in Chris’s (lack of) shoes and ditch footwear altogether – just watch out for the glass!
4. Don’t cut your hair. Ever.
5. Don’t style your hair. Ever. If you don’t look like you’ve just been for a dip in the sea, rolled around in the sand and dragged through a hedge backwards, you’re not doing it right.
6. Make sure that 90% of the time you’re wearing a singlet or vest top with a beer logo on it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been to Bali or Thailand, buy one off eBay and do everything you can to make it look like you’ve had it forever
7. Girls if you do feel like you have to do something to your hair you can’t go better than flipping your head upside down, twisting your hair around and securing with a bobby pin. Proceed with caution though; pull it too tight and you run the risk of looking like you’ve tried to give yourself some kind of DIY facelift.
8. Buy an anklet, making sure it’s one that actually ties on so you have no choice but to wear it at all times. Don’t cut it off when it starts rotting from getting wet in the sea or the shower. Buy a new one and hope no-one notices.
9. Girls you definitely need to arm yourself with the shortest pair of short denim shorts possible. Remember to wash them on a hot wash so that by the time you’ve worn them for the millionth time they’re so small that it’s practical illegal.
10. Wear as many hippy-looking bracelets as possible
11. Buy some Aladdin pants in the colour of your choice. It doesn’t matter if they make your bum look huge or that they’re really unflattering, they’re comfortable and that’s all that matters for you now that you’re travelling, right?!
*None of the following advice should be taken seriously or, indeed, literally.
A tour around South America's most notorious jail.
Ever since the plane landed on South American soil, I’d heard nothing but talk of the notorious San Pedro prison in the heart of La Paz, Bolivia. The backpacker circuit was buzzing with tales of the jail, largely due to Rusty Young’s 2003 book, Marching Powder, the must-read it seemed for every traveller in Latin America.
The book, a gripping exposé of life inside the prison, tells the story of a young British drug smuggler who, banged up for four years, came up with the idea of giving tours, thus creating one of the world’s strangest tourist attractions.
And after finding out the film version of the book is due to be released by Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B, I was desperate to see the prison for myself but looking through guidebooks it seemed that the tours had stopped. A crackdown by the Bolivian government after the release of the book I assumed.
On arrival in La Paz, however, I found a different situation. The tours were still happening.
I was given Kenny’s number by a pair of Australians, who assured me I’d have no trouble getting into the prison. And they were right. After speaking briefly over the phone, and mentioning their names, a friend and I arranged to meet Kenny the next day in the square outside San Pedro’s main entrance.
When he finally turned up, I was surprised to see how smartly dressed he was- donning an expensive looking suit and shining loafers, utterly out of place with the usual Bolivian attire. After handing over 200 bolivianos (roughly £20), we joined an apprehensive looking group of tourists and a further £5 later (a bribe to the guard on the gates) we were introduced to our guide Miguel.
Like most of the residents in San Pedro, Miguel was in on drug charges but had recently taken over the running of the tours. He explained he ran them to “raise a little extra for my children”.
And this is where San Pedro differs from every other prison in the world; whole families live inside (although wives and children are free to leave the prison during daylight hours) and the jail resembles a small town. Flanked by cells, there are restaurants, hairdressers and even a hotel.
“Many people live a better life here than out on the streets,” pointed out Miguel.
“We all have a roof over our heads and many of us have small jobs.”
Easy then to see why prison poses a better option for some in Bolivia where, according to Unicef, 59% of the population live in conditions of extreme poverty.
The tour lasted for a couple of hours and took us through the different sections of the prison. As prisoners are expected to pay for their own cells, sleeping quarters range from damp, rodent-infested holes to almost penthouse apartments equipped with en-suite facilities and televisions- usually frequented by rich businessmen in for fraud.
“Normally, people stick to their section, they don’t leave” said Miguel.
“If you go into another section especially late night you could get badly hurt or worse killed. The authorities always report this as death from natural causes.”
When asked why he could come and go as he pleased, Miguel said simply “respect”. His six-foot muscular frame was certainly an advantage and walking around the jail, his presence made me feel a little more at ease.
The tour ended at one of the restaurants. I ventured to buy a hamburger, more out of politeness than hunger, and it was quickly rustled up by one of the inmates’ wives.
Chatting while she made my meal, she told me: “I’m very happy here. I work, my family has a home and the children are happy. Outside there is nothing for us when my husband is in prison.”
As I tucked into my 50 pence hamburguesa, Miguel offered us all some cocaine, the ‘finest in the world’ he claimed and produced in San Pedro itself. Although ninety per cent of prisoners are locked up for drug-related crimes, a large percentage of the world’s white stuff is still produced from inside the wall’s of San Pedro, using makeshift ‘factories’ set up in prisoner’s cells.
I slipped Miguel an extra few notes and was genuinely relieved when the gates opened and the tour group was allowed to escape. After chatting to some of the other tourists, it seems you can simply turn up at the square at the beginning of the day and hop onto a prison tour.
At the moment, San Pedro welcomes through its iron gates around fifty to sixty travellers each day and the entry money paid is said to be used in the improvement of amenities for the inmates, however, the general corrupt nature of Bolivia makes me somewhat doubt this claim.
Anyone wanting to explore San Pedro should however act quickly. Once the film version of Marching Powder is released next year, exposing secrets of the La Paz jail, prison officials and government ministers will try harder than ever to stop the tours.
Have you managed to visit San Pedro? Was the ‘tour’ the same when you were there?