Three words – Working holiday visas! These magnificent little things are the reason I’ve been able to do the travelling I have. I am so, so lucky I live in a country that allows me to work in so many different places around the world. 42 countries in fact! That is A LOT considering a Chinese girl I met at the airport in Kiev while waiting for our entry visas said she could only get 2! And that was only because Australia and New Zealand had just recently arranged them with China. I’ve been lucky enough to have two working holidays visas so far and I had the absolute best time of my life!
I wanted to see more than the – ‘work, save as much money as possible, quit job, go on a massive trip’ would allow me. I wanted the budget European flights I’d heard so much about to long weekend hot spots I’d dreamed about. Or to be able to check out incredible bucket list destinations (eg Egypt!) that wouldn’t break the bank. I needed to be closer to these places coz hot damn it’s expensive to get anywhere from New Zealand!
Most countries require you to be aged between 18 and 30 (although you can still get one when you’re 30 and 364 days!) but some are 35, like the Canadian one for me thank goodness. You just have to check each countries requirements.
You need to have a minimum amount of money in your account when applying to show you can support yourself while you’re over there. My advice here is take A LOT more than the minimum! Otherwise you’re gonna be on struggle street for probably your whole time while abroad. It can take a couple of weeks to find a job, you’re most likely gonna have to pay a bond and a month’s rent if you’re flatting. But MOST importantly you wanna get out and about and do shit! Like go to musicals, explore your new country and finally experience those long weekend trips you’ve been fantasizing about for so long! So save, save, save as much as you can before hand!
UK Working Holiday Visa
A New Zealand company called IEP (International Exchange Programme) helped me get my visa by checking my documents and making sure I had everything before they sent it off for me. They connected me with a ‘welcome’ company in London that helped with opening a bank account, getting a sim card and insurance number etc. Now I technically could’ve done this myself and saved 400 bucks (I really could’ve done with that on the other side!) but they saved me a lot of worry and stress. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing! I thought it was definitely worth it for such a massive move. And the company they set me up with in the UK – Britbound, was worth the fee alone! Post coming on them next!
You can read a bit more about my move to London here.
Irish Working Holiday Visa
This one was easy enough to get on my own, as I knew where to find the info online. It was however much more difficult to get set up in the country. There wasn’t a company on the other side either that I knew of. If you’re from the States or Canada you have USIT.
The visa itself only cost me $120 in New Zealand, but then I had to pay €300 for the immigration card which I had to wait for HOURS in line from 6am at an office downtown in the freezing Irish weather depending what time of year you get there! (Actually I got there in summer and it was still cold!) The bank account and tax number were such a pain in the arse. I only got them relatively ‘quickly’ (one to two weeks) because I was blimmin lucky to find a flat within a week of arriving; so I could wrangle a proof of address off the lettings agency. Otherwise I would’ve been up shit creek for a lot longer. They’re very strict in Ireland because of the huge multinational tech companies there and need to keep banking practices under tight control.
Once that’s all set up though everything else is fine! You carry on your merry way and start building your new adventurous life! A lot of it is just stuff that has to be dealt with on the ground once you’ve landed. And man does it build resilience, perseverance and determination!
One amazing part of living overseas is all of the memories I have of my adventures, like this one here!
Work and Play, Play, Play!
When I got to London and Dublin I actually found it pretty easy to find work because I just signed up to recruitment agencies. They do all the hard work for you! I had no office admin experience when I went to London, but I knew that’s what I wanted to do so I could work Monday to Friday and have weekends and bank holidays for travelling. So I went to my first interview a keen bean, saying I wanted to gain experience and new skills and it worked! My first role lasted 6 months and I met so many friends there. It was amazing, absolutely meant to be!
Everything will fall into place if you believe it will!
I stayed in about 4 different areas before I found my awesome flat. I guess I was pretty lucky, but I just kept believing I would find a fantastic flat. There’s so many sites to flat hunt on. There’s also forums and expat sites to learn about people’s real experiences in a country. I spent hours researching all of this before I went. Because I was so excited about it I was happy to google away for hours!!
I said it once, imma say it again
SAVE as much money as you can before you go! Cut back on stuff you don’t need. Move home with parents if possible. Reset your priorities and stop buying shit you don’t need. Coz you’re gonna wish you had more when you get there!
Fly little birdy!
So what are you waiting for? If travelling is your heart’s desire, then I urge you go go go! Any way you can! I have never regretted a dollar, euro or pound I’ve spent on travelling (well maybe except the 12 quid I spent on a bottle of red wine on the Nile that fizzed when I opened it!) It’s the best thing I’ve done with my life. So find out where you can go, believe it’s possible and make it happen! Get googling, save your money and fly little birdies!