If you want to see more with less money, a working holiday is the way to go. A working holiday allows you to visit a country for longer than the average tourist, with the opportunity to work during your stay. To be eligible for a working holiday, you must apply for a working holiday visa in advance, and once this is approved, you can enter the country, usually for 1 – 2 years, and can work. There are so many benefits of a working holiday.
Certain countries have agreements with others, so your eligibility can depend on your nationality. These are the best working holiday destinations for Australians.
My first two overseas trips were working holidays in Canada. During both of my working Holidays in Canada, I based myself in Lake Louise and travelled around the US, Mexico and South and Central America. I generally worked three months then travelled one, however you can do a working holiday in a number of ways. The benefits of a working holiday are highlighted below.
The Benefits of a Working Holiday
As soon as you start working, you don’t need to spend your savings
Both times I did a working holiday, I had a job organised before I arrived in the country. This meant I would fly in, spend a week exploring then head to my new town and start work. As soon as the money starts rolling in, you don’t need to spend your savings. You can live off your earnings and even save more money for travel. This is just one benefit of a working holiday.
Read – The most common working holiday jobs.
Fully immerse yourself into another country, culture and way of life
Your experience in another country will be 100% different if you go on a three week holiday compared to a working holiday. A working holiday allows you to immerse yourself in another country, learn another way of life and gain a deeper appreciation for different cultures. During a holiday, you only just scrape the surface, often moving quickly to get as many picture perfect photos as possible. You don’t get the full experience.
You can travel longer
Being able to make money along the way means that you will be able to travel for longer. Every time the funds get low, simply stop and work for a month or so then get back on the road. I generally worked for three months then travelled for one during my working holidays. Some prefer to travel up-front for several months and then spend the rest of the time working in one or two different locations. Others prefer to work for a month, travel for a month and then work for a month again. Either way, the travel is sustainable in the sense that you can keep refilling your travel funds with casual employment. Not only will it be affordable, a working holiday visa means you can stay up to two years, much longer than a tourist visa allows.
Travel to a new destination every weekend
On your days off, head off on a road trip, get a hotel in a new town, go camping, travel with new work friends or go on a day trip to somewhere new. This can also be done at home but for some reason, people are generally more adventurous in other countries.
You will make local friends
Working in another country means you will make friends immediately. I met some of my best friends on my working holiday in Canada and am still in touch with them today.
When you’re backpacking or jumping from place to place, the majority of the people you meet – in hostels or on tours, for example – are other tourists that you interact with but don’t get enough time with to become close friends.
Free places to stay
Making friends overseas means that you can go and visit later and stay for free. After doing 2 working holidays in Canada, I know that if I ever returned I would have multiple people to contact and places to stay. I would return the favour if anyone visited me in Australia.
You gain a better cultural understanding
There’s really only so much you can do and learn in a country on a short 2 week holiday. While this may lead to a general understanding of a culture, a working holiday will create a deep understanding and appreciation that can only be gained by living in another country for an extended period of time.
It will look great on your resume
Some employers like to hire staff who have a good cross-cultural understanding and world experience, especially if your overseas work is in a similar industry to the position you are applying for.
It gives the chance to assess a potential expat location
If you are thinking about moving abroad permanently, a working holiday is a great way to experience a country first hand and decide if it is for you.
You can celebrate during off-peak times
It might seem like a bummer to be in your workplace instead of with your family during a holiday, but think about it this way: you can just celebrate on another day when there is fewer crowds and travel is less chaotic and less expensive. Enjoy your days off while everyone else is back at work.
You can leave sooner
If you were saving to travel for a year, you would need to save for much longer than you would if you were saving for a year overseas on a working holiday. This is because you could top up your fund throughout your year. This means that if you go on a working holiday, you could leave much sooner.
A working holiday gives you purpose
When you travel for long periods of time, sometimes you miss having a purpose. You actually miss working, having a routine and seeing your friends. A working holiday can help you balance your desire to travel, with doing something that gives you that sense of purpose.
A working holiday allows you to discover yourself
For me, the main advantage of a working holiday was the ability to discover myself. When you head overseas on a working holiday you break away from your friends and your routine. The process of moving overseas and getting set up in a new country matures you and teaches you so much about yourself, such as what you genuinely like and dislike. You stop acting and doing things because it is expected. You start to genuinely discover yourself and do things you want to do, for no other reason than you want to.
As you can see, there are so many benefits of a working holiday.
Pin the benefits of a working holiday
More tips for planning a Working Holiday
- Start by checking out my guide to planning a working holiday for first-timers.
- Ensure you leave yourself plenty of time to plan your working holiday.
- Don’t book your flights until your visa is approved.
- Start searching for a working holiday job before you even leave your home country.
- Use this Working Holiday Checklist so you don’t forget any important steps in the process of planning a working holiday.
- See – Advice from a Working Holiday in Canada
- See – Advice from a Working Holiday in Australia
- See – Advice from a Working Holiday in New Zealand
- After the experience, I discover that there are so many benefits of a working holiday. I also realised how much I had learnt. Read my lessons from a working holiday.
- Embrace the experience with an open heart and an open mind.
- Prepare to get homesick, but don’t let this impact your experience. These are my tips for overcoming homesickness.
- Make sure you create a travel budget in preparation for your working holiday.
Download my overseas travel checklist
While this checklist is designed for shorter trips, it will still come in handy for those planning a working holiday.
Get Travel Insurance for your working holiday
Travel insurance is a working holiday essential. You may be required to provide proof of travel insurance upon entry to the country you are visiting. Even if you aren’t, it is essential. You never know when something could go wrong and medical expenses can be high in other countries. When I was living in Canada on a working holiday, a friend broke his arm and this cost him in excess of $6,000. If it wasn’t for travel insurance, he would have been in debt and forced to go home early.
I recommend World Nomads for travel insurance.
If you are still unsure about getting travel insurance, read 5 reasons why you need travel insurance.