Work and Money Tips


So you have the ticket, the visa and the rucksack. Now what? Thousands of backpackers flock to Australia each year. Many of these travelers underestimate the time required to find a job and many more overestimate how long their savings will last them. Here’s how the average backpackers can maximize their time, travel and money in Australia.

Prep Before You Go: Think about what type of work you would like to do. What will the dress code be like? Do you have a decent outfit to wear if you need to interview? Will you require a resume? What cities would you like to work in? Weight the positives and the negatives. Sydney is a more expensive city, but there is more work there than in the outback. What are your qualifications? Do you have contacts, references, etc. if need be? You don’t want to spend a few days trying to track down contacts, phone numbers and addresses from 10,000 kilometers away.

Be Realistic in Your Work Expectations: The Australian Government calls the visa program a “Working Holiday” for a reason. The stated purpose of the visa is to allow for travelers to “holiday in Australia and to supplement their travel funds through incidental employment.” Because you are only allowed to work for three months with one employer, do not expect to nab a high paying office job with a lot of responsibility and opportunities to pad your resume. Unless you work in an in-demand field with a dire shortage, such as nursing, most work positions will be unskilled and low-paying. Employers do not wish to invest a lot of money and time training a person who will be gone in three months or less. Besides, you probably won’t be hauling around appropriate office wear in your rucksack.

Get Out of the Hostel: Although spending a few days at a hostel is good to overcome your jet-lag and become used to your surroundings, get out of hostel as soon as you can. Hostels are expensive, and add up quickly. A number of people sublet rooms and/or apartments on a month-to-month basis. It is not a wise idea to sign any long-term contract or lease as you may want to move due to financial or personal reasons. There are a few places to look for housing- check out the housing website linked from the Australian newspapers, or pick up a hard copy of the real estate section on Wednesday or Saturday. Also, look a billboards in hostels and those around university campuses. Some jobs, especially those on WWOOF (World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), will provide accommodation.

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Pick up a Backpacker Mag: Backpacker magazines like TNT list accommodation options but more importantly, jobs. There are a few articles, but these are mostly ‘fluff’ pieces: people pick up TNT and other free magazines for their advertisements, not their content. Scour the pages to see your options.

Ask Around: Talk to other travelers at the hostels. See where they found their jobs, what they loved and what they hated. Get the dirt on the jobs that suck, and find out that you can do to snag the ones that rock. Visit travel agencies and work centers. Some have bulletin boards that advertise jobs, and most will have a rack with the newest editions of backpacker magazines.

Reply ASAP: Don’t drag your feet! Jobs come and go. They generally offer very short periods of employment (no longer than 3 months), and have very quick turn around times. You can reply on Tuesday, have an interview on Wednesday and start on Thursday. Temporary work is just that: temporary. It’s not going to stick around forever. Besides, positions fill up fast.

Most Popular Employment: Although the availability of these positions varies from city-to-city and from season-to-season, most backpackers end up doing these jobs at least once, simply because they are the most flexible and there are a lot of them. Fruit picking, soliciting for r non-profit organizations, and ‘cold-calling’ intensive positions such as telemarketing and promotions can be found throughout Australia.