If you’ve never heard of a Working Holiday Visa, you would probably think that working abroad must involve arranging sponsorship in another country or a transfer through your job.
This makes the idea seem impossible for those who don’t have a specific professional skill.
However, for young people who want to visit other countries and earn money to supplement their continued travels, the Working Holiday Visa is an incredible resource.
There are at least 60 countries around the world that offer Working Holiday Visas to young people of certain nationalities. Meaning that you can work and travel to your heart’s content while you’re in your twenties!
But, before I get into the reasons for applying for one of these visas, let’s first talk about…
- You may have noticed that I mentioned ‘Young People’ a few times. This is because most Working Holiday Visas are restricted to people aged between 18 and 30, and sometimes 35. The top age limit will depend on your nationality and the country you are applying to.
- Most countries also limit the length of time of your employment and the type of work that you can do.
- You will need to have sufficient funds to support yourself while you’re looking for employment. Plus, you will need to be covered by some form of health or travel insurance while you’re in the country.
- Some countries may require you to complete a medical examination as part of the application process.
- Many countries have a quota for how many people of a certain nationality are granted Working Holiday Visas each year.
- Some countries will grant you an extension on your visa if you meet certain requirements. For example, I received a second year extension on my Australian visa for completing three months of rural work.
Okay, now that I’ve covered the formalities, let’s talk about the benefits of a Working Holiday Visa.
Explore new destinations
Since I first started travelling in 2012, I’ve taken up three Working Holiday Visas in three different countries: Australia (2 years), Hong Kong (1 year) and New Zealand (2 years).
As I’m now approaching 30, it is unfortunately unlikely that I’ll take up any more of these. But the 5 years that I have spent participating in one of these schemes have impacted me hugely!
The most obvious benefit to me has definitely been the ability to travel a new country and experience moments that I never would have been able to if I had just been visiting on a short-term tourist visa.
In Australia, I felt like a local while living in Melbourne for almost a year in total! It still feels like home to me now, 4 years after leaving.
I also lived and worked in Sydney for a while, and on a couple of farms in rural Queensland.
In Hong Kong, I was the Manager of a British Restaurant for a year on the beautiful Lantau Island.
And finally, in New Zealand, I’ve taken a different approach by constantly moving around the country. I’ve stopped to work in different locations for just a month or so before moving on.
My point is, once you’ve been granted your visa, you can explore your temporary home in any way you choose. Whether you settle in one place and make trips from there, or keep travelling while earning money along the way.
Make new friends for life
It’s always possible to make friends with other travellers. But when you stop, live and work in one place you’re likely to make some great long-term friendships.
Co-workers, housemates and fellow working travellers can make you feel like you’re part of a new family, while you’re far away from your family at home.
I’ve made so many new friends in the various jobs I’ve done in different countries, and even though we always end up parting as one of us moves on, I now know that there are many more countries I could visit and be greeted by familiar, friendly faces.
Gain work experience
The beauty of a Working Holiday Visa is that you can try so many different types of work!
From outdoor farm and fruit picking work, to hospitality, manual labour, retail, office work and many more options, you can pick and choose what you would like to go into.
Whether you’d like to refine a skill you already have or you’re not sure what you want to do, you can gain experience while you travel that could help you in your future career.
And even if you don’t want to continue in any of those fields after your travels, a range of wordly experience on your resume will look good to future potential employers.
Plus, you’re bound to end up with countless stories and new friends!
Learn from the locals
When you stay in one place, whether it’s in a country whose culture is similar to yours or one that is completely different, you will learn to live like a local.
You will meet locals on a daily basis and will most likely work with or even live with some.
This often means that you will learn about hidden gems and attractions which are off the beaten tourist trail and only known to locals.
You could learn some of the language, where’s best to shop, the cheapest ways to travel around and the favourite spots to enjoy a meal or a drink.
You can guarantee that the locals won’t be hanging out at the expensive touristy bars, so just ask some questions and you could find yourself having a great night away from the crowds for half the price!
Make more memories
When it comes down to it, more time spent in a country results in more incredible memories.
If you’re trying to cram lots into a short visit on a tourist visa, you’ll likely have a fantastic time.
But you will miss out on a lot of the slow days, small towns and intimate conversations that only come from taking your time and really immersing yourself in a place.
If you are excited by the idea of living and working abroad on a Working Holiday Visa, hop onto Google and look into the options that are available to you.
Make sure that you always check all of the requirements and read every clause so that you’re not caught out.
I misread part of my New Zealand Working Holiday Visa, which states that, even though I can stay in the country for up to 23 months, I can only work for a maximum of 12 of those months.
Luckily, I realised this early enough into the trip for it not to adversely affect me.
But, this shows that it is important to make sure that you understand all aspects of the visa, and don’t assume that the conditions of one will be the same as the conditions of another.
With so many countries participating in a Working Holiday Scheme, I hope that you’ll be able to find at least one that will change your life for the better.
Explore more areas of a new country, make more friends, gain more experience and make more memories!
Have you ever been somewhere on a Working Holiday Visa? What excites you most about the idea? Let me know in the comments.
Want more like this? Check out these articles:
- Moving to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa
- Moving to New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa
- Workaway: an introduction to work exchange
All images in this post are the property of lastminutewanders.com