Get paid to travel: working is easy in the land down under

8 May 2012

Often times, you reach a point while traveling where you either run out of time or money. Where you dig into your wallet and think is it really possible that’s all I have left? You may even rummage through your backpack making sure there isn’t any loose change before quickly doing the math in your head.

Counting the days you have remaining in your trip and trying to figure out how much you should be spending (or should I say, rationing). But traveling is freeing. And what could be more freeing than being on the road and knowing there’s a way to fund your travels?

In fact, what’s better than getting paid to travel and experience the best that New South Wales has to offer? Honestly, not much, which is why I jumped at the opportunity when I was hired as an international travel blogger for a freelance project.

Dream job, for sure – I was afforded the opportunity to experience amazing adventures and meet some pretty incredible people. After spending a month road tripping across New South Wales, one thing that stood out was how many travellers like me were living, working and enjoying life in NSW.

With giddy enthusiasm, I settled into my seat at the Newcastle stadium. Ready to watch the Knights play the Broncos in my first Australian Rugby League game. As I introduced myself to the Newcastle fans sitting next to me, I learned that the guy was a former pro Australian football player, and the blonde twenty-year-old girl was from southern Sweden.

Newcastle Knights

She’d been traveling alone on holiday in New South Wales and was heading inland the next day for a job interview at a horse stable. She had left Sweden to embark on an Australian adventure and planned to spend a year working and travelling around eastern Australia.

This seemed to be a common theme wherever I went. The crew aboard the yacht in Sydney were Americans. The winemaker’s assistant in Hunter Valley was German – a recent college graduate who’d landed a job interning at a prestigious Australian winery. The hotel receptionist in Byron Bay was a young Canadian girl who’d been traveling in Australia for nearly a year.

When asked if she was enjoying her extended stay in NSW, she simply smiled and said, “Yeah, the money is great. I can earn a lot to support my travels.” In fact, travellers were everywhere and they weren’t just staying for a week – they were staying for as long as possible.

From the chatty French waiters who served delicious coffee at my neighbourhood café, to the mixologist from Hong Kong who crafted some rather innovative cocktails, you could see it everywhere, people from all over the world were flocking to NSW to experience the Australian lifestyle.

Even several of my friends from California had jumped at the opportunity to live abroad.  Two worked as bartenders in surf towns on Australia’s coast, while another chose a corporate job in Sydney.  For me, personally, after accepting a freelance job in New South Wales, I was amazed by how quickly and easily I was able to obtain a work visa.

The unmapped crew in the Blue Mountains

Australia is, without a doubt, one of the most welcoming countries to young travellers. For Americans between the ages of 18 and 30, the easiest way to fund extended travels to Australia is to apply for a Working Holiday Visa. The short application is handled online and only takes a few minutes for approval.

The multiple–entry visa grants the ability to travel in Australia for up to one year, and enables the traveller to work for a maximum of six months with each employer or study for up to four months.  Since travelling abroad for long periods of time can get expensive, having the flexibility of a working holiday provides an easy and affordable way to discover Australia.

In a country that embraces the philosophy of “Work hard. Play harder.” it’s certainly enticing to be able to work and travel wherever you want to go. Let’s face it. Australia conjures images of world-class surfing, postcard beaches, cosmopolitan cities, good-looking people, nightlife, parties, great shopping, restaurants, adventure sports, rainforests, exotic animals, breathtaking natural beauty and the rugged wilderness of the Outback.

It’s an incredibly fun, safe place to visit, and, especially for Americans, travelling and working in Australia is an easy transition.

Kelly Harmon