Australia, New Zealand, USA – after school or at the beginning of their studies, many people realize that there are still many opportunities in this phase of life that are difficult to realize later on. See other countries and meet new people, leave everyday life behind you. Work and Travel could be just the thing for you if you’re looking for a stay abroad that’s a mix of vacation and work. But before we can really set off, there is a lot of preparation to be done. What exactly is a Work and Travel, for whom it is possible and what you need to know, we show you here..
Work and Travel: definition and requirements
A Work and Travel is self-explanatory in a way. It is a special kind of stay abroad where you combine working (Work) with traveling (Travel). Instead of just going to a country to visit it, you will take on odd jobs there, i.e. you will do planned job hopping.
Work and Travel is therefore an attractive alternative for students to other forms of stay abroad, such as an au pair or as part of an Erasmus program, because with Work and Travel several places can be visited.
Australia, New Zealand and Canada are the preferred destinations, these are the classic Work and Travel countries. However, there are certain conditions attached to Work and Travel:
The “Working Holiday Visa” is the basis for Work and Travel in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It allows you to stay and work in these countries for up to one year. For Austrians, however, this visa is only available for New Zealand, Swiss cannot apply for a working holiday visa.
Many people want to travel to the USA – but the classic working holiday visa does not apply to them. “Work and Travel USA” is therefore more of an umbrella term for various individual ways to organize your stay abroad in the United States of America:
As an internship, farm and ranch work, volunteer work, au pair and summer camps in the U.S. For most of these stays in the USA, the J1 visa (also called “J1 Exchange Visitor Visa”) is required.
Varies from country to country, but generally Travel and Work participants must be at least 18 years old and no more than 30 years old when applying for the visa. In some countries, such as Chile or England, older participants are also permitted.
Although you earn money to be able to keep your head above water locally. However, you should plan for the costs of organization – if you do not take care of everything yourself, see below. In addition, there are about 300 euros for the visa. And some countries require reserves at entry of about 1.700 to 3.200 Euro to bridge times when you might not find a job. So with Work and Travel no riches are accumulated.
Since you will mainly be doing semi-skilled work, you should be prepared for jobs where you can expect hard work in one form or another: shearing sheep in Australia, helping on farms and selling the products grown at markets are just as possible as working as a waiter, cook or receptionist.
Planning: On your own or still via organization?
Overall, work and travel is of course a great way to gain experience. Through the longer stay and the work on site, you will get to know the culture and people of the country in a completely different way than if you were only traveling as a tourist.
You will also make international contacts and gain work experience that can be useful later on. You will not be able to take such a long sabbatical – you can usually spend a year on the road – as easily later in your professional life as you can immediately after school or during your studies.
If you plan to explore a foreign country in this way, you will have these advantages over other stays abroad:
- Lower costs. Since you will be earning additional money during your stay, a Work and Travel usually requires less start-up capital. If everything goes smoothly, your trip will finance itself through your work.
- Freer design. You are not bound to one place, but can freely choose how long you want to stay at which places, until you are drawn to another place again.
The only question is: How do you get there?? In principle, you have two options: To organize the whole thing on your own or to participate in a work and travel program.
The inexpensive variant: On your own
For those who want to save money, probably only organizing your own is an option. However, let me tell you: It will be time-consuming and tedious. You can save about 600 Euro.
As for other costs: it is not possible to name absolute fixed costs that you should expect, because they depend entirely on the person and your individual wishes: What do you value – is couchsurfing enough for you or do you prefer sleeping in a hostel? What do you want to treat yourself to in terms of experiences such as excursions?
You have to calculate between 800 and 1600 Euro for a flight – depending on the destination country, departure airport in Germany and which season: Flights in the high season are of course more expensive than in the low season. All in all, calculate more generously than too scarcely additional costs.
Ongoing costs will be incurred through accommodation and meals, here you should calculate with 10 to 30 euros per day, depending on the situation. Also plan for means of transportation: If you might want to purchase a used car, budget around 500 euros.
The more expensive option: through an organization
This has the great advantage that a lot of things are taken off your hands, especially since you would probably first have to laboriously research contacts and addresses yourself. But there are other advantages:
- Flight booking (outbound/return)
- Accommodation agency
- Job agency
- Contact person on site
- Contacts to other backpackers
- Help in case of trouble
Get information: Experience reports and the German Foreign Office
You should do your research well when considering a work and travel, preferably by reading experience reports. There are – from the mentioned classical Work and Travel countries – in principle world-wide comparable stays possible.
However, there are countries, for example in Asia, which are not unreservedly recommendable, especially for women traveling alone. The omnipresent terrorist threat is one thing, violent crimes against women and corrupt authorities another. You can find out what conditions you can expect in which countries on the website of the German Foreign Office.
In addition, the “JUBI”, the youth education fair, takes place from January to December at different locations in Germany. It is one of the largest and most popular trade fairs and provides information with flyers and brochures about Work and Travel. In addition, there is of course the possibility to talk to exhibitors directly on site.
Work and Travel: The Checklist
As tempting as the idea of traveling to a foreign country and making your way there on your own is, you should not rush into anything. Because, unfortunately, before the big trip there is still an equally big mountain of organization to do.
But don’t let this discourage you, because with the right planning your Work and Travel can become a valuable experience for your whole life. The following checklist will help you not to forget anything during your preparation, so that you can enjoy your work and travel without any problems.
Check your passport.
If you are planning a trip – which is the case for the majority of all Work& Travel – outside the EU, you will need a passport. So if you don’t already have one, be sure to apply for one. If you already have a passport, it is important to check how long it is still valid. It is better to apply for an extension of your passport early, so that you do not run into time constraints at short notice.
Open a bank account.
For some jobs it is a basic requirement that you have an account in the respective country. An account can be opened from home for those who have chosen Australia for Work and Travel, for example. This saves time and effort on site. You can open an Australian bank account online at Westpac Bank with Westpac Choice.
On the other hand, if you are doing Work and Travel Canada, you can not yet arrange this from Germany. Therefore, the first step in Canada should be to visit one of the big banks, for example Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia or Bank of Montreal.
Visit a doctor.
Depending on your pre-existing conditions and the country you plan to travel to, you should get an appointment with your doctor. This can also tell you whether certain vaccinations are recommended for your destination. As vaccinations sometimes have to be repeated several times until you are fully protected, you should find out about them in good time. This point should also be included in your budget, because vaccinations are not cheap.
Take out insurance.
You will spend a long time abroad and should definitely take out the necessary insurances in order not to take unnecessary risks. In the first place is the health insurance to be covered in case of illness. Also check if your liability insurance is valid abroad, as you can never know exactly what will happen on a longer trip.
Apply for a visa.
Since you will not be traveling as a pure tourist during your vacation, but also want to accept paid work, you will need an appropriate visa that allows you to accept paid jobs abroad. This is in Canada, New Zealand, Australia or Japan for example the Working-Holiday-Visa. However, find out exactly which visa you need for your trip. Also, check if you meet the requirements for such a visa, as there is often a maximum age specified.
plan a trip.
Which parts of the country you want to travel to? In which cities do you want to stay longer and how do you want to travel locally? Take enough time to think through your trip and decide on an itinerary. For example, you can also plan flights in advance and save money. If you are still unsure, you can also go to a travel agency to find out more or make other Work& Ask travelers about their experiences.
If you are abroad for a longer period of time, you should not forget to take care of what is happening in Germany. What happens to your apartment and car in the meantime? Can you cancel or pause your cell phone contract? Once you have taken care of these matters, you can not only save money, but also enjoy your stay.
Translate your driver’s license.
If you do not want to do without the mobility of a car abroad, you should get an international driver’s license. These are not mandatory in every country, but many car rental companies require an English driving license. To save yourself the stress on the spot, you should therefore already apply for an international driver’s license in Germany. This usually costs between 15 and 20 euros and is definitely worth it.
Have you already thought about where you will stay during your stay abroad? Especially for the first time after your arrival it often makes sense to book a room in a cheap hotel or hostel. Of course you can also stay longer in a hostel. Other ways to find accommodation include couchsurfing or a cheap rental apartment.
Take a language course.
Since you will not only spend a long time abroad, but also work there, it is highly advisable to attend a language course. You can either do this already at home in Germany or use the first time after arrival to learn the language at your first stop in the new country. The advantage of this is that you can use it directly in everyday life. The disadvantage: starting completely without any previous knowledge makes communication difficult.
On a work and travel trip you will be on the road a lot. So do not save money in the wrong places. In particular, you should invest in a good backpack, as it will accompany you throughout your trip. You should also adapt your shoes and clothing to the local conditions.
Prepare your application.
As the name Work and Travel implies, you will be working in various places during your trip to earn extra money for your life. Unfortunately, in many countries it is just like in Germany: No application, no job. Prepare your application documents at home, so that you can start right away when you arrive. Tips for applying in English can be found here.
Write packing list.
Everything is planned, the travel date is set and only the suitcases need to be packed? To make sure that you don’t forget anything, you should definitely write a list before packing, on which you can check off everything that you have already stowed away. Here the clear rule applies: Better to check once too often than to discover after arrival that you have forgotten something.