The pandemic has most likely made you want to discover the world as soon as restrictions are lifted. When the world opens up and adventure calls, you should consider going on a trip for longer than a few months. You don’t even need to have much money set aside! With the Working Holiday Visa (WHV), you can travel and work abroad for long periods of time.
Australia is the number one destination for a WHV. Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Zoé now lives near the beaches in kangaroo country. She answers all your questions about the WHV. Her primary goal was not to stay in Australia for a whole year, but with the pandemic, she decided to stay there, and she loves it.
The WHV allows Canadians between the ages of 18 and 35 to legally work and travel abroad for up to two years in more than 30 countries and territories.
“Thanks to the WHV, you could travel a long time, earn money and learn a new language, so what are you waiting for?”
We discuss the visa application process, travel, culture, jobs and budget. Everything to reassure you and motivate you to jump in with both feet in this incredible experience, as Zoe did.
How’s Your Working Holiday Visa in Australia?
“My experience is really different from that of most people since I live here during the pandemic. I would say I had a really good experience. I haven’t been able to take as many trips as I would have liked, but I wouldn’t want to be in any other place in my life right now.
During the first two months, I took a lot of trips. I went to Bali, and it was really beautiful. When I got back, that’s when I learned about COVID and how serious it is. It happened at the same time that I wanted to start working, so it wasn’t exactly the best timing. The moment I had to make the big decision to leave, I had only been travelling for two or three months, so I decided to stay, and I believe it was the best decision I could make.
There was a 3-week period where everything was closed, and there was nothing I could do. Afterwards, restaurants started to open, so I decided to go door to door and found a job that helped me a lot. ”
Why Did You Choose Australia? Was It in Order to Meet the Beautiful Australian Surfers?
“Yes, that’s always an advantage. Haha! No, personally, I had been talking about Australia since grade 10. I think it’s because of the beaches, the good weather… I had such an image of Australia in my head that I always said to myself, ‘I have to find myself in Australia.’ It took me a lot of years to make the trip. I always had something else in my life, including school.
There was a year where I found myself and told myself that something was missing, so I decided to take this leap of faith. All I did was buy the plane ticket, and that was the first step in getting to Australia. The step which is sometimes the most difficult, finally because it takes the courage to buy it, this plane ticket there. But once it’s done, that’s it! ”
How Did You Prepare for This Experience in Australia?
“I prepared myself, but not too much. I should have prepared a bit more, but… I watched videos on YouTube about Australia. I watched videos from other travellers on how to pack a backpack. I got advice about little pockets to put your laundry in, things like that… and to bring padlocks, so people don’t steal your backpack.
I also read a few books on what to see in Australia, where to go, which hostels to reserve. So I made a list of things I wanted to see on my trip. The most important thing is knowing what time of year to visit places. It helps you determine the optimal period. It helped me because Australia is such a big country. The temperature is not the same in the north and the south, so we had to plan that well.
I used two books to plan: Lonely Planet, which was only for the east coast and Eyewitness Travel, which covered a lot of information.”
“I have a lot of experience with catering, from when I was young. Given the pandemic, I told myself that I just needed the money, and it didn’t matter to me what job I did. I went door-to-door at restaurants. It took me quite a while, about a week, I would say. I didn’t know what to do, and one day I received three calls from three different restaurants. That’s when I finally got a job.
In Australia, they have what they call a ‘trial shift.’ I don’t exactly agree with that… A ‘trial shift’ means that the restaurant can ask you to come and work for two hours without paying you. You have to work for two hours, and then they tell you if they want to keep you or not. I had to do that and finally got a job at one of the restaurants called Café le Monde. ”
Is That How You Got Your Job on the Farm?
“For my job on the farm, no. I was lucky because I found out about it from a guy who was a friend of mine in Melbourne. We hadn’t spoken since. I was like, ‘OK, I have to do something, either I go home, or I do some work on the farm.’ It was the same thing for him; he had to do work on the farm.
So I contacted my friend from Melbourne and asked him how he was. It had been about six or seven months since I had spoken to him. That’s when he told me he was doing farm work in the north. I asked him if they were looking for more people to work on the farm. He told me yes and that he would ask his boss the next day. This is how I found my job on the farm.”
In addition to door-to-door and word of mouth, jobs can also be found posted on hostel bulletin boards or on “Gumtree” or “Craigslist” classified ad sites in Australia.
Was the Income That You Made Working in Australia Enough to Cover the Cost of Living?
“Yeah, I think the pay in Australia is really good, and I’m going to miss it when I get home. The wages are quite high. I was quite surprised, even for farm work.”
Zoé recommends finding remuneration by the hour for farm work and not ‘per piece.’
What Advice Would You Give to Those Who Want to go on a Working Holiday Visa to Australia?
“If you’re considering a WHV in Australia, my advice is ‘go!’ Do this even if you are not completely confident or sure.
What helped me was talking to people who were already in Australia. Even though we weren’t friends at the time, they had a lot of advice to share. I took the plunge, texted an old acquaintance and said, ‘Hey, I’m in Australia, I know we don’t talk to each other anymore, but I would love to have a friend in Australia, to know someone from home.’ It’s really positive to have something in common, and that’s how we started our friendship. I also met my best friend in Australia.”
Are You Ready to go to Australia (or elsewhere)?
If you want to make your dreams come true like Zoe, it is absolutely possible! Applying for a WHV sounds complicated, but it’s a relatively quick process. You must first visit the International Experience Canada website. You will then have to choose a destination and check the eligibility criteria because every country is different. For some countries, WHVs are available to Canadians up to 30 years old, and others allow up to 35 years old.
Chile, Costa Rica, Taiwan, New Zealand are just some of the many destinations you can choose from (it’s not just Europe)! Then you will have to prepare the requested documents and submit your request. Once the visa is received, you are ready to buy your plane ticket and fly!
Now that you know (almost) everything about the working holiday permit, what would be your dream destination?
The original interview was conducted by Safia Dodard and compiled by Britney Claveau.