19 Apr Gap year in Australia – advice and tips
Planning a gap year in Australia, but have no clue where to start? With so many possibilities to choose from, taking advice from those who have been there before makes plotting out an itinerary much easier.
If you are headed Down Under soon, keep the following advice in mind…
Save up tons of money before going
The rumors are true: Australia is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Thanks to its remote location relative to the rest of the globe, its sparse population, vast distances within its own borders, and high labor costs, many goods and services cost quite a bit more compared to the USA.
A dorm bed in Central Sydney will set you back $50 USD. You’ll struggle to find a sit-down lunch for less than $20 USD. A 20-ounce draft can cost $10 USD or more in some bars. These are shocking numbers, so you’ll want to land with plenty of scratch in your bank account if you are doing a gap year in Australia.
In fact, immigration officials require proof of a minimum bank balance ($5,000 USD) for virtually all nationalities in addition to having a pre-arranged visa (New Zealand is the sole exception). While many are waved through customs without being asked for a bank statement, airlines may ask you for this proof before printing off your boarding pass.
Get a working holiday visa
Unless you plan on staying for a month and then popping over to Southeast Asia for the rest of your trip, you’ll want to find a job soon after your arrival in Oz. The average traveler on a gap year in Australia spends approximately $100 USD per day – if you hold the minimum allowable funds in your account, it will spiral towards zero with frightening speed if you don’t secure a source of income.
As a foreign national, you are prohibited from seeking employment if you arrive with a tourist visa in your passport. When arranging documentation with your local Australian Consulate, seek out a working holiday visa instead.
As a citizen of the USA, this gives you the right to work in Australia for a full year if you are under 30 years of age. From slinging drinks as a bartender to picking fruit to harvesting oysters, there are numerous gigs that will allow you to enjoy this amazing nation to the fullest.
Numerous animals can kill you – be prepared
Australians often joke that everything in their country is out to kill you. While this isn’t entirely accurate (quokkas are sweethearts and drop bears are a lie), there are quite a few species that can take you down if given the chance.
When near rivers, lakes, and coastal areas which contain crocodiles, do not enter the water under any circumstances. Only swim in areas where countermeasures have been installed.
Refrain from swimming off unprotected beaches during jellyfish season, which runs from November until May. If you get stung while swimming, rinse the affected site with vinegar or salt water and contact a lifeguard – any serious reaction to a sting should trigger a call to 000 (Australia’s equivalent to 911).
Australia is also home to a wide variety of poisonous spiders. Fortunately, the most deadly of the lot (funnel web spider) is exceedingly rare in areas inhabited by humans, but you can protect yourself from a painful bite by other species by giving your clothes and shoes a good shake before putting them on and by wearing shoes when walking outside.
Consider concentrating exclusively on 1-2 regions
Unless you plan on circumnavigating the country by camper van (an odyssey which can take 7-12 months to do properly) on your gap year in Australia, you are best off focusing your attention on segments of Australia rather than the whole thing.
This nation is the size of the contiguous United States – would you be able to see all of America in just a few months, all while working a job? We doubt it.
Many travelers on a gap year in Australia focus on New South Wales and Queensland, but there are plenty of wonders across this great country (Western Australia has more than its share of dream beaches), so don’t make these states your default without weighing your options.