Let me introduce myself. My names Tom, I'm 28, from Nottingham, England.
Next month I plan to travel in Australia, solo and may be even South East Asia if I get chance at the backend of next year.
Now there are few things thats dividing me on how I do this trip. What I really wanna do at some point is get a 4x4, drive the east coast picking up friends and family enroute and not be slave to the greyhound.
I have recently been looking into a tour company that operates in Sydney called OZINTRO. I have asked a friend who has done this and she says that the intro, while not amazing as such, really helped her out in her first week with meeting new people, setting up bank accounts, tax file numbers and so on. She felt it was invaluable to her trip for a price of 399 quid and felt that it eliminated the stress of sorting all this out while still enjoying her first week.
What I want to know is, how do people feel about these? I have other friends that have travelled and feel that its just as easy (and cheaper) to do it all off your on back, but start off in a hostel thats busy and you should be able to tag along and meet friends that way.
This choice will ultimately determine where I want start off.
Mannn so many choices!
Both points are valid. Setting up bank account and getting a tax file number is free, and trivially easy to do yourself. (If you don't know how, we'd be happy to give pointers.) But if you need the handholding, then companies like oz intro (there's also ultimate oz and a couple of further, smaller players in that field) do that - from all reports - very competently.
How easy it is to meet people and find work depends chiefly on your own personality. Even young and inexperienced me, introverted as hell when I first set out (back when before these companies existed), had no trouble finding people to talk with in whichever hostel I found myself at, and so I personally mostly scoff at these companies, and consider them overpriced junk. But there's certainly been a fair share of travellers coming through here on travellerspoint who haven't managed all that well on their own, who could've benefited from them to not feel super lonely and excluded, or who only managed to tackle the hurdle of going at all through the added feeling of security that these companies gave them. And so for them, I guess I'm glad the option is there.
In the final picture, it's a lot of money. If you feel you need it, you'll almost certainly have a great time with them. But if you feel you can do without them, you'll almost just as certainly have just as great a time - plus the added boost of knowing afterward you can do things like this all on your own.
Thanks for your insight.
How easy is it to set up a bank account off your own back? Some of the other members on here have told me that it can be done over seas, before you actually arrive in the country, but can cost you quite a lot in international transfer fee's. Also the tax file number. Where can this be set up? I only plan on working as and when I need to, but obviously if I can do as much of this as early as possible or even before I arrive then it gives me more time doing the things I want to do.
For the tax file numer: fill in the form here once you've arrived in the country: https://iar.ato.gov.au/. (See here for a bit more information about the process.) You must be in Australia already for this process.
For the bank account: The big banks are ANZ, CommonWealth, NAB and WestPac. I don't actually know which ones currently offer the ability to set up an account from abroad, but just check their websites and you should find out. (Wouldn't surprise me if they all offer it nowadays.) Otherwise, within the first few weeks of arriving in Australia (don't wait longer, as there'll be additional identification requirements), walk into any bank office with your passport and AUD $50 for an initial deposit (not certain if that's still necessary), tell them you want to open a bank account, fill in some forms, tell them not to send you bank statements, and give them your hostel's address to send your debit card to. (It should also be possible to pick it up from the bank office instead. If you open an account from abroad, the procedure is definitely to go to the bank office to show your identification and pick up your card.) Banks are all completely used to backpackers opening account for a year, and the process is completely hassle-free.
If you can budget your money well, expect one or two banks (it varies all the time which ones) to offer a no-fee account with the limitation of a maximum of 4 or 5 ATM withdrawals per month. Otherwise the cost should be AUD $5 per month for a basic account plus debit card. For backpacker purposes, they're virtually indistinguishable from each other, so unless you have a specific destination in the outback in mind where only one of them has an ATM, it doesn't matter much which one you go for. (All other things being the same, maybe avoid WestPac, since they tried to astroturf these forums many years ago, and I like that still backfiring so many years later.) :P
The cost of money transfer is completely separate from setting up a bank account on your own or through oz intro, and should also not differ between different banks, since the cost will be with the sending bank; you've already gotten good advice for this in your other thread.
This was a great post and very informative. I have also been wondering whether to take part in something similar and wondered whether it would be worthwhile. However from that explanation Sander, it seems like its quite an easy thing to do!
It makes me feel confident to just grab the bull by the horns and not bothering to pay for the service!