Hi, my name is Katie and I want to work and travel around Australia. I recently graduated from college and have been looking at different work & travel programs that I could be assisted in the process of getting everything in order to go to oz, then assist you in getting a job and housemates. I'm considering to go in November or early January (depends how much money I can save and when I commit to a program). I would be traveling alone so I really just want to make sure I pick a program that will help me meet people and sort us out with a place to stay while we're there. My biggest fear is traveling by myself, but I know if I don't go now while I have the time and freedom, then I never will. The two programs I've been looking at are Smaller Earth and Ultimate Oz. Has anyone heard of these programs, are going to oz with one, or have already gone to Australia with the program? They aren't cheap and I just want to make sure I'm not wasting my money. I saw Smaller Earth is not yet recognized by the Australian Chamber of Commerce, which worries my parents, but I don't know about Ultimate Oz. This is just something I want to be really excited about, not filled with worry and doubt. Any suggestions or comments are appreciated! Thank you... - Katie
I've never heard of Smaller Earth before; they'll probably be fine, but unless they have really big advantages, I'd let some other people try them out first and send some feedback into the world before you pick them. Ultimate Oz is a popular choice with many people here on this forum, as is Oz Intro (which was the first service of this type to be popular).
I'd also like to reassure you that whichever program you pick (or even if you'd pick none), Australia as a country is superbly suited for the first time traveller. Their entire infrastructure is backpacker-friendly. Everyone will have experience with first time travellers and be willing to help you around, and many Australians have been backpacking themselves not too long ago.
It's also virtually impossible not to meet fellow travellers. There's thousands of people arriving every day who're in the same boat, and you'll bump into them at every single hostel you'll stay at. Cooking your meals in the kitchen, or sitting around in the lounge, you'll be guaranteed to get to know them.
Because of that, I do actually personally think that going with one of those arrival packages is a waste of money; but I can also see the appeal of some extra hand holding when you don't yet know what to expect, and the reactions of people who've used these services have been pretty much positive all around. (The one negative reaction to them I've seen has been the same as what I just said: If people had known how easy it'd be, they wouldn't have spent the money. But that's certainly not a universal reaction.)
I agree with pretty much everything Sander writes!
Hi Sander, thanks so much for that reply. After reading what you wrote and what some others have said on this forum, I’m considering just forgetting the programs and going on my own. I’m trying to figure out pricing of everything the programs offer and see if its worth it or if I should just do the visa, sim card, bank account, tax id, ect on my own. I'm still totally nervous, but it makes me feel a little better seeing on here a lot of people go alone and like me, are looking for other people to befriend on their travels. Hostels in Sydney I’ve been looking at now for my first week to help me get settled are Wake up! and Base. I’m still debating if I want to start out and get my roots in Melbourne or Sydney.
As an old coot, my advice is pretty irrelevant in this matter. Ive never done a Aus intro, but I have stayed at a fair few backpackers in Australia. I can see what the benefit of doing an intro might be, having everything done for you, accommodations sorted, and meeting others that you can tour with. As has been said, you can easily do those by yourself and still meet plenty of folks at backpackers. I guess the question comes down to whether you want to spend the extra money on the service. If you have the extra cash then it's an easy way to travel alone and feel confident that all will go well. But if you are strapped or want to save as much as possible for what has become one of the most expensive travel destinations, then you could easily skip the intro and go it alone.
Visa is an easy online application
Sim, walk in any supermarket and walk out with a sim in 5 mins.
Bank account, walk in any bank with your passport and walk out in 30 mins with a bank account and often debit card in hand, or at least in the post. (remember to have your backpackers address with you!)
Tax Id is also a simple online process.
BTW the two backpackers you mention are probably two of the biggest in Sydney. i don't know those specifically but others in both those companies have reputations for being party hostels. Great to meet party people, lousy if you want to sleep and have a clean room without someone puking during the night! I stayed at the Blue Parrot in Kings Cross and really liked it.
Hi Dodger... thank you for that reply! You and Sanders have both kind of persuaded me to just go at it alone. I am trying to save money so if I don’t have to pay a program $600-800 on top of the working visa, flight, and other things, then that’s extra money I can put towards the trip and other expenses. Also, I looked up those hostels from people mentioning them on here or one was where the Ultimate Oz program stayed the first week.... I got turned off by the program not only by its price but also it just looked like a big drunkfest party... so I should’ve known the hostel would probably be the same. I’m not exactly going to Australia so I can get black out drunk every night and have someone throw up in my suitcase ha so I’m trying to search for some hostels that would attract people like me who want to eventually get their roots in a city, find work, meet friends, but also want to explore around oz and have a good time. Thank you for your reply... it made me realize how simple a lot of the things I’d be paying to do are.
so I’m trying to search for some hostels that would attract people like me who want to eventually get their roots in a city, find work, meet friends, but also want to explore around oz and have a good time.
In Sydney, look into the Glebe Point YHA. It's not quite a perfect match for what you're looking for, in that it attracts (or at least still did so when I last visited here 4 years ago) a large group of long-stayers who're not looking to move out of the hostel, but are kinda "stuck" there, but the rest of the crowd there should be more what you're looking for, and at least it has the right kind of vibe.
And I'd like to say that it's really good to see the effect our reactions are having on how you're looking toward this trip. It's good to every so often get some validation that we really are helping people here with the advice we give. (So thank you for your thank yous!)
[ Edit: Edited on 14-Aug-2012, at 10:09 by Sander ]
Hi Dodger... thank you for that reply! You and Sanders have both kind of persuaded me to just go at it alone.
Oh dear, there is probably a hit squad from Ultimate Oz with a contract on Sander and I as we speak! But honestly i think you are making the right decision.
Ok well the hostel I mentioned would be worth a try. The trouble with hostel recommendations is what was great for one person might be horrible for another. Managers come and go, and characters and travelers that can really make a hostel a unique experience also eventually move on, which can all change a hostel for the better or worse. I think the trick is to be fluid in your travel and don't tie yourself to one place. Book a place for a night, check out the crowd there, and then go visit another the next day and see if it feels any better. when you are searching for a hostel online are you checking all the reference sites such as Tripadvisor the link will take you to the recent reviews for the Blue Parrot.
The other big thing i recommend is to sign up with Help Exchange it's a great site, doesn't cost anything and offers some amazing places to stay. If you don't know anything about it, basically you work at peoples houses, farms, B and B's etc, usually for about 4 hours in return for food and accommodation. The work can be anything within your ability's, cleaning, painting, computer work, or just looking after the kids. The hosts are generally people that love to have travelers come stay and often older parents that miss their kids and will dote on you! Now here is the main reason I recommend staying at these places. Local people know what is going on and have a network of friends and family. If you are looking for work, your host family will often have great contacts, and as the saying goes, "it's not what you know, but who you know." OK lastly if you are interested in this experience, I strongly recommend signing up now and giving it a try somewhere local to you. this gives you the experience to find out if you even like it and it will also give you some positive feed back on your profile that will help other host families decide if you are the sort of person they want in their home.