For nearly 6 months now, I have been unemployed. It is important to note, that I have held at least one job at any given time since I was 12 years old, starting as a summer camp ‘arts and crafts leader’ at Bolton Gymnastics. This is definitely new territory for me. Running Borderline Backpackers has become something of a full time job, with weekly blog updates and daily social media posts, but it doesn’t pay the bills (yet). That’s always been the plan though: to travel as long as I can without having to get another job, hoping to eventually earn from our blog. Otherwise, any other regular job would mean having to stay put in one place, and that’s not why I decided to go backpacking!
They money I saved to go backpacking has actually gone a long way:
3 months in Canada: In September, I travelled through Ontario and Quebec on the Via Rail with Matt and his parents, exploring Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City. We spent weeks custom building a trip that would include everything each of us wanted to see from those cities. In October, we flew out west to British Columbia, starting a week-long organised tour of the Rockies. It started and returned to Vancouver, travelling as far as Banff and Jasper in Alberta. We had a few major expenses (boots) when we hit unexpected winter weather, but view them more as investments for when we return to Canada next. November (and the start of December) were spent catching up with family and friends, going out for dinner and the cinema. Small expenses, but it all adds up!
3 months in Australia (so far): We have already travelled 3692 miles (5942 kilometres) in our 3 months, stopping in 17 towns/cities along the east coast: Sydney, Melbourne, Grampians, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Surfers Paradise, Noosa, Rainbow Beach, Fraser Island, 1770/Agnes Water, Airlie Beach/Whitsundays, Magnetic Island, Mission Beach, Cairns and Cape Tribulation. In addition to the bus pass which took us up the east coast with an unlimited number of stops, two flights and all our accommodation, we were able to include skydiving, an overnight boat tours, camping in Fraser Island, a scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, a motorcycle tour and dolphin kayaking. Not bad, if I do say so myself.
There is currently $151.84 AUS left in my bank account. No need to panic (too much), I have savings back in the UK, but those are my emergency funds. Now that I’m ready (…well, definitely not ‘ready’ so much as more like ‘neeeeed’) to get a job, I’m surprised the process is more difficult than I thought it would be.
Cairns is the ultimate tourist destination because of the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest. There is literally something here for everyone: hostels, hotels, resorts, an unlimited choice of restaurants, clothing shops, tourist shops, arcades… You’d think applying for a job would be easy; surely someone in town would be willing to hire experienced travellers and backpackers, such as ourselves. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a job as a backpacker because of the visa restrictions (haven’t I had to endure enough visa restrictions over the years?!).
Matt and I are on the Australian Working Holiday Visa – Subclass 417. In order to apply for this visa, you need be between the ages of 18 and 31 (at the time of the application) and hold a passport from one of nineteen eligible countries. In addition, you are not allowed to bring any children, must be of good health and provide bank statements to show sufficient funds, before the application is submitted from outside Australia. Thankfully, both Canada and England were on that list, we have no children (that I know of) and had been saving for the past year, which is why we chose to come to Australia. You pay your processing fees, complete a background check and wait until you receive the email of either confirmation or rejections.
Once you arrive in Australia, you have the choice between work and holiday, or perhaps you plan to do a bit of both, like us. Here’s the catch – which is why we think employers are hesitant to hire us – anyone on the Working Holiday Visa is only allowed to work with any single company/employer for up to 6 months. After this time, we’d need to find a new job.
I understand that some backpackers can be unreliable, but we’re very keen for work and ready to commit. Sadly, no one is even considering us at this point. Many backpackers search for farm work (in order to secure the second year visa), in hostels (work for accommodation) and in bars (simply to earn money). We’ve exhausted all these avenues and hope to come up with something soon – or may face leaving Cairns in search work jobs elsewhere.
Regardless of the type of work you’re looking for, we recommend all backpackers start with Backpacker Job Board.
It’s back to the job hunt for me. I hope to come back with positive news soon. Wish us luck!