A lot has happened in my last three years of travelling, I've gone from backpacking south-east Asia solo to working my way across Australia, to navigating the winding streets of Europe's cities. I've had over 1,000 days filled with adventures, hard work and a lot of fun, but during that time my plans have constantly changed as I've grown as a person. Originally when I first went travelling, my goal was New Zealand - it was one of the places that held the most magic for me, from the landscape to the incredible experiences waiting there for me. But after spending two years on a working holiday visa in Australia and travelling across the globe, my priorities have really changed and I'm considering travelling to vacation homes in Canada. Don't get me wrong, I still love the idea of travelling to New Zealand and know that one day I would just love to road trip the country in a van, skydiving, climbing glaciers and exploring the stunning countryside along the way. But right now, after spending so much time on this side of the world - I am ready for a change.
Particularly my last few months of travelling have brought me together with a lot of travellers who are seeking out other options for their future travels, which has been the topic of many a long conversation over beers. I've had a plan in my head for while that my next big travelling adventure would have to be South America, but for this I really need to save more money and after weighing up my options I'm starting to wonder if heading to New Zealand would be the right choice for me. It was only in the last few months that I really realised how many amazing working holiday visa opportunities there are out there for British travellers under 35, and what a fantastic way to travel this is. It provides you with a chance to really live in another country, to save money while you travel and to explore a whole new place long-term.
Working Holiday Visas - the facts
British citizens can get working holiday visas in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and even the USA if they already have a job offer lined up. The standard working holiday visa is applicable for anyone under 35, or 30 depending on the country, and can last 1-2 years where the person will be able to work within the country. It doesn't guarantee a job on arrival but in my experience it is usually easy to find work anywhere if you are determined enough. For instance, Australia is very fruitful when searching for work with no end of hospitality, farming, construction, childcare and many more jobs available all over the country. Read: My Ultimate Guide to Finding a Job Down Under. My experience of the Australian working holiday visa was fantastic - I found work easy to pick up, even finding two jobs within an hour after arriving in a new city. My farm work was easy to find and efficient to complete, although the job was a nightmare I did have a full outback experience and after three months I had my second year visa lined up. The money I earned was fantastic - at one point I was earning $2,000 a week from a sales job and the following year I was earning over $1,000 a week from cocktail waitressing at a 5* hotel. Take a look at this article for more details on each individual visa, costs and how to apply.
Why don't I want to go to New Zealand now?
The main reasons I've started reconsidering the New Zealand working holiday visa are money and fancying a fresh start. I've spent the last two years on this side of the globe and now I'm ready for a complete change. Plus after keeping in contact with many friends who have already been to New Zealand, I'm a bit concerned about the much lower wages slowing my travels. I've heard a lot about the wages being worse half those of Australia and yet the living costs being just as high. When I travel, I really want to experience a country and to be able to afford to enjoy it rather than scrimping and saving all the time. Many of my friends working hospitality jobs over in New Zealand have really struggled to make ends meet, or they have simply had to cut back on the amount of travelling to working they have done. This is not a sacrifice I am willing to make when a better quality of life and earning might be available. Other factors that have affected my decision are my friends who are over there already but are going to the end of their visas and will be leaving soon. I'm starting to wonder if perhaps I would prefer to just save up my money elsewhere and then spend a few months road tripping and travelling New Zealand in a van instead of aiming to work there.
Why am I considering Canada?
Canada is far from everything I have experienced over the last few years, it is the other side of the world and a completely different culture. It is new and exciting, it is a fresh challenge. It's a great country to road trip and comes a wealth of new experiences including snow sports, city life and some incredible landscapes. I know everyone talks about how incredibly beautiful New Zealand is, but Canada offers some seriously breathtaking competition. Endless national parks and plenty of outdoor activities from hiking and exploring to skiing, snowboarding and much more. After seeing so many amazing photos I am desperate to visit Alberta and see it with my own eyes. It's the perfect country to road trip and explore by van which is one of my favourite ways to travel, and having family and friends scattered across the country provides lots of great places to stop off and visit people. By taking jobs in the national parks or out of the way in ski resorts, you could end up saving all your money due to being in remote areas, or heading to the cities and towns you could have a whole different lifestyle. There are so many options and I just love that it could provide me with opportunities to later travel the US and South America.
There are just a limited number of Canadian working holiday visas released each year and I have spoken to a few friends who have applied more than once before they finally had their visa. I have been told by a Canadian friend that one way to prioritise your visa application is by letters of recommendation which would be easily organised as I have two uncles and their whole families over there plus several Canadian friends who would be happy to recommend me. Read more about the application process for a Canadian working holiday visa here.
It's a hard choice - and one that I have yet to decide over, but it's always good to know what your options are and to not limit yourself. It would be easy for me to follow the standard backpacking route and head straight for New Zealand as many of my friends have done, but I've never been one for taking it easy and I've always loved a challenge. I'm ready for something new that excites my soul and perhaps Canada might be it. I'd love any advice or tips for either working holiday visa - so if you have experienced one please do leave a comment and help me make my decision!