backpacking

More Travel For Your Dollar – Why 2014 Is The Year To Go Down Under

For many of us, there’s a stage in our lives when we feel like we’re stuck in a bit of a rut. Whether it be in a current job, at school or university, or even if you’re in that inbetweeny stage – sometimes you just need a change.

It’s not a secret that Australia’s a popular destination for young travellers – last year over 432,000 Working Holiday Visas were issued in the UK alone – but why is 2014 the year to go?

Well, aside from it being an incredible country to travel, financially it could be one of the best moves of your life.

Firstly there’s the current exchange rate. At the beginning of January this year, the Australian Dollar (AUD) to Great British Pound (GBP) exchange rate was at its lowest since 2009 at AU$0.53 to £1. So what does that mean to you? Well, it means that when you’re converting your money into dollars you’ll be nearly doubling your cash. Not great for those Aussies coming over to the UK, but great news for you! Think of it as free money (that you worked your ass off for).

Next? Well, you’ve got to love their wages. Ok, so this isn’t a point that’s restricted to this year, but it’s always worth a mention that Australian wages are a great deal higher than the pittance we’re used to in the UK. For example, if you work at a bar, wages tend to start at around $20 p/h. Raise that to $25 on a Saturday, $30 on a Sunday and $45 on a public holiday, and you start to see that you could be making some serious money. Not bad for casual employment!

That not enough money for you? Have some more then! If you’ve been researching working in Australia at all (or you fancy finding out all your need to know in my all-encompassing guide *cough* plug *cough*), you might have heard of Superannuation. Your Superannuation is basically a pension fund that your employer pays into on top of your wages. “But what has this got to do with travelling Down Under in 2014??” you may (or may not) cry. Well, the previous rate of payment was 9% of what you earned, but in July this year it went up to 9.5%. Now that may not sound like a lot, but with the previous rate on a $32,000 wage (very possible in full-time employment) you would receive $2880, but with the 0.5% rise that would take it to $3040. And the best bit? This percentage will be increasing every year until 2022 when it will cap at 12%.

If you haven’t currently got dollar signs in your eyes after reading that I strongly recommend you get your sight tested.

So, three great reasons why 2014 is the year to move Down Under. Need I say any more??

 

I hope you have found this post helpful, and if you have any burning questions or posts you would like me to do, please email me at workanywhereoz@gmail.com

And, as always, there’s the book. So without further ado…

 For loads of information on working and travelling in Australia, get Work Anywhere: Australia the guide today!

 

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Your Free Day Out: Sydney

Think there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Well how about a free whole day out? Being a backpacker often means that you can find yourself a bit strapped for cash, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your time in a city. I want to show you how you can have fun in any city in Australia without having to delve into your pocket once. Now that’s what I call budget travel.

Never run out of things to do again with this great list of ideas/attractions to keep you busy, all without spending any dollar!

First stop – Sydney.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk – Like walks? Like bridges? Well then this will be just the thing for you. Walking across the bridge is a great day out as it’s a chance to stretch your legs without trekking too far and you’ll be rewarded with some stunning views, especially when you get to the opposite side and look back at the Opera House. Great alternative to the bridge climb if you don’t fancy forking out $200

Bondi to Coogee Walk – Another walk (you can see a common theme here…) but really worth it if you’re willing to put the legwork in! The full walk is about 6km all along the coast, but if you’re not up for walking the whole distance there are plenty of beaches you can stop off at on the way. Also, make sure to head down end of October/start of November for ‘Sculpture by the Sea’, an annual exhibition of around 100 sculptures by local artists, placed along various points on the walk. For a bit of added beauty (and to avoid the crowds) do the walk at sunrise – absolute perfection.

Vivid Sydney – Every year from the 23rd May to 9th June the ‘Vivid Sydney’ festival is on  – a celebration of the city’s creativity through lights and music. During this time buildings all over the city have stunning light projections displayed on them, with accompanying music, making it a real feast for the eyes and ears. You can pick up a free map of what’s on and where from information points, so grab one and take a night to discover a new side to Sydney. Don’t miss the Darling Harbour nightly music, light and water show, truly spectacular!

Art Galleries – The Art Gallery of NSW and White Rabbit are two fantastic art galleries, completely different from one another and both completely free to visit. The NSW Art Gallery was established in 1871 and is home to a diverse range of Australian and International artwork, covering all styles from traditional to contemporary. White Rabbit, on the other hand, is a reflection on Australia’s Asian culture, hosting one of the largest collections of Asian contemporary art in the whole country. Why not check them both out, and fill your boots with culture!

Royal Botanic Gardens – If you’ve been to Sydney before, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the city’s Royal Botanic Gardens, but that’s no reason not to head down for a visit if you’re looking for something free to do! Pack yourself a picnic and sit in the sunshine, admiring the wonderful views (and a great spot of people watching!), then walk along to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for possibly the best viewpoint of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge combined.

So if you’re stuck for something to do in the city, give these a go and enjoy some great days out whilst saving your pennies. More posts to come with ideas for free days out in other big cities, so keep your eyes peeled!

Cover Photo: http://www.vividsydney.com

Saving and savouring your dollar…

Money is always at the forefront of every traveller’s mind (even hippies) – whether it’s planning where you’re going to stay next, travel next or go out next weekend…

Therefore, it’s really important to know how to save your money. No idea how? Well, you lucky, lucky person, I’ve just compiled a superb list of the top ways to save money whilst living in Oz for yours truly. How nice is that?

1. Choose the right bank – This may not seem hugely important as you might only be in the country for 1 or 2 years, but  many people don’t realise the amazing interest some banks have on their savings accounts. To hook in new customers, some banks offer around 4-5% interest on your savings, which may not seem like a lot, but if you have AU$2000 in your account you can get up to $100 in interest a year. Now how’s that for a bit of extra cash?

2. Book travel well in advance – As laid back as those cheeky Aussies may seem, they do like to be well prepared when it comes to travel. Unlike the airlines we’re used to at home that often offer last minute cheap deals on flights, in Australia flight prices only go up the closer it gets to the departure date. Domestic flights can be super cheap if you book them well in advance, so don’t leave it until the last minute or you’ll end up paying double what you should be!

3. Eat in – Now this may seem like an obvious one but it’s amazing how those little trips out for a’cheap’ meal really add up in the long run. If you eat out for AU$10 twice a week, you’re actually spending AU$1040 a year on that alone! Bet that makes those microwave noodles look a bit more tempting now…

4. Skype home instead of phoning – It’s always tempting to check in with home with a quick phone call now and then whilst you’re away, but doing this on a regular basis can really run up big bills! The simple solution? Ditch the family and move on. Or use Skype. Your choice.

5. Get a backpacker discount card – You’ll find on your travels that many travel companies, hostels and car rental companies offer discounts to backpackers (who have a valid backpacker card), it may not always be a huge amount, but any saving is good in my books! There are 3 main companies (who own hostel chains) that sell backpacker cards:

VIP

YHA

NOMADS

Check them out and see which one’s best for you!

Happy saving 🙂

For loads of handy information like this and to find out how to make the most of your Australian year abroad, check out ‘Work Anywhere: Australia’ the book.

Work Anywhere: Australia