So you’ve decided to go to Australia? You’ve obviously done a bit of research and discovered everything is more expensive there right? Working holiday it is! But wait, whats a TFN?? What’s a superannuation ?? What do I actually need?? WORKING HOLIDAYS ARE AMAZING! Having done one myself as well as working for a company that sells working holidays, let’s compare the three options shall we?


Organized working holiday

So you’ve probably looked online because you have NO IDEA how to organize a working holiday for yourself right? You’ve seen do-it-all companies advertising jobs, accommodation, visa help etc. Is it the right way to go?

Well, if you’ve never travelled anywhere and I mean ANYWHERE on your own this might be the right choice for you. Essentially you will receive a fair bit of help and a couple pushes in the right direction but the heavy lifting will all be done by you no matter what. Some options are Global work and Travel and Working Holiday Club  Beware, they will use high pressure sales tactics if you get on the phone with them so get all the info but don’t book right away (whatever they may say).

Visa help – ‘Help’ they can’t (won’t) fill it out for you.

Accommodation – Up to 5 days in a hostel.

Jobs – Interviews only, hopefully in the field you desire.

Airport transfer –  You know how to use a bus by yourself right?

Bank account – ‘Advice’

TFN- ‘Advice’

Super help – No

Phone &/or SIM – Or you could just unlock your phone at home and just buy a SIM when you arrive..

Cost: $900 – $1895

Extra costs – Visa costs, flights, accommodation after 5 days, transport to and from jobs/interviews.


Just visa assistance

Just need a little bit of help to get you going? This might be for you (I did this). There are a few options and the price and inclusions can vary so make sure you ask what is included before handing over your card details. Note: Visa bureau operates out of England so expect a call at a weird hour. STA does something of the sort as well.

TFN – Yes

TW super – Yes

Visa costs – Included

Bank account – Will point you in the right direction.

Processing time – Less than 5 days.

Cost: AUD $525-$575

Bonuses – Discounts on things like hostels, trips etc., all fairly worthless.


DIY darling

TFN – Must apply for this once you’ve arrived in Australia, Must have to start all jobs (Canadians this is basically your SIN number).

TW super – As a Canadian I’m can liken this to an RRSP (Registered retirement savings plan) it’s money that gets taken from your cheque or given by your employers for retirement. Companies have their own or you can apply for your own. I suggest applying for your own to keep things neat and tidy when you go to claim it back instead of having multiple.

Visa – Pretty straight forward, approval as fast as same day, cost is $440.

Accommodation – Some things (like opening a Bank account) require an address in Australia. A good plan would be to initially stay in an Airbnb for 2 weeks when you arrive to sort out your paperwork etc. that way you’ll have an address and lower your arrival stress all in one go. From there search for more permanent apartments on Flatmates it’s so easy! Make sure to check out the place first and for safety, go with someone you trust.

Bank account – I received a free bank account with Westpac and I can’t complain. However, I noticed Commonwealth and ANZ had more ATM’s around (for withdrawing cash with no fees). Make an appointment and remember to bring your passport, address and TFN with you.

Airport transfer – If you’re arriving to the Gold coast check out my HOW TO post. If arriving in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Cairns check out their airport transfer guides.

Jobs – Jobs are fairly easy to land in Australia, especially if you have a variety of qualifications. Indeed, Seek, Gumtree all have postings and if you want the true aussie/backpacker experience check out regional work! For sought after positions like travel, retail and hospitality I’ve found applying in person works much better.

Transportation – Check for bikes on Gumtree, helmets are required in Australia!

Phone & SIM – I unlocked my phone for $50 and then for $30/month with OPTUS I get unlimited calls, texts and 3g’s data. Another option is to purchase an Australian Skype phone number but it’s not really comparable since you can’t text.


To sum up this load of information I’ll give you my experience. I used Visa Bureau to set up my Visa. They had me fill out some basic info on their website and then they took care of the rest. They put me in contact with someone on the ground in AUS so I could ask them questions if I needed and handled the rest. Frankly for an extra $100 it was MOST worth it to make sure those forms were filled out correctly using their service. Going through a travel agency seems like a ton of money for basically nothing in return (a promise of a job interview and 5 days accom. is NOT worth $900+)  I found a job (once I started looking) within three weeks of arriving. I found accommodation on airbnb the week before I arrived and hostels are always available which is what they provide anyways.. So unless you are fully incapable, go the middle route and save yourself a TON of cash and headaches. Because in the end you’re going to have to stand on your own two feet after 5 days anyways might as well save thousands of dollars doing it, stuff ups are part of the fun 🙂



Travelling alone? Check out How to make friends abroad




  1. Working Holidayer says: Reply

    I suppose you having worked for one of the companies listed above you were the one using ‘high pressure sales tactics’ but now advising people, particularly firs time travellers that might not have the experience, ability or confidence to organise a trip like this, not to use an agency for support? A bit hypocritical no? Interestingly enough there were 168,000 417 Australia WH holders that visited Australia and only 41,000 ended up staying for more than 6 months…perhaps it isn’t as easy as ‘finding a job when you start looking’ for everyone. It might seem easy for some, but for the 99% who haven’t travelled as much as you the support these agencies offer is invaluable, not to mention most of these people will not travel in the first place if they don’t have the confidence and support to go provided by an agency. Just my two cents.

  2. Absolutely, If they do not have the confidence to travel by yourself then a helping hand, whichever they choose is certainly necessary. Once again this is a real experiences travel website and these are my real experiences. As I’m sure you work for one of the above mentioned companies, I’m sorry to ruffle any feathers while sorting the facts out for travellers. If you are not from one of these companies then I challenge you to call them yourself and see the sales tactics first hand. I’ve called both. These are the three options plain and simple, hell even I wouldn’t try to organize it all on my own as I’ve stated 🙂

Leave a Reply