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BEN WEHRMAN

If you want to save money on your working holiday, you’ll have to plan ahead. Here are 3 ways to slash your travel expenses ahead of time.

*Disclaimer – This page contains affiliate links, which earn me a commission. All information posted is from personal experience and research, and should NOT be considered professional advice.*

Today, we’ll be talking about one of my favorite topics: saving money. Where I left off in my story…I woke up the morning after a house party with the following message on my laptop screen: AUSTRALIAN WORKING HOLIDAY VISA – PENDING.

Well then, guess this is actually happening! Now what?

If you’re like I was, the following reasons are stopping you from quitting your job to travel:

“Isn’t it super expensive?”

“Isn’t it impossible to get a job over there as an American citizen?”

“Won’t the gap in my resume ruin my career forever??”

The answer to all of these things is simple: Definitely not . . . as long as you plan properly!

I know that money is what most people get hung up on, so let’s dive in. Grab a notepad, find your favorite chilling spot, and get comfortable . . . today we’re discussing my TOP 3 WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON YOUR WORKING HOLIDAY!

Get comfy, you're about to save some money!I did all of my trip-planning right here at this sweet little hammock spot. I miss that Seattle view <3

1. Travel Rewards Credit Cards

During a Thanksgiving gathering in 2016, my cousin told me all about her vacation to South Korea, and how she spent ZERO DOLLARS on her round-trip flights.

How did she do this?

For years prior, she had been using a credit card that awarded TRAVEL POINTS for all purchases, and she’d saved up enough of these points to redeem for a round-trip flight to the other side of the world. Crazy, right?

The logic behind this is, credit card companies want you to use their card, so they offer bonuses & rewards to incentivize customers to use THEIR card over their competitors’. Thankfully, after reading into this, I went straight to my US Bank the following week and signed up for their travel rewards card.

2 years later, after simply using that card to pay for my food, gas, and other necessities during that time, BOOM. I had enough travel points stocked up, and was able to trade them in for a flight to Australia for a cool $0!

Nice.

I personally use the FlexPerks Travel Rewards card, which you can sign up for, for free, here. While applying, make sure to input my Referring Friend’s FlexPoints Number: (400008114060) to trigger the referral bonus!

Travel Rewards Credit CardsI personally use the black one on the left.
No Foreign Transaction Fees is critical. We don’t want those.

2. Work-for-Accommodation

Paying rent always sucks, but when you’re on a backpacker budget, it hurts even more. If you’re determined to save money on your working holiday, it is CRUCIAL that you do whatever it takes your accommodation costs.

If you’re like me, you aren’t flying to the other side of the world to watch your hard-earned money drain away on living expenses.

What if I told you that with proper planning, you can live rent-free for your entire vacation?

Well folks, you’ve come to the right place, because your boy has successfully skrrrted through 1 full year of living in Australian hostels without paying a single dime for it.

Here’s the deal: 

  1. Hostels are businesses.
  2. Businesses need employees.
  3. Backpackers need money.

Do you see where I’m getting at here? It’s a lot cheaper and easier for hostel managers to recruit receptionists, housekeepers, dishwashers etc. from the personnel that are literally sleeping in their building already, rather than hunt on job websites for hours on end.

Why doesn’t every hostel in the world do this? Mainly because backpackers are generally nomadic in nature, so they are the flakiest of the flakes. This has conditioned managers to stop being so proactive with this approach. 

This is where you come in! All you have to do is:

  1. Show initiative by contacting the manager directly.
  2. Summarize what skills you’d bring to the hostel (example: for my first hostel in Melbourne, I sent the manager my photography portfolio, and the next day he hired me as their event photographer).
  3. Disclose how long you can commit to staying there. Be honest, you may need them as a reference later in your trip.

That’s all it takes!

Little photo collection from my first “work” for accommodation gig: Event Photographer at Red Eye Bar in Melbourne.

Let me tell you folks, nothing has taken more stress off my shoulders than completely removing accommodation expenses from my life. Since this is typically the biggest expense for any traveler (besides flights), trust me when I say: life becomes a hell of a lot easier when you don’t have to worry about throwing down $150USD/week just to have a roof over your head.

3. Plan Your Daily Routine on Google Maps

Google Maps is awesome. Before this was a thing, I have no idea how people planned out trips, but I do know one thing for sure: it must’ve been WAY harder to plan out a budget while traveling.

After using the previous step to find a few hostels that have a free-accommodation opening for you, pull up their addresses on Google Maps for some reconnaissance. The main thing you want to keep in mind while comparing locations is this:

Where will I be spending money on a day-to-day basis?

For me, the necessities were easy:

  1. Groceries.
  2. Gym.
  3. A workspace with strong wifi (coffee shop, library, etc.)
  4. Somewhere at least mildly nature-ish for evening strolls.

Save money on your working holiday by planning your routine on Google MapsMy first pad in Australia had all the essentials within a rock’s throw from the front door. Luckily the hostel had great wifi too, so I got most of my work done in the lounge room

Everyone has different priorities, so don’t rush this step! Planning on working as a barista? Find the hostel with the most coffee shops nearby to ease your job search. Bad at saying no to Happy Hour? Discipline yourself by finding a home that’s not next-door to the biggest bar in the city. You get the idea! It’s all about putting yourself in your future shoes, and thinking ahead to make sure you’re prepared.

Once you’ve reviewed your hostel finalists from Step 2 and picked the one with the most budget-friendly location in Step 3, email that hostel’s manager to confirm your bed for your arrival date!

Now, if this all sounds like a lot of work to you, let me ease your concerns.

While it does take some time, I promise you: If you are as hyped for this adventure as I was, you will have SO MUCH FUN walking through all of these details, and truly ENVISIONING what your new life will be like in your destination country. Just remember that every hour you spend fine-tuning the preparatory phases of the trip, the more you will thank yourself later.

That’s all for today, folks, I hope you picked up some good tips on how to save money on your working holiday! Happy trip-planning!

-B

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