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The Australian Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417)

2013 June 4
by Scott

If the British summer isn’t quite doing it for you and you long for something a little warmer, then you might be interested in taking a trip down under for a year or two. One of the main priorities for any would-be traveller is to organise a visa, so here is the basic process to getting one that suits your circumstances.

Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417)

The main purpose of this visa is if you plan to travel and work to supplement your time in the country. You can do the following:

- Enter Australia withing 12 months of being granted the visa. That means that even if i apply on 1st Jan 2013, i dont need to be in the country til the following year, at which point my 12 month allowance is activated.

It would be recommended to organise the visa before you book flights, as your holiday depends on it.

- Stay up to 12 months in Australia.

- Enter and leave the country as many times as you wish during this 12 month period.

- Work for up to 6 months with one employer.

- Study for up to 4 months.

- You can also apply for a second WHV, which gives you an additional 12 months in oz, although to be accepted you will normally have to do rural or agricultural work to ensure this application is approved. This includes things like fruit picking and manual work in remote areas of the country.

Currently, im rocking a 417 visa as i expect my employer to fork out for a 457 work sponsored visa. This is quite common and can save the hassle of initially finding a company that will sponsor you. For work in restaurants, bars etc you will normally find that they will not sponsor you, unless in a senior or indespensible role.

How to apply:

You can geek up on all the informaiton on the official immigration website:
http://www.immi.gov.au/visitors/working-holiday/417/

or go straight to the application forms here:

http://www.immi.gov.au/visitors/working-holiday/417/apply-online.htm

Costs:

The Working Holiday (Subclass 417) visa costs $365AUD for most countries in Europe, along with a few others. Be very wary of third party companies reselling the visa applicaiton process. They will tack on charges that are unneccesary and can be avoided – by filling in the forms yourself.

Overall, i found the application process to be very simple and i’m sure you will too, when considering a move to oz.

Sail away, sail away, sail away

2013 May 31
by Scott

If you want to see the world, cruises are an awesome way to visit lots of different destinations while travelling in serious style.  Cruise liners have bars, restaurants and evening entertainment as well as things like swimming pools and spas; so you can enjoy a proper holiday experience while you’re journeying to various ports. Along the way you get to take in all the best sights from every stop off point, with the choice to join in with shore excursions organised by the ship staff or to just explore by yourself and see what you find.

P&O Cruises have just made this pretty interesting infographic that shows off some cool facts about the ships. For example, did you know that the combined weight of all P&O’s cruises ships is the equivalent to 75,000 London double decker buses? Although I’d definitely prefer to be chilling by the pool on a Caribbean cruise ship than riding a London bus…



 

Check out the infographic for more facts and holiday inspiration!

We landed in Melbourne, Australia!

2013 May 22
by Scott

After a good year or so of waiting, the girlfriend and I landed in the fantastic Melbourne, Australia. Nicely planted by the Port Phillip Bay and the country’s second largest populated city, Melbourne has plenty of life to keep us busy for the next year or two.

Getting over here was plain sailing, our flights were two legs – Etihad and Qantas (avoiding the much loathed China Southern Airlines). With a 2 hour stop off in the swanky Dubai airport, we hopped onto the second leg of the flight, which was around 13 hours, taking total travel time to roughly 24hours all in. With a few bad movies and a few worse in-flight meals, we landed down under.

Despite travelling frequently, the stress of immigration always gets my palms-a-sweating. However our visas meant we could sail through customs with only the smallest of glances from the immigration officers.

Because the economy in Australia is still very bouyant, the work opportunities out here are just too enticing to miss. The national wage for adults over 20 is currently $15.59, so around 70% higher than what you will find back in the UK. One thing we have noticed quickly however is the higher living costs for most things – in particular, food, bills and entertainment is roughly 30-50% higher than back in the UK. Although admittedly, coming from London the increase isnt too painful to bear.

Somewhere to stay

Having a base to rest your weary head is extremely important, not only to shake off the jet lag but to get you close to the action when you need to be. When we arrived, we stayed in an AirBnb flat in Fitzroy, which is just to the north of Central Melbourne. AirBnb lets you rent whole or parts of someones home, just like you would a hotel room, but at a reduced cost when compared to a traditional hotel or B&B.

(The flat we stayed in)

My first experience of AirBnb was a good one. Our host Toby was a contractor, who worked in the Melbourne CBD. He was very helpful in answering our questions about the city, but also gave us our space within his flat to allow us to relax and do our own thing. We were also well placed at the top of Brunswick street, with good transport links. There’s something very comforting about staying in a real home rather than a drab hostel or the like.

The main street that cuts through Fitzroy is Brunswick Street, which runs in a straight line up through a bustling collection of shops, cafes and restaurants. During the week things are pretty quiet, but at the weekend things start coming alive with the local hip-crowd and young revellers descending on in. The area is classed as quite ‘alternative’, but from that i guess people mean a touch on the younger/trendier side, so it may not be for everyone.

What to do in Fitzroy

While you won’t be short of things to do on Brunswick Street, here are some notable places on my ‘done’ or ‘to do’ list:

The Workers Club

A laid back bar and cafe that plays host to up and coming bands in the area.

51 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, VIC, 3065
www.theworkersclub.com.au

 

Bimbo Deluxe

Somewhat of a legendary bar and pizza joint on Brunswick St, that opens its doors for 7 days a week. Simply put, the venue offers “$4 gourmet pizzas, to accompany a diverse range of beer, wine and spirits to be enjoyed amongst the lounges or in the rooftop courtyard”. If you didnt know – 4$ is cheap as you will get in Melbourne for a pizza… Ever.

Don’t miss the zucchini pizza and maybe even one of the $4 hot dogs. If you’re feeling naughty.

376 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, VIC 3065
www.bimbodeluxe.com.au

 

Slowpoke Espresso

A quaint and welcoming little cafe just a couple of metres away from ‘My Beautiful Laundrette’ – a traditional laundrette on the same street. Slowpoke is an ideal place for a coffee and toast whilst your whites do their thing in the dryer.

157 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, VIC 3065
www.facebook.com/slowpoke-espresso

 

Phat Brats

One of the first foodie experiences we enjoyed and is one to remember. Think hipster hot dogs done in a gourmet, over-the-top way with moutains of flavbour, pickles and accompanying fries. The chorizo dog was something special…



320 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, VIC 3065
www.phatbrats.com.au

 

The Standard Hotel

Great for an oldy-worldy pub feel with an eclectic atmosphere, the Standard is a great little pub. Popular with the old regulars and young whipper-snappers alike, the pub has plenty of comfy seating inside and out, which will make it a great choice during the summer!

293 Fitzroy St, Fitzroy, VIC 3065
www.thestandardhotel.com.au

That should keep you going for a while. More ozzie related posts to follow.

 

Three summer clubbing destinations

2013 April 24
by Scott

If you’re looking for fun in the sun with friends this summer, pick one of the world’s top summer party destinations for a holiday you won’t forget. Read on for a top three of the best European clubbing destinations to visit this summer.

Ibiza

It goes without saying that Ibiza is pretty much the capital of summer party venues. San Antonio is this Balearic Island’s second largest town and has held onto the unofficial title of clubbing capital of the world for some time now, so you know you’re not going to be let down when you come here for a clubbing holiday.

When you visit Ibiza you will generally take a bus to the main super clubs, although some, such as Ibiza Rocks and El Paradis, are walkable if you’re staying in San Antonio or San Antonio Bay, making the area an ideal location.

You can choose to stay in San Antonio itself in the midst of the action, in which case Ibiza’s Hotel Gran Sol is highly recommended. Or instead you might choose to is highly recommended. Or instead you might choose to stay in the slightly more peaceful San Antonio Bay, only a short walk away from the centre of the action and with plenty of accommodation to choose from.

Aiya Napa

Cyprus’s Aiya Napa has a well-earned reputation for being a party town, but it wasn’t always this way. In fact, before the 70s it was a quaint little fishing town. Now it’s a resort dedicated to package holidays and tourists who like some serious partying with their sun, sea and sand. There is plenty to keep you entertained all day and all night here, with numerous bars, clubs and restaurants to choose from and a multitude of hotels and apartments to stay in.

Be aware though that if you fancy a trip to Aiya Napa in peak summer season (July-August), you’ll be battling it out amongst loads of other people with the same idea, so book early unless you’re happy sleeping on the beach!

Magaluf

No list of top European party destinations would be complete without Majorca’s Magaluf. Many a stag and hen do have enjoyed messy weeks and weekends here, so if that’s the kind of holiday you’re after, you certainly won’t be disappointed. The mega-clubs, world-renowned DJs and epic foam parties are enough to keep party-hard holidaymakers coming back year after year.

For serious clubbers, buying a Magaluf Club Pass is a good idea as it’ll give you entry into the area’s top five clubs and save you a bit of cash; more to spend on cocktails! 

An alternative stag do in Amsterdam

2013 April 22
by Scott

Amsterdam is one of the top stag destinations in Europe. The city offers gorgeous green parks and canals, wonderful coffee shops and a chilled atmosphere. But let’s face it – lots of men go for their stag party in Amsterdam for the weed and the Red Light District. If that’s not your bag, there are plenty of other more unconventional options which are more cultural, interesting and less sleazy.
An indulgent treatment

If you fancy organising a really luxurious treat for the stag and his friends, a health resort like Spa Zuiver is the way to go. Set in the middle of the woods on the edge of Amsterdam, it really is the perfect retreat. With a swimming pool, relaxing saunas and revitalising aroma baths you’re spoilt for choice. Treatments include hammam hot scrubs, massages and tanning sessions. One visitor said “This is not a spa, it is the pure paradise! I have never experienced such a great service and so many facilities. I would say that it is the best spa in whole Netherlands.”

This video, although spoken in Dutch, shows some of the main treatment areas in the spa:

A canal tour

Fancy a tour of the city by boat? On these tours your captain will escort you and fellow crew in open-air, low-sided boats perfect for navigating Amsterdam’s canals. Run by The Saint Nicolaas Boat Club, a group of volunteers, the tours are free, but you’re welcome to make a donation (and we suggest you do!).

Due to licence issues, the canal tours are now running through Mike’s Bike Tours Amsterdam, which is the best place to make bookings. Captains can be found at Mike’s Bikes before and after rides, but they ask that you do not phone the office with boat tour-related questions (face to face is best).

A brewery visit

Established in Amsterdam in the mid-1800s, Heineken is now one of the largest beer producers in the world. The former brewery has now been opened up to the public to allow beer fans to have an interactive tour through the history of the infamous drink. With amusement rides, a tour of the historic brew room and a tasting bar, you won’t be disappointed.

Dine with the Dutch

This is a brilliant idea that should be replicated in cities across the UK. It gives you a chance to experience Amsterdam as a local: register on the website and it’ll match you and your mates with a family who will invite you to their home for dinner! Specially selected hosts will cook you a three course meal and regale you with tales about Holland and Dutch culture. This will definitely be a unique experience and it’s a perfect way to find out about all the local haunts you might otherwise miss as a visitor.

London vs NYC Infographic

2013 March 4
by Scott

Seeing as i’ll be in New York in late March and i live in foggy London town, it seems only right to share this infographic from the guys over at Expedia. I love infographics as they quickly explain something complex in an easy to ready format. I would have to say i love NYC more, just because I have yet to venture over to NYC. I’ll be sure to post about NYC when i return , which may change my view.

Which city do you love the most?

Exploring Croatia on foot

2013 March 1
by Scott

Where can you visit the smallest town in the world (according to the Guinness Book of Records), the island where the building blocks of the White House originated, and the best-preserved Roman amphitheatre outside of Italy’s capital? If you’ve read the title of this article, you might have worked it out: Croatia.

And while those three little facts may pique your interest in the country that grew out of the ruins of the Roman Empire in the early part of the 7th century, Croatia has much more to offer travellers of every possible persuasion, not least those who like to travel around on their own two feet.

The country has three distinct regions, each of which lends itself to exploration on foot, for different reasons. Its coastal region on the Adriatic Sea boast over 1200 islands and islets and countless beaches, coves and caves. Its lowlands – which make up the bulk of the country’s geographical area – are mostly found in the northern regions of Slavonia and house some fantastic geological structures as well as myriad forest, lakes and generally bountiful countryside. Finally, we have the mountainous region of the Dinaric Alps, which bisects the previous regions and contains (and is named after) Croatia’s highest mountain, Dinara.

With almost 2000 km of mainly west-facing coastline, you will never be far from the splendour of an Adriatic sunset in Croatia. With numerous fishing villages, vibrant harbours and all the seafood you could wish for, the coastal regions of Croatia – whether the Istrian Peninsula or the Dalmatian Coast further south – offer relaxation, fine food and wine and plenty for culture vultures to lap up in the form of art, music and a varied and interesting architectural heritage.

The Roman ruins, Byzantine basilicas and Renaissance palaces all have their stories to tell. As do the rebuilt buildings in the beautiful and entrancing city of Dubrovnik, the newer roofs on view as you walk round the city ramparts a chilling reminder of how recently conflict blighted the area.

Move inland and no walking holiday in Croatia is complete without a visit to the Plitvice Lakes National Park. It is argued by many to be one of the best areas of natural beauty in the whole of Europe, and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site back in 1979. There are sixteen interlinked lakes in the park, surrounded by a large swathe of forest. Its ecological significance is vast, housing various microclimates that support a wide range of flora, and providing a haven for such fauna as European brown bears, wolves, various eagles, owls and wild cats.

The walking at Plitvice is varied with paths of different length and difficulty ratings available. If you want to get a good overall insight into what the park has to offer, take the 4-5 hour trail H. Waterfalls abound in the park – including some accessed through a cave, while no more tranquil a setting can be found than sitting beside one of the beautiful lakes for a rest and a picnic.

If you plan to visit the mountainous region of the country to do some serious walking, be sure to get local advice as there is a dearth of literature on the region (in English at least). It is a big, brash mountain range that is not to be trifled with lightly. Interestingly, most of Croatia’s islands belong to the mountain chain after much of the western areas of the chain were submerged when sea levels rose many years ago. So if you are not a seasoned hiker / mountaineer, we would recommend sticking to the islands. You could still tell people you scaled one of the mountains of the Dinarics… who’s to know you would be referring to one that housed a very nice beach terrace where you supped a cocktail as you watched the sun melt into the horizon?

So whether it is dreamy coastal walks in the setting sun, life-affirming strolls around beautiful turquoise lakes or rugged trekking in amongst some challenging but panoramically rewarding peaks, Croatia can satisfy your desires.

Oh, just in case you were wondering, the smallest town has just 23 inhabitants, is located in Istria and is called Hum; the stone used to construct Barack Obama’s current abode was obtained from the island of Brač; and the amphitheatre of note is in Pula, though it might not have been had the Italian fascist regime during the Second World War followed through with their plan to take the structure, block by block, back to Italy. Thankfully they abandoned the ill-conceived idea, leaving its splendour for you to enjoy when you visit this fine, varied and awe-inspiring country.

The history to be found in Pula.

This article was written by David Hanson from activity holiday company Headwater.com – offering walking holidays in Croatia and further afield. Find out more at the Headwater website.

Blogger Interview: Samuel Jeffrey from NomadicSamuel.com

2013 February 27
by Scott

Okay, so next up in our blogger interview series is the infamous Sam from Nomadic Samuel. And without further ado….

Hi Sam, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Tell us a little about yourself.

Thanks Scott, for this great opportunity. I’m a Canadian expat travel addict who hasn’t shaken the travel bug after more than seven consecutive years on the road. I’ve worked overseas as an ESL teacher, photographer and location independent digital nomad sneaking in as much backpacking adventures as I possibly can.

Your main blog is NomadicSamuel.com – How did you get into travel blogging?

Before I started Nomadic Samuel I had been taking photos, creating videos and writing stories for my own amusement and to share with friends and family. When I realized there was a whole community of travel bloggers doing this more seriously, I decided I wanted to throw my hat in with them.

You run a number of blogs – Is blogging your main source of income? (sub question: If so, what recommendations would you give to bloggers interested in doing the same?)

I’ve funded most of my travels working as an ESL teacher and it has only been recently that I’ve started to make money online with my travel sites. For new bloggers starting out thinking they’ll hit the jackpot with their sites, it’s not the most realistic expectation. The truth is that it takes many months of consistent hard work before your site is able to earn any money online. I would like to suggest for those just starting out that if money is your primary motivation for blogging you would be better of pursuing something else; however, with that being said, if you are passionate about blogging you’ll reap the rewards over time.

You also travel with the lovely Audrey from thatbackpacker.com – How did you guys meet?

We knew each other through our blogs but the first time we met was in Seoul, Korea. We instantly connected and have been going out ever since. I must admit, I’m quite lucky she didn’t ditch me on the first date because I did an atrocious job of playing tour guide in an area of Seoul (Itaewon) that had totally changed since I had last been there.

How is it travelling with a partner ? Do you have any ‘survival tips’ to prevent fall outs?

Believe it or not Audrey and I have both done most of our trips solo in the past. We only have experience travelling together in Korea on weekend outings. I think though that giving each other space and not making a big deal out of small things would be some good general advice when traveling with a partner.

Where are you in the world right now ?

I’m currently in Fredericton, Canada relaxing at home for a few weeks. I’ll soon be heading back to Korea to meet Audrey as she finishes her one year teaching contract and from there we’ll be heading to Malaysia to start our backpacking adventures.

If you could be anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?

I’d love to be somewhere warm right now. Lately the temperatures in Fredericton have dipped as low as -35 with windchill! I’m in desperate need of thawing out. Cuba would be a great fit.

Tell us a strange story from your travels.

Where do I even begin. Recently, I went with Audrey to visit Daejeon in South Korea. While we were walking through a wet market, an elderly Korean lady boldly came right up to me and tried to pick the freckles off of my arm. Sadly this isn’t the first time this has happened either. I suppose she though they were dirt. It made for a good laugh.

What is your travel itinerary looking like for 2013?

2013 is shaping up to be a year of exploration in Asia. We’ll be starting off in Malaysia with tentative plans to set foot in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, China, India, Bangladesh and Nepal if everything goes according to plan.

How can people get in touch with you?

There are a number of ways people can get in touch and follow along with our adventures. I run Nomadic Samuel Travel Blog and Smiling Faces Travel Photos. I also write on Backpacking Travel Blog with my girlfriend Audrey who is best known online as That Backpacker.

Great thanks, Sam! I look forward to following your blog throughout 2013 for some more great updates!

Hamilton Island, Queensland in Pics

2013 February 25
by Scott

Due to my recent little announcement, expect a lot of Australia based content up on the blog… Here’s some fantastic environ shots from the beatiful Hamilton Island in Queensland.

The beautiful Whitehaven Beach

Quick ways to escape the 9 to 5

2013 February 25
by Scott

Its very easy to suffer life-burnout – do you need a break from the daily 9-5 grind? The best solution often is a weekend getaway or better yet a week or even two-week vacation. Go anywhere – 50 miles away or the other side of the world. It doesn’t matter as long as you can disconnect! A small step away from your day-to-day away provides the perfect chance to find time for rest and relaxation. A trip out of town can help you forget about the stress of your job, and simply enjoy time with your friends or family.  Planning a trip for a several days or even for a couple of weeks is not a difficult as you might think. It does not typically require months of planning.

Choose Your Location

The first step to escaping the 9-5 grind and starting your getaway is to choose a location. You should consider what type of activities you like to do, whether its something outdoorsy, sporty or just a spot of sightseeing, and choose a location that provides access to these activities. On the other hand, maybe there is a place that you have always wanted to visit, such as France, Ireland or Spain. Maybe you would rather stay closer to home with trips to Edinburgh, Glasgow or Jersey. Once you choose your location, you need to make reservations for your flight. There are several airports throughout the London area, with the most popular including London Stansted, London Gatwick, Luton Airport and Heathrow.

Make Hotel Reservations

It is easier to make your hotel or resort reservations before you travel to your destination. You want to choose a hotel that is conveniently located near all the different sites and attractions that you plan on visiting. You also may choose to select an all-in-inclusive resort that includes the meals and some activities in addition to your hotel room.

We’ve also discussed home rental alternatives, just like in my recent trip to Copenhagen where we rented an apartment through Wimdu. Overall, it was pretty straight forward and a nice change to a hotel or hostel bunk.

Keeping your assets safe

When taking a trip for a few days or a couple of week, it is important that you find a safe and secure place to park your car at the airport. Stansted airport parking provides a convenient place to park your car during your entire trip. It offers secured car parks that ensure your car is protected while you are away. Naturally, it is nice and close to the airport, allowing you quick access to drop off your beloved car before you leave.

Once you have made all the necessary arrangements for your trip out of town all that is left to do is pack your bags and get ready for rest and relaxation. Just remember to leave your work and stress behind, and just enjoy this time with your friends or family. If you have to take some work along, limit the time you allocate to work and make a commitment to spend the rest of the time enjoying your trip. You will be amazed at how just a few days away, or a week or two if you are lucky, will help you escape the hectic grind of your working work.

This is a guest post by Tom Kavanagh

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