Ideally we'd all go travelling around the world for a year or more, experiencing new and exciting cultures and seeing amazing things we'd never even imagined and not doing a jot of work for the whole year. Realistically however most of us have to think about a working holiday because we need a way of getting some cash somewhere along the way. In some countries you could sell a kidney for some cash, however this is not really an option for 99% of us!
How nice would it be to be on holiday for a year without working? Easy answer; it would be fantastic!
But... a year is a long time without work and therefore without money. Some people are lucky enough to either have a savings account or rich parents who are willing to fund their overseas adventure, however most of us have to pay for this once in a lifetime experience ourselves, and a working holiday is the way forward.
The easiest way to fund a gap year or OE is to find work at various places during your travels. But something I found really hard to do when I got to Australia, and realised I didn't have much money anymore, was getting a "real job". Did I really want to work in an office in Sydney? Fair enough I was in Sydney on the other side of the world, but working in an office would have felt like I was back at home living my usual dull and boring life. (And it was my dull and boring life back home that had spurred me on to go travelling in the first place!)
I decided that whilst I was travelling I wasn't going to do the usual 9-5 jobs I wanted to do something different. Something that still made me feel like I was still on holiday.
The first job I got in Australia I sort of fell in to. I'd booked myself onto a 3 day 2 night Great Barrier Reef Trip out of Cairns. I had the best time, and the boat I stayed on was unbelievable (Reef Encounter), it even had a heli-pad! As I was leaving, one of the diving instructors said I should ask about becoming a "hostie".
Okay so being a hostie meant doing some fairly menial jobs but the perks were well worth it. My typical day went something like this...
6.00 - Prepare Breakfast
6.30 - Go for a morning scuba dive
7.30 - Clean up breakfast stuff, have a shower etc
10.00 - Either clean rooms or help prepare lunch in the kitchen
12.30 - Welcome the new arrivals onto the boat and show them to their rooms
13.00 - Serve lunch
14.00 - Say goodbye to the departing passengers from the night before
14.30 - Go for a dive or sunbathe on the deck
17.30 - Prepare, serve and clean up after dinner
19.00 - Go for a night dive
20.30 - Sit in the spa on the back deck with a beer in your hand!
If your job involves living on the Great Barrier Reef on a 5 star live aboard boat and going scuba diving 2 or 3 times a day, you really don't mind getting up at 6.00am, and you really don't mind cleaning a couple of rooms and making a few beds. I spent 3 months doing this job, occassionally going back to Cairns and testing out my sea legs.
Do you really want to 'work' during your travels? If you don't want a "real job", or if you want a job that still feels like a holiday, then living on the Great Barrier Reef is a pretty great experience. I believe that working holiday visas should be used solely for this type of work!