Working Holiday Decisions: Travel First, or Work First?

Getting ready for your working holiday? Find out the pros and cons of traveling before working, and working before traveling!

A working holiday is a fantastic way to get in touch with a culture while also giving you the means to stay in a country for longer.  But, do you plan to hit the job scene immediately, or would it be better to travel a bit first before settling down?

This is a pretty popular topic of debate for those heading overseas to work, or even to study for that matter.  Why?  The reason for it is the idea that people who end up working right away won't end up doing as much travel as they would otherwise.  They may simply leave when the time is up, head home and then regret not taking advantage of the time abroad while they had it.

The Problems with Working First

Going overseas with the option of working means that individuals don't have to save as much money.  It could help to make travel happen sooner for those with extremely itchy feet, or for those that are just wanting to get away from their everyday lives.  This option is perfect for a change of pace, but without proper planning, it could mean that you don't see as much of the country.

What I have found personally is that I often get comfortable with my routine in whatever city I set-up in.  I get a place to live, find some friends to hang out with, and work and normal life plans may just get in the way of weekend excursions.  Routine is a sneaky sort of travel thief, making it hard to have the mindset of heading on a trip without planning in advance.  You know the deal; you have a friend's birthday party on next weekend and the following there's a good concert to check out.  What's the use in going away for just a day?

Another problem with working first is the allocation of travel funds to normal life funds.  In other words, you may have set aside a certain amount of money for your Australian travels, for example, but during your working time you could possibly be forced to dip into these funds if your normal life (rent, going out, etc.) ends up costing more than normal.  It may only be a bit here and there, but it can definitely add up after a few months and leave you with seriously less funds to travel after.

The Problems with Traveling First

I haven't heard of anybody having this exact issue, but I'm assuming it could happen.  If you travel too long before you stop to work, you could find yourself in a position without the proper funds to pay for a place to live, whether that be an apartment or a hostel.  If you don't have anywhere to stay, or money to pay for living in the interim (before you get a paycheck), it could lead you to heading home before your intended departure date.

In addition, there's the problem with just thinking you have finished with the country after doing a bit of travel.  Perhaps your wanderlust gets the best of you, and instead of settling down in a city for some time to work, you just decide to head to a different country.  This isn't a bad thing, really, but there is the idea that you miss out on some really amazing experiences by not trying your hand at “living” abroad.

Is there a right or wrong answer to this debate?  I don't think so, but what about you?  While everyone's situation is always going to be a bit different, getting feedback from others helps us to make decisions suitable to our own needs and wants.

About the Author

Brooke Schoenman is a world traveler turned Australia expat.  She's done the whole work and holiday thing herself and can definitely tell you a thing or two about traveling down under. For some travel inspiration, be sure to check out more of her work at Brooke vs. the World and WhyGo Australia.

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