Steps to a WHV (U.S. Citizens)

  1. Apply for your passport
    • If you’re applying for the first time, you’ll need to go in person. Post offices, courts, and universities offer passport services. To find the nearest acceptance facility, check with the U.S. DOS here
    • The U.S. Department of State has a list of instructions for applying for your passport
    • Fees: As of 2018, for a passport BOOK, the fee is $145 (including acceptance fee). A passport CARD is good for travel to Canada, Mexico, The Caribbean, and Bermuda and is $65 (inc. acceptance fee). Photos may also be additional, usually around $10. 
    • A word of advice: just have the acceptance facility take the picture. The photo requirements are so specific, it would be easiest to just have them take it to ensure the specifications are met. Wear very minimal or no makeup for your photoshoot. Also, no smiling. You may look angry in your photo (like me) but it’s whatever. Don’t stress over it.
  2. Decide where you wanna go! Lots of countries offer WHVs. But only five offer them for U.S. citizens. Below, each country’s official working holiday info pages are linked. 
  3. Research, research, research!
    • Can’t stress this enough! Research the job market, exchange rate, average cost of living (food, hostels, rent), and things to do.
    • Research the culture of the country. What are areas to avoid as a tourist? What is the dress? What is the language? Always be respectful of the customs in the country you’re traveling to. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
    • Budget accordingly and realistically. I’m planning to have enough money saved for 2 months if I can’t find a job. 
    • Have enough $$ put away in case you need to fly home early. 
    • What types of casual jobs are available for people with your skills? How do people find jobs? Google is your friend!
    • Do you know anyone or someone who knows someone where you’re going? Look for people who have done what you want to do. I felt so creepy asking random people or friends-of-friends about their working holiday visa experience, but ya know what? It worked. Everyone I spoke to was really nice and helpful with the advice they gave on job-searching, sight-seeing, life abroad, etc. The worst thing that could happen is being ignored. In that case, who even cares?
    • Look for Facebook groups! Australia has a backpackers group, and there is a group just for women who love traveling called Girls Love Travel. Both of these pages allow members to ask questions and are incredible resources for getting answers and advice from real people. Use Instagram tags to do more research and don’t hesitate to reach out!
  4. Apply for the working holiday visa
    • Ok, so you’re doing it!!  🎉
    • The application fee is AUD450, roughly $320 US. 
    • Each country has different requirements. For Australia, U.S. citizens must: 
      1. Have a passport. Eligible countries. 
      2. Be 18-30 years old. 
      3. Must not have previously held a WHV. 
      4. Have AUD5,000 saved (roughly $4,000 US). You will prove this by submitting a bank statement in your application.
      5. A birth certificate
      6. Citizens from some countries are required to have health exams (U.S. citizens are not required in 2018).
      7. Must not have dependent children.
    • The application also asked for education documents. I do not remember if they were required or not, but just to be on the safe side (since the application fee is pretty steep) I went ahead and attached a letter from the registrar that explained I’d receive my degree before leaving for Australia and a copy of my transcript. 
    • The application can be saved and completed later for 30 days. 
    • Do this before buying your ticket. It only took a day or two for my application to be approved, but it’s better to stay on the safe side with this. 
  5. Buy your plane ticket
    • Probably the easiest (but scariest) step of all. Make sure you have your passport handy.
    • I used Google Flights to find the cheapest deal the month I wanted to fly out. A lot of people recommend Skyscanner, but my gripe is that it’s easy to get swindled out of money if you’re not careful. Lots of the deals on Skyscanner are actually through third-party companies not connected to the airline itself. Do research on the seller before dropping a big chunk of money on a ticket. 
    • Subscribe to emails from Scott’s Cheap Flights months in advance. They’ll send you an email every few days with airline sales, and hopefully one of these emails will contain a deal for your destination.
    • Use Google Chrome Incognito mode to browse deals before making your final purchase. Airline sites use cookies to monitor how much you look at a page and will raise the prices.  
  6. More research. 
    • Start applying for jobs, create a LinkedIn account and job-search from home. 
    • Make arrangements at a hostel/hotel/Airbnb in advance (I’m giving myself 2 weeks).
    • Start checking items off of this list for an extended time abroad.