Saying Goodbye to New Orleans

It was all planned out.  I would sell my largest items and invest the profits.  I would spend my last week working during the days and enjoying time with friends during the evenings.  I would fly my mom in to New Orleans on Friday evening.  I would have a mini-moving sale on Saturday morning and a farewell party Saturday evening.  I would pack everything I owned into my Honda Accord and drive away with my mom accompanying me in the passenger seat.  I would feel sad and excited, a blur of many emotions as I said goodbye.  I knew the plan but I forgot how often our plans work out as expected.Continue reading “Saying Goodbye to New Orleans”

Australia’s Work & Holiday Visa

Did you know, if you are between the ages of 18-30, you are eligible to work and travel in Australia for up to one year?!  Thanks to a friend of mine, I learned about this visa option in December and, as of July 4, 2015, I have been approved!

The application process was fairly straightforward, took about 45 minutes to complete, and was approved in 4 hours.  Interested?  Here’s everything you need to know about Australia’s Work & Holiday Visa.

The United States has developed partnerships like this with a few countries including Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.  The idea is that “young travelers” can experience another country and culture with the option of remaining in the country for longer than the typical 90-day tourist visa. 

The Work & Holiday visa allows you to gain employment to fund your travels; it is not meant for people who want to move to a new country or find a more permanent job.  Australia actually offers visas like this to people from several countries around the world, many of which include the option to extend the visa for a second year.  Unfortunately for Americans, this is not an option — we have to make do with just one year in Oz.

The following details about Australia’s visa are specific to citizens of The United States.  More information about all of Australia’s visa options can be found on their Immigration page.

Requirements of the Work & Holiday Visa (subclass 462) as of July 2015:

  • Are at least 18 but not yet 31 years of age
  • Don’t have a dependent child with you at any time during your stay in Australia
  • Have a passport from:
    • Argentina
    • Bangladesh
    • Chile
    • Indonesia
    • Malaysia
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • Spain
    • Thailand
    • Turkey
    • USA
    • Uruguay

Visa Specifics:

  • Stay in Australia for up to 12 months
  • Work in Australia for up to six months with each employer
  • Study for up to four months
  • Leave and re-enter Australia any number of times while the visa is valid
  • Cost: $440 AUD + $4.75 for processing (at the time of this post)

Important Details:

  • Citizens of The United States can apply online after creating an ImmiAccount here.
  • Applicants have 1 year from the visa grant date to enter the country.  The 12 months begin on the day you enter Australia, not the day you receive the visa.
  • You are entitled to getting your taxes back or, rather, access your retirement savings (superannuation) when you leave Australia.
  • Neither health exams nor health insurance are required for United States citizens.  You will be asked about both on the application.  I selected “no” for each and was approved.  The Immigration website explains that you do not need these but they are strongly encouraged.

See you on September 23, ‘Straylia!

Pura Vida! Top Things to Do in Costa Rica

My Australian adventure begins in 3 short months, but first…Costa Rica!  I booked this trip shortly after returning from Italy last summer.  You know those post-travel blues you feel after returning to “real life”?  Yeah, that’s when I decided on Costa Rica.  Continue reading “Pura Vida! Top Things to Do in Costa Rica”

How I Booked a $300 Flight to Australia

2010.06.18-planeHave you seen headlines like this one before?  I have, and I never thought I would be someone to write something similar.  I’ve read posts about travelers booking seemingly impossible low prices to destinations all around the world and the one thing all of these write-ups had in common was MILES.  That’s right, using airline miles or reward points to book flights is the secret to cheap (and even free!) flights around the globe.  My story is not an exception to this rule.

Continue reading “How I Booked a $300 Flight to Australia”

How I Plan to Afford My Year Abroad

I’ve learned a lot about travel over the last year.  I have learned where to find the best travel resources, developed my own list of top travel apps, earned free flights using travel reward credit cards (thank you, Southwest!), and experienced the post-travel blues.

After I returned from Italy, I found myself constantly thinking about where I would go next.  I purchased Lonely Planet guidebooks, scoured the blogosphere for ideas, entered every travel contest I could find, and even sent emails filled with potential travel dates and desired locations to friends (Iceland, anyone?).  Through all of this research I believe the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that while travel can easily become quite the expense, there are many ways to make it more affordable.

Continue reading “How I Plan to Afford My Year Abroad”

The Decision

I’ve decided to take a career break to live, work and travel in Australia for up to a year.  There.  I said it.  Unlike a friend of mine who wrote a terrific post about why she did not quit her job to travel, I am adding my name to the ever-growing list of female travelers taking on the world rather than the cubicle, wedding ring, or baby carriage.  Don’t get me wrong – I want all of those things – I’m just going to get to them a little later in life.

2015 marks my 30th year in the world and, as I rang in the New Year, I spent some time reflecting on who I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m going.  It was easy to feel a bit inadequate.  Here I am, about to turn 30, single, and by societal standards, off-track.  I’ll admit that when I was younger, I expected I would be married with kids at this point in my life but this is not the hand I’ve been dealt.  I decided I had two choices: 1. Feel sorry for myself and wait for my “prince” to find me or 2. Do something different.  As you can reasonably infer based on the first line of this post, I chose option 2.

Continue reading “The Decision”