How to move to New Zealand: five steps

Destinations, Moving Abroad, New Zealand, New Zealand

How to move to New Zealand: five steps

4 Comments 13 June 2013

You’ve taken the plunge.

Despite all your 20-something friends getting married and having babies, plus your parents pressure to find a “real job” and settle down, you’ve decided to leave your home country for one year and move abroad on a working holiday visa.

And what a plunge it is.

New Zealand.

Land of the long white cloud. One of the most scenic and most peaceful places to live on earth. A place where there are more sheep than people and even hobbits are celebrated. For most, it’s the other side of the world. Two large islands floating out in the Pacific. Not far from Australia or Antarctica, you don’t get much more off the map than here.

That can be daunting for people planning to make a home there for the year, but it doesn’t have to be. The truth is that New Zealand is one of the friendliest nations in the world and I’ve found, one of the most accepting of foreign guests. These five steps will help those 18-30 years old move to New Zealand on a working holiday visa.

1.) Start saving

You’ll want to separate your budget into two things for New Zealand, flights and money required on arrival.

I point out flights, because no matter where you are flying from, a one-way ticket to New Zealand is not cheap. Expect to pay about $US1,500 for a one-way ticket. Add $US200 on if you are flying somewhere other than Auckland.

After putting money aside for your flight, the rest of your budget depends on what you expect to do upon arrival in the country.

New Zealand’s immigration website states that people must have a minimum of $NZ4,200 to be eligible for the US Work Holiday Scheme. I’ll be completely honest and say that they don’t verify it. I didn’t have to prove I had those funds before applying, nor at the airport upon arrival.

That said, I really recommend having at least that much. I wasn’t checked, but you might be. Plus that is a good safety net for anyone unsure of when or where they will be finding a job in their new country.

I would recommend no less than $US2,000 to feel secure from the time you arrive until the time you find a job.

People should also consider whether they will be working, soon after arrival or after traveling around a bit. New Zealand can be an expensive country to travel. It has a lot of extreme sports that you would be silly not to try, but it’ll cost you.

Milford Sound

Head to the bottom of the South Island to see Milford Sound. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

2. Apply for a working holiday visa

Just do it! I don’t know why people, and by people I mean me, put this off. Most are happily accepted and if they are not, it’s usually for a very valid reason. You’ll be asked to pay an application fee, which varies depending on where you’re from. When I did it, it was free to US citizens, at the time this post was written it cost $US140, but it can change so click here to see how much it will cost you to apply.

The process is pretty similar for all the countries eligible and it’s very straight forward. You can apply online. To do so, you must fill in all your personal information, including passport number. You must answer questions about your health and your character.

Depending on your answers, you may be asked to submit more information, such as a medical, but usually you won’t be. Just follow the process and be honest.

While on the topic of applying, NZ immigration requires visitors to have travel insurance. If you’re from a country that does not have national healthcare or something corresponding the the New Zealand healthcare system, I highly recommend getting travel insurance. It literally could be a lifesaver.

sunset mount maunganui

Another beautiful sunset in Mount Maunganui. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

3. Book a flight

I mentioned the cost of flights earlier, but there are a few more things to consider when booking a flight to New Zealand.

For starters, don’t buy a return ticket. I’ve done this twice on long term trips and both times I had to pay ridiculous fees to change my ticket. You have no idea where you will be or what you’ll be thinking at the end of your working holiday experience in New Zealand, so save yourself the money and don’t book a return flight. Plus, on a trip like this, it’s better to not have an expiration date.

Remember that with a working holiday visa people are NOT required to have a return ticket to enter New Zealand. Just keep a copy of the visa as flight attendants at the check-in counter almost always ask about this.

The easiest place to arrive is Auckland, but also look into Wellington and Christchurch. Those destinations are usually the next most affordable landing spots. Research and consider where to land seriously as flying and moving around in New Zealand is expensive.

If you are flexible about dates then do some research and find what time of year has the cheapest airfare. I would set a date early, so you have enough time to save and prepare. Some things to consider; seasons (ski season is big in Queenstown, but you’ll want to get there at the start of it), the holidays, obligations at home (housing contracts, etc.) and the amount of time it will really take for you to save up.

Queenstown Air New Zealand

I arrived in Queenstown via Auckland when I first came to New Zealand. Fly Air New Zealand if you can. They’re amazing. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

4. IRD number and bank account

Both an IRD number and bank account are needed to work in New Zealand.

Inland Revenue will supply you with your IRD number. For US citizens, this is similar to a social security number and important for tax purposes. To apply, you must fill out an application and present your passport as well as another form of ID, such as a driver’s license (it can be from overseas). All documents must be verified and photocopied.

This cannot be completed online. You must visit either a post office in New Zealand or Automobile Association Driver Licensing Agent. The post office should have applications available. The process is very quick. You should receive your IRD number within 8-10 days

Setting up a bank account is pretty similar everywhere. Be sure to bring your passport, another form of identification and proof of address.

Proof of address could be the letter your IRD number arrived in or it could just be a note written about by a staff member at your hostel stating that this is the address where you are living at the moment and signed. Don’t stress over how long you’ll be staying at that address. It’s not extremely important, especially if you are applying for an online banking account, which you should be.

Some banks charge a fee for people to hold certain bank accounts. Most places offer online banking accounts, which are free and the best option for temporary visitors only in need of an account to be paid into. I had accounts with both Kiwibank or Westpac. Neither of them charged for online accounts and I actually got a really good interest rate for my savings account with Westpac, earning $NZ12 some months.


Hobbiton was one of my favorite tours in New Zealand. Photo by Bobbi Lee hitchon

5. Find a job

Backpackers or temporary workers will find the most jobs available in hospitality, agriculture, raising money, telemarketing and publicity.

I’ve actually tried all these things while working abroad and suggest hospitality for the most fun, best money and most interesting experience. That said, the jobs available to you depend on where you are located and your experience.

The best source for finding jobs online in New Zealand is Trade Me. You can also find a job just walking around town. Make sure you are prepared with a CV and other things needed. Also, make sure your CV caters to the industry you’re applying for jobs. Don’t present a resume that list your IT experience when applying for a job as a cook. I know this should make sense, but it’s lost on a lot of people.

Most of the New Zealand population are located in its major cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Besides a few holiday towns and some heavy farming areas, most of the country is quite rural. I only mention this because it makes finding a job in certain areas a bit more difficult.

It was really easy for me to find work in Wellington. I had about seven interviews after looking for only one day, but I struggled in Blenheim, which is a small town. The jobs offered there were mainly on farms, which usually require you have a car and I didn’t. I use this as an example of things to consider about where to live and work first. A lot of times, the best option may be in a city or a place where people can get around without private transportation. That way you can save up for a car and buy one if you want.

Most places will ask you to commit to six months or a season. So try and get to a place at the start of a season as more jobs will be available and you can fully commit.

I spent a few months working in the kiwifruit industry in Te Puke to get an extension on my working holiday visa. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I spent a few months working in the kiwifruit industry in Te Puke to get an extension on my working holiday visa. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

By the end of these steps you should be working and holidaying in New Zealand. This experience is so special, because every activity in a new country, even the mundane ones like work, is different from home. It’s a new experience, which is what makes this opportunity so special.

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Ready to go? Apply for your working holiday visa here NOW! Not interested in New Zealand? Check out How to move to Australia: five steps.

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Kiwifruit Packing: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Destinations, Moving Abroad, New Zealand, New Zealand

Kiwifruit Packing: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

3 Comments 06 September 2012

One of my favorite things about working while traveling is that you never know what you’ll be doing for work. When you’re on a working holiday visa you work out of necessity and interest more than anything else. Out of your own necessity for money and visa requirements, but also out of an area’s necessity for workers like you.

The Bay of Plenty, where I’m currently residing in New Zealand, got its name because the land here is perfect for farming. In this area of the country you can find avocado orchards, vineyards, even orange trees, but no fruit has left a greater mark here than kiwifruit.

To sum it up, the first kiwifruit seed from China was planted in New Zealand in the early 1900s. Since then the town of Te Puke has become the kiwifruit capital of the world, exporting gold and green kiwifruit to over 70 countries, creating a billion-dollar business for New Zealand. Today, the kiwifruit industry makes up a large portion of the jobs available here from farm work to packing even to exporting, that furry little fruit has created big opportunity for people in the area, including me.

I knew nothing of anything mentioned above before arriving in the Bay of Plenty. What I knew was that I needed to work in New Zealand’s agriculture sector for at least three months to earn a three month extension on my one year working holiday visa for the country.

Looking through job listings online and in newspapers, I soon figured out just how big the kiwifruit industry is here. Like I said above, jobs acquired while traveling come out of necessity to you as well as the area you’re visiting. So in March of this year (the start of Autumn in New Zealand), I became a full-time kiwifruit grader and packer at one of the many pack-houses in the area.

I stayed in the industry for five months, working at three different pack houses. As you can imagine it wasn’t the most glamorous job I’ve had on the road, but like any job, it had its good, bad and ugly side.

The Good

Kiwifruit packhouses mainly offer seasonal work with their busiest time being in Autumn. They keep on a few contracted workers all year, but most of the contracts are not permanent, which may not be so appealing to residents looking for security in the area. But it’s a perfect fit for travelers looking for a no-strings job to save up a bit of money over a few months.

My packhouse employed about 40% foreigners, 30% retirees and another 30% New Zealand students or general workforce. This is more than ideal for travelers. Not only do you meet New Zealanders, but you also meet people from all over the world, learn about different cultures and maybe even pick up a few words in a language foreign to your own. I met people from Chile, Argentina, Germany, France, China, Taiwan, Vanuatu, Tonga and more.

The companionship can make those few months a big party or at least a good laugh, all while saving up quite a bit of money. Though kiwifruit packers only earn minimum wage ($NZD13.50), when the season is in full force, there is plenty of work to go around at least six days a week, usually ten hours a day. If all goes right, you could save up enough for a few months in SE Asia or plan an epic trip around New Zealand.

The Bad

But even the good has its bad. While the idea of having loads of work to save up loads of money is nice, the reality is harsh. Working ten hours a day means you arrive in the dark and leave in the dark, whether working a day or night shift. You’ll spend most of your day on your feet and while the work isn’t hard, standing up for that long does hurt the body. I would come home, back in knots and legs aching, to eat and go straight to bed, only to wake up the next morning still exhausted.

The body takes a beating and so does your social life. Remember all those friends you met and money you made? Well you won’t have any time to take advantage of that. Most pack houses only give one day off a week. While having a few drinks with friends would be nice, a hangover on top of a 60 hour work week is not.

The Ugly

Imagine ten hours of staring at kiwifruits on a conveyor belt or ten hours of placing a plastic sheet then a plastic egg crate into a cardboard box. No matter what job title you have at a kiwifruit packhouse, the work is repetitive and boring. I will say that the way management planned out breaks at my packhouse and the company there made the day go by a lot quicker than I thought it would. Still, you will be looking at the clock and wondering how on earth could it only have been five minutes since you last checked it.

This is all of course if you actually do have ten hours of work a day, six days a week, because the truth is, that none of that is guaranteed. Working a seasonal job in agriculture is dependent on a million variables; weather, disease other sectors, market demand.

Rain is a huge factor. If it rains, farm workers cannot pick fruit, which means no fruit is delivered to the packhouse, which means no work is available for packhouse staff. This past season the disease PSA destroyed millions of dollars worth of plants. I’m not complaining about it, especially because so many people lost their livelihood due to this disease and I just lost hours at a seasonal job, but the reality was that less fruit was available to pack, so less work was available to workers like me.

On top of being a seasonal work, you are also a casual worker, which means you owe the company very little and vice versa. Sure you are not obligated to give the job two weeks notice before leaving and there is always some other able body to take over your job if you need a day off, but all this means you are dispensable. If you miss a few days in a row, there is someone right behind you to take your job and like you don’t need to give two weeks notice, the company doesn’t need to give you that either. The first packhouse I worked for told us the season was over only four days before our last day. Another packhouse only required their staff to give 24 hours notice before their resignation.

One of the retirees I worked with has been returning to the same packhouse for three years. She doesn’t have to work, but said she does a season there to meet new people and learn about a different job.

Every job has its positives as well as its negatives. For me the biggest benefit of working at a kiwifruit packhouse was that I got to stay in New Zealand a little bit longer. Agricultural work, in all forms, is hard, but it’s extremely important. As tedious as some days were, I enjoyed meeting all the different people there as well as learning a bit more about a country I’ve come to love so much.

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Celebrating one year in New Zealand

Blog, Destinations, Dispatches from Down Under, Moving Abroad, New Zealand, New Zealand

Celebrating one year in New Zealand

13 Comments 09 July 2012

A year ago today, Ric and I arrived in New Zealand, which means tomorrow will mark a new achievement in my travels-spending more than one full year in a foreign country.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been here for so long and that I’m still hanging around here for a few more months, but it just feels right.

Whenever I meet locals from the country I’m traveling, one of the first questions they ask is, “Do you ever get home sick?”. Almost always, my answer is “Yes”. But there is something different about New Zealand. I don’t know if it’s that I’ve been here for so long or the fact that I’ve spent my entire time here with a partner, but for some reason, I feel at home in New Zealand.

Which is quite weird considering this country gave me the coldest welcoming of all the countries I’ve visited in the past two and a half years.

Prior to arriving in New Zealand last July, I was traveling on my own rendition of The Endless Summer. It started in Sydney in January of 2010, which is where I first started my current journey. It continued in the farms of Victoria for a few months and after that I worked my way up the east coast, pretty much following the heat. When Winter hit Australia, I found warmth in the tropics of Far North Queensland. And when it became a bit too hot there, I headed back to Melbourne for another Aussie Summer.

Next was SE Asia where it’s always warm and finally the good ol’ US of A in the Summer of 2011, which is one of the hottest Summers I’ve ever felt at home. But my summer was cut short when, as I mentioned above, I headed to NZ in July of last year, first stop-Queenstown.

The snow must have just been waiting for Ric and I too. Prior to our arrival, Queenstown was having a bit of a “drought”. The heavy ski destination was missing it’s number one ingredient to a good season. But the night we arrived, it came in full blast.

Nothing like waking up to snow in Queenstown. This shot was taken from our hotel room the day after we arrived in New Zealand. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I remember waking up at 4 a.m., jet-lagged, and Ric saying, “This is the first time I’ve had to put on all my clothes to go out for a fag in a year and a half.”

We weren’t in Australia anymore. 

But we wouldn’t stay in Queenstown for long, rumor of lack of jobs and friends’ calling up north led us to Blenheim. It’s not the most happening town, but we were in good company. We spent about a month there, then headed to Wellington, where we would make our first home in the country. We had a rough few nights in the country’s capital city to start, but came to love it and stuck around for about five months, the longest Ric or I have spent anywhere since we started traveling.

It was nice to have a home of sorts, but being the constant travelers we are, we had to hit the road eventually. In January we embarked on a six week trip around both islands. After that, I really understood why the people who have traveled NZ, go on about it so much.

Flat out, this is the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited. From kayaking Abel Tasman to hiking Franz Josef Glacier, camping out in Haast to living it up in Queenstown, it’s just a spectacular place to visit.

Ric and I spent two weeks traveling the South Island with my Dad, two weeks catching up with friends around the country and two more weeks with Ric’s family in Mount Maunganui, then it was time to build another home. And I think we’ve built our best one yet.

We’ve been living in the Mount for five months now and plan to spend another two here. During that time we’ve lived with some great housemates, Ric found an amazing job at a cafe and I…well I’ve worked with one of the country’s biggest icons: kiwifruit. It’s not always been an easy industry to work in, in fact working in agriculture is quite tedious, but the work has allowed me to stay here for more than a year.

US citizens are granted a three month extension on their work holiday visas after completing three months of agricultural work in New Zealand.

I started my work in March and was granted my extension, actually on the spot, in late June. I can’t describe just how relieved I felt that day. Traveling for as long as I have, it’s not all a holiday. Money is a constant worry as is trying to stay with a partner from a different country. In fact, one of the things that drew Ric and I to New Zealand is the fact that we were both eligible for working holiday visas here. So being granted those extra few months here, just put everything in order for me.

While we don’t plan to stick around here for too much longer, Thailand in September-Yesss!!!, we would like to return. How, you ask? Stay tuned. My mission has always been to stay on the road for as long as possible and I’ve got a few more tricks up my sleeve to help me do that.

But today, I’m going to celebrate a year in New Zealand, two and half years traveling and almost two years with my favorite travel partner and best friend.

Home is wherever I’m with you-bad’un.

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Wellington on a whim

Blog, Destinations, Dispatches from Down Under, Moving Abroad, New Zealand, New Zealand

Wellington on a whim

6 Comments 19 January 2012

We arrived in Wellington cold, homeless and hungry.

Yes, five months ago we arrived in this city and it’s hard to believe how much has changed. We had no idea where we’d go or what we would see when we first arrived in New Zealand, but we definitely didn’t expect to make such an amazing home in Wellington. This is the tale of what brought us to the windy city and how it blew us away.

After about five months of jobless travel around Asia and America, we took a chance and headed to New Zealand on a working holiday visa instead of saving up at home. We didn’t have a choice really. Since Ric and I are from different countries, this was one of the few easy ways to stay together and work. Parting was out of the question.

So we boarded a plane for a long flight in early July. Destination: Queenstown, but not for long. Queenstown was our original arrival city, because-well it’s Queenstown; winter wonderland, extreme sports, lots of backpackers. Unfortunately, our arrival date was mid-ski season, making it hard to find work. Further, it had yet to snow in Queenstown that season, making it even harder to find work.

On the way from Queenstown to Blenheim in July.

No worries. Ric had a friend he met in Australia living and working in Blenheim. Biggest legend ever, not only did she let us crash at her house for a long time, but also sorted Ric out with a job before he even arrived.

We arrived at the small town in the middle of Marlborough, a huge wine region, and met our friend for drinks. While at a bar, I met a guy who worked in viticulture and he gave me a contact for a local vineyard looking for workers. Next day, I was sorted with a job.

We thought we made it. We thought we were going to be okay. We thought wrong. Family matters had me on a plane back to the States only ten days after arriving. I spent two weeks at home then was on a plane back to New Zealand. Talk about jet lag.

In that time, Ric was ready to leave Blenheim. It’s not the most active town, plus Ric wasn’t doing his passion, cooking, so he had enough. To add to that he had fractured his thumb, making him actually unable to work for a few weeks.

I arrived back in Blenheim with a choice. Either stay in the quiet town doing jobs that weren’t nessarily our favorite or make a move to Wellington, the closest city, and see how it worked out.

We went for Wellington.

It’s not a cheap trip either. Wellington is on the North Island and Blenheim on the South. People must take either a plane or a ferry to get to Wellington from the South Island because they must cross the Cook Strait, either way your looking at spending about $70.

We came to Wellington with one night booked at a hostel, hoping to find a flat, jobs and a routine in a day. That’s when things started to look up.

It was just me job hunting at that point. Ric couldn’t because of his thumb. I felt so much pressure hunting for jobs that day. Between contacting people on TradeMe and walking into places, I had about seven job opportunities within the first day of looking.

I remember sitting at a kebab shop on Courtney Place, nervous but excited about what would come in this city. The owner gave us one of those “buy-ten-kebabs-get-one-free cards”. I wondered if we would even last long enough in this city to get that free kebab.

Ric was in charge of finding us a room. He looked on TradeMe and Easyroommate. We had a few good prospects in just two days of searching. One room and couple looked like an especially good match for us. That night while I had a job trial, Ric looked at a room. At the end of my trial, I had a message on my phone that said, “Come home.” I grabbed my stuff from the hostel and hopped a bus to Mt. Cook.

Since we arrived so late, we didn’t really have time to make our new room comfortable. Our new roomies were nice enough to give us comforters and pillows, but they were covered in cat fur and Ric and I are both allergic. The room only came with a bed, which is actually quite lucky considering most of the rooms we saw came with nothing. We had to make it work though.

God that first night. The matress was so old that the springs had worn out, so Ric and I just kept rolling into eachother in the middle of it. On top of that we were sneezing and coughing all night because of the cat. I’m not writing this as a complaint, just as a funny note on how ridiculous that first night was.

The next day I did a trial at Fidel’s Cafe, pretty much a Wellington icon, and was hired. The next week we both organized our new room, sorting the bed out, using boxes as tables and dressers and putting some art up on the walls. The following week Ric found a job at Hotel Bristol and was hired to do what he loves, cook.

This little door can be found out the back of Fidel’s. I fell in love with it when I found it. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Leaving Wellington we are in a completely different situation. We both saved up a lot of money, met so many wonderful people here who were so welcoming, got to experience the World Cup in one of New Zealand’s biggest cities, beat our cat allergies (we both fell in love with the little guy) and we’ll even get to eat that free kebab.

Now that it’s time to say good bye to Wellington, I can’t help but look back on how we arrived and just give the city and all the people in it a massive thanks. I can’t speak on behalf of Ric, but I’ve never had a work place treat me so well and the people working there welcome me so much. We made a home here when we were literally close to being homeless. Everyone here was so amazing, it was a true realization of how kind the kiwi spirit is.

My favorite shot of Rondell, the best cat ever. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

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Buying a car abroad

Australia, Moving Abroad, New Zealand, Other, Tips & Facts, United Kingdom

Buying a car abroad

5 Comments 04 January 2012

Buying a car in a foreign country can be a daunting task, especially if you’re like me and have always relied on the help of friends or family who know about cars to help with your purchases at home.

The first time I bought a car abroad was in Australia. I have to admit that not much research went into the purchase of it. All that mattered was that my mate and I were able to afford it, as we were on a very tight budget.

Luckily we ended up with a fantastic car that got us from Melbourne all the way to Port Douglas in far North Queensland, with a little detour through the Blue Mountains and a few other little unplanned journeys.

This is the car I had in Australia – Photo by Richard John Hackey

However, when Bobbi and I bought our car in New Zealand we were in a far better position than I was in Australia. This meant that I had time to research what the best car for us would be and how to go about getting the best price.

Here are some tips that may help you on your way to getting your ideal travel mobile.

Set a price limit

By doing this you’ll initially give yourself a goal to save for, but also help narrow down your choices when searching.

Set a mileage limit

Setting the maximum amount of mileage you want in a car means you won’t be spending money on a car that looks nice but has been on the road for too long.

Research the car

Try and check out customer feedback on the models you are interested in. There were quite a few cars I saw that seemed fine but after a little detective work I was able to find out the common faults with certain models. You can read car reviews on sites like iSeeCars.

Where to buy your car

Start off by looking at verified sites like Trade Me in New Zealand or Gumtree in Australia. These sites will enable you to search for the car with what rough specifications you have. Through Trade Me I actually discovered a couple of auction houses that were in my area. I would have visited these if I hadn’t found such a bargain on Trade Me, but they are another good option.

Also try looking at bulletin boards in hostels. A lot of backpackers will post cars for sale there and if they have to leave the country asap, you could find a great deal.

Our newly purchased car in NZ – Photo By Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Cambelt (Timing Belt)

Most cars run using a cambelt. These need to be replaced every 100,00kms or so. If the cambelt goes whilst you have the car it’s going to cost between $800-$1100 to replace it. So make sure that the car has papers to prove that this has been done.

Buy Japanese

I’ve always been told to buy Japanese (Toyota, Nissan, Mazda etc.) when buying a second-hand car, because these cars have a better reputation for being reliable over longer distances.

Size of Car

You obviously need to take into consideration the amount of passengers and the amount of baggage you will be taking with you to decide what size car you’ll need. I wouldn’t recommend forking out for a 4×4 unless you intend on doing some serious off-roading.

Size of Engine

Depending on what you are going to be using the car for will depend on how big you want your engine size to be. Simply put, for traveling around cities and towns you need a relatively small engine, but for longer distances you’ll want a bigger engine that’s been designed for cruising.

Manual or Automatic

This is pretty obvious but don’t buy a manual car if you only possess an automatic license.

Hope this will be of some help to you.

Good Luck

This post was brought to you by iSeeCars.

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How to celebrate your first holiday season abroad

Australia, Moving Abroad, New Zealand, Other, Tips & Facts, United Kingdom

How to celebrate your first holiday season abroad

5 Comments 13 December 2011

It’s getting to that time of the year. The holidays are upon us and if you’re spending this holiday season abroad you may not even notice it.

Even the most adventurous travelers long to be home for Christmas, because no matter how hard a traveler tries, nothing beats the holidays with family. But don’t get too upset over it. Celebrating the season abroad can be a memorable and happy experience if you look at it the right way.

Here are some guidelines to making your celebrations abroad special.

Don’t expect everything to be the same as at home

Holidays are celebrated very differently around the world. In fact, your holiday may not even be celebrated in the part of the world you are visiting or living in this year. Iinstead of thinking your missing out on something, consider yourself learning something new and embracing another culture.

It was next to impossible to find a turkey in New Zealand for Thanksgiving, so we settled on two chickens. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

This can mean not even celebrating the same holiday or it can just mean not having turkey for dinner. Either way, embrace the new. Don’t get caught up on everything being your idea of perfect. Learn about how this holiday can be, as all travel should be, a cultural experience. Ditch turkey for kangaroo. Try out Kwanza instead of Christmas.

Invite new friends or join their celebration

It always amazes me how kind people are around the world, even to strangers. There is no possible way a person could celebrate the holidays alone in a world as loving as this on days that actually celebrates that.

If you’ve been living in an area for awhile, ask new friends what their plans are for the holidays. Get to know other travelers in your hostel and plan a celebration with them. Look at online forums or local newsletters to see what is happening on Christmas day in the area. Churches usually have something or you could volunteer at a soup kitchen.

The point is, you really never have to worry about celebrating the holidays alone. There will always be something for you to do and a place for you to go.

Remeber to treat yourself

Go on, it’s the holidays. Eat that bag of cookies and buy yourself that dress you’ve been eyeing up for the last month.

All the trimmings. Photo by Richard Hackey

But watch how much you spend

I never fully realized how much the holidays cost until my first Thanksgiving and Christmas abroad. It really made me appreciate everything my parents put into all those holidays throughout my childhood and beyond.

Unfortunately travelers usually don’t have the luxury of splurging on a holiday. Don’t even try to match your holiday dinner or celebration at home. It took your family a lot of time and money to create that and you won’t match it even if you do buy the best of the best.

If you can get a group of friends together, split the meal amongst the group. It will save you a lot of time and money. Plus, it’s more fun to share these things with other people.

I got crafty. Stella bottles and flowers from the garden, nice decorations for little cost. Photo by Bobbi Lee HItchon

Take time to call home

Even if you can’t be at home this holiday season, the people there are thinking about you. With technology today, there’s no reason not to call home. Hell you can even sit at the dinner table via skype. Now if they could only figure out a way to send food in real time.

Whatever you do this holiday season, make it a good one. If you’re abroad, it won’t be like home, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be amazing. Seasons Greetings!

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Finding work in a new town

Australia, Australia, Destinations, Moving Abroad, New Zealand, New Zealand, United Kingdom, USA

Finding work in a new town

4 Comments 12 September 2011

Moving to a new town on your travels is always full of new and exciting prospects; what new sights you are going to see, new people that you’re going to meet, new cultures to unearth etc.

But you also need to be prepared financially to support this new adventure. So job hunting will probably be a high priority when you first arrive anywhere.

Hopefully these tips may help.

In my experience I have always found that you will need a cushion of cash to tide you over, for the first two weeks or so, whilst you look for work. Unfortunately I have found myself, more often than not, having to beg and borrow off friends to keep me afloat until that vital first pay check. So here are a few pointers that may help you avoid the situations I’ve found myself in.

You need to have an impressive CV on hand ready to hand out to any prospective employers. Try a website like to help you with this.

You also need to figure out a plan of action before you leave for another town as you could end up wasting crucial days figuring out where you are and where the best places to look for work are.

Photo By Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Spend some time researching what’s happening in your chosen town, where the job agencies are, where the cheapest and most convenient places are to live. All this helps in reducing the stress when you arrive.

Deciding what type of employment you are going to go into is also extremely important, for example: if you decide you want office work but move to a resort town then the chances of being employed are dramatically decreased.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Some jobs pay more than others (obviously), so look into how much certain job sectors pay in your new home town.

Use the internet to find specific job websites for your new chosen area. For myself I mostly used in Australia, in New Zealand and in the USA. Although you may not always use them to find a job, they are usually a good barometer for what the job situation is like.

Hopefully this will be of some help to you if you are feeling a bit short on ideas.

Happy Traveling!!!

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