July 8, 2014

How to make the most of your Australian Working Holiday Visa

For many graduates, myself included, a year out to travel the world is seen as a stepping stone on the path to adulthood. Post degree but prior to entering into the working world, a year abroad can provide a few life lessons that are seldom taught within the curriculum of modern education.

The ability to adapt to new circumstances, overcome challenges and stride out forging your own path in life, travel educates in a way that not even the most accomplished and engaging teacher can.

One of the most popular opportunities for graduates seeking the chance to travel is a twelve month Australian Working Holiday Visa. Available to residents of over twenty five countries this visa provides the chance to live and work abroad, explore one of the most diverse continents on the planet and take a class in life that forces you to leap outside your comfort zone.


The Milky Way seen from the Nullarbor Plain by Benjamin Jones

Planning twelve months in Australia

One year sounds like ample time to explore one country. However thanks to the sheer scale of the Australian continent and the wealth of landscapes to explore, twelve months will fly past in the blink of an eye when you’re Down Under.

If you’re considering taking the opportunity to sample life in Australia then I highly recommend you take the time to consider exactly what you hope to get out of your stay.

Do you intend to base yourself in one place and seek employment in the field in which you studied while at University? Fly by the seat of your pants and take cash in hand work as you travel across all six states? Perhaps there are certain parts of the country you’re desperate to see and so want to plan an epic road trip?

Whatever you want to do while you’re Down Under here are a few suggestions to help you make the most of your twelve month stay.

Enhance your CV with foreign employment in your field

A working holiday visa is not something every country offers foreign nationals visiting its shores, so consider making the most of the chance to gain employment abroad. If you’re considering immigrating to Australia making connections within the industry you intend to work is invaluable.

A few months prior to your arrival research employers in your sector and reach out to them with your CV detailing your skills and qualifications, and inspiring them to hire you during your stay.

Check online job listings regularly and apply before you arrive. Don’t limit yourself to one location, search countrywide for the greatest chance of success.

Note that under the terms of the visa you are only eligible to work for any one employer for a maximum of six months.

Useful links;





Take an epic road trip across all six states

If you’ve managed to save a few dollars prior to your arrival in Australia then a road trip of epic proportions is one way to maximize your time on the red continent. While the adventure itself will offer an education of unimaginable significance, the experience will help to shape the person you are as you stride out into the big bad world.

Take to the highway and immerse yourself in the heritage of Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, head Ouback and explore the barren red center, explore shipwrecks off the Queensland coast and swim with Dolphins in Western Australia.

Consult the Vagablogging guides to buying a campervan in Australia and selling a vehicle at the end of your stay to ensure you invest wisely, have a hassle free trip and potentially earn a small profit when your adventure is over. Don’t forget you could also earn a few bucks towards your fuel costs by providing a cost effective transport service to other travelers heading the same way as you!

winnebago-nsw-australia (Custom)

Winifred the Winnebago by Benjamin Jones

Live rent free and see Australia by House Sitting

The concept of house sitting is fast becoming recognized as a tool that can subsidize the cost of accommodation when travelling. In short it offers house and pet owners a low cost option for property and pet care, while providing rent free accommodation for travelers.

If you want to see numerous parts of Australia but don’t have the desire to be on the move for your entire stay, then house and pet sitting is something you should consider. With the chance to live like a local on a reduced daily budget, a house sitting assignment could provide respite from periods of travel and employment.

It’s important to note that some assignments are unsuitable for sitters who are not financially self-sufficient for the duration of their stay, so if you intend to seek employment while house sitting you must mention this in your application. Consider also the logistics of travelling to and from assignments, as well as your transport needs during your stay.

Volunteer for unforgettable experiences

Volunteering is something many associate with charity work but there are a range of volunteer options for those who visit Australia on a working holiday visa. Those travelling on a reduced budget should consider the benefits of an exchange arrangement whereby you donate your time in exchange for room and board.

Australia is well known for its seasonal work and backpackers are often recruited to pick fruit, tend to livestock and assist on rural properties. HelpX is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farm stays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats willing to offer backpackers free lodging in exchange for their help.

Further useful links;





Fossicking in the Queensland Outback by Benjamin Jones

Have you spent twelve months or more in Australia? How would you recommend those on a Working Holiday Visa maximize their stay in the country?

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Category: General, Oceania

July 7, 2014

Growing up involves exploring what makes us feel alive

“A big part of growing up, for everyone, involves exploring what it is that makes us feel not only alive and present, but also competent and respected. With luck, we find passions that are legal and worthwhile, and may be spun upward into hobbies and vocations, rather than downward into self-destruction. These don’t have to center on an adrenalin-filled physical experience. Research by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, of Claremont Graduate University in California, has shown that gardeners, cooks and heart surgeons can experience rapture — the pleasure of being rapt — of the same kind. So can artists and writers. So can gamers, and those who create the digital worlds they inhabit. Happily, mortal fear turns out not to be necessary — though you can see how it helps. That cherished quality of focus and vitality can come from pushing yourself towards the subtler limits of skill, as well as away from danger.”
–Guy Claxton, Get Your Kicks, Aeon, 11/08/2013

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Category: Travel Quote of the Day

July 6, 2014

Best Five Fitness Trackers for Travel

2014-06-07 12.58.39

Travel with its long flights and sitting in transport can wreck havoc on your health. But how can you avoid both while traveling?

The answer is simple: give yourself a challenge. The challenge is in the form of a fitness tracker. As Peter Drucker, an Austrian-born American management consultant, says, “What gets measured, gets managed.”

Fitness trackers aren’t just one-function pedometers anymore. Most track your steps, measure the distance you’ve walked, and time your sleep. A few even capture heart rate, perspiration, body motion, and types of sleep, including how long you spend in REM. When you use a fitness tracker in conjunction with a sleep app, you can kick jet lag.

When I’m traveling, I walk more than I do at home. A fitness tracker not only can measure the quality of my sleep, but also the distance my feet have traveled or how much water I’m consuming — two valuable measurements after recycled air and cramped quarters on flights.

So I rounded up the available fitness trackers and picked the top five based upon factors that are important while traveling:


1. Misfit Shine

Waterproof, minimalist design and has a watch battery rumored to last four months. It has the awesome ability to discern between swimming, walking, running, and cycling. Thanks to its jewelry-like design, you can wear this tracker in a variety of ways; like as a necklace, a watch, clipped to your pants. An interesting sidenote for you startup business fans, Misfit Shine was a successfully funded Indiegogo project. The tracker works in conjunction with an app, available on Android and iTunes.

Downside: you will need a smartphone to get info off the tracker. It doesn’t have a display on it.

Price: $102


2. Jawbone UP24

Sleek wrist band that has a vibrating reminder to urge you to move if you’ve been idle for too long — perfect for a quick walk during a long flight or train ride. Also, the alarm will wake you during a lighter sleep period so you wake easier and quicker. This feature is perfect for adjusting to new time zones. The design looks more like a wrist band than a tracker busily measuring your activity. It claims to have up to 7 days of battery life.

Downside: the unusual design snags on your clothes and you need a smartphone with the app to check your info since it has no display.

Price: $150

fit bit flex

3. Fitbit Flex

A slender, comfortable wrist band holds the small Fitbit tracker. Tap on the tracker and lights show your progress to your daily 10,000 step (or any other step!) goal. The tracker works in conjunction with a smartphone app (available on Android and iTunes) which tracks your sleep, water intake, daily mileage walked, total steps, exercise with GPS monitoring, calorie intake. It even has a vibrating alarm to wake you. This is the tracker I use and I can’t wait to try it out on my next trip. My battery life is roughly one week between charges.

Downside: it doesn’t wake you during a lighter sleep period like Jawbone does.

Price: $100


4. Basis

The new kid on the block, this fitness tracker does it all for a great price. It looks like a watch, but thanks to little sensors under the face, it tracks your heart rate patterns, motion, calorie expenditure by activity, perspiration and skin temperature, and sleep cycles including REM. It’s akin to having a doctor strapped to your wrist. This tracker would be very valuable if you are traveling to hotter climates where you run the risk of dehydration and you’re on the move. Battery life is claimed to be up to 4 days. And the strap is carbon steel.

Upside: the larger display shows you info at a glance, no need to pull out the smartphone to check it.

Price: $200


5. Garmin Vivofit

Best part is you don’t have to charge it for a year. Reviews by the users back up that stat. When it needs new batteries, they are  common batteries found at any store. This tracker does everything else all the other trackers listed do. But it also pairs with a heart rate strap. And the display provides more information like time, steps, distance, calories.

Price: $130

Laura blogs at Waiting To Be Read where she explores the benefits of reading and traveling, is forever making “best of” lists, and writes book reviews with actors cast as main characters.

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Category: Travel Gear

July 5, 2014

The death of the Mile High Club

Take off...

I want to take this opportunity to declare that the Mile-High Club is, for all practical purposes, defunct. Much like the practice of phrenology or the fad for goldfish swallowing, the notion of having sex on commercial airplanes is no longer worthy of serious consideration.

Before I get inundated with angry e-mails accusing me of being a prude, let me be clear about one thing: This is not about sex. For die-hard Mile-High Club practitioners, I’m sure there’s still nothing more arousing than the heady scent of disinfectant and sewage as you wedge yourself against a paper towel dispenser to consummate your passion with the person you love (or as many Mile-High Club tales seem to imply, with the person you met at the boarding gate).

In reality, the death of the Mile-High Club is tied to the decline of the commercial air travel experience in general. Back in the late ‘60s, when the advent of the Boeing 737 began to make jet travel affordable for the masses, I’m sure everything about the experience of flight was somewhat of a thrill. Nearly four decades later, however, a couple generations of travelers have known nothing but air travel for long journeys. We’re still flying in those same 737s (and comparable aircraft), yet the level of comfort and service has actually declined: Security lines are longer, seating schemes are more cramped, in-flight snack services are disappearing, and—in a startling development—some aircraft manufacturers have reportedly considered maximizing passenger capacity by installing standing-room seating, wherein you are strapped, like a mental patient, to a padded backboard during takeoff.

In short, commercial air travel has become hopelessly mundane and unpleasant—and aspiring to have sex on a commercial flight is now as tacky and pointless as aspiring to have sex in a Wal-Mart.  (more…)

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Category: Air Travel, Rolf Potts, Sex and Travel

July 4, 2014

Vagabonding Case Study: Luke McGuire Armstrong

Luke Guatemala

Luke Maguire Armstrong


Age: 28

Hometown: Kalispel, Montana

Quote: Hundreds of years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… But the world may be different because I did something so bafflingly crazy that my ruins become a tourist attraction. - Demotivators (more…)

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Category: Vagabonding Case Studies

July 3, 2014

Vagabonding Case Study: Leyla Giray Alyanak


Leyla Giray Alyanak

Age: 61
Hometown: Born in Paris, grew up in Madrid, studied in Montreal, now live near Geneva, Switzerland
Quote: “To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” (Freya Stark)
How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful before and during the trip? I read the book a few years after returning from my trip – and wished it had existed before I left!
How long were you on the road? 3.5 years in my mid-forties was the longest – but I’ve traveled for up to a year at a time on other occasions.
Where did you go? Up the Eastern spine of Africa, through Southeast Asia, the Baltics, and Cuba
What was your job or source of travel funding for this journey? Initially my savings; then a smattering of freelance assignments; and then I was  finally appointment as a newspaper foreign correspondent.
Did you work or volunteer on the road? I worked often – usually writing but occasionally teaching or doing communications work along the way.
Of all the places you visited, which was your favorite? Eritrea. I arrived just after three decades of civil war. Hope was in the air, everyone was optimistic, even those who had lost family or limbs in the brutal conflict. Gender equality was proclaimed, Eritreans started coming home to rebuild their country. And then the regime hardened into a repressive one, and I know if I returned I would no longer be able to feel so positive about it.
Was there a place that was your least favorite, or most disappointing, or most challenging? I think Nigeria was the most challenging country I’ve ever visited. Not only is it huge, but few tourists go there so it doesn’t have the tourism infrastructure. Of course Nigerians travel extensively in their own country so where they go I could go, but it wasn’t as straightforward as, say, Kenya or South Africa.
Which travel gear proved most useful?  Least useful? My sarong, bought for a song in Thailand, is probably the most useful thing I have with me. I can wear it around my room, sleep in it, use it as a towel in a pinch, headscarf, protection against wind and sand.  A close second is my trusty rubber doorstop. Just slip it under the door at night and sleep like a charm. Least useful is anything I can easily buy abroad.
What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle? My biggest reward has been to travel slowly and get to meet incredible people along the way, many of whom have become lifelong friends. By taking my time, at least a month in each country, I was able to begin to understand it, not entirely, but certainly more than if I’d drifted through for a day or two.
What are the challenges and sacrifices of the vagabonding lifestyle? My biggest sacrifice was distance from my loved ones, no contest. I traveled well before social media and Skype brought the world closer together. When I was on the road full-time, I was limited to the occasional international phone call and at times, I missed my family terribly. I also missed having a home base, as I got rid of everything before starting to travel. For a number of years, I felt like a tourist in my own life.
What lessons did you learn on the road? I learned so much… to rely more on myself, to be more confident, that I needed far fewer ‘things’ than I thought, that I could make friends anywhere… and that people were basically helpful and kind, with exceptions, but that’s what they were – exceptions.
How did your personal definition of “vagabonding” develop over the course of the trip? Initially I thought travel was about time and distance. Eventually it became about depth and breadth. I began to care more about understanding than seeing, which meant spending a lot more time in a place than I’d ever planned.
If there was one thing you could have told yourself before the trip, what would it be? Stop worrying.
Any advice or tips for someone hoping to embark on a similar adventure? Do your homework, make your plans – and be ready to throw them out the window when an opportunity arises.
When and where do you think you’ll take your next long-term journey? It will be in 2015… Either across the USA – I’ve always wanted to visit it in-depth – or perhaps through Scandinavia. I’d love to spend a month or two in Madagascar or Mexico…

Read more about Leyla on her blog, Women On The Road, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter

WebsiteWomen On The Road Twitter@womenontheroad

Are you a Vagabonding reader planning, in the middle of, or returning from a journey? Would you like your travel blog or website to be featured on Vagabonding Case Studies? If so, drop us a line at casestudies@vagabonding.net and tell us a little about yourself.

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Category: Vagabonding Case Studies

July 2, 2014

Vagabonding Field Report: UNESCO World Heritage Site, Luang Prabang, Laos


$30/day per person

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

A stroll through the Luang Prabang morning market brought something different to my senses every time. One morning, I saw a woman with a pile of chickens on the ground for sale. I thought the chickens were dead, but one of them started to get up and the woman shushed it like a dog and it laid back down. A little further down, a large tub of massive frogs awaited purchase next to huge cuts of fish and pig faces staring back at me. Most of the food lay on the ground on tarps.


Describe a typical day:

After breakfast, homeschool and work are completed in the morning, we head out to do things like swim in the Mekong, visit the unexploded ordinances center, take a hands-on class in traditional weaving and natural dyeing or rice farming. We did a lot of wandering around the beautiful, quiet town just getting lost and finding little gems as well as riding a motorbike on the outskirts of town.




Describe an interesting conversation you had with a local:

It was interesting talking with our guide from the rice farming course. He graduated from college, spoke English very well and told us he could have chosen to work in an office. In fact, for a time he had worked in an office. But he grew up near the farm and the idea of being able to work outside everyday was more appealing to him than sitting in an office, even if it meant he would be paid less.  (more…)

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Category: Asia, Vagabonding Field Reports

July 1, 2014

Vagabonding book club: Chapter 9: Be creative


“In retrospect I see that my stress wasn’t the product of indecision; the conflict arose from my impossible desire to be in all those places at once. in knowing that so many destinations were cheaply accessible at that very moment, I suddenly feared that I would never again get the chance to see them. Travel, I was coming to realize, was a metaphor not only for the countless options life offers but also for the fact that choosing one option reduces you to the parameters of that choice. thus in knowing my possibilities, I also knew my limitations.”

I was raised by vagabonds. My parents hitchhiked continents and hopped freighters in between before I was born. When I was 8 they rolled my brother and I into the back of a 1964 Ford Econoline van that my Dad named “vagabunda” and drove us into the deep south for the winter. They did it again when I was 13. Who needs third or eighth grades? We talked a lot in my childhood, and even now, about this very point that Rolf elucidates: That to choose one life, one path, one moment, is to actively NOT choose a myriad of others.

It is a thought that has stuck with me as I’ve built my own life, followed my own passions and traveled with my own family. It’s not that any one path is inherently better than another, it’s just that they lead in very different directions and one must have the presence of mind to think long term enough to see past the first bend in the road. The necessity of commitment to a path, of releasing the ties other paths might have on one’s heart, the ties that lead to indecision, questioning, and regretful “what ifs.” On the flip side of that coin, the necessity of flexibility, the willingness to trust a path to the fates and follow where they leave, and the willingness to change your mind, change your path and create a new one if needs be. Ultimately, there is much to be said for being able to come to grips with the choices you’ve made, the parameters you’ve set for yourself, the limitations of the current set of choices, and live within the moment. Accepting what is. Changing what you can as it suits you. Moving forward with purpose. Exercising creativity to keep passions fresh and alive.

How do you choose a path and then keep it interesting as you go?

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Category: Travel Writing

June 30, 2014

Two ways to live

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”


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Category: General

June 29, 2014

Three things long term travel is not

Vagabonding Guatemala

I awoke, this morning, thinking about our journey and the excitement of being home for a few months. I opened my eyes to messages of love and daily life from people around the world, fellow travelers, as well as those who never leave home and I realized, again, just how thankful I am for the diversity in our circles. There are so many beautiful lives I get to live vicariously through the people we connect with. Long term travel is just one of an endless number of choices we could have made for this lifetime. Truth be told, it’s really only one tiny chapter of the greater book of our lives. There was a time when we lived other sorts of lives, and there will be a time in the future when we do something else entirely.

Long term travel is a lot of things, but this morning I awoke thinking about a few of the things it is not. 

A contest

It doesn’t matter who’s been on the road the longest. It doesn’t matter how many countries you’ve been to. It doesn’t matter what your blog following is. It doesn’t matter how many kids you’ve had in weird corners of the world. It doesn’t matter if your kid is tri-lingual. It’s not a race to check World Heritage sites off the list. It’s not about bigger, better, or faster. International is not better than domestic. No one cares how many Four Seasons hotels you’ve stayed at. There are no extra points for maintaining the smallest (or the largest) budget for years on end. Anytime it becomes about who does what bigger, better or faster, I’m opting out of the conversation and I hope you will too. Travel is not a contest; it’s an enrichment activity.

An extended vacation

For the record, we have not been on vacation for the past five and a half years. In some ways, traveling full time is a lot harder than living in one place. It’s not a long string of beach postcards and holiday style outings. We’re juggling kids and laundry, sicknesses and work schedules, schooling and dentist appointments, just like everyone else. It’s worth it to us. We love living this way for this phase of life. Longterm travel isn’t an extended vacation, it’s a lifestyle choice.

Inherently better

Occasionally people have felt the need to justify their lifestyle choice to me, “Well, it’s not like what you are doing, we’re just…” fill in the blank. Folks, there is no “just.” What we’re doing, traveling for years on end, is not inherently better than life in the suburbs. In fact, I’ve gotten my share of hate mail from people who would argue that it’s much worse. One of the things I love most about life is the many ways that there are to live it. My way need not be your way. Your dream is beautiful because it’s your dream. We all get to do our thing and together we make the world go round.

It bugs me, more than just a little, when I hear travelers smugly slapping one another on the back and quietly (or not so quietly) deriding all of “those people” who aren’t as “cool as we are” because they happen to hold stationary jobs, live in the ‘burbs, send their kids to school, or in some other way conform to the “norm.”Ladies and gentlemen who travel, hear this: you are not special, you are not fabulous, you’re just doing your thing. I celebrate that: do your thing. I love travelers, they are my people; but so are moms of ten kids neck deep in diapers and sippy cups for decades, and so are farmers whose dreams are dug deep in local soil, and so are folks who’ve hung up their wanderlust to do other worthwhile things for a while. Longterm travel is just one way to live a life, not the best way.

There are two more things long term travel is not; read about the original post on Edventure Project

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Category: Vagabonding Advice













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Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush?: Agreed with Lynne, well said. The...

M.Jagger: Rod, Blimey….It was a blast partying with you at the local...

Ava Collopy: I’m currently working on a new book and website project to represent...

Caroline Macomber: I’m beginning to feel that it doesn’t end. But that I...

Stephen: Does it end, though? I’ve gone through several cycles of this over the...

Margie: I will never be a tour guide, but the prospective you have shown here will help...

Lynne Nieman: Well said! Although not a long term traveler like you, I have taken a few...

Dorje: Hi all. I was born in Kathmandu in ’71, my father ran the Rose Mushroom...

Gerry: Just reading Maureen’s comments [12thMay2014], My girlfriend and I had a...

jameselgringo: Perhaps you give too much emotional capital to money and its perceived...






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Lost in the crowd when traveling?
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Vagabonding Field Report: The Penguins of Phillip Island
Long term travel with a family: You have to really want to do this
Alden Jones on going back to the places that obsess you
My top beaches around the world
Skepticism and salvation in Cyprus

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