Hello Australia!

Meet Pippa. Former STA Travel Customer Service Manager, European travel addict, and the manager of our new Working Holiday Heroes in Australia. (Essentially, the nice people in our Backpacker by STA Travel stores who help you find your feet, hug you if you’re homesick, and help explain what-the-hell-a-tax-file-number is). Having just migrated permanently Down Under from the UK, we figured who better to talk us through the whole Australia working holiday thing.

The whole visa thing. Is it as complicated as it sounds and when should people be applying?

Unlike the scramble for Canadian work visas each year, Australian working holiday visas aren’t limited to a certain number, so you can apply at any point. But really, the sooner the better to avoid a last-minute meltdown! From the date you get your visa accepted (and remember, you have to be outside of Australia at this point, so you can’t go into Oz on a tourist visa and then change your mind), you have 12 months to enter the country.

The process can be as quick as one week, but can take up to a few months if you need to provide more information to the embassy. The guys at STA Travel in the UK can help you get everything set up.

What’s the oldest you can be to get a working holiday visa?

Currently, it’s 18 to 30 years old. As in, you have to get your visa accepted before your 31st birthday. However, there has been talk about the Australian government changing this to 35 years old, so watch this space…

And what’s the deal with the second working holiday visa?

So, this one kind of takes a bit of crystal ball planning! As in, if you THINK you might want to stay and do a second year, or go back over and do a second year before you’re 31, you have to complete three months (88 days) worth of government specified work in regional Australia on your FIRST visa.

The most popular work backpackers seem to go for is fruit picking or farm work. So if you’re already thinking one year won’t be enough, head to rural parts of Australia like Mildura in Victoria, Darwin in Northern Territory or Tully in Queensland. Get ready to get your hands dirty, plus a great tan 😉

What’s the average hourly rate for farm or casual work in Oz?

The minimum wage in Australia for 18-21-year-olds is $18.60 an hour. However, some farm work can pay up to $25 an hour and can have accommodation and food included, so it’s a great way to get your head down and save for a couple of months.
Remember, you can only work in one job for a maximum of 6 months.

What’s the strangest job you’ve heard of backpackers doing?

Weird and wonderful is always the way forward. We currently have a woman wanting to recruit people to dress up ‘old-world-like’ and play characters in a historic gold mine! Personally, I would really excel in this role…

Any advice for making friends? And more importantly, how’s the tea situation over there?

I’ve already started to make heaps of friends. Coming from London, a day can pass when you hardly make eye contact with people you see every day. But in Melbourne, everyone seems to have time for a good old chinwag. Plus, everywhere you go there’s always a Brit ordering an English breakfast tea, or wondering where the nearest chippy is – there are British expats everywhere! But *sniffling into a tissue* I won’t lie, you will always miss your friends and family.

But remember, everyone is in the same boat. The best thing you can do is book a starter pack that will include hostel accommodation and some local trips. That way you’ll get to see the city’s best bits AND make friends, win-win. Communal dorm living and hostel happy hours? I challenge anyone not to make friends! We can also organise group flights as well, where everyone travels over together.

Tell us about the new Hello Australia starter packs!

This is our new project! We get that upping sticks and moving to the other side of the world without somewhere to live or a job can be daunting, so we’ve created these starter packs in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns and Perth. Basically, we deal with all the boring adult bits, so that you can find your feet and start having fun from the moment you land. We include an airport transfer, accommodation in Australia’s best backpacker hostels (such as Wake Up in Sydney, or Greenhouse in Melbourne) and a day trip or two somewhere awesome to give you chance to make friends. We also have an 8-day starter pack called The Big One, which is a weeks’ worth of trips and group activities, such as paddleboarding and beach barbecues, to really get you stuck into Aussie life.

And what about finding work?

We include 12 months membership to Work Australia and an appointment with one of our Working Holiday Heroes instore to get you set up and settled. We’ll help you with all the ‘yawn’ stuff – like tax file numbers, bank accounts, job searches, superannuation, Medicare cards etc; plus tell you where the best pubs are and what you should be getting out and about to see in the city.
We’re basically your Aussie mums!

Any final advice?

Yes! Remember, it’s a working HOLIDAY visa. The clue’s in the name. Which means it’s also about having fun. This is an amazing opportunity to live in a new country for a year and do some fun casual work, without worrying about career progression or how it’s going to look on your CV.

What else?

I’d always advise keeping your plans super flexible. Our FLEXI range of hop-on-hop-off bus passes, campervan passes and hostel passes mean that you’re not tied to dates, so you can stop and work somewhere for a month or two, save up some dollar, and then move on to the next place. And remember, you have the services of our Working Holiday Heroes and online jobs board for the full 12 months.

Find out more about working holiday visas and our Hello Australia starter packs here. And if you’ve already done the whole Oz thing, say ‘Hello New Zealand’ and disappear down there instead.

Mapped out: 2018’s top trending travel destinations

New Year, new plans, new holiday allowance.

We’ve pulled together our list of the top destinations to visit this year, whether they be an up and coming country or an old favourite making a resurgence. All these destinations are longing to be explored by your wandering souls in 2018…

Sri Lanka | Western Australia | Slovenia | Namibia | Colombia | Georgia | Cappadocia, Turkey | Norway | Guatemala | Utah, USA | Taiwan | Bhutan


1. Sri Lanka


A post shared by I Like Local (@i_like_local) on


Why? At the time of writing this, Sri Lanka is ahead in our customer poll by double any other country. Continually upping its game, this teardrop-shaped island is the Asian hotspot of 2018, home to a diverse range of natural beauty and ancient wonders, and you travellers can’t get enough. 


Read more:

Sri Lanka travel guide
10 reasons to stop what you’re doing and head to Sri Lanka… now!
How safe is it to travel in Sri Lanka as a solo female? 


2. Colombia


A post shared by Stephanie Mitchell (@stephaniejmitchell) on

Why? Netflix may be responsible for a peak of interest in Colombia’s shadier past, but there’s so much more that makes this colourful and biodiverse country contender for South America’s most up-and-coming tourist destination.


Read more: 
Colombia travel guide
7 things you didn’t know about Colombia


3. Western Australia


A post shared by Hey Perth (@heyperth) on

Why? This is an untouched world away from the well-trodden path of Australia’s East Coast. Bordered with an idyllic coastline, home to vast deserts blanketed by the mind-melting Milky Way and teeming with incredible wildlife, Western Australia is a marvel of its own.   Must-dos:

Read more: Western Australia destination guideThe ultimate Western Australia road trip        

4. Slovenia


A post shared by LIFE Adventures (@life_adventures_story) on

Why? The last few years, everyone has been banging down Croatia’s pristine, wave-lapped doors to get in, but this year, it’s northern neighbour Slovenia where we predict a travel trend emerging. When they said ‘hidden gem’, they meant to say ‘hidden-in-the-most-stunning-picturesque-paradise-in-the-Balkans-gem’. This impeccably beautiful country is a gift to the eyes… and the camera. Slovenia is bursting with history, culture, turquoise swimming spots, Venetian style architecture and snow sprinkled peaks. If you aren’t shredding powder or hiking through thick snowfall in the Julian Alps, then you can explore the Hungarian style farmhouses in the harbour towns (located a few hours away from both Venice, and northern Croatia), or bless your soul with a little bit of Lake Bled. #onefortheoutdoorstype!   Must-dos:

Read more: Slovenian slap hunting


5. Namibia


A post shared by Namibia (@beautifulnamibia) on

Why? ‘It’s the cirrrrrrcle of liiiiifeeee!’. Need we say more?! Prepare to walk onto the set of the Lion King, as this southwestern African country is home to the largest red sand dune desert in the world.



6. Georgia


A post shared by Tony (@ivanzlife) on

Why? We’re not talking about the American state, here. Sandwiched between Europe and Asia, Georgia is an unknown treasure and a dip into Eurasia’s beauty and humble local life. Visiting this country will provide your travel-lusting soul with fresh perspectives, rugged mountains, carpets of yellow and green meadows and unexplored valleys.



7. Norway


A post shared by Travel Now (@travel.rightnow) on

Why? The Jewel of Europe, Norway offers a dazzling mix of history and stunning natural wonder. The old meets the new seamlessly within the surrounding mountains, fjords and gorges. You could allow yourself weeks of exploring here. Must-dos:


Want more? 
Check out our fjord tours, easily the best and most affordable way to experience Norway.


8. Guatemala


A post shared by Antigua Guatemala (@antiguaenguatemala) on

Why? Guatemala is the beating Mayan heart of Central America. A hop over the border from Mexico and with charming colonial streets, jungles, ruins, culture, history and some mad volcanoes, this country is bursting at its seams. Are you ready to fall in love? We already did, years ago.   Must-dos:


Read more:  Guatemala travel guide

9. Cappadocia, Turkey


A post shared by TRAVELIN LADIES (@travelinladies) on

Why? Prepare your eyes for a whimsical fairy-tale dream. This marvellous lava-sculpted chimney fortress in central Turkey is one of the most unique landscapes to be seen on the planet. Spend your trip exploring the hundreds of pinnacles, caves and underground cities, like Derinkuyu. Or soar above the moonscape areas in a hot air balloon and experience a bird’s eye view of this captivating and interesting place. If Cappadocia isn’t on your bucket list, then it should be.   Must-dos:

10. Taiwan


A post shared by (@mandyangtw) on

Why? A visually spectacular, mountainous island, Taiwan is a natural splendour waiting to be travelled. Although its neighbouring countries – Japan, The Philippines and China offer exciting elements as well, Taiwan is surely not too missed from any travellers list. Pack your swimsuit, your hiking boots and your appetite…



Read more: Taiwan destination guide

Top 6 things to do in Taiwan

Taiwan’s five best themed restaurants (spoiler: ALPACAS ARE INVOLVED)  


12. Utah


A post shared by Justin Self (@justins_self) on

Why?  Utah is an up and coming ‘must-do’ for the Instagrammers, the nomads, and the adventure-lovers. It is a world-class outdoor recreation spectacle, with vast expanses of desert and national park. Hire some wheels or jump on a tour and prepare to hit the vast open road…


Read more: USA destination guide

13. Bhutan


A post shared by Virginia Vuong (@vvuong_) on

Why? The last great Himalayan Kingdom, Bhutan is overflowing with more mystery than pretty much anywhere else on Earth. If you’re thinking of packing your bags and heading to uncover this spiritual land, expect to pay around £180 ($250 USD) a day to stay, but that will provide you with an all-inclusive, once in a lifetime trip, complete with your own guide.



Do you have your heart set on a new destination? Maybe you’re in the flow of being inspired and want some more. Check out our new 2018 destinations hub to fill your travel-hungry boots!


A Christmas away from home

I’m Jemma, one of STA Travel’s Digital Execs, email machine and serious Bali beach bum…
It’s quickly approaching the two-year mark now since I spent my first Christmas away from home. Away from the humming of Christmas songs, wrapping of trees in tinsel, yummy nut roasts and endless amounts of chocolate (I really mean drinking). But fear not all the Christmas fans out there, t’was a happy story, this Christmas away from home. And here is what made it oh so very special…


4 ways to get down with the locals in New Zealand

Want more than just a whistle-stop tour of New Zealand’s tourist attractions? Why not take your journey to a new level and get down with the locals!

New Zealand provides a copious amount of bewildering backdrops, inviting culture, flourishing forests, delightful people and second to none road trips. All of this also allows for social interaction and a scrapbook full of perfect, harmonious memories. So seek out a deeper and more meaningful interaction with New Zealand and its people as you get involved with the environment and those adventurous Kiwis.

A post shared by Yukari Mellish (@yucacarina) on Feb 28, 2017 at 11:02pm PST

1. Charity work and volunteering. Provide a helping hand and sew back the seams in local communities. Working with charities like Red Cross will allow you to get hands on and emerge yourself into regional communities and the potential problems they are faced with daily. The projects are diverse and vary from aid work to fund raising, to disaster management and education programes. Gain new companions, honour and a closer insight to the kind natured people of New Zealand.

A post shared by Blitz Tennis (@blitz_tennis) on Mar 19, 2017 at 12:53am PDT

2. Get social, get involved with the community. If you’re a fresh new fish to the New Zealand pond, here’s a top tip to take into consideration; Kiwis value practical action over words, as it is part of their pioneer heritage… So take it upon yourself to be immersed in social community activities. Art, sport, culture, and festivals are all part of many a local’s lifestyle, and they’re always keen to welcome in new settlers whether it’s for the long or short haul. Find organisations that will enable you to make lifelong friends, learn new skills and share social experiences with.

A post shared by Greig D Marsden (@gmarsden) on Jul 9, 2017 at 11:57pm PDT

3. Social Recreation

New Zealand with its labyrinth of magnificent mountains, enticing glaciers, and pristine lakes is also bigged up for its passion for sport (particularly Rugby) and heart-racing-adrenaline-facing activities. Turn these into social events, include the locals or even make it a weekly outing with your new pals. Go fishing, rock climbing or just join in with a mere spot of hmmm canyon swinging? For the sensitive souls, there is an abundance of art exhibitions, gigs, theatre productions and live music. Sounds like a dreamy lifestyle to us!

A post shared by Sophie Massarotti (@toottoottootsie) on Sep 12, 2017 at 5:50am PDT


4. Mini adventures/ regional activities

As explained previously, New Zealand is undoubtedly ‘choka’ with gripping adventures and easily made memories. However, it’s not just a haven for the adrenaline addicts out there, it’s also home to many beautiful regions with easily accessible day trips, offering an abundance of beauty and nature as well as historic culture.

For example, meet indigenous owners of Maori villages and be educated on the spiritual and welcoming nature of the local people, learn about their history, Haka and warrior training. Go solo or head there with fellow travellers.

A post shared by Etnika (@etnikamagazinelive) on Jun 30, 2017 at 3:41pm PDT


So why not give a little and gain a lot? We offer inspiration and guidance for every corner of New Zealand, including ways to make the most out of your visit and how to enjoy a social, rewarding outcome when living and travelling through New Zealand.