5 Things To Do 50 Days Out From Your Flight

The days keep flying by and the numbers on your countdown app keep getting lower and lower. Then suddenly, there’s only 50 days until you fly out and you internally start to freak out a little bit. It can be overwhelming planning on overseas trip – there’s so many things to keep in mind and to consider. And you’re still trying to maintain uni, work your sanity… it’s tough work. Lucky for you, I’ve complied a list of 5 things you should be looking at doing as soon as possible if not now when you’re 50 days out from your flight.

1. Visas

Does the country you’re going to require you to have a visa? What sort of visa do you need? What are you eligible for? How do you get a visa? Do you need to apply online? Do you need to book an appointment? How much does it cost? How long does it take to issue? These are all questions you should be asking. If you’re as confused as I was by what visa you need, I’d recommend the following site Visa Link. This link does a quick check of the types of visas that Australian citizens need and how to apply for them. It’s simple and explains the different sorts of visas in an easy to understand way.

*Tip* Always apply for an online visa through the official government, embassy or consulate website to ensure you’re not paying for any hidden fees.

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Passport – Check! Visa – Check! Money – Check! Ready to Go! Source.

2. Currency 

What’s the currency conversion for the place I’m going to? Is it cheap or expensive? How much should I expect to pay for things? How much should I budget for each day? Numbeo is a great website that has all the answers! You can pick your home currency (AUD) and the city you’re going to and it will do the conversions and tell you how much the price of living is in those cities. It’s always a good idea to get some cash of the country you’re going to before you land – just in case!

*Tip* Check out how much a coffee costs! You can start your budget there!

3. Apps

Smartphones are not only great for all of their functions, but also the amazing apps available to travellers! One of my favourite guides is by World of Wanderlust here. While you’ve got access to your wifi network, start downloading the apps you’ll need which will make your life a million times easier once overseas! A must have for me is a currency conversion, language translation, tube/metro maps, uber and skyscanner!

*Tip* I always look up directions, tube/metro routes before I head out for a day while I still have wifi. Screenshot is your new best friend!

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Never get lost on the metro again with a metro app. Source

4. Money

How am I going to access money overseas? What fees will I have to pay? What if I lose my card overseas? What if my account is frozen? What if there’s an emergency and I need money quickly? I know a lot of these questions revolve around money, but let’s be honest, you’re not going to get very far without it. First things first, let your bank know you’re going overseas. That way, they won’t freeze your account when they see someone buying sangria in Spain. From there, talk to your bank about options for using your cards overseas. You might find they have a travel card you may be able to apply for. But don’t be afraid to look around, even if it means joining another bank. The last thin you want is for your hard earned cash to go towards transaction and conversion fees!

Personally, I use an ANZ travel card. It allows your to load several different currencies onto the same card at any one time. There’s very small fees on withdrawing cash and no fees on paying for items overseas (the dream). Every time you ‘re load’ your card, there is a fee, however it locks in the exchange rate from the day you purchase your card so it’s better than paying for conversion fees.

*Tip* See if you can apply for a travel card that comes with a back up card. The ANZ travel card comes with a back up one. Your primary one in your wallet, and your back up one in your suitcase. It’s always a piece of mind knowing you’ll always have access to money.

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What are you waiting for? Get moving. Source

5. Health

You can’t get the most out of your travels if you become sick. And being sick in a foreign country is not fun at all. Make sure you book in to your see your GP before you go to check if you need any vaccines. Make an appointment with your dentist to make sure you put your best smile forward. If using any contraception or any other prescription medication, ensure that you have enough to take with you and if you need an extra script or doctors note, pack that too. This also includes making sure you have travel insurance. It’s always good to know that you’ve got someone there for you if something does go wrong, and that you won’t be smacked with a big medical fee. The last thing you want is to be sick overseas so do all that you can at home before you jet off.

*Tip* Make sure that any prescription drugs your taking overseas are legal in the country you’re visiting.

Of course there’s plenty more to do, but you can do them closer to your fly out date. These are some of the things that can take a while to organise so get onto it now! Do you have any other suggestions? Any MUST DO’S 50 days out? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

How I did my GAP Year in style (London)

I’ve been asked quite a lot recently about the nitty gritty facts about having my GAP year living and working in London. So, here’s the sacred ‘how-to’ guide for those thinking about having a GAP year in the UK, or just looking for a break.

How About Booking Tickets? –  I was completing my HSC when I was planning my trip, therefore I didn’t have a lot of time to commit to my planning. Therefore, a travel agent was perfect for me. I used Student Flights because of their cheap flights and outstanding customer service. My travel agent was very friendly and easy to contact via email. I ended up booking a one-way flight to London (via Shanghai). My first piece of advice is to book an open ended ticket. Whilst it might be more expensive, it’s not nearly as expensive as paying 900pounds coming from London back to Sydney (yes that’s what I did and there were tears from my bank account).

What About Those Stopovers? – Take advantage of them! I got to explore Shanghai, an amazing city which I’d never considered visiting (yet would love to revisit). My travel agent hooked me up with a really good deal for a great hotel in central Shanghai and also a taxi service to and from the hotel. So definitely ask if there’s any deals going at the place of your stopover. 3 nights is more than enough to get a taste of a new city and culture (also helps with the jet-lag and acclimatisation).

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The Bund, Shanghai (the epitome of futuristic architecture).

Don’t you need a Visa? – Yes you do need a visa. For most people on their GAP year, you’ll be applying for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa. They last for 2 years and allow you to live and work in the UK. There are a few travel restrictions like, you can’t spend more than 90/180 days out of the UK etc but it’s best looking up the details to be sure you’re not detained for violating your visa requirements. I never had a problem because I was too busy working and saving money though I have heard some interesting stories.

How do I live and work in the UK/London?- One company – The Working Holiday Club. This great company was a life saver when it came to reassurance that I would have a job and somewhere to live when I made the move to London. I paid about $900 for the Jumpstart Premium which included them organising your Visa (awesome when you have no time during your HSC), 3 nights stay at a hostel whilst you get over the jet-lag, access to a job, access to cheap accommodation, support and also social meet ups. In hindsight, I probably didn’t need to pay that much money for this, however, I couldn’t imagine my life without it.

The Job – With TWHC, you work for an agency called Elements where you do temporary hotel work. You do a few days of training, you need to buy your own uniform, and it pretty much works off of your availability. A hotel will host an event, they’ll contact Elements saying they need 20 staff members, Elements sends out a text/email asking who’s available and first in best dressed. You work at 5 star hotels in central London and jobs range from waitressing, cloak room, room service, concierge, setting up, packing down – pretty much whatever the manager asks you to do. Whilst the job itself is tedious, it does offer one of the better rates for hospitality (around 6.94 pounds p/hr) and also allows you to meet other Australians with TWHC. I became really great friends with a lot of the people I worked with and it’s a great way to meet other people in London.

If hospitality isn’t your cup of tea (I got pretty sick of it after about 4 months), then you can get a job the old fashioned way. Go to a million shops/cafes/restaurants/hotels/offices/ANYWHERE and hand out a million resumes! I went to a big Westfield that I lived near and handed out about 50 resumes. I scored a job in a lovely clothing store and ended up working full time (on better rates and better clothes!). If you move to London around October then many stores will be hiring Christmas temps and usually keep them on throughout the year if you do a good job.

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The House – TWHC has access to a company who owns properties across London, Egoli. I ended up living in a shared house in Leytonstone (East London, Zone 3) with 9 other people (mostly Australians, and our lovely Brazilian, Canadian and Kiwi). You might think ‘10 people in one house! What?’ But actually it was a big house with a nice back yard, big kitchen, big loungeroom and 6 bedrooms (it’s common to share a room in London, however I needed my own space and got a single room). My room was a very decent size, complete with a double bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers, a heater and glow in the dark stars on the roof (what a nice surprise). I paid 90pounds a week for rent (including all bills and unlimited internet – pretty good deal!). The people I lived with became my family and we had a great time exploring London and also Europe together.

Parts of my room in London
Parts of my room in London

What About the little things?- Ok, I know there’s more to living in London than a job and a house. For example, the Tube. I swear I could write a short novel about my adventures on the tube but I swear, it becomes your life. Public transport in London is quite expensive (accept it now). When I was working for Elements (and working 5+ days a week) I bought a weekly Oyster Card pass which is 35pounds from zone 1-3. However, once I found a job which was closer to home, I was spending about 25pounds a week on transport.

Leytonstone - where Alfred Hitchcock lived! Also where David Beckham was born! (swoon)
Leytonstone – where Alfred Hitchcock lived!
Also where David Beckham was born! (swoon)
Tube and Bus Station - Leytonstone
Tube and Bus Station – Leytonstone

Groceries?- When I was on a tight budget, I could manage with about 20-25pounds a week spent on food but I couldn’t imagine needing more than 40pounds a week. This included home brand everything, and eating left overs from dinner for lunch. Then when you get a big pay check you can splurge a bit, but I generally kept my grocery spendings down so I could save money for travelling.

How much Traveling Will I do?- Depends on how hard you can save. I was lucky that I had my parents to help me out when the bank balance was looking a bit sad and depressing, however I did get a fair bit of travel done! I went to Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Iceland. Though I had friends who barely traveled at all and also had friends who were always galavanting somewhere new so I guess it depends what you’re in London for. To travel around Europe or live in London. I think I did both quite well.

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Will I make friends?- You’ll not only meet some of the most incredible people you’ll meet in your life, but also make friendships that you’ll have for life. I know I’ve only been back for 10 months, but the friends that are still in London or somewhere else in the world, I know will be friends for a long time to come.

Housemates and Best Friends
Housemates and Best Friends

Any Last Words of Advice? – Yes. DO IT! There’s no better time than right now! Pack your life into a suitcase, book a ticket, put your walking shoes on and explore the world!

If you’ve got any other questions or comments please let me know!

xxx

A

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