By Alex Kallimanis: We originally met in Brugge, Belgium in 2002, while backpacking solo after college. Bell had just finished a bachelor’s degree in Melbourne, Australia and I had just completed a bachelor’s in history in Orlando, Florida. Fast forward 16 years, and we’re about to celebrate our 13 year wedding anniversary. Our individual decisions to take time off to travel were not only good for our romantic lives, but also our professional endeavors.
Study Abroad or Travel Independently?
While beneficial for many, neither of us participated in a study abroad program in college. We instead chose to save our money and travel for months on our own, when the opportunity presented itself after graduation. If you think studying abroad is too expensive, traveling post-graduation is a great alternative that is less costly.
How to Meet Fellow Travelers When Traveling Solo
Traveling doesn’t have to be lonely. Meet up groups like Couchsurfing and meetup offer opportunities for solo travelers to connect. Hostels are great places to meet fellow travelers. Bell and I met while staying in a co-ed dorm room with 6 bunk beds. The casual environment makes it easy to chat to bunkmates from around the world!
Moving to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa
When I made the decision to move to Australia so we could be together while Bell was finishing her master’s degree (and I decided to leave my MBA program), I successfully arranged a 1 year Australian working holiday visa before traveling there. That visa allows people aged 18-30 to travel for a longer period of time while being able to legally work to fund their travels. Check out the Australian government’s website on their working holiday visa program for all the latest rules and to apply for an Australian working holiday visa.
Countries That Offer Reciprocal Working Holiday Visa Programs
A lot of countries participate in reciprocal working holiday visa programs. US citizens can currently apply for working holiday visas (or something similar) in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, South Korea and Singapore. Check out this American’s guide to Working Holiday Visas. Countries like Canada and the United Kingdom, and many European countries have agreements that extend to more countries. Some agreements allow for longer stays then one year.
United Kingdom Youth Mobility Scheme
The UK government’s official tier 5 visa application (Youth Mobility Scheme) allows successful applicants aged 18-30, a 2 year working visa. Check each countries official immigration site for updated information.
Australia Youth Visa Subclass – 462
Australia has another youth visa called subclass- 462 and currently extends to people under 31 from 25 countries, including countries like Malaysia and Chile. See the full list on the Australian Government’s Department of Homeland Affairs website.
Working in Australia
I worked a variety of jobs during my year living in Melbourne. One job was answering calls on the Australian stock exchange. Working in an international call center allowed me to chat with Australians from around the country. It wasn’t so hard to find decent work since the economy was good, and the language was the same. Working abroad allowed me to broaden my horizons.
Our Wanderlust Marriage Story
During Bell and I’s chance meeting in our early 20’s, we met up a couple more times, in Amsterdam, Rome and a couple years later in Thailand. During our Amsterdam rendezvous in 2002, neither of us could have believed that in 2008 we would make the decision to move there together. Bell was offered a PhD position at the University of Amsterdam and we decided to move to Holland. And in a nutshell, moving to Europe eventually launched my career in travel.
Read more travel tips and check out the gap year statistics found from a survey of 2040 United Kingdom residents on Netflights Gap Year Survey. Below is a handy gap year travel checklist to help you prepare, plan and pack.
We hope to inspire you to experience more of the world. Please feel free to share your story of taking time off to travel in the comments. Or let us know where in the world you’re interested to live for awhile. If you have any questions email me at [email protected] and I’ll be happy to assist you!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored collaboration with Netflights. But this is our true story, and you can read more of it on the About Wanderlust Marriage page.