5 ways to organise your finances on a Working Holiday Visa

So you’re off to the land down-under on a Working Holiday Visa (WHV). You have your visa, your flights, travel insurance and may have even booked your first few days accommodation, well that’s everything sorted then isn’t it?

Sadly not.

 It’s time to look at your finances, which can be slightly depressing if I’m honest. Let’s face it, even if you had double what is in your bank account you would still be able to spend it on awesome experiences and making memories of a lifetime in a fairly short time period. Accommodation, food, partying, travel, tours and things like skydiving or bungee jumping soon add up.

from https://thebucketlistplus.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/travelling-with-people-like-me/

A WHV does exactly what it says on the tin. You will find work as you go on your travels, which will fund your living expenses and your onward journey across the country/countries that you’re visiting. There needs to be a balance between the two. Too much work and you will miss out on exploring and experiencing the beautiful country you have journeyed to; too much travel and you will find yourself having to count every cent and panicking that you might not have enough for somewhere to sleep that night, or food to keep your rumbling tum at peace. You don’t want to have to cut your travels short because you’ve forgotten to budget, manage your finances effectively, or left it too late to look for work.

from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140810091210-210035293-work-life-balance-as-the-key-motivational-factor-for-employees-in-uae
From Kristina Chastukhina HR manager on LinkedIn

Start to manage your finances before you leave home soil. The following are a few things that I have done already in the UK, even though I still have just over a month before I leave:


1) Try to get a rough idea of how much you will be spending each day on basic living costs.
From Borderless News and Views
  •  I have done lots of research on hostels in Perth, which is where I’m headed first, by going on TripAdvisor and also on the hostels’ own websites. Through doing this I know that the average hostel price is between $27-$33 AUD (£14-£17 GBP) per night, which I’ll admit was slightly more than I’d naively expected!


  • I’ve also visited Coles and Woolworths’ websites which are two of the main supermarkets in Australia. If you go on their online shopping page and choose the area you are going to be staying in, you can look up the cost of items that you think will need to buy on a regular basis. This is also really helpful for working out if it’s worth taking heavier items (for me personally, suncream and contact lens solution), or if it’s cheaper (or a similar price to get them there). I’m all for paying a tiny bit more if it keeps the weight of my backpack down and reduces the chances of having to pay excess baggage fees. Ladies….a heads up here: If you use applicator tampons e.g. Tampax or supermarket own brand be aware that according to Coles website these are not cheap (at the time of publishing 12 super Tampax tampons were $5.60 or £2.95!). You may be able to get them cheaper in pharmacies or other shops but be prepared to take some with you (thankfully they’re very light), or to find an alternative for when Aunt Flo decides to join you on your trip, such as a Mooncup. 
2) Organise your bank accounts in your home country
Picture from Gilmore and Gilmore Professional Corporation
  •  If you have more than one account this could be helpful. As long as it doesn’t cost you anything to bank online make sure to spread your money between your accounts. Ever heard that old chestnut of not putting all your eggs in one basket? There is the likelihood that while you are travelling you may lose your bank card or have it stolen. If you have had the fore-thought to split your funds into separate accounts, I’m sure that you will be glad of being able to transfer your money to the other account online and cancel the card, thus reducing the chances of a nasty thief getting their grubby paws on your hard earned cash. Of course to make this work you need to split up your cards, obviously making sure that any cards that are not on your person are completely secure i.e. in a locker or safe with a padlock.
  • Stop any standing orders or direct debits that you no longer need. I’ve cancelled three direct debits that I know I definitely won’t need for the year that I’m away, which will save me £148 per month!


  • Make a note of when the date your standing orders/direct debits leave your account by looking at old statements. If you know when the cash will come out you can make sure that there will be enough in the account to cover this and stop you from incurring any extra fees
3) Take a credit card (shop around for the best deal if you don’t already have one)
  •  This could be a little controversial so I need to set the record straight here. I’m only suggesting taking a credit card as back up funds to be used in an emergency. For a flight ticket home, if other cards have been stolen and you HAVE to buy something etc. The best thing to do is keep it separate from your other cards (in a secure place only) and forget about the fact it is even with you (make sure you make any repayments on purchases as soon as you can in full to avoid hefty interest). Sure you could have an amazing trip on credit but I definitely don’t recommend it, as you will spend the next 5 years of your life paying it off and it will completely screw over your credit rating for the future! USE WITH CARE AND CAUTION!


  • The most widely accepted credit cards in Australia seem to be Visa and Maestro although others are accepted. Make sure to check with your provider for charges either on purchases or for withdrawing money from an ATM and keep an eye on those pesky interest rates.

credit card meme

4) Speak to your Bank
  • Either ask your bank or visit their website to find out about charges for using your debit card in Australia. HSBC customers look here. Most will charge you a fee to use an ATM which is usually a percentage of the total withdrawn, this does have a cap however (for my bank HSBC this is a cap of a max. of £5.00 per transaction), along with charges for currency conversion (HSBC uses the exchange rate on the day of the conversion and a Non-sterling transaction fee of 2.75%).


missing HSBC photo

  • Ask your bank about charges for paying with your debit card in shops or restaurants, HSBC will let you pay with your debit card in shops and restaurants that display the Visa logo. The exchange rate will be the Visa rate on the day the conversion is made and HSBC also charge a Non-Sterling transaction fee of 2.75%

HSBC screen shot for bank

  • Let your bank know that you will be travelling; where you are going, how long you are going for and the date you are leaving/returning (if you know). This way you are unlikely to get a phone call from the Fraud squad and not have to deal with having your card blocked. This actually happened to me after applying for my visa and buying a few purchases for my trip (unusual activity!!) and I hadn’t even left the country! Save yourself time and unnecessary aggravation by letting them know in advance. HSBC have the option of putting a third party mandate on your account, which allows a trusted friend or family member to be able to assist you with your banking if necessary. This is something I am going to personally look into and will probably post about it at a future date.

Nomadic Matt has a great blog post I suggest you check out on how to avoid paying bank fees.

5) Set up an Australian account

aussie banks

  •  You are planning on working whilst on your trip which means you will need an Australian bank account for your employers to pay your wages into, along with a TFN (Tax file number) and possibly an ABN (Australian Business number) if you are planning on being self-employed/working on a freelance basis. For a detailed walk through of how I set up my Australian account please click here.


  • Once your account is set up and ready to go you can transfer money from your UK account to your Australian account by International Bank Transfer (you will need an IBAN and/or SWIFT number which your bank/s can give you). There will be a charge for the transfer, so make sure you transfer enough as to not keep incurring the charge but also ensure you leave enough in your UK account to cover standing orders and direct debits. Speak to your bank about transferring money and the fees to do so. The other option is to use a third party company such as HiFx to transfer the money for you. This may help you get a better exchange rate than through your bank and you may also incur less charges, definitely worth checking out.


  • The benefit of having an Australian account (aside from employers being able to pay you) is that with some banks (my chosen bank is Westpac- which this applies to) you can now avoid the ATM fees and of course currency conversion fees will no longer apply.


 So these are just some of the steps you can take to get your finances sorted before you leave. I’ve done these for peace of mind but also because I have worked damn hard for my money and I want to be able to enjoy my trip and keep travelling for as long as possible!

 I hope you have enjoyed this post and found it helpful, or have any other top tips please feel free to leave a comment below,


Happy Travels!

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About The Author


Creative unicorn ninja; Travel vlogger/blogger. Green tea enthusiast and lover of dance and art. Currently be found back in England planning the next adventure! Southeast Asia Odyssey coming very soon!

Where I can be found: UK

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