Current location
Toronto, ON, Canada
1. Hi, can you please introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Aiyana. I’m 29 years old from Buckinghamshire, UK. I studied English and Creative Writing at university and went into a career in publishing, but I’ve taken several career breaks to travel and do working holiday visas.
2. Where did you go on a working holiday and why?
My first WHV was in New Zealand and my second was in Australia. I’ve technically done one-and-a bit Australian WHVs thanks to COVID! My initial move lasted four months before the pandemic hit and I had to return to England. Luckily, we were offered another chance to come back and start our 12 months afresh. I picked these countries for a WHV because my parents had travelled there when they were in their early 20s, with me in tow as a toddler (Yes, I started my backpacking early!). It’s a cool story but the truth is I was too young to remember the trip, so I knew I had to go back and make my own memories one day. It was also a gentle way to dip my toe into independence. They’re both English speaking countries with good reciprocal deals with the UK and lots of British expats, so it felt easier for me to complete my first solo travels there.
3. How did you spend your working holiday?
I did it all! Cleaning hostels, au pairing, petsitting, the dreaded farmwork (I didn’t last long on that one…) I utilised temp agencies to get office work that would tie into my experience back home. I spent six months in Wellington, NZ working as a coordinator and editor. In Australia, I lived in Melbourne for 10 months and ventured into the world of HR. I think I got the balance right between trying new experiences that I’d have never done back home, whilst also adding some continuity to my CV.
4. What have you gained from the experience?
Confidence, for sure. People who’ve met me on my WHVs can’t believe when I tell them I was a quiet, shy introvert. At first, I had to fake the confidence; you can’t stay in hostel dorms or offer to WWOOF in a stranger’s home without it. But over time, and the more I thrust myself into uncomfortable experiences without friends or family around to rely on, it became less of an act. Now, as I prepare for my next WHV, I’ve noticed how I feel more naturally confident about uprooting my life again. Once you decide to move abroad on your own, you can back yourself to do and achieve anything.
5. What is your best memory from your working holiday?
In Australia, it was either my visit to Uluru or snorkelling the Ningaloo Reef. With somewhere as vast as Australia, it pays to get off the beaten path (aka the East Coast) to experience the real backcountry. You can’t help but feel the spiritual power when stepping foot on the sacred land at Uluru. And it’s always been a bucket list item of mine to swim with sharks; I did that and then some, leaving the West Coast with fond memories of swimming with sharks, dolphins, seals, turtles, manta rays and an octopus! In New Zealand, it was my time spent on the North Island. Potentially a hot take because many people I’ve spoken to say they prefer the South, but I’d take the geothermal landscape of Rotorua and the Māori culture of the Northland over Queenstown or Wanaka any day. Plus, it’s home to Hobbiton. What more could a girl ask for from her time in New Zealand?
6. What advice would you give to prospective working holiday makers?
I’ll get the sensible one out of the way first. Save. Make sure you have enough money to support yourself when you arrive and need to find a job and accommodation. I’ve seen too many people forced to cut their journey short or get into dangerous work situations because they ran out of money too soon. I always make sure I have enough for a plane ticket back home (in case of emergency) stored in a separate savings account. My other big piece of advice is to commit and actually go! I was a natural worrier before I left. If I’d waited for everything to be organised perfectly or for everyone else to be happy with my plans, I’d have never left home. Don’t be scared to push yourself and take the risk. Remember that if the worst happens and you don’t like it when you get there, you don’t have to stay (as long as you followed my first tip). If you keep an open mind, you’re bound to take something of value out of a WHV experience, no matter what ends up happening.
7. What are your plans for the future?
I’m just about to move to Toronto on my next WHV. I’m turning 30 this year so it’s super exciting to have a big year of change coming up. I knew I wanted to get at least one more WHV in before I age out of these opportunities and, having been a few times before on holiday and loved it, Canada seemed the obvious next choice. I’m looking forward to my work with and the opportunity to travel more around Canada and the US. I’m hoping to tick off Alaska and the Canadian Maritimes as my next big destinations.
8. Can we end with a memorable anecdote from your working holiday?
A memorable story from my WHV in Australia is when I lost my Nan (grandmother) in Freycinet National Park. My Nan tries to visit me on every WHV I do. This time, we were road tripping around Tasmania. We hiked up to Wineglass Bay Lookout. When we’d finished at the viewpoint, we set off to return to the car. At least, I thought we’d both set off. After realising she wasn’t behind me, I retraced my steps back up but couldn’t find her at the viewpoint. I ran back down to the car park in case I’d missed her overtaking. I completed the whole hike a second time looking for her but there was still no sign. By now, passersby were helping me search. We didn’t have any phone signal in the park and, thinking we’d be together the whole time, I hadn’t invested in any GPS trackers or proper hiking equipment. The police and the National Park Service were called to begin their own search. I was in tears, thinking I’d have to phone home and admit I’d gotten Nan killed in the bush. Eventually, we heard the call on the radio announcing they’d found her. She’d managed to turn onto a hidden trail only experienced hikers used instead of following the main path. She emerged some time later, delighted to have a lovely Aussie ranger on each arm. We were all surprised, with her arthritis and walking stick, that she’d made it as far down the difficult trail as she had. This incident sticks with me because 1) it taught me to be more prepared: things can always turn out differently to how you imagined. A valuable lesson when trying to balance the spontaneity and flow of travel with staying sensible and safe. But also because 2) I was impressed with Nan’s resilience that day. She pushed herself past her limits and (unlike me) stayed calm under crisis and was laughing at the end of it. It gave me a renewed sense of perspective and I appreciated our travels around Oz even more after that day. Still, I’ll be sure to keep a closer eye on her when she comes to Canada!

Je suis Meghan, rédactrice web pour Pvtistes. Je suis Québécoise, originaire de la Côte-Nord. Je suis en PVT France depuis un peu plus de 1 an déjà. Je me suis installée dans le département du Nord, à Lille.

I’m Meghan, a writer for Pvtistes. I’m originally from the Côte-Nord region of Quebec. For my working holiday, I settled in Lille, the Nord department of France, and I’ve been here for just over one year now.

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