RRSP? TFSA? WTF? A Guide to Personal Finance and Saving for Travel

By Nicole Farrell

At first glance, moving abroad sounds too good to be true. Weekend trips to Paris?  International experience on your resume? Hot foreign accents? Sign me up. Then reality starts sinking in. How much is this going to cost? 

There are better ways to save.

There are better ways to save.

If you have no idea where to begin to learn a budget, don’t worry. Neither does most of the population. School is meant to prepare us for the big, scary world that awaits us after we graduate. I finished high school knowing how to solve for x, how to play “Oh Canada” on saxophone, how to synchronize swim, and many other useful talents I figured would take me far in life. I thought I was all set, until I stepped foot in a bank and realized I had no idea how to do anything with money. There was never a mandatory personal finance class I had to take to be considered a functioning adult, so I was stuck doing it all on my own.

I started university with a goal in mind: have enough money saved to go to Ireland as my graduation trip. 4 years later, I graduated with more than enough money to get to Ireland, along with a nice nest egg growing slowly to fund future travel as well without having to go into debt.

Here are my tips for you to save you the time and energy I spent as an unprepared English major in the world of finance:

BANK ON IT. The best thing I ever did to start my education in personal finance was switching banks. When I was with my original bank, I was pressured to buy credit cards and upgrades I didn’t need, so I felt completely intimidated talking to them about my options. I was terrified I would get roped in to signing my soul away for a good deal on interest rates. I looked into switching and was recommended to try a Credit Union.  I was able to get to know my financial advisor and he took the time to explain everything to me without pressure of any commissions. Having someone on your side that you feel comfortable with is a really important step in taking the fear out of banking, along with getting the necessary information on how accounts work. It’s your money, and they’re there to work for you, not the other way around.

One of the best options for short- term savings would be to open a TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account).  Although it’s best not to touch these savings too much, you can take the money out more easily than with other investment accounts and true to its name, you aren’t taxed on any withdrawals or interest. However, there is a limit on how much you can deposit each year. For 2012, it was $5,000 and for 2013 it is $5,500. This accumulates each year as your total contribution amount, if during that year you are 18 or older, have a SIN (social insurance number) and are resident in Canada. Be sure that you don’t over contribute to this account either, because while the government is throwing us a bone with this no-taxes bonus, if you over contribute they will tax you on it just to show you can’t get away with anything. Also be aware of how much you can contribute because once you put that amount in, it’s registered for the year. Let’s say you have a limit of $10,000 and put in the full amount in January. If you decide to take out the full $10,000 later in the year to spend, decide against it and want to put it back in, you can’t. The first time you put that $10,000 still counts, so for all your account knows, it already had its limit fulfilled. You’ll have to wait until the next calendar year when your amount goes up to contribute. Having fun with all this exciting tax talk? This will get your attention: Depending how much you have in your account, you can earn possible $100’s of dollars each year by doing jack squat. You have compound interest to thank for that.

Bonus Banking Tip: Try to open accounts with the lowest fees possible. I managed to open a chequing and savings account with unlimited transactions at no cost, as long as I keep a certain amount in my account and don’t go under. I found this to be a great way to learn not to touch my savings along with getting free transactions. I also never use ATM’s. Plan ahead, take out as much cash as you need for the week, and don’t use the ATM at your convenience.  Those $1.50 transaction fees add up, which brings me to my next point:

CUT THE CRAP. How much money did you spend today? 5 bucks? 10? Maybe you think you didn’t spend anything since you can’t remember buying anything. Now, tomorrow, write down everything you spend. Getting in the habit of writing down what you spend is also a great way to start budgeting, since it makes you aware of where your money is going and what you need to reasonably spend. The coffee you buy in the morning, the lunch out with co-workers, the impulse magazine and gum purchase. It adds up VERY quickly, let me tell you. Even if you only spend $5 or $10, think of how much that is over the course of a month-and how much those small amounts would add up in a savings account instead. If you put $5 away each day for 30 days, that’s $150. If you put that amount every month into a savings account, by the end of only 1 year you would have $1,800. Depending on your interest rate, you could earn an extra $30-50 bucks as well without even trying. All of that just by drinking one less latte each day.   See 10 ways to save for travel and if you want more 28 ways to save for travel for tips.

Another way to cut the crap: stop shopping! I’m not saying be extreme about it, but I am definitely not an impulse shopper which has benefited my savings account greatly. If there’s something you see that you want, wait a day. Just one day. That’s all. Usually by the day after, you’ll either have forgotten about it completely or won’t want to bother going back to the store to buy it. If you’re still interested, consider buying it now that you’ve had a rational amount of time to think before blindly throwing money in its direction.

A note about credit cards: The bottom line of using credit is if you don’t have the money in your account, you can’t afford it. Credit card limits do not equal free money. Credit card companies have made billions off of compound interest, which is what YOU need to start taking advantage of instead. Student loans are a bit different since education is a good investment. $500 designer shoes? Not so much.

MAKE IT AUTOMATIC. You’ll find this suggestion in almost every self-help book or article related to saving money ever written, so I unfortunately cannot take credit for its simple genius. I can attest to the effectiveness of it, though. It is so, so much simpler to save when you literally don’t have to think about it at all. Remember your best friend/financial advisor? Go back and visit them (they will appreciate the company, working in a bank is more boring than learning finance in the first place) and get them to set up automatic deposits for you. This means that when you deposit a paycheque, a portion of it is immediately added to your savings account (I recommend choosing one that’s not easily accessible through debit card use.) Start small, maybe just 10% of every paycheque, but definitely bump it up the more you want to save. Since this will happen automatically, start pretending that it’s just another tax deduction. It softens the blow a little of losing that money each paycheque, since you’ll no longer see it as potential spending money. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when a few months down the line you check your savings account and see that it’s gotten much fatter.

Getting yourself together financially is the most important step in becoming an adult, especially if you want to move abroad on a SWAP Working Holiday.  There’s no getting away from paying rent or buying food, so know going in that budgeting is an essential life skill. Once you’ve mastered that, other opportunities become less fantasy and more reality. Surfing in Australia, clubbing in London, bungee jumping in New Zealand- let the sky be the limit, not the depth of your pockets.

This article is only meant to get you started, and to show you that it’s not as intimidating to educate yourself as you might think. All I had to do was talk to an advisor at my bank and do some Googling. It’s not hard to learn, and it pays off-literally.

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Proof: travel makes you more sexy. But you knew that already, didn’t you?

sexy_travelIntrepid teamed up with online dating site MySingleFriend.com to get to the nitty gritty of what ignites the spark and 8/10 (79%) of those surveyed said that you’re more attractive if your dating profile says you love travel. Keen travellers were also thought to be curious about the world (84%), open-minded (75%) and cultured (68%), plus over 56% of survey respondents admitted to having a holiday romance and 1 in 3 continued the fling at home! Check out our infographic below for more..  More info here

 

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Follow William’s Journey in Ireland

William looks pretty comfortable in Ireland!

William looks pretty comfortable in Ireland!

Hello folks, My name is William Walsh, 22, from Ajax Ontario. I’m just an average guy out of college looking for a little adventure. A little while ago, I decided to take a working-abroad trip to Ireland through a Canadian program called SWAP.  Since highschool, I always wanted to dismiss the boundaries of home and do some travelling. The decision to start in Ireland became my passion when I traced my family roots back to old country, and so it made sense to start there. The time has finally come and I’m about to leave for my year-long trip. With no major tie-downs/commitments, I’ll be off to a brand new soil, starting fresh in Ireland.

The purpose of this blog is to record the experiences on my journey as I live through them – I’ve promised myself to start keeping track of things and writing memories down as they happen. I think it’d be nice to reflect on them in the future, or maybe even give other fellow travellers/bloggers some wisdom and inspiration.

If any of you out there have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to write.  Read the blog from Ireland here.

Thanks for reading!

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Ireland SWAPPER Stephanie Meets Bono!

So, we asked Stephanie, “What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you while abroad?”

What she answered is so amazingly exciting that we had to share it with all of you:

As she recalls, “I was having some drinks with a few co-workers at Lillie Bordello’s in Temple Bar area in Dublin when I noticed 4 large men and one shorter man walk into the bar from the back entrance. It was during Christmas holidays, but the bar was not very busy. We were hanging out at a bar in the back which wasn’t serving at this point and the group of men stood beside us. I was watching the group and I realized I recognized one of them.

After pointing the man out to my friends and a few minutes of debating I went over and was blocked by 2 of the large men. The shorter man waved them off and that’s how I met BONO! We ended up hanging out with him for almost an hour. It was so cool to see how down to earth and nice he was. He was really interested in why a small town Canadian girl chose to go to Dublin and about the SWAP program.   He had only one drink while he was there and told us how he comes every year to Dublin during Christmas to be with family and friends. He wouldn’t allow any pictures but a few nights later he made an appearance at The Quays Bar in Temple Bar and they had pictures posted on facebook. I was never a huge fan of U2 but I was always impressed by Bono’s  humanitarian work. This is just one story I have that made my SWAP experience SO amazing!”

Note:  Photo not taken by Stephanie

Note: Photo not taken by Stephanie

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Travel Resolutions with a Twist

By Nicole Farrell

 

Decisions, decisions...

Decisions, decisions…

 

Now that December 21 has come and gone without so much as a sighting of fire raining from the sky, I think it’s safe to say we have happily avoided being incinerated in an apocalyptic explosion. While we all await the new date to be chosen for the end of the world, it’s time to start thinking about how we can enjoy Earth while it lasts.

The New Year is now upon us, and with it come the standard New Year’s resolutions; lose weight, quit smoking, read more, watch t.v. less, become superhuman. “Travel” is usually somewhere on those lists. Travel can be a daunting resolution to tackle; it can take a lot of money, a lot of planning, and vacation days can be hard to come by. However, the harder it is to accomplish something, the greater the satisfaction of the result. Do yourself a favour and make travel a priority. This year, rather than just writing down “travel more” and calling it a day, set yourself some specific goals. They will be much easier to accomplish if you aren’t leading yourself on with vague descriptions. For instance:

1. Learn About Your Heritage

Instead of daunting yourself with the task of choosing where in the world to go, narrow it down by choosing to return back to where you came from. Regardless of whether you grew up knowing lots about your culture or if you were entirely Westernized, it is always rewarding to find out more about the place your family is from. This past summer I traveled to the country of my heritage, Ireland. I took a tour up to the North, and when I arrived in Belfast, the city my grandfather was born in, I felt a kinship I’d never felt before even at home in Toronto. While the others on my trip chose to do a taxi cab tour, I instead just walked the side streets, soaking up the city that gives off an incredible vibe of both disdain and respect for their troubled past. I had studied the history of Northern Ireland beforehand, but nothing compares to being in the place itself to understand how past, present, and future collide. It gave me a feeling of legitimacy when I claimed to be Irish; it even inspired me to apply for Irish citizenship when I returned home to Canada.

I have many friends who have done pilgrimage to Israel, and another who spent a month over the holidays visiting family in her native Sri Lanka. All of them said that finding their roots was life changing. You can be thousands of miles away from where you live, but feel more at home than you ever have.

2. Go to a Popular Tourist Spot, But Don’t visit Any Tourist Attractions

You read that correctly. I’m telling you to go to France and not bother to see the Eiffel Tower. Go to London, but don’t see Big Ben. It’s a Big Bore.

Tourist attractions are there to enrich the city’s budget, not enrich your cultural experience. Waiting in line for 3 hours just to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower sounds like a miserable time to me. Besides, when you get to the top, that iconic landmark has disappeared from the skyline because you’re on top of it.

Satre once famously said “Hell is other people.” I’ve found this statement to be no truer than while trying to take pictures at tourist attractions. Nobody wants to have strangers in the background while they pose lovingly with their amour in front of the Champs Elysées, or have gaggles of tourist buses ruining your perfect shot of a beachfront. The last time I was in London, I went to Abbey Road. I prepared myself knowing it would be full of tourists, but I was raised on the Beatles so I would have brought shame upon my family if I had chosen to skip it. I knew going in I wasn’t going to get a picture of me doing the iconic walk, but unfortunately about 100 poor souls thought that maybe it would be different for them. I saw one woman walk across the street 15 times in attempt for the perfect shot, ignoring the honks of cars and bemoans of other tourists wishing to do the same. It’s even worse that Abbey Road is located at a busy thoroughfare, and while the British are almost too polite, they won’t hesitate in plowing through the intersection at full speed.

It’s fine to want to go see tourist attractions, but I tend to only focus on them if I can get to them easily and for free. Once the cover charge, tacky souvenir photo and obligatory gift shop visit are included, it takes me away from the city and into the world created for tourists to experience the idea of the city. The easiest way to experience a city in its ‘true’ state: pretend you’re a local. Instead of a hotel, rent a self catering apartment. Instead of going to the main attractions, walk the surrounding side streets. I guarantee you will meet more interesting locals who can recommend cafes, restaurants and pubs that won’t overcharge you for being a foreigner or be overrun with drunken pub crawlers. An even better option? Move there! With a SWAP Working Holiday, you can move to the country of your choice for up to a year. By then you’ll be recommending restaurants to tourists yourself!

The best part of living locally is that when you tell others about your trip, you’ll have original stories to tell. Traveling is much more commonplace now than it’s ever been, so it is no longer a bragging right that you went on a Gondala ride in Venice or saw the Opera House in Sydney. Everyone else did too!

3. Keep an Open Mind

When choosing where to travel, you’ve probably heard of the notion of throwing a dart at a map and seeing where it lands. Or, similarly, there is the old ‘showing up at an airport to buy a seat on the next available flight.’ They sound romantic and whimsical and spontaneous-all things that are hard to incorporate into reality.

If you have the means to do the romantic, spontaneous thing, do it! If not, don’t despair. There are plenty of things you can do to incorporate new experiences and cultures into your life, without having to be as spontaneous as a character in a romantic comedy. Some won’t even require you to leave your house, let alone the country.

The next time you hear a different language being spoken, either on the news or on the subway, find out what language it is. Learn how to say hello, goodbye, and at least 5 other conversational sentences. See someone reading a book on the subway? Rent it from the library. Watch the news and research everything you can about the next story you hear about from overseas. It’s easy to find inspiration from your own surroundings, and making small changes in your everyday life will add up quickly. You’ll soon find that you are much more aware of the world around you, which will turn travel from a distant dream to a reality you live each day.

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Posted in Ireland, UK | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

What’s Your Excuse for Not Traveling? 71 Travel Experts Tell You Why It’s Bull#$&%!

By for http://www.extrapackofpeanuts.com/71-travel-experts/

We’ve all either said it or heard it a million times:

“I’d love to travel but ___________________”.

The answers can vary wildly, but in the end, they are all the same thing: an excuse.

So why is it that some people “can” travel and others “can’t”?

To get to the bottom of this mystery, I’ve asked 71 of the world’s greatest travel experts one simple question:

What’s the most common excuse you hear for why people can’t travel, and why is it bull#$&%?

And experts they are.  New York Times bestselling authors, travel television stars, people who were writing travel websites before most of us knew the internet existed, and even the youngest American ever to visit every country in the world.

The wealth of knowledge and travel experience these people possess is unparalleled, and now they’ve all answered this question for one reason: to inspire you to forget about your excuse and to get up and travel.

 

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How One SWAPPER Turned a Passion for Travel into a Lifestyle

 

jesssrich.com

jesssrich.com

By Jessica Richardson jesssrich.com

Hello fellow SWAPPERS, my name is Jessie and I moved from a small town in Ontario to Ireland in 2011 and have committed my life to travel ever since.

I, as well as many other Canadians, used to believe that there was only one path to follow in life: High School – University – Get a Real Job – Get Married – Have Babies – Retire. But after going abroad, I soon realized that there are so many more options in life that most teachers, parents or guardians do not discuss. So after coming to this realization I have turned my passion for travel into a lifestyle.

Now don’t get me wrong, being away from home can have its rough moments, so I started a travel blog to keep my loved ones in the loop. I also wanted to start a blog to help you. Yes you, reading this right now.

I want you all to realize that there is a world outside of this 9-5, 2 door garage life. That being said, if that lifestyle is the one you long for, have at it. But I know that if you are reading this right now, not only are the canals of Venice calling your name, but after your first Guinness in Galway, you will never look back. You will break free of the restraints of societal expectation and pave your own road.

That being said, this past month I turned my travel blog in to a travel site. Jesssrich.com is stocked with travel tips, travel planning assistance, my adventures and some great photos I have taken while abroad. It grows every day so please make sure to bookmark it, or follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or Instagram to keep up with me, my travels and my tips.

You can also learn a little bit more about me and why I decided to go abroad by checking out my About Me page.

Thanks for the support!

With Love,

Jessie

 

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Aussie Assassins vs. Kiwi Cute

By Nicole Farrell

Dangerous animals who want to kill me have always been a bone of contention between me and my interest in Australia. The scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets where (spoiler alert for those still living in 1999) Harry battles the Basilisk is always what I imagined living in Australia to be like. They have over 140 types of land snakes, but at least it’s not like many are poisonous, right? Oh wait, about 100 of them are.

Don’t get me wrong, all of the Aussies I’ve met in my life have been lovely, interesting people, and I’ve heard about the amazing beaches and sunny weather. But in researching Australia, more often than not I run across another species of animal who wouldn’t think twice before injecting poison into my neck. As someone who can’t even Google image search pictures of snakes or spiders without shuddering, I can’t imagine being within 5 feet of one in real life.

For those of you like me, there is another option. It even happens to be right next door to Australia! Same weather, same gorgeous beaches-but extremely lacking in horrific killer animals. This lovely neighbour is the island nation of New Zealand.

New Zealand is having its figurative moment in the sun with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings film location popularity, all while having literal moments in the sun year round due to its great weather. New Zealand boasts everything you might look for in a dream location-and to make it even more dreamy, there are no animals straight out of your nightmares. Coincidentally, there are about 40 million sheep, which are perfect for counting to drift off to sleep each night.

Being an island, the only animals to inhabit New Zealand before it was colonized were those of the winged or finned variety-meaning you had to either fly or swim to get there. This meant lots of  birds and marine life. Even with the arrival of the Europeans and other settlers, New Zealand managed to stay nightmare-free.

Australia does have some cute animals-the kangaroo, the wallaby, and I’ve yet to find anyone that isn’t a fan of the hilariously stubby, squat wombat. But throw the red-bellied black snake or the saltwater crocodile into the mix, and suddenly the wombat doesn’t seem worth it anymore. Sorry, wombat, life isn’t fair sometimes, I know. I appreciate having a  life at all over being in the belly of a crocodile, though.

Not only can it boast so few killer animals, New Zealand also has its fair share of adorable ones, like:

Picture courtesy of dalehousefarm.com

Picture courtesy of dalehousefarm.com

1. The Kunekune Pig

If this picture of a literal stack of Kunekune piglets doesn’t convince you to move to New Zealand, I don’t know what will. Look at their little piggy snouts! If your heart isn’t melting right now, perhaps you are a braver soul than I who can find charm in the poisonous snakes of Australia.

ecotoursmilford.co.nz

ecotoursmilford.co.nz

2. The Tawaki Penguin

These Tawaki penguins are native to New Zealand, but you may recognize them from their feature film cameos in almost every Pixar movie ever. Their eyebrows give them an haute couture edge over your standard Antarctica variety.

babyanimalzoo.com

babyanimalzoo.com

3. The Kiwi Bird

This list wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of New Zealand’s national bird, the     Kiwi. This spiky ball of adorableness is synonymous with the quirkiness of the New Zealand culture.

Just when you might think New Zealand is a bit too safe for your taste, remember that this is the nation that invented bungy jumping, Zorbing, and numerous other ways to hurl yourself off of or into something. They’ve more than compensated their lack of killer wildlife with a more manmade variety of danger. You can rest assured there will be no crocodiles waiting for you when you bungy off that bridge!

 

 

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The Travel Wisdom of Bruce Lee

Photo: shioshvili

Photo: shioshvili

By Carlo Alcos

Bruce Lee didn’t just kick ass. He stimulated minds, too.

“The great mistake is to anticipate the outcome of the engagement; you ought not  to be thinking of whether it ends in victory or defeat. Let nature take its  course, and your tools will strike at the right moment.” -Bruce Lee

Here’s how travelers  can learn from his lessons.

 

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Posted in Australia, Austria, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, SWAP Destinations, SWAPPERS on the Ground, Thailand, UK, USA | Comments Off

Answers to Your “What If…?” Travel Fears

By Nicole Farrell, SWAP Intern

Nicole on Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge - a very rickety and high example of conquering fears!

Nicole on Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge – a very rickety and high example of conquering fears!

“Traveling is awesome, but I think I’d miss home too much after a few months.”

“Living abroad sounds cool, but it seems like such a crazy idea.  I don’t know anyone who has done it!”

“I wish traveling wasn’t so expensive, it seems like a waste of money.”

Do any of these sound like something you’d say? Fear not, travel-minded worrier! Choosing to work and live abroad can be a daunting decision to make, with commitments of both time and money at stake. If you are considering SWAP, read on to put your fears at rest for all of the “what if’s?” that arise before applying.

1. What if I get homesick, or I hate/can’t get used to the cultural differences?

Experiencing a new culture is usually considered to be the best part of traveling, but moving and living in a new country is very different to just visiting. A year (or two, depending which program you choose) is a long time, and it may be off-putting to think about adapting to a whole new way of life. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to work around this to ensure that you feel right at home in your new country.  To combat homesickness, keep in mind that technology is your friend! Skype offers extremely affordable and even free video calling internationally, so you can see and talk to your family and friends back home. Facebook and other social media sites allow for instant communication, and consider blogging your stories and travel pictures to make your friends at home jealous.  One extremely effective way of combating homesickness is to establish familiar habits.  In daily life, people tend to fall into routines; they have their favourite cafe, they walk the same way to work each day, they get ready for bed in the same way. Once you’re in your new country, establish a routine right away. It may be tempting to go out and explore, but you’ll have the whole year to do that. It’ll help you feel more at home if you find some creature comforts in your new city, like locating your regular grocery store, getting to know the clerks at a new pharmacy, and walking around your new neighbourhood to get to know the shortcuts. Let’s say you’re SWAPPING  to Ireland- go to a pub (you have 800+ to choose from!), order a pint and befriend the bartender. Go there a few days in a row and get familiar. It will put your mind at ease to have someone to talk to, and once you become a regular you feel as though you ‘belong’ there. If you swap to France, find a cafe and go there each day for a coffee and people-watch. Find a park where you can walk or jog each morning. Once you become familiar with your new country, you’ll feel more like a citizen than a tourist. Having a routine gives you control in what can be a new and scary place. As they say, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Live like the locals live, they call your new city home, after all!

2. What if I miss out on job opportunities at home while I’m away? What if I wasted all that time/money for nothing?

In Canada, gap years are hardly discussed, let alone encouraged, unlike in other countries such as the UK,  Australia and New Zealand. After high school, the next step that is pressured onto students is either college/university or finding a job. Traveling and working abroad is seen as wasteful; time taken away from what could be used to focus on school or finding work. This is a travesty, as travel can be the best way to find out exactly what you want to do before you commit! It’s rare to graduate university and immediately jump into your dream job, or a job anywhere close to being a stepping stone to a career. It doesn’t help that sometimes what you think you want to do turns out to be something you have no interest in later on! Spending a year traveling and working can give you time to think about your life, and you may even discover on your travels something you wouldn’t have considered otherwise. Let’s say you’ve graduated in English and want to become a teacher. Rather than jumping right into teacher’s college, it would make sense to try the SWAP Teach Thailand program to get a taste of what you’ll be in for! Once you’re there, maybe you discover that while Thailand is beautiful, teaching just isn’t for you. Your time abroad has just saved you tuition at teacher’s college and years of an unfulfilling career. It works the opposite way too, maybe you’ll love teaching so much that you know for sure it’s what you want to do. Travel will help you make up your mind through real world experience, so it’s always worthwhile.

Spending money on travel may seem frivolous to some unadventurous souls because it’s not a tangible thing like a laptop or new tv. However, it is much more enriching to spend money on an experience than it is to spend it on material goods. Pretend someone just handed you a $50.00 bill and gave you the option to either go see your favourite band live, or buy a new gadget/game/pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on. If you choose the concert, you’ll get to hear your favourite music live, be surrounded be people who love the same music you do, maybe meet some new friends, perhaps get to meet the band after, and generally have an awesome story you’ll never forget. If you go with the new gadget or pair of shoes, you’ll get limited use out of it and eventually will go out of style, or you’ll grow bored and want the next new thing. See now which option gets you way more bang for your buck?

3. What if I forget something important/don’t have enough information before I go?

You can attempt to plan every single detail of your trip before you go, but guaranteed you will overlook something. SWAP exists to help with all of the small details, like filling out your visa applications, and their partners abroad help with taxes, bank accounts, SIN-equivalents and other headaches. So while there is no need to worry about any of that stuff, it’s hard to take a leap of faith without first making sure you’re prepared. Luckily, the internet has made it easy to learn about different cities without having to travel there first. Use the plethora of sources to get a general idea about available housing, what kind of jobs are open, what the weather will be, and other lifestyle information. It’s hard not knowing the specifics, but that’s what SWAP’s partners are for when you get there. Use your time before your trip to research neighbourhoods you might like to live in and other personal preferences that will help them help you.  Here’s a great exercise you can do before you leave for your trip that helps a lot with packing and preparing. Starting tomorrow, make a note of everything you do or use in your daily life. Write down things you use that you normally don’t pay any attention to; these are the things you may forget to pack! Write down how much you spend, so it’s easier to make a budget in your new country. If you know how much you usually spend on your morning coffee or at the bar on a Friday night, you’ll have a better idea of how to recreate your lifestyle once you move. Of course, things may be more expensive and you’ll have to adjust, but it’s easier to adjust to life when you do not have to completely overhaul your preferred way of living.

All of these fears are very common and very understandable. However, it’s very important to keep in mind that no matter how prepared you are, you WILL at some point get a bit overwhelmed or start thinking you’ve made a huge mistake. It’s part of taking a leap of faith! But remember: Be Prepared to Be Scared. Once you’ve accepted the fact that you may freak out, suddenly you will feel less scared. Funny how that works, isn’t it? It’s because you take control of your emotions. Yes, you’ve landed in a strange country, alone, feeling vulnerable. But you knew you’d feel this way beforehand, so you know it’s completely normal, and eventually the feeling will start to pass. The more you accept this before you leave, the more in-control you’ll feel once you get there, and you will be able to get over the hurdle and adjust to your new life. Time goes by fast, and once you’re settled in it will fly by. Keep reminding yourself of this if you start to get overwhelmed, and remember, SWAP will be there for you every step of the way!

For all the destinations available to you check out: http://www.swap.ca/out_eng/destinations.aspx

To talk to other people who have gone for it join:  http://www.facebook.com/groups/swapworktravel/

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Posted in Australia, Austria, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Thailand, UK, USA | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Exploring Western Ireland

Matador Goods editor and photographer Lola Akinmade leaves Dublin for the countryside.  See why here  (All photos by Lola Akinmade)

Lough Corrib

Lough Corrib

Ashford Castle

Ashford Castle

Sheep

Sheep

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Posted in Ireland | Comments Off

BritBound’s Halloween Boat Party and Jack the Ripper Walk and Dinner in London

26th October 2012- BritBound Halloween Boat Party!!

The most talked about event in the BritBound Calendar, the Halloween Boat Party is not to be missed. Join the Zombies, Vampires, Witches and other hellish creatures for a party thats guaranteed to raise the dead!!

Tickets only £20 for BritBound Members, £25 for non BritBound Friends.

Includes a pre party at the Walkabout Temple with a welcome drink, nibbles and drinks deals, a 4 hour cruise down the Thames, entry into the onboard prize draw and an after party at the Walkabout.

Theme- Halloween Fright Night!! (Prize for best dressed male and female.)

To book your spot email lauren@britbound.co.uk and quote SWAP.

30th October 2012- Jack the Ripper Walk and Dinner

He came silently out of the midnight shadows. Watching. Stalking. Butchering………..leaving a trail of blood and gore that led…nowhere.

If you haven’t been on the Jack the Ripper walk yet we can not recommend enough!!

Trip back in time as your guided through the dark cobbled streets of a 1980’s London. With one of the best guides in London taking you through the tail of mystery, murders and accusations.

We start the night at the ‘Sheraz Bangla House’ for a two course meal to kick off before starting our chilling Jack the Ripper tour………….

Dinner- 6pm. Outside of Asia itself there’s nowhere more famous to enjoy a curry than East London’s Brick Lane, This Indian may be one of many Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants on this famous street but it’s undoubtedly one of the best.

Walk- We will then head to Tower Hill to start the walk with the best story teller in London (at least we think so)!!
Included- A Starter, Main & Side dish at Sheraz Restaurant, followed by a 1.5 hr Guided Walk leaving from Tower Hill Station

Price -£22 for BritBound Members, £25 for non BritBound friends.

To book your spot email lauren@britbound.co.uk and quote SWAP.

If you are a SWAPPER with BritBound with is included already, if you are a BUNAC SWAPPERS the Social Events Club Package which is usually £25 but is at a SWAP special of £15 to bring more of the London Canadian Community into BritBound.

 

  • Invitation to exclusive events every week
  • Member Rates across all events
  • Events to suit all tastes, types & budgets
  • Half Price Musicals every Wednesday
  • Regular ‘Free’ Events
  • VIP Access to Online Community & Members Meeting Area
  • By Invite only Facebook Social Events Group
  • Free Wifi use @BritBound Base
  • Invite to Weekly UK Arrival Party
  • Entry to The Legendary Church
  • Monopoly Pub Challenge
  • Valid for 2 years

 

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Posted in UK | Tagged , | Comments Off

11 haunted hotels to sleep in this Halloween

Photo: Sean MacEntee

By Sarah Park

Not too late to book at room at one of these places for the night of October 31st.  Check out where you can encounted the baddest ghosts in the UK, Ireland, USA and Canada here

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Posted in Ireland, UK, USA | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Canadians Are Finding Work in Ireland – Soon After Arrival

Finding a job quickly = being able to relax and afford pints

Finding a job quickly = being able to relax and afford pints

Gillian Plummer, SWAP’s former Ireland hosting centre coordinator offers her tips for having the working holiday adventure of your dreams:

Ireland has always been a popular destination for young Canadians wanting to work abroad.    The pubs, the natural beauty and the accent do have their charms.

Although we speak the same language, the culture in Ireland can be quite different. Connections are everything and the connections you make in the first few days can really help so it’s best to reach out and take advantage of all the resources and opportunities offered as part of the SWAP Ireland program. Be flexible, proactive and always remember keep your positive Canadian attitude! It’s what we’re known for.

If you need advice or even a pep talk, drop by or call the hosting centre in Dublin, it’s their job to help you find work and make the most of your time abroad, take advantage of their knowledge of not just the area, but of how to work with the locals. You’ll always be able to talk to a smiling face.   Unlimited access to the hosting centre, resources and support in your chosen country is included in SWAP programs in destinations all over the world.

The Ireland hosting centre staff discovered in a recent survey  that the average amount of time it is currently taking to find work with their help is just 1-2 weeks.  Remember that looking for work is a full-time job, and should be treated as such. Arrival centres can help you establish a routine and can provide you with invaluable leads and tips. You are in a different country and you don’t have the same knowledge or understanding of stores, industries and locations.  There is no shame in asking for help, that’s what the hosting centre is there for.

The easiest jobs to find are those in the service industry. If you are looking to find work in your field, add 2-3 weeks onto your estimated job searching time. If you are looking to work in your industry, it is recommended to make some connections before you come over. It is helpful to contact your arrival centre as they can provide you with some great leads. Ireland is brand new to you so everything from companies to resumes to grocery stores will be different. Take advantage of the knowledge of the arrival centre staff before you land to help you get prepared.

We find that almost all Canadians absolutely love the experience of living and working in Ireland.

When else in your life are you going to be able to live down the street from a 1000 year-old pub and decide that you much prefer the 300 year- old pub?  Or on the drive to the north, randomly come across a fairy circle that is older than Stonehenge and the only thing stopping you from touching the stones are the sheep?  No matter what work you go into, it is the journey that makes it worthwhile.

It’s not just the professional field experience that enhances your future prospects.  Anything you do work-related will only add to your resume and make you a far more appealing hire. Someone who has been able to thrive in a foreign environment will be able to work with a variety of people from different backgrounds. As well, you have shown that you take chances and you don’t sit back and wait for opportunities to come to you!

For more information on SWAP work abroad options see:  www.swap.ca   Join the SWAP facebook group to talk to SWAPPERS in Ireland and all over the world: http://www.facebook.com/groups/swapworktravel

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Posted in Ireland | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Want to be SWAP’s New Intern in Toronto?

At the SWAP headquarters in Toronto we are looking for an unpaid intern with an interest in marketing and working abroad. We want your creative input and help in contributing to our outreach, marketing and communications plans. This is a part-time position, with flexible hours. Minimum 2 month commitment please. If you’re interested please email Sarah at sedwards@swap.ca

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Posted in Travel | Comments Off

12 Career Skills That Travel Will Improve

By Mabel Lee

With an increasingly globalized world and the rising demands of competitive 21st century skills in the job market, travel is actually one of the best things you can do to boost your career skills and to develop as a professional, and as a person. Excelling in your career does not just entail past experience or hard skills; it also involves personality, life experiences, and everything that makes you who you are. Continue Reading

Note:  When you go on a working holiday with SWAP Working Holidays, you actually work on all these skills while still building work experience on your resume:  win win!

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Posted in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, SWAP Destinations, Thailand, UK, USA, Working Abroad | Comments Off

Where to live in London?

So many cool areas, and where is this one?

So many cool areas, and where is this one?

 

By Milena Canizares

I’ve been researching a ton about the UK, including where to work, pay scales, taxes, medical insurance, and most importantly in my mind, London neighbourhoods. Between the tube map, the actual location coordinates (ex: W12), and trying to use Google Maps to literally showcase my potential hood, I’ve been buried to say the least.  Continue reading

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Posted in UK | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

The life of a SWAPPER in a New Zealand prison

 

Please note:  SWAP does not guarantee that we can break you out of prison.

Please note: SWAP does not guarantee that we can break you out of prison.

My name is Linda and I’m from Newfoundland, Canada. Last year, I decided to quit my job, move out of my apartment, box up my belongings and sell my car so that I could come to New Zealand on a working holiday adventure (a lifelong dream) with my fiance. Best decision I ever made!

We arrived in the country on January 29 and since then, we’ve worked at (and lived in) New Zealand’s oldest prison (working as tour guides); I also worked at SkyJump for a while, gearing up people to fling themselves off the Sky Tower (which I also did myself, 54 times); and we’ve been spending the last couple of months housesitting in paradise on beautiful Waiheke Island.    Check out what it’s like to live the dream, and then some  here

 

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Posted in New Zealand | Comments Off

To Gap or Not to Gap ? That is the Question!

While the gap year or “year out” has been a common and popular rite of passage in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and many countries in Europe for decades, traditionally North American students have ridden the academic conveyor belt all the way from preschool to university without a break. Now the tides are changing and many soon-to-be high school graduates are saying they’re burnt out, and need more time before deciding what they want to take at university. Instead of packing for their first year, they are now booking their flights to go volunteering in Africa, or work on a yacht in the Caribbean.

North America is starting to catch on to the “gap year” syndrome, and for good reason. Amid concerns about drop-out rates, researchers now say that students who go straight to university often find themselves in a program that doesn’t interest them, and are more likely to change programs, thus prolonging their degree and increasing their debt level, and they are more likely to quit. Experts now say that going straight to university may be short-sighted for some and a year out is the way to go.

Taking a gap year has never been easier. Many universities are now willing to defer start dates for a year – York University is embracing this gap year phenomenon with its Bridging the Gap program and “celebrates” a student’s choice to take a year off to gain work experience, do community service or go on an international exchange and will reserve the student’s admission spot for up to a year provided he or she is accepted into the program. Harvard University, one of the top universities in the world, has always been ahead of its time and for the past 40 years has proposed that students take a year out in its letter of admission.

Is there a downside to taking a gap year? Not really, according to a 2008 Statistics Canada report published jointly with Canadian Policy Research Networks. The report found that students who delay postsecondary education don’t face a disadvantage in the labour market later on – as long as they actually complete their program once started. In fact, a Canadian Council of Learning study found that students who took a gap year were eight per cent more likely to be employed upon finishing all their studies.

Understandably, many parents are a little nervous that their son or daughter will be side-tracked and destined to remain degree-less forever. However, even though there are no formal studies on the actual number of gap year students who do make their way to university, admissions staff say that only a few drop off the radar. On the contrary, a year out can make you more focused, better prepared for university life and more likely to complete at least one university degree. After all, it’s not getting into university that counts – it’s getting the degree at the end of the line!

“To gap or not to gap… that is the question.” Students who have taken the year out, universities, and the latest statistics are saying “Yes, go for it!” Although it may be a daunting prospect for parents and students to divert from the “safe” bound-for-university-after-high-school route, the rewards and benefits are well worth stepping out of that comfort zone. To find out more about gap year options, come and visit SWAP Working Holidays and Basecamp International Center Volunteer Programs at the Study and Go Abroad Fairs.  For more information, check out www.studyandgoabroad.com.

Contributed by:

Katie Idle, Director of Sales and Marketing Study and Go Abroad Fairs katie@recruitincanada.com Website: www.studyandgoabroad.com

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Posted in Travel | Tagged | Comments Off

We have a new partner in the UK- BritBound

SWAPPERS arriving on and after October 1st will receive all their hosting centre resources and support from BritBound rather than BUNAC.  All SWAPPERS who left before September 31st 2012 will still be helped by BUNAC- however they are not receiving new participants.  BritBound offer the same services as BUNAC plus a few extras and we’re really excited to be able to offer more services to our participants.

The services that BritBound offer are:

  • Hosting centre in central London (Shoreditch)
  •  2 night’s accommodation (optional)
  • Choice of UK bank account
  • Free money transfer
  • Choice of UK SIM card
  • National Insurance Number arranged
  • Arrival orientation
  • Employment advice and CV forwarding
  • Weekly job seminar
  • Accommodation advice and assistance
  • Access to accommodation and job boards
  • Traditional pub lunch with orientation group
  • 1 week gym membership
  • Entry to local clubs/bars
  • Membership to social events club
  • Ongoing advice and support
  • Free wi fi
  • 24 hour emergency support line
  • Access to computer/printing facilities

Please let us know if you have any questions regarding this new partner at swapinfo@swap.ca  The location of the BritBound hosting centre in London can be found here

The BritBound team (they don’t always dress like this)

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Posted in UK | Comments Off