Archive for December, 2011
“You haven’t been to Australia?! You have to go!”
That was the chorus line of my summer. If you work in the young persons’ travel industry, there’s just no avoiding the Ozzies (Aussies?). Of the 28 people I trained with for my tour guide job, 21 were Australian. Of the 51 seats on my bus on any given day throughout the season, around 40 would be occupied by Aussies (Ozzies?).
Because they’re the only ones willing to spend money and time on travel. To most Americans, taking two weeks off work and spending a couple thousand bucks on a trip with a jam-packed itinerary to multiple European countries would be a major trip. We’d travel those two weeks with ruthless efficiency then get back to our jobs back home. But those from ‘stralia will quit their day jobs in order to travel for four, six, even ten-month vacations. They’ll save for a year or so — an easier feat considering their wages. A normal bartending gig can pay $20/hour in Australia. (The same gig pays $8/hour in The States.) Ten month trips aren’t enough though. This whole Two Passports adventure I’ve been up to isn’t so crazy to them. It’s nearly a right of passage to spend two years abroad for Australians. They can easily get two-year working visas for anywhere in the EU. Some estimates put 1% of Australia’s population in London at any given time due to this work visa situation.
All this is a way to say: I have met a LOT of Australians in the past eight months. These guys can’t stop talking about how great life is in their country. Beach culture, the great weather, the barbie, the laid-back atmosphere — I’ve heard it all. Of course, after convincing you of their country’s awesomeness, Aussies will spend a half hour telling about about the five most poisonous snakes in the world (all of which live in Oz), the deadly shark attacks and the ever-present threat of Drop Bears. (Gotta watch out, those Drop Bears will getchya.)
So why am I telling you so much about Australia? Because after months and months of hearing the familiar chorus of “I can’t believe you haven’t been to Australia!” I’ve decided to finally see for myself.
On January 25, I leave Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport for a flight so long that I’ll never get to experience January 26, 2012 — we cross the international date line at around midnight so i literally will never get that day back.
I never would have thought Australia was in the cards when I started traveling, but before long I’ll be in a country where a Devo song is revered when played at bars, where “Oi!” immediately gets everyone’s attention and where the toilets flush in the opposite direction. Australia, here I come.