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Bunac is an organisation which focuses on working holidays, be this Camp America or working holidays of up to a year in places such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It takes some of the more 'scary' aspects of travelling out of your hands, leaving you more time to prepare and countdown to what will most probably be the experience of your life.
You order the brochure and it briskly comes through your letter box . You have taken the first step next comes the tricky part choosing your destination. I can only really comment on the experience I had, but from talking to other Bunacers it seems to be a similar one. The best thing was being able to choose the stop overs on the way (in my case Australia). The options I had were Bangkok and Hong Kong - I chose Hong Kong but Bangkok seems an equally sought after choice. For this I would get airport transfers, a group meal, two nights in a hotel and included excursions to the main sights with a guide. But perhaps best of all was knowing that I would meet fellow travellers, and I think for many people this is the real selling point. On the stop overs you could end up meeting people you will go onto travel with or at the very least a familiar face in a country where you will know so few.
Personally this was the highlight of my trip it was well organised but it didn't have the rigid timeframe that organised tours can have. My only criticism would be the restaurant we went to had a set buffet menu which had no vegetarian options, I know Hong Kong is hardly known for it's Linda McCartney stance but Bunac knew I and a few others didn't eat meat well in advance.
The flights themselves were with Cathay Pacific a reputable airline so they wont have you on a mickey mouse flight! The first two nights and airport transfers are inclusive in the price so you'll be with your group for another couple of nights at least. The come down from rather swanky hotel to hostel was a sharp one but you soon get used to it. On day two you are taken to the office where they show you how to fill in tax file numbers, bank account forms etc etc and how to look for a job. I thought this would be such a big help, and well it was, however I could have easily done this on my own as Australia especially is geared up for pommie backpackers and the like.
Then after the two days you have to pay for your own accomodation and then it's time to decide your next move. For the work australia program you are given a postal forwarding address so no matter where you travel you can recieve your mail which can be really handy, although having family member send letters to the GPO in the city your in amounts to the same thing. For as long as your in that country you can rely on Bunac for advice whether that be emergancy, travel or health and they even give you the number of the London office if you ever need them and the Australian offices are closed (time difference allows this). Even if you don't use them the peace of mind your familyhave knowing that you have a safety net is worth it.
When you leave your country and begin your route home the fun need not end there. When you choose the route to your destination you also choose the return. These range in price and number of stops. For example London-Hong Kong-Sydney-Singapore-London will be cheaper than London-Hong Kong-Sydney-Auckland-Honolulu-LA-London. These can be expensive but they will be with reputable airlines and they sort your tickets out for you. You are the independant traveller in these countries as Bunac will not (bar NZ and a couple of US cities) have offices. But they are all routes well trodden by backpackers so you shouldnt have any serious problems.
all visa forms are sent to you by post with the simple instructions and included in the price is a lonely planet guide, t-shirt (wohoo) and a mousemat! but what is including in the price more importantly is the chance to do something amazing, to go somewhere you can boast about for the rest of your life.
BUNAC IS PERFECT FOR: First time traveller, lone travellers who wish to meet people, People who wish to travel but not to be entirely independant, Those who want to travel but feel intimidated by visa applications, tax file numbers and the like,
BUNAC IS LESS PERFECT FOR: Veteran backpackers, Those who realise that places like Australia are full of backpackers and so are certain to make friends, Groups of people,The backpacker who wants something less mainstream. The backpacker on a very tight budget
Enjoyable review! If anyone is thinking about working abroad you should check out http://www.oneworld365.org
Geordidave 15.10.2007 15:47
Great review! You should really send this into www.summercampworldwide.com or pst it on their forum as it would be really helpful for people going next summer!
SueMagee 14.01.2005 09:35
I particularly liked the summary at the end - you did it rather well. Also liked the fact that you didn't tell us the tale of "my year in Australia" but concentrated on the point of the review. Nice one.