In my latest attempt to keep myself busy during lockdown, I've started a scrapbook dedicated to the 2 and a half amazing months I spent in Australia, with my friend Maisie, at the start of this year. The trip was full of ups and downs, but I can honestly say that I had the time of my life! So, in the spirit of reminiscing, I've decided to write about my first week in Australia and give a huge shout out to the legends behind Welcome to Travel, who put everything in place to give us the trip of a lifetime!
Welcome to Travel are a Melbourne-based tour operator founded by Adam and Darryl. They offer 4 day or 8 day tours of Melbourne, and have recently announced their latest project: an East Coast travel experience, created with students in mind.
When Maisie and I decided to travel to Australia, we came across Unjaded Jade's travel vlogs. She did the 8 day Melbourne tour with Welcome to Travel and, after seeing what an amazing time she had with them, we just knew we had to get involved. Thank God we did! The 7 person team behind Welcome to Travel know the country like the back of their hand and, thanks to them, my time in Australia was jam-packed and so much fun.
For me, the thought of packing my life into a backpack and flying 10,000 miles away from home was overwhelming, surreal and absolutely terrifying. When I arrived in Melbourne, 3 days before the tour was due to start, I couldn't help but wonder if I'd made a huge mistake. The feelings of homesickness and jet-lag were unbearable and seemed so hard to overcome. Fast forward 24 hours, after a good nights sleep, I was like a whole new person! Other members of the tour group started to arrive at the hostel so we spent the next 2 days getting to know each other. Little did we know we were about to become so close and share so many incredible experiences together.
On the first day of the tour, the group met on the hostel's rooftop for some icebreaking activities with Adam and Clauds, our amazing tour guide. After some introductions and a very entertaining game of '2 truths, 1 lie,' the best week of my life began. Clauds showed us all of Melbourne's best locations, shared so much knowledge about the city with us, took us to her favourite restaurants and kept us on our toes with daily secret inclusions! Despite only spending 8 days together, everyone bonded so quickly; it literally felt like I'd known these people for years. Not only do the Welcome to Travel team show you a new city, they also introduce you to so many like-minded people, many of whom will be friends for life.
What I loved most about my Welcome to Travel experience was the fact that the team are genuinely helpful when it comes to your post-tour plans. On the penultimate day of the tour, one-on-one meetings are organised. This gives you a chance to create a schedule for the rest of your travels, book activities or look for job opportunities. Maisie and I went to Australia with the 3 month tourist visa. We knew the locations we wanted to visit and had a few hostels booked along the way, but this meeting helped us massively. After sitting down for a few hours with Darryl, our route was set in stone, all of our accommodation was sorted and countless activities and excursions had been booked for us. Darryl understood exactly what we wanted to get out of our trip and helped us experience the highlights of each state and city. Without having the opportunity to sit down and plan our route with a travel expert, I doubt we would've experienced half of what we did!
On top of this, throughout the tour, the team are constantly helping those who have come to Australia with a working visa. They get you a SIM card, help you set up a bank account and email new job opportunities to all Welcome to Travel participants - past and present - every Wednesday. There really is something for everyone in this tour, and the team go above and beyond to help you out.
I cannot thank the Welcome to Travel team enough for everything they did for Maisie and I whilst we were in Australia, and for all that they continue to do. I feel so lucky to be a part of this incredible travel family! The current situation has affected all industries, but the travel community have taken a particularly hard hit, so, if ever you are considering visiting Australia, you should definitely start your adventure with Welcome to Travel.
Trust me, it's the best decision you'll ever make!