Your Travel Stories:

Finding A Best Friend In Australia

Written by:

Lauren Donnelly

A series of serendipitous events

After a year in Australia I had to switch from a 462 Work and Holiday Visa to a 500 Student Visa. New visa. New costs. New work restrictions. I had to get creative with my income, so along with working several jobs I decided to put my room on Airbnb. Here and there I would accept a booking for a couple nights a week and bunk with my flatmate, just to make some extra cash to help with rent. People would often request longer stays but I wouldn’t accept because, like most of us would, I wanted to be in my own room a majority of the time. I only ever made one exception.

On a trip camping through New Zealand (p.s. visit New Zealand, seriously do it now), I got a 2-week request from a girl moving to Sydney from California. Luckily for her (and me as we’ll realize by the end of this story), I was concerned about how this incredible trip was somehow causing money to magically disappear from my bank account, so I accepted.

Kari & I

Kari checked in a few weeks later.

I helped her get a transit card, a SIM for her phone and a few odd jobs just to get her started. She ended up staying with me for a month until she found a room to sublet. Kari helped me in a lot of ways too. Even after a year, having moved abroad alone can be hard. I had just left my previous job in Sydney and had some close friends move home to their perspective countries, so having found someone as weird, spontaneous, and slightly sporadic (we’ll be honest, we have yet to make it somewhere together on time) as I am meant a lot.

Check Kari out on Instagram to see more awesome scuba photos!

Over the next year we lived in Sydney, making friends, going camping, spending evenings at Tranny Bingo (we’re big fans), throwing an interesting 4th of July party for our Aussie mates and eventually working together at a cafe on the beach.

Celebrating 4th of July at a friend’s flat in Australia

The cafe closed at the end of the year

and Kari ran into visa troubles as well. Her 462 Visa was running out and in order to get a 1-year extension, she needed to complete 3 months of work within the tourism or hospitality industry in Northern Queensland. Almost overnight, she packed up and moved to Cairns to work as a Dive Master Trainee on a tourist boat on the Great Barrier Reef.

A few months after Kari abandoned me (jokes) in Sydney, I woke up one day and thought “life on the Great Barrier Reef is probably pretty sweet, right?” and decided I was moving to Cairns. I messaged Kari and told her I was coming, gave notice at my job, gave my room to a friend, and left. Without ever having gone scuba diving before, I booked my flight and an open water course on the boat and Kari secured me a room in her flat and referred me for an open Purser position onboard.


There we were

a year later, having never known each other or how to scuba dive before, working on a snorkel and dive boat together on the Great Barrier Reef. And you can’t predict something like that! That all these tiny decisions we made would have to lead us here.

The scuba photos are provided courtesy of Scubabo

I’m not sure I’ve ever had a better experience than hanging out with turtles and working with some of the most rad humans out there, and all because of an Airbnb reservation.

Lauren Donnelly

Lauren spent the past three years abroad living and work in Australia. She’s moved residence 10 times, had 9 different jobs, and visited 8 new countries since that time. She also really needs a nap.

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It’s stories like these that get me incredibly excited to travel. Have you made friends abroad? What sort of interesting stories do you have to share? I’d love to hear them; submit your travel story using the form below!

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