AustraliaNew Zealand & Pacific Islands

Travel Tips: Australia

Australia is both a continent and a country. It is the 7th largest country in the world. In fact, taking a flight from the East coast to the West coast would take about 5 and a half hours.

Circular Quay Sydney taken from the Sydney Harbour Bridge just after sunset showing the Sydney Opera House on the left.

Want to drive cross country? You might want to reconsider as it could take 9 hours to drive from Sydney to Melbourne, and there is hardly anything interesting in between. If you are considering traveling to the beautiful country of Australia, here are some tips to help you book your trip and plan your itinerary.

Remember that Australia is Very Large

Do your research before you go of what areas you would like to explore. Unless you are traveling for a few months at a time, it is difficult to get to everywhere you want to go due to the size of the country. If you can’t travel for a few months, as many people probably don’t have that much vacation saved up from work, you might want to consider planning a trip to a specific region, and then consider going back at another time.

Many people think they can just drive from place to place, but you would actually be spending most of your trip driving if you did that. If you are planning to visit multiple places, your best way to travel would be to fly. You will save time this way and be able to see more of the country.

The best way to visit Australia is to take a guidebook from the library and decide which regions and aspects of the culture you’re most interested in, and go from there.

Save Up Your Money Before You Go

It is suggested that you save money for 6 months to a year before your trip. Australia is actually very expensive. It is suggested that you budget about $100-$200 US dollars per day for food, activities, and your stay. One of the most important things you need to do during any trip is to eat, but the restaurants in Australia are very costly.

Tips to Save Money

To save money, you might want to consider cooking food on your own instead of going out. Hotels are also very expensive, so consider looking into Airbnb or staying in a hostel. Some hostels will even allow you to work for your stay.

They may have you cleaning rooms, changing sheets, and the like, but at least you will be saving some money. Some people who are staying for multiple months will also work on organic farms picking fruit to get paid a little bit while they are there. Apparently, they are always looking for help.

Beware Speed Cameras

Automatic speed cameras litter the country and will zap you with a

ticket.  Don’t think that just because you live in another country and you’re driving a rental car that they won’t find you….I ended up with a speeding ticket that reached me all the way in California.  I also had a strange bill from a third party service who charged me for the service of giving my information to the government from the car rental service.  A bit ridiculous I must say, given that I was going 56 MPH in a 50 MPH zone (speed measured in Kilometers in Australia, but when calculated down, this is what my infraction was).  Just be aware that these cameras can and will get you.

Additionally, Australian law is very tough on impaired driving, so ensure that you get a taxi if you’re going to be drinking.

Save Money While Seeing the Country   

When flying, check out budget airlines or consider getting a bus pass if you are going to take a Greyhound bus from one place to another. Instead of paying for tickets by trip, you get a pass that allows you to hop on the bus as many times as you’d like for one fee. Not only is it cheaper if you plan to ride on the bus multiple times, but it will also save you the time and hassle standing in line each time you want to go somewhere.

Other Ways to Save

If you do decide to go out and eat at their great restaurants, remember that it is not necessary to tip. Employees of Australia make a lot of money. Some places pay wages in the teens to waitresses, hostesses, and bussers. It is not like it is in some other countries where not tipping is offensive. They make plenty of money.

This is probably why everything is so expensive in Australia because with higher wages, the cost of living is usually higher since people can handle to pay the bills. In addition, restaurants are expensive so that they can pay their employees.

Consider Looking into the Language’s Slang Before You Arrive

If you know English, then you will be able to get by on your trip without learning a whole new language. You will, however, need to learn some of the slang before you go there as it can be very confusing. If someone tells you to get your “thongs” on, they are not talking about underwear. They mean that you should get your flip flops on and get ready to go. They call bathing suits “swimmers”, and everyone is called a “mate”, which stands for friends, not a sailor on a ship. So look up some of the most common words and slang used before you go to avoid all those awkward conversations that could happen to leave you confused.

Another thing that surprised me were the different names for sizes of beer.  I had no idea what was happening when I ordered my first one.  A jug?  A pot?  What?  Here is a guide to get you started, and make sure you note the way Southern Australia likes to throw a curveball in there:

Time Your Trip Right

Depending on where you are going, it is advisable to look up what the weather will be like when you are there. This can be for packing purposes as well as to figure out what it is you would like to do.

Many people think that all of Australia is always good weather with beautiful beaches and the sun, but not all parts of the country are that way, even though it is part of the Southern Hemisphere. Some of the northern parts can get below freezing. The best times to look into going are October and November and April and May. Remember to pack your sunscreen since the sun is very strong, and it won’t take long to get awful sunburn.

Places to Travel and Things to See

The sun sets behind the Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road

Some of the most popular attractions to see are listed below. Depending on the region you go to, you can find a little bit of something for everyone.

  • Sydney – Check out the national iconic Opera House
  • Daintree – Hike in the beautiful rainforests
  • Australia Zoo — Excellent zoo featuring hundreds of plants and animals.  They have a huge open kangaroo petting zoo where you can go in and literally hang out with the kangaroos.
  • Melbourne – a very hip place with trendy cafes and restaurants
  • Perth – Go on a Sunday and enjoy the Sunday Session which is when all the locals get together and drink
  • Gold Coast – the perfect place to visit if you are interested in learning to surf

There are also wineries with tours and tastings all over the country if you are into that sort of thing.

Australia is a beautiful place to visit with so much to offer. Do your research first so you know where you want to go and can get the most out of your trip. Sometimes it’s better to do less and get more of an experience than it is to see more and get less experience.

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Leigh Gordon

Leigh Gordon is an avid surfer, writer, and blogger living in San Diego. She spends time hiking and traveling, and enjoys seeing all that California and the world have to offer. She owns a yellow lab named Finn.

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