10 Things to Know Before Travelling to Australia
It’s exciting now that international travel is a thing of the present! Australia was one of the last countries to relax travel restrictions following the pandemic, so travelling there now feels like such a luxury. Whether you are attracted to Australia because of the incredible summer sunshine, or its beautiful landscapes and white beaches, there are a few things you should know before embarking on your trip. We have collated 10 top tips from our personal travel experiences, along with other recommendations that popped up frequently whilst planning the route ahead of time.
Photo: Coogee Beach sunrise
1. Travel around Australia
Australia is huge, and looking at it on a map can be deceptive. When travelling around, you are likely to cover vast distances. For a typical East-Coast trip, the most cost-effective way to travel is by coach (or bus, as they call them). Greyhound buses offer good-value passes that you can use for 15-, 30- or 45-day intervals, and you can reserve your seat ahead of time. If your budget permits, and you are covering a greater distance, such as going across to Perth or visiting the outback, then it may be worth booking a domestic flight in advance to save money on the air fare.
2. Save up for the international airfare
Having initially planned to do my trip in 2020, I had all my budgeting sorted, and I remember that the air fare was a fraction of what it is now! It completely took me by surprise when I went to pay for my ticket, which was £1000s, so I had to delay booking for a few months while I saved up enough money. This is no doubt the result of fuel price rises, as well as high demand since Australia reopened for travel. I recommend that you don’t just rely on search sites like Google Flights or Skyscanner, because sometimes booking direct with an airline (e.g. Qatar, Virgin or Qantas) can give you a better deal, in terms of both price and flight times.
3. Plan your route according to the time of year
The Australian climate varies considerably depending on what part of the country you’re in, but much of it can reach uncomfortably hot temperatures at times. So, getting the order of travel along the East-Coast is important. Melbourne, in south-east Australia, is quite cold (highs of 15°C) between June – October. This contrasts with Cairns in the north, which has a tropical climate, and pleasant temperatures during these winter months (17-26°), but can be very hot and humid between January – March. Taking this into consideration, I planned my trip to start in Melbourne and travel north, leaving Cairns in mid-December before the temperature hit mid-30s.
4. Check the late check-in policy for your accommodation
There is nothing worse after a long, tiring international flight, than being unable to check into your accommodation. So, make sure you understand the check-in policy, to ensure you can get a good night’s sleep after your travels. You can look on the accommodation website, but it’s always best to email them ahead of time to be sure.
5. The animals can be deadly
When you think of Australian animals, the first to spring to mind are probably kangaroos, wallabies and cuddly koalas. But Australia is home to some of the world’s most dangerous creatures – I mean that’s why ‘I’m A Celebrity…’ is filmed there! In all seriousness, when you’re planning your Australian adventure, it is very important to familiarise yourself with specific animals to look out for whilst travelling around, from toxic marine life to venomous spiders and snakes. For example, in Bondi, Sydney, there are Great Whites in the ocean; and further North in Cairns there are saltwater crocodiles, as well as box jellyfish at certain times of the year. Be sure to take warning signage seriously, and always listen to the locals or lifeguards.
Photo: Lake Mckenzie, Fraser Island
6. Do a tour with a group
We would recommend doing a tour with a group if you are thinking of hiking up the Blue Mountains in Sydney, or if you’re considering a Whitsundays or Fraser Island tour. Not only is it a great way to make friends with likeminded travellers, but it also ensures maximum safety, and will therefore increase your enjoyment.
7. Don’t forget the SPF!
The sun in the Southern Hemisphere is notoriously strong and therefore it is essential to pack a really good sun cream with a high SPF. We would recommend factor 50 if you are fair skinned, with a specific one for your face too so you can reapply if you are in the sun all day. Not only is there a risk of sunburn, but the strong sun in Australia can increase the chance of getting heatstroke, which would really ruin your travel itinerary!
8. Budget carefully
Australia is relatively expensive, so it is important to budget carefully to ensure you have enough money to cover your travel plans. Major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne will cost more than more remote areas such as the Gold Coast; however, the Whitsunday’s and Fraser Island tours can be pretty expensive too (on average £200 for a 2–3-night tour) so that is an important factor to consider. To avoid any nasty surprises, I would recommend paying for all tours, and all accommodation before you get there; that means the only budgeting you have to account for is food, drink and any other miscellaneous things you want to do. With the big costs out the way, it is easier to monitor your spending. It is generally recommended to allow for £30-£50 per day in Australia. This should be more than enough for food and drink, and you may find you will carry some over each day to help buy an experience that costs a little more.
Australian businesses typically don’t expect tips, so save your money! This may feel strange if you are accustomed to the 10% British policy (or 18-22% for Americans!!), but the wages are generally higher in Australia, so it is not considered rude or offensive if you don’t leave a tip.
10. Be flexible
Where possible, be flexible – especially if you are solo travelling – to leave room for spontaneity, so you can organise plans with friends you make along the way. There are some considerations such as needing to book tours ahead of time, as well as transportation, but I would leave 1-2 days per destination for last minute plans. That is part of the joy of travelling – turning up some place new and figuring it out!
Note: Prices are correct at the time of publication.
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