Oh, Australia! Such a beautiful country, full of unusual places to see and beaches to die for. Surely, it’s a destination on everyone’s wishlist, and since we’ve been there already, we decided to hook you up with a couple of tips you can write down for your next adventure! If you are one of the lucky travelers heading to Australia, here are five useful travel tips you need to know before you go.
AUSTRALIA IS HUGE AND EXTREMELY DIVERSE
Unless you are planning to spend six months traveling around the country, you are not going to see it all. It may look small, but looks are deceiving. Consider this:
- Australia is the 6th largest country in the world, occupying a territory of 7 692 024 sq. Km, which is more than the size of ALL European Union countries. It has one of the lowest population density in the world of only 2.6 people/km
- A flight from East Coast (Brisbane) to the West Coast (Perth) will take you 5 .5 hours. If you were even considering a road trip across, you might want to reconsider. The majority of the Australia population lives along the coast, so unless you are road tripping along the East Coast, prepare to be traveling for days on end without any exciting sites or towns to check out along the way. It’s a whole lot of nothingness out there.
- A road trip from Cairns to Brisbane is practically impossible in less than three days. And even then it’s really rushed. Same goes for road-tripping from Brisbane to Sydney.
- It will take you over 9 hours to drive from Sydney to Melbourne.
AUSTRALIA IS REALLY EXPENSIVE
Budget at least $100-$200 USD per day for accommodation, food, and activities. Transportation will probably be on top of that. If you are looking for ways to save on your trip to Australia, consider the following suggestions.
- Fly with budget airlines, like Tiger Airways and Jetstar, instead of the full-service Qantas and Virgin. Unlike in the US, one-way flights in Australia aren’t more expensive when compared to return flights, so don’t be afraid to book one leg at a time. Webjet.com.au is the best place to search for domestic flights in Australia.
- Travel overland. Buy a Greyhound hop on/hop off bus pass instead of individual tickets to get from city to city. If you want the luxury of traveling on your own time without spending a fortune on renting a car, consider renting a relocation campervan and secure your accommodation and transportation for just $1/day plus gas!
- Accommodation in Australia can be expensive. If you are traveling as a couple, or with friends, consider staying in Airbnb accommodation or opt for the smaller family run B&B’s.
- Cook your food. There are lots of great restaurants in Australia, but this isn’t Vietnam or India where local food is incredible and cheap. There is no reason to eat out every meal. Go to a local grocery chain like Coles or Woolworths, stock up on some sausages and bread and have a sausage sizzle in the park. There are free public BBQs available in most parks all over Australia. You don’t even need your own kitchen, and you’ll see plenty of Australians doing the same thing! Thumbs up for local experiences.
- Drink less. And when you do drink opt to pre-drink before you head out to a bar, or drink at BYO (bring you own alcohol) restaurants. Drinking at bars in Australia is expensive and will end up killing your budget. If budget is really tight, goon (boxed wine) is your best friend.
GET ACQUAINTED WITH THE LOCAL LANGUAGE
There are quite a few slangs and differences in Australia English vs. American English. Here are just a few examples that you will likely come across on your trip.
(Australia English = American English) : Thongs = flip flops, bum bag – fanny pack, togs/swimmers – bathing suit, capsicums = peppers, ketchup = tomato sauce, chips = fries, lollies = candy, bushwalking = hiking/trekking, boot = trunk, bonnet = hood of a car, gas = petrol, ute =pick up truck, fortnightly = every 2 weeks.
If you are out watching a sport with some new “mates,” don’t ask them who they are rooting for. Rooting means having sex, not cheering. If you want to find the center of the city, don’t ask for directions downtown, here they call it CBD (Central Business District). If you get sick and needs some meds, ask for the nearest chemist, not a pharmacy. If someone invites you to come over for tea, it often means you are being invited for dinner.
DON’T EXPECT TO BE SURROUNDED BY KANGAROOS AND KOALAS
It is possible to spot them in the wild, but you’d have to venture out to a national park/reserve or further inland, away from the city buzz, to find them. Sometime you may even spot them in the suburbs or on a golf course. One of the best places to see wildlife in Australia is Kangaroo Island south of Adelaide.
While kangaroos and koalas aren’t common in highly populated areas, other Australian residents are. You will likely see a lot of bats, possums, some snakes, lizards, plenty of spiders and other bugs. There are also plenty of cool birds around.
MIND YOUR GENEROSITY!
Tipping in Australia is not common practice. You are not expected to tip in restaurants, bars, or taxis. You don’t need to add a tip to your haircut bill or give any money to staff in hotels.
All workers in Australia are paid significantly better than elsewhere in the world, think $16.87 an hour as an absolute minimum, so the busboys and bartenders here aren’t relying on them to make a decent living. Of course, if you really want to acknowledge excellent service, especially if you are dining at a high-end restaurant, you can leave a tip. But if you are out for the night, and leave a few coins behind as a tip at a bar, it’s likely that someone will tell you that you’ve forgotten your change.