Although Australia can be a bit difficult or expensive to get to depending on where you’re coming from, the country should definitely be on your list of places to explore. There’s a little something for everyone to enjoy here, from excellent outdoor activities to exciting metropolises and more. It’s a great place for a vacation by yourself or with friends or family. Whenever you’re travelling internationally, though, you should do a little research prior to your departure—even if you aren’t the type to set a firm itinerary, there are things like visas and regulations to think about! Here are some tips:
When to Go
Most of the things you’ll want to see in Australia are open year-round, so you won’t have to worry about that—but remember that since Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed to what you’re used to if you’re coming from the US, Canada, or Europe! This means that if you travel there during June, July, or August, you’ll be there in the middle of winter—which although mild, can put a damper on that beach break you might have planned. If you travel to the northern part of the country during December or January, though, you’ll find that it’s quite wet at that time of year.
Things to Do Before Leaving Home
If you have a passport from any country other than New Zealand, you’re going to need to get a visa prior to departure, even if you will be travelling strictly for touristic purposes. Fortunately, the process can generally be done online, so you won’t have to worry about scheduling an appointment with a consulate or anything like that.
You’ll also want to figure out a couple things related to electronics. Australian outlets are a bit oddly shaped, so you will probably need a plug adapter. Travelers from the US or Canada might also need voltage adapters, since Australian outlets are generally at 220-240 volts whereas those in North America are usually set at 110-120 volts. And if you plan to watch Netflix or other streaming sites while abroad, you’ll need to set up a VPN first!
Figuring Out Your Itinerary
Of course, we could go on for days talking about everything there is to do in Australia. Whether you’re there for the cities, the surfing, the snorkeling, the outback, the expat life, something else, or some combination of these things, you’re spoilt for choice. Check out Sydney, with its iconic Opera House and harbor. Or head to Cairns, an ideal base site if you’ve come to see the Great Barrier Reef. For culture and events, you’ll want to visit Melbourne. And then, of course, there’s national parks and the outback and everything else that makes Australia unique!
One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to—and probably shouldn’t attempt to—see everything there is to see in one trip. If you try to cram too much into your itinerary, you’re going to find yourself frustrated and exhausted and not enjoying the trip the way you should be. Instead, focus on a few highlights and really enjoy the things you do have the time to see.
Travelling Around the Country
Australia is a huge country—the sixth-largest country in the world, actually!—so if you want to travel around the country, you’ll likely want to do a bit of planning. Of course, renting a car is always an option, but it can take a while to get between places, and depending on how much time you have in the country, you might be better off flying. Just remember that budget airlines often charge extra for baggage, so if you plan to do a lot of flying, you’ll want to minimize the amount that you’re carrying around with you.
If you plan to hitchhike, know that this is illegal in some states, and that in all states, it’s illegal to walk along or stand on the shoulder of the highway. Another important thing to note is that fruits, vegetables, and honey are often not allowed to pass state or regional lines. If you attempt to bring produce from one part of the country to another, your bags might be searched, and you could find yourself stuck with a hefty fine!
Before travelling to any country, it’s a good idea to do a little research into the cuisine so you know a) what to avoid and b) what to actively seek out. Australia is home for a lot of expats, so you’ll find all sorts of international flavors on offer throughout the country, especially from Southeast Asia and the Pacific. That doesn’t mean Australia is lacking its own flavors, though!
Some interesting meats to try are kangaroo and crocodile, which can be found in some restaurants and even grocery stores. And of course, there’s plenty of seafood to be had! You’ve also probably heard of Vegemite, the salty, yeasty spread. If you’ve never tried Vegemite before, it’s best to spread it pretty thinly, regardless of what you might see the locals doing—it’s a bit of an acquired taste.
Regardless of how much time you have in Australia, you’ll find plenty to love and plenty to keep you busy. There’s a reason, after all, that so many expats choose to live in this country—it’s brimming with culture, museums, outdoors activities, good food, and everything else that will make your time there absolutely ‘aces’, in the local vernacular. Although you might not be able to do everything in just one trip, you’ll definitely find yourself preparing for a return trip soon!