Prior To Travelling To Australia

September 9, 2005    

Travel Tips Page 1

    1. Travel Planning – Sit down with a good Australian map and plan (either loosely or in-depth depending on your time period) where you might want to visit in Australia. This is imperative as so many other factors evolve from this stage. Don’t believe anyone who says “just arrive and go from there”, as they are usually the ones who waste time and money.

      Have a naturally flowing direction, avoid backtracking (Australia is huge!) and look at air travel as a means of covering large distances. It has never been cheaper to fly throughout Australia than at present.

    2. Travel Money, Visas & Backpackers Work – Establish in broad terms what it will cost to do what you want: e.g. accommodation, travel, food, tours, and party essentials. Don’t leave yourself short, there is nothing worse whilst travelling around than arriving at a destination icon and not being able to pass through the gates. It sounds stupid but it happens all the time.Eating noodles on toast and moping around a backpackers hostel won’t create the money. Working during your stay in Australia can help, and lots of travellers on working holiday visas do make money to further their travels, but this normally just sustains the continuous party most travellers seek. If you don’t think the money you have already saved will be enough, now is the time to work double-hard at home, crawl to your parents and/or get a large credit card limit to use as a final resort.For those travellers with a working holiday visa remember you can only get this once in your life, so I recommend that if you’re not sure of your prospects come over on a three month holiday visa, suss things out, and if all looks good you can pop over to New Zealand or a neighbouring South Pacific country and then get one.

      Also another very important point to remember (with the working holiday visa scheme) is that although you are probably very well educated and qualified, any one employer can only legally hire you for 6 months at a time, so the prospect of getting a great job is low. Most backpacker travellers in Australia get work labouring on building sites, waiting/cooking/cleaning in bars, restaurants and cafes (hospitality), serving in shops (retail), data entry, telephone sales or fruit picking. Three months fruitpicking (or similar rural-agricultural work) is the pathway to a 2nd-year working visa.

    3. Optimal Timing – After determining that what you really want to do is within the realms of possibility, check seasonality and the major events calendar. These are two very important subjects because they will probably cause you to sit back down at the map… detours will be created, times will be changed, and the end result will make for an excellent trip. There is nothing worse than turning up to a place to find everybody saying “you should have been here last week”.Australia is very seasonal (climatic) due to the vast size of the country and there is an array of festivals and events you shouldn’t miss. To list all these would be way too time consuming and I’m sure most of the popular guide books list them together with the weather conditions expected at particular times.

    4. Travel Guide Books – Buy a respected guide book and take in what they say. I know it’s hard to imagine a place until you have landed but this will help you. Backpacker travel market leaders are Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, Lets Go and BUG Australia.

    5. Pack Lightly – Forget wearing the clothes you have to impress your friends back home, think universal and fashionably practical – unless that is you’re going to find a flat, and stay in an area for the whole trip then travel directly home. Travelling light gives you the freedom and will help you save money by being able to walk to a hostel from a drop-off rather than taking a taxi, bus etc.Having said this Australia’s backpacking network is geared so well that you rarely have to walk far at all. So that extra space can be kept for a souvenir or two. We do have shops over here so don’t think you have to pack everything for all occasions.A backpack is much better than a suitcase, far easier to carry and much more practical with multiple compartments. Most of the newer types have an integrated detachable ‘day pack’ which is useful for day trips having left the main pack back at the hostel. But if you do choose a case, ensure it is of the type that has wheels.

    6. ‘Stop over’ in Asia En-route to Australia – This I believe is the most under-utilised option every traveller has. Virtually every flight from Europe stops to refuel in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok, so take advantage of this for little/no extra cost and have a look around. I would recommend a lengthy stay and explore as much of South East Asia as you can. For about the cost of a dormitory bed in Australia you will get a room, all meals at restaurants and a few beers to boot! They are all beautiful places to visit and the cost is low, plus it breaks that long flight up. Do you really want to sit in the same seat for 24 hours?

    7. Airfares / Tickets – I understand that everybody wants the cheapest ticket possible, but that’s not really the way to go. If you’re stopping off in Asia, or don’t really know when you might go home, flexibility is worth a lot more than the extra price. Cheap tickets have hefty fees for changing dates/destinations; an English traveller friend of mine met a great European girl on Koh Tao Thailand, due to leave in the coming days he naturally wanted to stay longer. Since he had a flexible ticket he changed his flights nine times with no extra charge! If he had had a cheap ticket he basically would have had to cancel it it or pay a large alteration charge per change. It always seem to happen this way to travellers, I see it all the time. I think cheap fares should be left only for the one-way ticket straight home.

    8. Medical Insurance / Vaccinations – Don’t forget your travel insurance and immunisation when travelling through Asia… ask my friend Tommy from Ireland who got hit with an AUD$750/day hospital bill in Bali!

Next Page >> Plan Your Trip According To Your Time Frame