Australia has everything we look for in a dream destination: beautiful beaches, friendly people and of course, endless things to see and do! With that said, organising a trip to the other side of the world is never an easy feat. Even the most well-travelled of us ought to come prepared. Are you ready to make the journey down under? We’ve compiled our top 10 tips to ensuring your trip to Australia .. is your best one yet!
#1 Take your pick: East Coach beaches or WA escapade?
Australia is the bearer of many holidays fruits, from golden beaches to dusty deserts. Unfortunately, you’d need weeks to devour them all! Before you plan your itinerary and finalise your schedule, we’d recommend that firstly, you decide what type of holiday you’re looking for.
Are you in desperate need of a tropical escape, an island holiday or a chance to shop-till-you-drop? If you ticked all of the above, follow signs to the East Coast. Hoping to uncover true Aboriginal culture? Make your way to the north and central regions. If neither of the aforesaid options tantalise you, perhaps you’d fancy a 4 x 4 road trip on the wild West Coast instead?
#2 Organise transportation before you arrive
One simply can’t explore the depths of what Australia has to offer by staying in one place. By all means, a worthwhile trip requires that travellers venture far and wide. One of the best ways to ensure you can, is to rent a vehicle during your stay. Ideally, you’ll hire a car kitted with camping gear, or indulge in a temporary stint of vanlife.
If you’d rather not hire a vehicle during your visit, fret not: exploring far and wide is still feasible. Australia’s train lines and bus networks are sufficient not only for its residents, but too, for the many tourists the nation welcomes every year. If you’re booking in advance, don’t be afraid to compare domestic flights. You just might find a cheapie that helps to maximise every moment of your trip!
#3 Pay attention to the seasons
To avoid disappointment, it’s a smart idea to take into account the current climate of the region you plan to visit. Between November and February, you’ll find tourists flock to the South of Australia, where tropical days are almost everyday. If you’re looking to journey down the Great Ocean Road; to visit Perth, Margaret River and Esperance, the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne or Tasmania, avoid planning your trip between March and May. Whilst you might avoid tourists, more importantly, you’ll avoid the very stunning weather that attracts them.
Towards the North, you’ll find the rainy season tends to endure. During June and October, you’re best to head west coast of Perth instead; to Darwin, the Sunshine Coast, Cairns, the Great Tropical Drive in Queensland, the Red Centre or Uluru. Australia is best seen in about 2-3 weeks. Make sure to account for travel time, and spend about 2-3 days in each city.
More information: Climate zones and seasons in Australia
#4 Plan your route
Efficiency is key when it comes to a jam-packed holiday! Once you’ve decided on the region you’d like to visit, take the time out to comprehensively plan your trip. Decide how you’ll fill your days in each city well in advance, in order to maximise your time as soon as you arrive. Peruse travel blogs and Instagram, noting good deals and must-visit tourist destinations.
Whilst an organised tour might seem appealing in order to fit most into your itinerary, be aware that these are often overly expensive. What’s more, all the resources you need to plan a memorable trip are at your disposal online! It may require a bit of thought, but you’ll thank yourself in the long run. Just think: no wasted time in museums, if that’s not your thing.
Australia is filled with secret treasures, so planning is key to ensuring you don’t miss them! Imagine finding out post-trip that you were just a mile away from the pink lake, or worse.. a baby kangaroo shelter!
Discover potential routes for your holiday, and plan ahead, at Road Trip Australia: Itinerary Ideas
#5 Book in advance
We know we sound like a broken record, but trust us when we say it’s for your benefit. Booking your flight tickets and your transport in advance can be incredibly cost-effective. Not only can you expect a discount of approximately 5 to 10%, you’ll also be granting yourself the luxury of choice.
Particularly if you’re booking a visit during school holidays (mid-December/late January; mid-April; late June/early July; late September/early October), be sure to arrange accommodation with hotels and to call each caravan park weeks before your visit. In some states, you can purchase a monthly or yearly pass for national parks, which is another great means for saving money on the road.
For tours and popular activities or adventures in Australia, it’s paramount to book in advance. Destinations such as Fraser Island, the Whitsunday Islands or the Great Barrier Reef fill up incredibly quickly during peak season.
#6 Calculate your budget
The total cost of your trip will depend significantly on how you choose to live during your visit. Be aware of expensive restaurant and accommodation costs in central CBD locations [$190 AUD per night]. Whilst you’re on the road, cooking in your van will be your best option.
Keep in mind you’ll need to stop regularly in order to recharge your van’s batteries, particularly if you’re cooking on the go. A night at a campsite, dependent on the time of year you plan to travel, will range from $30 AUD – $60 AUD.
Save money by opting for low-cost activities, like hiking in national parks and spending the day on the beach. If you’re looking to participate in multiple tours or activities, expect the cost of your trip to be far greater. Last but not least, read up on the speed limits in Australia! A speeding fine is the last thing you’ll want to return home with.
#7 Look after yourself
Depending on where you’re coming from, your flight to Australia mightn’t be a short one. Make sure your itinerary accounts for the jetlag you’ll likely experience. Be aware of the drastic change in climate too. Suffering from over-tiredness and heat exhaustion is not a way to hit the road.
Plan to spend 2-4 days in your city of arrival to ensure you’ve fully recuperated, before you move on to your next destination. Consider splitting one long-haul flight into two, if you wish to slowly adjust to the time difference.
#8 Be aware of potential dangers
Whilst our aim isn’t to scare you, if you’re heading out on the road, it’s very important to be aware of the new dangers that being in Australia invites. In the outback, the conditions are extreme. It’s not uncommon for temperatures to be extremely high nor is it to be isolated at certain points. Be vigilant with young children, who may struggle with the change in climate and dehydration more than elder travellers. Ensure you always have enough water and refuel at each gas station you come across [after all, there mightn’t be another for a while].
Lastly, Australia has some very dangerous and even deadly animals: venomous spiders and snakes, jellyfish, sea crocodiles and white sharks. Whilst fatal accidents are rare, it’d do no harm to research coping tactics, should you come across these animals. If you can, avoid driving at night completely, in order to avoid incidents with kangaroos and emus. Oh.. and don’t forget to drive on the left side of the road!
#9 Do your paperwork
Before you arrive, you’ll need to apply for a relevant visa on the Australian immigration website. On a tourist visa, you’ll have the option to stay between 3 – 12 months. Don’t forget to apply for an international driver’s permit at least 3 months before your arrival; to notify your bank of your departure, and finally, to decipher how you’ll access and use your money whilst travelling abroad.
Keep in mind that the medical costs in Australia are extremely high for visitors. Make sure that you’re covered in the case of illness or accident during your visit. You might find you’re automatically insured by your bank or credit card. If not, take the time to look into and book private travel insurance.
Last but not least, if you’re booking your trip several months in advance, we’d recommend adding cancellation insurance to your booking. You never know what might happen between your booking and travel dates: illness, death in the family, accident, unemployment, etc. In the case you can’t go through with your trip, you’ll more than thank yourself.
#10 Get ready to go
It’s time to pack! Wondering whether to opt for a backpack or a suitcase? For those renting a vehicle, we’d recommend selecting a sturdy backpack. Remember to pack for cooler and warmer temps — the Australian climate is unpredictable and even in Summer, the temperature drops significantly at night. You’ll be glad to have brought the spare pants and warm jacket!
To underestimate the sun and its effects here in Australia is a common mistake made by tourists. Remember a hat and sunscreen! Whilst flip-flops are an essential for beach days, make sure to bring good walking shoes for national park excursions too. Finally, make use of the many apps that are available to compliment your journey: GPS, Google Translate, a currency converter and a budget tracker to name a few.
Congratulations! You’re ready to venture down under! Now that you know our top tips for travelling Australia, it’s up to you to seize everything the beautiful country has to offer! Happy backpacking!