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AUSTRALIA TRAVEL GUIDE
Hello, my name is Gwen, and here is my Australia travel guide for solo travel over 40, including budget, safety/female and eco-travel tips, photographs and interesting posts for your Australia travel planning.
WELCOME TO AUSTRALIA!
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LANGUAGES IN AUSTRALIA
The official language is English, but many languages can be heard spoken in Australia.
Australia is primarily a Western derived culture and influenced mostly from Britain, but the native culture is Aboriginal. Like the U.S.A., it is home to people of a diverse origins.
POPULAR AUSTRALIAN ACTIVITIES
The Australian dollar (AUD or A$) – exchange rates are usually favorable for U.S. citizens.
TIPPING IN AUSTRALIA
Traveling in a new country is easier when you know the country’s tipping etiquette in advance as each country has its own rules. That said, country rules and norms can shift, so here is an international tipping resource for over 70 countries to use as a general guideline that I have found is constantly updated.
What’s not on there is how to tip a concierge, beauty salons or spas, travel or tour guides, etc. For these extras, it is acceptable to tip 10% at minimum. Remember, tipping is for good service only.
Additionally, you should always tip in the local currency (if tipping in cash), and do not be offended if your tip is refused as it may not be the norm. I feel it’s always better to offer a tip for good service than not, unless I know it will be considered offensive, like in Japan.
A key activity to do in your early planning stage is to know, at minimum, the national holidays. I also suggest also looking into the local holidays. It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money to take the holiday of your lifetime and when you show up at one of your key attractions, it’s closed due to a holiday. It’s also not fun trying to travel and have a hard time accessing travel or other essential resources when no one is around because, yes, it’s a local holiday. So take just a few moments to look at Australia’s holidays.
AUSTRALIA ELECTRONIC ESSENTIALS
Besides money, required ID and your ticket, Australia voltage is 230V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz so bring a Type I adapter (I recommend bringing 2!) for Australian sockets and research if your electronics require a voltage converter, if not already included in the adapter; or, you can bring electronics already adapted for Australian outlets or wait to purchase them there (I recommend just bringing the adapter with converter). Remember, most smart phones, tablets and laptops don’t require a converter, but double-check your device(s) before you leave home. If you are going to another country in addition to Australia on your trip, you can check the global adapters list to make sure you’re prepared. I have also provided suggested adapters below for your convenience.
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TRAVEL DOCUMENTS FOR AUSTRALIA
From the U.S., you will need a valid passport and visa or Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). Make sure your passport expiration date is greater than 6 months from your return to the U.S. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to to Australia. It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
VACCINATIONS FOR AUSTRALIA
There are normally no vaccinations required for Australia. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to to Australia. It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
SAFETY / FEMALE TRAVEL TIPS
AUSTRALIA TRAVEL SAFETY
There is nothing I can recall from Australia making it more of a “safety concern” than traveling in my own home country, so my standard tips for female and solo travelers are:
- always carry photo ID with you; if you don’t want your passport on you at all times, at least carry a copy of it.
- always be “street wise”.
- always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you feel the need to imbibe or feel the need to “let loose” – you’re on vacation so have fun!
- never leave your food or drink unattended.
- keep your belongs on your person, or at least in your view in close proximity, at all times.
- be open to meeting and talking with new people – that is where a lot of the travel experience lies – but be careful on how you divulge personal information.
- research places in advance, if possible, so you know what to expect (i.e., “have a familiar view” – I like to Google the street view of new addresses I’m going to first).
- if something, someone or someplace makes you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut – leave.
BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
BEST TIME TO VISIT AUSTRALIA
Remember, Australia’s summer is December to March and their winter is June to September, so the cheapest time of the year to fly to Australia is the low season April to June, Australia’s autumn season; however, the months of September and October can produce lower prices as well as nice weather for a pleasing visit.
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SUSTAINABILITY / ECO TRAVEL TIPS
It is very easy to do your part for the planet and implement environmental sustainability into your travel. If you would like to learn more about how you can implement environmentally sustainable, or eco-friendly, travel measures into your travel, please see my 10 Easy Eco-Travel Tips and suggested Eco Travel Resources.
If you’ll be doing any type of water sports around the Great Barrier Reef, ensure to use reef-safe sunscreen to protect it and its marine biodiversity. Here is a list of the Best Recommended Reef-Safe Sunscreens on the Market to get in advance:
- Badger SPF 30 Unscented Sunscreen Cream
- Stream2Sea SPF 30 Mineral Sunblock
- Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen
- All Good SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen Lotion
- Coral Safe All Natural Biodegradable Sunscreen
- Sun Bum Reef Friendly Ingredients Sunscreen
- Babo Botanicals SPF 30 Clear Zinc Lotion
- Raw Elements SPF 30 Certified Natural Sunscreen
- TropicalSport Biodegradable Mineral Sunscreen
Additionally, if you are flying to or within Australia, consider purchasing carbon offsets through your airline or through a third party, like MyClimate.org, Carbonfund.org, or terrapass. Carbon offsetting allows you to buy a certificate to reduce carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change, which in turn contribute community projects across countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There are several ways to go about this to help reduce your impact to climate change through your travel. Check it out!
One of my best mates is from Melbourne. We met in Portugal in 1995 while backpacking and have been in touch ever since. Unfortunately, since Australia is a bit of a hike from the U.S., I don’t get to visit as often as I like – something I hope to remedy in the future. For now, I do have a trip planned for later in 2019, so keep an eye out for those travel stories!
Australia is a beautiful country with very friendly people. People are laid back and there is a lot to do. What I find mind boggling is how large Australia is! Having so much to do, you either have to keep coming back multiple times or heck, just take a couple of years off and travel it. How else could one experience all that it has to offer?
One of my favorite experiences in Australia, hands down, was snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef. On the day trip, I jumped at the chance to do the intro-scuba dive. That was an experience! I found Nemo (the elusive clown fish), and the marine environment left a huge impression on me. It took me many years to get my diving certification, but I finally did it. I used to want to snorkel around the world, but now I want to dive around the world! Yes, I will be doing that again on my 2019 trip – can’t wait. With our reefs in peril, we must take the opportunity to enjoy them, but also do whatever we can to protect them so that they continue to hold life and joy for years to come.
PICTURES OF AUSTRALIA
AUSTRALIA BLOG POSTS
What are the must do activities in Cairns, Australia for an amazing vacation? Here are five amazing, and sometimes FREE, activities in Cairns I enjoyed in five, leisurely days without a car. Try one on each day when you visit Cairns, solo or not.