AUSTRALIA TRAVEL GUIDE
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WELCOME TO AUSTRALIA!
Australia – the land “down under”. A continent that is the 6th largest country by area, home to 20 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Great Barrier Reef – the world’s largest barrier reef, multiple wine regions, red earth outback country, and crocks (not the shoes), and where 90% of the people live on the coast. Not to mention it holds some world class cities, like Melbourne and Sidney. Let’s not forget my mate, Justine. There are a multitude of things to do in Australia – many trips required. Pick one territory, like the Northern or New South Wales, to start and see where your heart takes you. You’re bound to enjoy it and want to go back for more.
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 is to know the national and local holidays. It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money to take the holiday of your lifetime and show up to a favorite attraction and it’s closed due to a holiday. It’s also not fun trying to travel and not being able to access essential resources because it’s a holiday. So, take a few minutes 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.
- Small Travel Size - 3 Pack
- Standard: Type I plug, Australia, China. Grounded 3-Prong plug.
- Accepts plugs from all countries including USA, DOES Not Accept S. African Plugs
- A Powerful Set of 12 Adapters - Our all-in-one international travel adapter set features 1 universal input socket that allows you to connect a plug from almost any country worldwide, including the 2-prong and 3-prong North American plugs.
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.
AUSTRALIA TRAVEL BOOKING
AUSTRALIA ECOTOURISM TIPS
There are ways to reduce your eco and carbon footprint through air travel, accommodations, tours, and activities in Australia. To help avoid greenwashing businesses, here are some eco-friendly or sustainable travel (also called responsible travel) tips and resources, you can use to book your travel.
ECO-FRIENDLY AIR TRAVEL
Skyscanner provides a ‘Greener flights’ filter highlighting flights that emit less CO2.
Purchase 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.
ECO-FRIENDLY GROUND TRANSPORTATION
The best eco-friendly forms of ground transportation in Australia are walking, or renting a bicycle or electric scooter.
When booking an Uber in Australia, select the Uber Green option, instead of a traditional rideshare, to support the use of electric cars for cleaner transportation in Australia.
Look for accommodations with the following self and third-party assessed certifications when you book:
Green Globe – Green Globe certifies hotels, resorts, conference centers, transportation, attractions, tour operators, and other tourism businesses globally on sustainable operations and management. Look for Australia Green Global members.
Green Key Global is an internationally recognized environmental certification for the lodging and meetings industries, including hotels and hostels, campsites and holiday parks, restaurants and attractions in 65 countries. Search for Green Key awarded sites.
Living Building Challenge – if you want to stay in a true, sustainable building, find one certified by the Living Building Challenge. LBC’s Australia certification directory shows all project types. Hopefully they will put in a filter soon to allow searching by hotels or hospitality type.
LEED Certified – the USGBC’s LEED Certified label on buildings, like many of the Marriott’s hotels, are those that have verifiably employed multiple and varying green building strategies to improve human and environmental health. Search the LEED directory for Australia certifications.
GSTC Certified – the Global Sustainable Tourism Council provides global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, as well as international accreditation for sustainable tourism Certification Bodies. Booking sites that offer GSTC certified sustainable are bookdifferent, EcoHotels, and Transat.
Another way to find an establishments implementing eco-friendly or sustainable practices, certified or not, is through Booking.com in which you’ll need to find and review each establishment’s ‘Sustainable Initiatives’ within the booking process. Starting 2022, however, you’ll be able to filter searches for accommodations with the Travel Sustainable badge. Finally!
Australia has ecotourism ideas available to explore for your next vacation.
When doing any type of water sports in Australia, use reef-safe sunscreen to protect marine biodiversity. Here are a few of the best recommended reef-safe sunscreens to get you started:
MORE ECO-TRAVEL TIPS
AUSTRALIA SAFETY TIPS
HOW TO TRAVEL AUSTRALIA SAFELY
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.
AUSTRALIA BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
BEST TIME TO VISIT AUSTRALIA
Remember, Australia is “down under” so its summer season is December to March and its winter season is June to September. The cheapest time of the year to fly to Australia is the low season, April to June, and Australia’s autumn season. However, the months of September and October can produce lower prices as well as nice weather for a pleasing visit.
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.
AUSTRALIA BLOG POSTS
(UPDATED 4/2/22) What are the must do activities in Cairns, Australia on 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.