Leave everything you thought about Australia behind! This country is much larger than appears with much more diversity than you could have ever imagined. I was totally taken back when arriving to Melbourne and realizing it’s distance from Sydney. Naively, I figured the flight between each city would be no more than a hour, boy was I WRONG. Australia is so large it fits perfectly inside of the United States, if that makes sense. To put it into normal words, Australia is the 6th largest country in the world, out of 196! Be sure to properly plan out your time when traveling around Oz. If you’re going to travel along the east coast: Cairns, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, give yourself at least 3 nights in each city. Each of these major cities is major for its own reason, discovering the reasons why will give you the best all around experience of the Australian culture.
ONE– There aren’t Kangaroos on every street corner. I had to make this a point because I know I’m not the only traveler who was anxiously waiting to arrive in Australia and was expecting to be greeted by a mob of Roos. Your best bet to catch the beautiful creatures in the wild is at one of the many national parks just outside the city, depending on which city you’re in of course. I was lucky enough to get the interaction of my dreams with baby female Kangaroos in Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. However, that was just luck, normally visitors have to stay on a path in the Kangaroo sanctuary and the Roos are several meters away. Be sure to do the proper research if you have your heart set on seeing these beautiful animals during your trip.
TWO– You don’t really need to exchange that much money! Of course it’s always good to carry cash with you but mostly every business in every major city has card readers. Take one of your best reward points cards and swipe away. Carrying less money will give you less to worry about. Remember to select your own currency for a lower exchange rate when transactions are processed through your bank.
THREE-There aren’t just “Australian meals” everywhere you go. There is a little taste of every single one of the world’s beautiful culture’s here. From sushi sandwiches in Melbourne, amazing Italian in Sydney to the best Chinese food I’ve ever had in Cairns, Australia’s major cities are a huge melting pot filled with delicious options from everywhere in the world. Bring your appetite on this trip!
FOUR-You don’t need a Visa! I was under the impression that I needed an ETA (traveling from the states) or electronic visa before entering the country. Luckily, it was approved instantly and only cost $20 AUD but I was never asked for it throughout the airport process and later discovered it wasn’t necessary. Better safe than sorry I suppose but at least I can save you guys the 20.
FIVE– Do not be too generous! Not trying to sound greedy but tipping is not expected nor is it normal in Australia! General wages for food, beverage and hospitality workers are way more than you would imagine. On average, a restaurant server makes $15-25 hourly all across the country. I learned this after one of my servers refused to accept my tip, then several locals explained to my why afterwards. I was definitely not upset at the extra money in my pocket for the remainder of the trip.
SIX– Australia really has no seasons, it’s always summer! With that being said, beware of the UV Rays!!! There are extremely hot days down under, some so hot that the UV warnings are through the roof and although it can be overcast and cloudy all day, you have a great chance of being sun burned! Wear lots of sunscreen and plan outdoor activities accordingly. Nobody likes looking like a lobster.
SEVEN– Most of the major cities in Australia cater to travelers and tourists alike! Cairns, located on the northeast coast and the starting point of the Great Barrier Reef, is filled with FREE Wifi zones and public restrooms. There’s even an extremely beautiful public infinity pool on the esplanade that has more than enough space for everyone to cool off in and offers some amazing views of the water and it’s, you guessed it, FREE! There’s many areas around the major cities like Cairns and Sydney that offer free information and a lot of times have computers available for use.
All in all, Australia is beyond inviting and accommodating beyond measure, if you have any doubt of traveling there, solo, with friends, or at all, remove all that doubt from your mind. It was one of the greatest countries I’ve explored thus far and the only regret I have is that I didn’t spend more time down under.