13 Helpful Tips for Traveling To Australia

View of the Twelve Apostles Along the Great Ocean Road in Australia
by Anisa // 10 Comments

Australia is one of the most amazing countries I have ever visited.  I spent about three weeks there and I know there is still more for me to see.  Next time, I want to go to the Outback, the Gold Coast, and visit some of the friends I have made.  

If you are thinking about visiting, here are some tips for traveling to Australia that you might find helpful.

Koala - Tips for Visiting Australia
It doesn’t get much cuter than a Koala!

Why Travel to Australia

Australia is a large and diverse country located in the southern hemisphere surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans.  There is something for everyone!

It has modern cities (like Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne) and gorgeous natural scenery. It is also known for its unique animal species like koalas, kangaroos, and duck-billed platypuses. Some of the top attractions are the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Outback.  You will also find some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Sydney Opera House - Tips for Traveling to Australia
The iconic Sydney Opera House.

Australia Travel Advice

With so much to see, it is important to do your homework before you go on your trip to Australia.  In addition to figuring out the places that you want to add to your Australia itinerary, it is a good idea to learn a bit about the local culture.  These tips for visiting Australia will be helpful in planning your trip.

There Will be Language Differences

Yes, they speak English in Australia, but they have a strong accent and do use some words differently. Here are a few examples:

  • Barbie means Barbeque
  • Arvo means Afternoon
  • Sunnies means Sunglasses

You can find a more comprehensive list here.  If you don’t understand what someone is saying, my travel advice is to just ask.  In most cases, they will also know the American term.

Try the Food

I was pleasantly surprised by how good the food was in Australia. My favorite was kangaroo.  I was hesitant to try it at first, but once I did, I wanted to have it at every meal. To me, it tasted like venison but was more tender.  I also enjoyed the meat pies that they had.

The only thing I didn’t like was vegemite, which people tell me is an acquired taste? Still, it’s something you can’t get easily in the US, so it worthwhile trying while you are down under. Just use it sparingly!

Check the Weather

Australia is located in the southern hemisphere so their seasons are the opposite of what we have in the northern hemisphere.  Still, Australia is a big country so the weather is going to vary from city to city.

Since Sydney has mild winters, I thought it would be the same for Melbourne.  Luckily, my friend could lend me a coat because it was freezing in Melbourne. I should have been better prepared. Make sure you check the weather forecast for all the locations in Australia that you plan on visiting.

Uluru - Australia travel advice
Uluru is top of my list for my next visit to Australia.

Get Outside the Cities

There is some amazing natural scenery in Australia.  When I was there, we went wine tasting outside of Sydney and also drove part of the Great Ocean Road.  Next time, I am there I would love to go further west, see the Outback and go to Uluru.

Since some of the areas in Australia are quite remote, it might be a good idea to have an RV and do a road trip.  You can find motorhomes in the classifieds on Gumtree.

Try the Wine

I do like Australian wine.  Before I visited, I was a big fan of Syrah and Shiraz.  After I did a wine tasting tour, I learned they make excellent Sauvignon Blancs and Chardonnays.  If you like wine, then I highly recommend doing a wine tasting tour when you are in Australia. The tour we did even included breakfast with kangaroos.

Melbourne skyline - Visit Australia tips
Melbourne has an impressive skyline too.

Take as Much Time as You Can

It is such a long flight to Australia, you will want to make the most of it.  Stay as long as you are able, there is plenty to see. Plus, you may need a day or two to recover from the jetlag

At a minimum, I suggest you go to at least Sydney and Melbourne.  When I went I visited Sydney, Melbourne, and also Cairns to go snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef.

Be Prepared for Different Plug Sockets

You might think that they would use the British sockets in Australia but they actually use what is called the Type I plug.  The plug has two flat pins in a V-shape as well as a grounding pin. Some of the plugs only have the two flat pins. It is also used in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Argentina, and a few other countries.  Don’t worry if you have bought an international adapter, then you are covered.

You Don’t Have to Tip

Technically, tipping in Australia is optional.  Service workers are paid fairly and don’t expect to get a tip.  In the big cities and touristy areas, tipping is becoming more common, so you can leave 10% for good service.

Protect Yourself from the Sun

The sun down under is probably stronger than what you are used to, so be sure to wear sunscreen and/or hats.  Don’t forget to reapply every few hours. It’s better to be safe than sorry! A sunburn during your vacation is not fun.

Queensland beaches in Australia - Australia Travel Tips
The Queensland beaches look stunning!

Drive on the Other Side

In Australia, they drive on the left like they do in the UK.  If you have not experienced driving on the other side before it can be disorienting but some people don’t mind it.  Within the cities, you can get around using public transportation, taxis, and tours, but it’s something you should consider when deciding if you want to do a road trip in Australia.

Use Australian Dollars

The currency used in Australia is Australian dollars so a Wise multi-currency account could come in handy.

You can get $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes and 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent coins.  I recommend getting your Australian dollars from an ATM at the airport. You usually get a better exchange rate (or lower fees) that way.  Also, you can always use a credit card, just check and make sure there is no foreign transaction fee.

You Do Need a Visa

Even if you don’t plan on working, you need a Visa to enter Australia.  Well, it’s called an ETA.  An Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) provides authorization to travel to and enter Australia and is electronically linked to your passport.  It costs $20 AUD and you need to apply for it a few days before your trip online.

Note: Only those holding passports from Brunei – Darussalam, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and the USA can apply online.  Others must apply at an Australian Visa Office.

Don’t Forget the Goods and Services Tax

The Goods and Services Tax in Australia is similar to VAT in Europe.  It’s a tax of 10 %.

You may be able to claim a refund for the GST paid on goods if you have spent AUD$300 or more with a single business, no more than 60 days before departing Australia.  Tourist Refund Scheme facilities are located in the departure area of international terminals.

Is Australia Worth Visiting?

Yes.  Don’t be put off by the long flight, costs, or any of the adminstrative requirements.  If you get the chance to go to Australia, then you should definitely do it.  It’s a unique country with so much to see and experience.  Plus, the people there are friendly and a lot of fun.

Have you been to Australia? Are there any other tips for traveling to Australia that I missed?


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sydney opera house with text overlay

Expert Tips for Traveling To Australia

  • Don’t make it a quick trip.  The journey to Australia is long and there is so much to see in this large and diverse country.
  • Try the local food and wine. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
  • A road trip can be a great way to see Australia.  You need to be prepared to drive on the left though.  Also, the distance between places may be more than you would expect.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Gumtree Australia.  All opinions are mine.

Last Updated on February 21, 2022

About the Author

Anisa is an experienced international traveler with extra pages in her passport and stamps from 41 different countries across 5 continents (and counting). She was born and raised in Texas. After a 13 year stint in NYC, she moved to England to live with her husband.