My first ever solo travel was to the land of down under, I packed in my job, applied for a working holiday visa and headed off on an adventure to Australia.
It was the best decision I made and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
But the one thing I didn’t do was plan my trip. I just hopped on the plane and went on this big adventure.
Lucky for me, the lack of planning wasn’t a bad thing, but there are some things you should consider beforehand.
And we cover everything you need to know, before you go in this travel guide to Australia.
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Table of Contents
Facts about Australia
Capital city – Canberra
Language – Official language English
Currency – $ (AUD – Australian Dollar)
Money – Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in Australia. Some places in the country may only accept cash, it is a good idea to keep some cash on you. ATMs are available to withdraw cash.
Plugs – Australian plug type is I, with three flat pins in a triangle shape, operating on a 230v and 50Hz
Did you know: Indigenous people have lived in Australia for over 65,000 years.
Travel guide to Australia – Essential tips
Planning a holiday is one of the essential things to do in this travel guide to Australia, before you jump on that plane and head off to the land of down under.
Although planning is essential, be a little flexible, just in case your plans change.
It is highly likely that you’ll need a visa to visit Australia, even if you’re only transiting. With a few visa options to choose from, you need to make sure you apply for the correct one for your travel.
The two main options we will focus on, is a holiday visa and a working holiday visa.
What is the difference between the two?
A holiday visa is for short holidays ranging from a couple of weeks, to a couple of months. You’re also not permitted to work, as you are only visiting Australia for the purpose of a holiday.
A working holiday visa permits the traveller to spend up to 1 year, which can be extended to 2 years, for the purpose of working to fund their holiday around Australia. But once the visa has expired, the intention is to return home.
I visited Australia on a working holiday visa and spent 1 year, working in Brisbane and travelling around the east coast and the outback.
It was an experience I will never forget and one I would highly recommend.
There are some requirements for the working holiday visa. You must be aged between 18 and 30 years of age, you must have a certain amount of money prior to entry, as this will help you to fund your trip in the outset.
You can find out more, in our detailed post on how to apply for a visa to Australia
What to pack for a trip to Australia?
Travelling smart is what this travel guide to Australia is all about. And one element of this is what essential things you will need for your trip.
Before you start to pack, there’re a few things to consider. When are you travelling to Australia? How long will you be in Australia? What regions will you be visiting Australia? This will affect what to pack.
Australia is seasonal, but with opposite seasons to the northern hemisphere. So, during the northern hemispheres winter, Australia will be celebrating Christmas in summer, and during the summer, Australia will be heading into their winter months.
But the seasons are different depending on the region that you visit. In the northern regions of Australia, even in the winter, it is still mild, yet the southern regions are cold.
The last thing to consider is the duration of your holiday in Australia. If your trip is for a couple of weeks, then you’ll only need to pack enough for that period of time. Spending 1-2 years in Australia, you may need to pack a little bit more, although not too much, as you’re likely purchase more goods in Australia, especially souvenirs.
Useful apps and resources to plan your trip to Australia
For all our budget planning essentials, we use the following tools and apps:
Free Travel planner
We offer you the easiest way to plan your holiday, with this free travel planner. Just download a copy and fill it out as you plan your trip to Australia.
What is included in the FREE travel planner?
- Destination information – a section to include notes as you plan
- Itinerary – dates of travel, activities, hotel bookings, transportation
- Planner – where you’ll eat, day to day activities, places to shop etc
- Budget tracker
- Flight information – add details of your flight
- Packing list – that way you won’t miss a thing
- Journal – Write a journal of your highlights of your trip
- Expenses tracker – this will come in handy as you travel to keep an eye on your expenses and if you are staying on budget
- Notes – an area you can continue to write notes
Pinterest is our best friend when it comes to planning a trip to Australia. And it’s a completely free tool.
As long as you have an account, you just search your query, such as travel guide to Australia and it will show results from other experienced travellers like us, who share our knowledge with you, so you can plan your trip with as little stress as possible.
If you don’t have an account, just sign up for free and start searching.
What we love the most about Pinterest, is once we have found the most helpful post on travel guide to Australia, we can easily pin it to a board and we can refer back to it later.
There is no need to search for that one post again, once you have pinned it, you can come back to it a couple of days or even years later and it will still be pinned to that relevant board.
To organise your dashboard on Pinterest, create a board such as Australia travel planning, that way, you can come back to all the posts you have saved to help you plan your adventures to Australia.
You can follow us on Pinterest at Bev & Shams Adventures.
Booking.com is a great tool for looking for the ideal accommodation.
Depending on your travel style, you could find a cheap hostel, a budget friendly hotel or a luxury hotel.
Before making a booking, always check reviews, the location and more information about the accommodation. You need to be completely satisfied with your stay.
Another great website to book flights and you can book accommodation and car hire at the same time. Saves you booking your trip with different websites or providers.
Skyscanner offers great rates and you can select between the cheapest flight, or the most expensive depending on your budget, flight times and if you want to include any stop overs along the way.
Get your guide
We only started using Get Your Guide within the last year or so and really love using them.
You can book tickets for a wide variety of different activities in the city, day trips, boat trips, tours and more.
This is perfect if you’re looking for something to do, with little hassle, all you do is book the activity through Get Your Guide and off you go.
Here are just a small selection of the bestselling tours or activities you could do in Australia.
This great app downloads onto your phone and is great with keeping to a budget.
We use it all the time when travelling, we just enter our spending onto the app and it will tell us the total spending.
We can even set a budget, so we can visibly see if we are on target with our budget, if we have saved some money, or even exceeded our budget.
Providing you maintain your spending on Trail Wallet, you can monitor your spending with little hassle and the app is free.
When is the best time to visit Australia?
Australia is the perfect holiday destination all year round.
Even during the winters, heading further north and to the central regions, will be far warmer than the south. If you want to lay back on a beach in winter, then definitely head to the north east coast of Australia.
During the summer months, it can get extremely hot in the north and central areas, so cool off in the southern regions.
It can get crowded and busy during the summer months, which is peak season in Australia, so you may want to travel during the shoulder months, of spring and autumn, to avoid the crowds.
In our opinion you can book a trip to Australia any time of year and you’ll still have an adventure.
How long to spend in Australia?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions, how long should you spend in Australia?
Australia is a large country and continent (another fun fact there) and for most it is a once in a lifetime experience. So, you will want to make the most of it while you can.
I took the opportunity to visit Australia for one year on a working holiday visa. Not only was this the best decision I made, as I could live and work to fund my travels, but I also got to slow travel around Australia and visit places I wanted to see, without having to squeeze it all into a short few weeks or a month.
Yet not everyone can take a gap year to go travelling.
If you only have a short period of time, then the minimum you should book is 3 weeks. While 3 weeks still isn’t long enough, it is possible to squeeze most of the top things to do in Australia in that period of time.
If you can stretch to a month, it will take some of the pressure off, but in our opinion 2 months is sufficient time to explore most regions, cities, islands and the red centre.
How to get around Australia
Australia has a great transport infrastructure, making it easier and simpler to travel around Australia with as little hassle as possible.
Here are the options to help you navigate Australia on your holiday.
Most travellers will arrive by air, or fly domestically between state and state. Most airlines will stop at all the major cities such as Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, but they also cover some smaller airports such as Darwin and Cairnes.
Flying domestically in Australia, is an expensive way to get around, but is far quicker and easier to get to some of the major regions.
Qantas Airlines is Australia flagship airline, who cover domestic and international flights. But they are one of the most expensive airlines.
For domestic flights, we would recommend travelling with a budget airline. There are cheaper international flights available too.
To get the best and most affordable flight, always shop around and be flexible with your dates.
As mentioned above, check out Skyscanner, to obtain the best rates on the market.
While you’re in Australia, you may wish to purchase or hire a vehicle. You could hire a car, or travel in style in a campervan.
Campervans are very popular with tourists. Hitting the open road with an epic road trip around Australia.
Hiring a vehicle, or purchasing a vehicle, allows you to be more flexible about your travel plans. It is far easier and a convenient way to see more of the country and you can visit the small remote areas that aren’t covered by public transport.
Driving and parking in the large cities are one of the negatives, as the roads can be busy and congested and parking can be expensive.
If you are looking to drive in Australia, then park on the outskirts of the city and catch public transport, or hire a vehicle for certain parts of your trip only.
When I was living in Australia for a year, I purchased a vehicle, which gave me the flexibility to travel and I loved it.
Please note, just the same as the UK, Australian’s drive on the left. If you are not familiar with the controls of driving on the left, it can be a little strange at first. But you will get used to it.
You may also need an international driver permit, if you intend to drive or hire a vehicle and you do not hold an Australia driving licence
If you can’t drive or don’t want to drive in Australia, then you will need to take public transport to get you around.
The train infrastructure is exceptional. With major cities, towns, small villages and suburbs, connected with a train service.
In rural areas, trains may not stop or pass through, so planning how you intend to get around Australia is important.
Trains are generally more expensive compared to buses, but are far quicker.
Australia is a large country, so some trains services could cover a long distance, take this time to sit back relax and take in the beautiful scenery.
Buses are far cheaper than other public transport methods, but they are far slower.
You can easily find buses that will connect you between large cities, towns and villages.
As mentioned above, make sure you plan and research your trip and establish how you intend to get around.
Take away some of the planning with a tour to certain regions of Australia.
With a tour, you just need to sit back, relax and everything is taken care off.
I booked onto a tour around the Northern Territory, which covered Alice Springs, Uluru, Kings Canyon and then up to Darwin. Everything was covered in the tour, from my transport, accommodation, to what activities I did in the region.
Booking onto a tour was an amazing experience and a great way to meet fellow travellers on a journey, with as little planning.
You can check out the bestselling tours in Australia here:
There are so many benefits with walking around the large cities in Australia.
Not only is it free, which helps you to stay on budget, but it is great for your health and the environment.
You get to see way more, when you walk, compared to sitting on a bus or a train and it disappears within a flash.
Walking is only practical in the small area you plan to visit. It really isn’t possible to walk from one large city to another unless you’re hiking around Australia and have planned the logistics.
LGBTQ+ is widely accepted in Australia, however you may find some very small pockets in the country that may not be so tolerant.
In most cities, especially Sydney there’s a great LGBTQ+ community. We would recommend, heading out for a couple of nights visiting some of the bars and colourful clubs.
I didn’t encounter any homophobic abuse on my adventures in Australia, everyone who I met was very accepting.
While I never encountered an issue, it doesn’t mean to say you won’t. When I travel, I am respectful and mindful of the people around me. Providing you follow the same rules, you shouldn’t encounter an issue either.
How to stay safe in Australia
No country is completely safe, but some countries are far safer than others and Australia is one of those safe countries.
On my trip to Australia, I was travelling as a solo female and I didn’t feel uncomfortable or that my safety was ever in question.
But you should never take your safety for granted, as anything is still possible.
To prevent anything from happening and bringing your safety into question, I just followed some simple tips, that I would follow when I am back home and I returned without a scratch or bad memory.
Here are just a few tips on how to stay safe while travelling:
Stay in contact with friends and family and share your itinerary with your loved ones. If you don’t check in with them as normal, they can raise the alarm.
Always do your research and research any areas that you should avoid.
Keep all your personal belongings safe, including passport, money, important documents etc.
Research what tourist scams and traps might be happening in the area you intend to visit and be more vigilant.
Drink responsibly! You might be looking to have fun and enjoy your holiday, but a spiked drink or being too drunk that you can’t make your own way home, will only compromise your safety and it could place you in danger. Know you limits and keep too it.
We have a more detailed post on how to stay safe while travelling here. Have an adventure, not a disaster.
How to travel to Australia on a budget
Setting the right budget can be a bit of a challenge. And everyone’s budget is different.
We like to travel on a small budget, but still have an adventure.
So how do you set a budget that is right for you?
Firstly, you need to establish if you want to travel as cheaply as possible, comfortably or on a luxury budget.
We are assuming most of you would be looking to travel as cheaply as possible, otherwise you wouldn’t be looking for cheap ways to visit Australia.
Next you need to set your budget.
The first thing you need to do when setting a budget, is to research the cost of accommodation per night, how much you intend to spend per day on food, transport and activities etc.
Hostels are the cheapest accommodation in Australia. I stayed in a few different hostels in Melbourne and Sydney and I actually enjoyed the experience.
I booked into an all-female dorm room, I did have to share bathroom facilities and, in some places, I had breakfast included with my room.
Not only is it far cheaper per night to stay in a hostel, but I got to meet some new friends along the way.
Staying in a hostel is not for everyone, the alternative is cheap hotels or B&B’s. If you can, find accommodation that includes a kitchen where you can make your own food.
Cooking your own meals each day, will also cut your budget down significantly. Going out for each meal can be expensive, even if you cook one meal a day, it will reduce your spending.
Next you want to research how much public transport will cost and the cost of activities.
Write down all your intended expenses and you should have a rough budget for your trip.
Need help with setting a budget, this helpful table below should help too.Australia Travel Costs
There are plenty of ways you can save more money while you travel, we mentioned about cooking meals in your accommodation, but you could also visit the many free things to do in the city that you visit and walking as much as possible.
If you cut back on certain areas of your budget, you could save money while you travel, which you could then spend on an activity you want to do, or a spontaneous trip. You could even save it for another trip elsewhere.
You can check out more details on how to set a budget and ways to save while travelling here.
Best places to visit in Australia
There are so many adventurous places to visit in Australia. I visited the major cities such as Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and visited the Northern Territory.
Here are just some of the best places to visit in Australia, to help you plan your trip.
Are you looking for some budget friendly things to do while visiting Australia? Then why now visit Newcastle, with these 12 free things to do.
Experiences in Australia
These are the bestselling experiences in Australia.
Book your adventure in advance, to avoid disappointment.
Travel guide to Australia conclusion
Australia was one of the best places I visited, I just wish I had this information available before I travelled. I would have planned my trip a little more, I might have set a budget and been able to afford more trips and adventures.
Our most important tip, for a trip to Australia is to research, plan and set a realistic budget. That way, you will fit more into your tight Australian itinerary and you won’t spend all your money on the one trip.
As Shams hasn’t made it to the land of down under yet. I would love to take her, so maybe one day, we will book a flight, use this travel guide to Australia and my experience and we will explore the country once again. Maybe this time, we will hire a campervan and drive around Australia.
Have you visited Australia? What was your highlight? Where would you recommend visiting? Maybe you haven’t yet been to Australia, but have something you have always wished to do? Is there anything from this list that we haven’t included, but think we should mention?
Continue your Australian travel planning, with these useful posts:
- Best day trips from Melbourne
- Best tourist spots in Australia
- Best day trips from Sydney
- Best day trips from Brisbane
- Best road trips in Australia
- Best winter holiday destinations in Australia
- Driving in Australia for the first time
- How to apply for a visa to Australia
- Best beaches in Australia
- Best day hikes in Australia