I’m beyond excited to spend spring break in Australia with Madison this year. I’ve been planning this vacation for quite a while; after all, you don’t get too many opportunities to fly halfway around the world. And I’m glad I’ve done my research because I’ve stumbled upon quite a few things that have caught me by surprise.
Whether you’re only dreaming of a far-off adventure to the land down under or you’re getting ready to book your tickets for your trip, here are a few things you should know if you’re planning to visit Australia:
1. You’re Going to Need a Visa
I had no idea I’d need to get a visa to visit Australia until I started the process of planning my trip. Fortunately, the process is simple, affordable, and quick. American visitors can apply for an Electronic Travel Authority online. For a processing fee of 190 AUD, you’ll get a visa that lets you visit Australia for three months at a time for up to a year.
The idea of getting a visa may sound like a pain, but they make the process relatively simple, and it’s fast, too. Your visa application will typically be processed in less than a day. Does that mean you should wait until the last minute to get your visa squared away? Absolutely not. But it does make it a pretty painless process, which makes me happy.
2. Cars Drive on the Left – Not on the Right
Unless you’re in an area with excellent public transit and don’t plan on venturing too far, you’ll need to rent a car to get the most out of your trip to Australia. It’s important to remember that Australians drive on the “wrong” side of the road as far as Americans are concerned—in other words, they drive on the left.
3. Dial 000 Instead of 911 in an Emergency
This is one of those things you hope you’ll never need to know. However, if an emergency situation arises, you don’t want to find yourself at a loss for the local equivalent of 911. Dialing 000 will connect you with local emergency dispatch in Australia.
4. You Don’t Have to Tip
Tipping culture is very different in Australia than in America. You aren’t supposed to tip cab drivers, hotel bellhops or housekeepers, hair stylists, or massage therapists. Tipping is also not expected at restaurants, bars, or cafes. However, if you would like to leave a token of appreciation for excellent service or great conversation, a 10% tip won’t offend anyone, especially in areas that see a lot of tourists.
5. Australia Isn’t Cheap
Don’t be caught off guard by the fact that prices for goods and services in Australia are higher than they are in the U.S. This is especially true in the bigger cities, like Sydney and Melbourne. Make sure you budget enough to cover your expenses comfortably.
It’s always important to do your research before visiting any new country, but when you’re planning a trip to somewhere as far away as Australia, it’s critical to know what you’re getting into before you get on your plane. I hope these tips will help you get ready for your own Australian adventure. I know they’ve helped me!