Top Australian Travel Tips

Your checklist

Sunset over Glass House Mountains, Sunshine Coast, Qld.  Photo credit:  Tourism and Events Queensland

Travel Tips. Your Checklist For Trouble-free Travel:

Be flexible
Flights may be cheaper if you can travel either side of a specific date.

Avoid public holidays
If you can, avoid travelling in the run up to Australian (or stopover destination) public holidays. Your journey and accommodation will be more expensive and there’ll be limited availability.

On the date of the actual holiday itself, though, you may find greater availability. The run up to Christmas, for example, will always be busier than the day itself – assuming services are running.

Plan your vaccinations
You won’t need any for Australia, but if you’re stopping over in – or travelling through – Southeast Asia you may need them (see Stopovers for more details).  Remember, your injections should be booked for eight weeks prior to your departure. For more see Vaccinations.

Book ahead
You know that British trait of waiting until the last minute and expecting the travel company to reduce its prices? Australians don’t do that. The earlier you book prior to departure the more likely you are to get a good deal.  This is especially true of domestic flights and train journeys.

Join a frequent flyer programme
Choose wisely, and you’ll find points can really add up. Choose a credit card that offers air miles (such as Virgin or Lloyds). Turn Tesco Clubcard points into Avios or Virgin miles. Shop online through the airline portal. And book your flights with a credit card too to gain even more miles.

You can then use your accrued points to save money on flights, other forms of transport and accommodation.

Online bank accounts
If you haven’t already done it, set up online banking for your bank and credit card accounts. You’ll easily be able to see what you’ve spent and what you have left – helping you manage your money more effectively. You’ll be able to pay bills too.

Cash
Don’t take lots of paper money – but do take some. Airport exchange rates are usually pretty grim and you’ll need some cash to pay your initial taxi/bus fare from the airport.

Load a prepaid debit card with cash to use during your trip. It’s cheaper to use than a credit card and cash can be loaded onto the card by your employer – or even by relatives back home.

Visas
Get yours sorted in good time – and remember you may need one for your stopover destination too (see Stopovers).

Check your passport
You may be travelling with a valid passport, but some countries require you to have at least six months left on it, even if you’re only passing through. Check your passport now, as it will cost much more if you need to apply for one at short notice. Make your application at least a couple of months before you travel.

Travel insurance
Check you’re covered for all you need – especially if you’re relying on insurance that comes included with your bank account. Are you covered for all the countries you’re visiting (including stopovers)? Are you covered for anything daring? Skiing, bungee-jumping and the like will almost certainly not be included in a standard policy and you’ll need to pay extra.
Always check the small print.

Documents
Make photocopies of all your major documents (and take electronic copies too). Copy essential phone numbers to something other than your mobile. For more, see Copies of essential documents.

Medication
If you take regular medication make sure you have enough for the duration of your trip. You can’t take certain drugs into Australia, and if you’re travelling through Southeast Asia the list of prohibited medications can be quite long – so take a copy of your prescription instead.

Once you reach Australia you should find the cost of many medications is subsidised as part of Medicare. Do check you’ll be able to access your particular medication before you travel. You can find more on available and prohibited drugs here.

Mobile phone
Get a roaming SIM for your phone before you go.  Better still, get your phone unlocked and buy a SIM when you get to Australia. Use Skype or WhatsApp in preference to texting. And check your data roaming charges.

Research
You’re about to explore a country where everything from the weather to the wildlife; the distances and the seasons are all dramatically different. Do your research so you can avoid the rainy season/public holidays or arrive just in time for that concert/festival/event.

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