Traveling around Australia | A practical guide for backpackers
A guest post by Allison Hail.
Visiting the gorgeous country of Australia holds a worthy place on many a traveler’s bucket list. Australia is home to plenty of world-class cities and friendly, hospitable people.
However, there are always a few important things to consider when traveling to a new country. If you’re planning to backpack around Australia, carefully plan these aspects of your journey:
Getting Around Australia
Australia has plenty of transport options. While it’s possible to take trains or fly between cities, driving can be an amazing, enjoyable, scenic way to see the country.
If you’re planning to drive, research the easiest roads for you to take as you map out your itinerary. Keep in mind that Australia’s land mass is almost as large as the contiguous United States: the space between major Australian cities can take a driver longer than 8 hours, spanning hundreds of kilometres. You may want to break up your trip into several days, so you’ll have time to stop over in small towns along the way to rest and refresh yourself.
It’s common for visitors to Australia to buy their own car or van and use it as both transportation and a place to sleep, but this will depend largely on your budget. It’s also easy to rent a car – you might even like to coordinate with other tourists and share transport to save money and have some company while you travel.
Deciding What to See
Most backpackers to Australia spend time in the big cities. Maybe you’d like to visit Sydney’s Opera House, Bondi Beach, Blue Mountains, or experience Melbourne’s coffee culture and the railway station.
You might want to see Glass House Mountain and its proximity to incredible Brisbane theme parks, Adelaide for its botanic gardens and the Art Gallery of South Australia, or Canberra for the Parliament House and National Gallery.
By all means, visit the tourist attractions and landmarks you’re interested in – but make sure that you’re going for fun or out of interest, not because ‘everyone else goes there’ when they visit Australia. If you’re looking for a more unusual experience, you could skip some of the more expensive, crowded places and opt for places off the beaten path.
Saving Money in Australia
Australia can be an expensive country to visit for many people, so it’s important to plan your budget before you set out. Calculate roughly how much your nightly accommodation will cost and allocate a spending budget for to each day or week, as well as an allowance for any exciting activities, food, or detours you discover on the way.
And don’t forget to save for city parking fees! An additional tip – limit your alcohol intake while you’re traveling. Australia has a hefty alcohol tax, which makes it easy to spend too much money on a night out.
Resources for traveling around Australia on a budget:
Choosing your Accommodation
There are plenty of accommodation options to consider when making your plans. Couchsurfing will match you with locals who’ll host you in their homes for free, while hostels will give you a chance to meet other travelers. Airbnb helps you arrange to stay in other people’s homes, often at a cheaper price than hotels, while in home exchanges, you offer your own home in order to stay in someone else’s.
Helpful Resources for Australian accomodation:
Keeping safe down under
The sun in Australia often reaches temperatures that are harsh to our skin and eyes. It’s important to wear a high-SPF sunscreen whenever you’re outdoors, especially if you visit during the hottest months of December, January, and February.
If you swim, make sure you stick to safe areas that have been approved for swimming and watched by lifeguards. Certain hazards at sea, such as jellyfish and rip tides, can be very dangerous.
If you’re lucky enough to come across any of Australia’s famed wildlife such as kangaroos and koalas, remember to admire them from afar! Remember to wear covered shoes and insect repellent if you want to walk through tall grass, as snakes, mosquitoes, spiders and other critters may be living in the greenery.
Everyone should make room for Australia on their list of must-see countries. If you plan your trip well and explore widely, you’ll have the time of your life!
Traveling around Australia made easy
These tips are just the first things you’ll need to know to travel around Australia, but it’s a great start.
Most of all, do try to enjoy your travels! It’s an experience you’ll never forget. To give you some further reading, check out the extra resources below. Happy travels!
Allison Hail is a freelance writer from Wellington, NZ. After being bitten by the travel bug during her recent backpacking trip, she has happily collaborated with business and travel sites such as Active Asia. Discover more of Allison’s work here.