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Australia is a dream destination for many, and an eternal draw for travellers. It’s the trip of a lifetime, with much to offer. From stunning beaches, reefs, forests, and deserts, to rare and exotic wildlife, and some of the world’s most multicultural cities. Beautiful, friendly, and not to mention remote, Australia is not the most straightforward of countries to visit.
Most travellers will need a visa, the distance and vast tracts of desert can take some by surprise, and flights can be pricey. These aspects alone can make planning a trip to Australia seem like a mammoth task. From transport to accommodation, attractions and things to do, there’s a lot to plan out in advance. That’s why we’ve put together our list of planning tips, to help you to organise an unforgettable adventure Down Under.
Aside from deciding which states to visit and which sights you want to see, there are other essential elements of planning your trip to Australia. Before you secure your visa and book your flight, it’s advisable to do some degree of research. You will need to take into account that the seasons fall differently than in the northern hemisphere, and that the average cost of goods and services could be higher than what you’re used to.
Domestic, or interstate travel and public transport can also be more expensive in Australia than in your home country, due to the distances involved. Likewise, the distance between many rural townships and desert attractions can be great, so last minute change of plans may not be realistic. Make sure you work out how much you can spend each day, bearing in mind that you'll need to pay for accommodation, food, attractions, tickets, souviners, and getting from A to B.
Unless you are an Australian or New Zealand citizen, you’ll need a valid visa to enter Australia. New Zealand passport holders may apply for a visa upon arrival. All other passport holders must apply for a visa before leaving home. You can do this at your nearest Australian Embassy or Consulate, or by applying online. There are a variety of tourist visas available to travellers to Australia. The type of visa you should apply for depends on the intended length of your stay, your passport, and the purpose of your visit.
Most tourists will apply for either the eVisitor (subclass 651), Electronic Travel Authority visa (subclass 601), or the Visitor visa (subclass 600). A successful application will grant you between three and twelve months, dependant on the visa class, to complete your trip. For more information, you can visit the Department of Home Affairs website.
Most tourists will visit Australia by plane, however it is possible to reach some coastal cities via cruise ship. If you’re planning on purchasing flight tickets, booking earlier rather than later should secure you the best price. Having said that, flight sales have become increasingly more regular in recent years, so it’s worth signing up to airlines’ own newsletters and those sent out by specialist agents.
The low season for flying to Australia is from mid April to late June, which is late autumn/early winter Down Under. At any time of year the departures midweek (especially Tuesday and Wednesday) do tend to be less in demand, making the ticket price less expensive. School holidays however do push up prices, and the run-up to Christmas can be very expensive.
In terms of your best point of entry, you will need to take into consideration which cities and locations you’re most interested in visiting. Flight times to Perth and Darwin are shorter from Europe, however the price doesn’t vary much from flying into Sydney or Melbourne. If you’re planning on travelling extensively in Australia, it might make sense to discuss your options with a travel agent. It’s worth asking about ‘open-jaw’ tickets, which allow you to fly into one airport and then depart from another.
If you plan on flying between states once you get there, it may be worth buying an air pass. This could affect your choice of international airline. If you fly with Qantas, you could purchase a Qantas Explorer Pass, which allows you to book cheap fares for flights within Australia. This comes in handy when visiting destinations which are usually expensive to fly to, such as Uluru. Virgin Australia also offers its own an air pass, which is bookable if you fly in on most international carriers. Just make sure you check before booking.
For domestic flights, there is fierce airline competition between Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Tigerair, however you won’t find the same low prices that Ryanair or EasyJet offer in Europe.
If you’d like advice or assistance with booking your trip to Australia, it may be worth using a travel agent or booking a tour. Travel agents can assist you in securing the best price for your holiday, whereas tour operators are experienced in showing travellers as much of Australia as possible in a few short weeks or even days.
While there are numerous tour operators in Australia, we recommend Travel Forever, who operate adventure tours across every state in the country. If you’re planning on spending a couple of weeks exploring, you can book the ‘14 Day Sydney to Cairns’ tour, for 18 to 30-somethings, and island hop along the East Coast of Australia. You’ll have the opportunity to visit beautiful beaches, a proper Aussie farm, a National Park, alongside several World Heritage Sites.
For stays of four days or less, there’s the ‘Iconic Red Centre Adventure’, where you can explore Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (Olgas) and Watarrka (Kings Canyon), National Parks, and the Western MacDonnell Ranges, or the opportunity to go skydiving in Queensland at an altitude of 15,000ft.
So there you have it, our convenient guide to planning your first trip Down Under. Hopefully we haven’t put you off by listing all the nitty gritty details about visas, but instead inspired you to start saving up for your dream vacation. Australia might be a little more expensive to travel to and around then many other places, but those that have gone wouldn’t regret their decision for a minute. Why not read what they have to say about planning a holiday to Australia?Back to overview
We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest.