Getting Organized For A Big Trip

Any time you go on a trip, you have to plan. It can be overwhelming, especially if you are going to visit another country. If you’re planning a vacation to Australia, wouldn’t it would be great to have a mini-guide, something to help you from beginning to end? Here is a guide to Australian travel that hopefully will be just that.

The first thing to do is to get your destination, itinerary and accommodations planned. Do some research as to what places would be the best to visit for the time of year. Use the Internet to help with this; there are websites that will help you plan your trip, all the way from which airport you take off from to the transportation your take to your hotel. If you have special needs, make sure to request the appropriate accommodations in advance. After you are done planning the logistics of your trip, here are the next steps you should take.

Passports and Visas, Customs and Travel Insurance

To leave the country and enter another one, you need a passport. Some countries require a visa in addition to a passport, and Australia is one of those countries. There are five kinds of visas you can get to go to Australia, so make sure to get the right one. You can go online to do so. You will not be allowed to take any plants, animals or unprocessed foods into Australia. There are other restrictions as well, so again, jump online and obtain a list of what you can and cannot take into the country. If you plan on driving, make sure that your current license is enough; you may have to get an international license. As for travel insurance, well, you need it. Potential theft, accidents and medical problems could become a real headache without travel insurance. Find out if you have overseas coverage in any part of your insurance policies. If not, there are websites dedicated to Australian travel insurance. Make sure to shop the rates and get the best travel insurance you can afford.

Update your Shots and Check Medicine Restrictions

Some countries require a page and a half of vaccinations before you can even begin to think of entering the country. Not so with Australia. To go, all you need to do is make sure your tetanus and polio shots are up to date. As far as medicines go, find out what Australia will allow you to take in, such as antacids, diarrhea or constipation meds, antihistamines, Tylenol, etc., and then take whatever you can. Buy all new stuff so that it is unopened and easier to take into the country with you. As for prescription medications, get a note from your doctor for each prescription and what it is for.

Paperwork and Finances

Make sure before you leave that you have all the necessary paperwork you need, such as your visa, passport, prescription information, insurance policy, etc. Keep one copy of each with you and another in a luggage bag. Decide how you are going to pay for things while in Australia. Are you going to use traveler’s checks? Are you going to exchange your money for Australian dollars? Their dollar is very close in value to the United States dollar; one U.S. dollar equals 0.94 Australian dollars. Currency exchanges are available at banks, hotels and international airports. Most major credit cards are accepted in Australia. Australia also has a “tourist refund scheme.” It’s not what it sounds like (a scam), but rather a policy on refunds, returns, etc. and how they are handled. For more information, go to the Australia Customs page at http://www.customs.gov.au/site/page4646.asp.

“Good-to-Know” Stuff

In Australia, the emergency number for the police, ambulance or fire brigade is 000.
The electrical current is 220–240 volts AC 50Hz. Australia has a three-pin power outlet that is different from some other countries. Check and see if you need to bring an adapter for things like blow dryers, alarm clocks, etc.
Australia’s phone dialing country code is 61.
When you make a local call from a pay phone, the calls are not timed, and you will pay AUD $0.50.
Australia has cell phone coverage, but like elsewhere, there may be connection problems in remote areas.
The Internet is available at Internet cafes, hotels, libraries, etc.
Australia is not a “bargaining” country. If you tip at a restaurant, the standard rate of ten percent and up applies.
Australians drive on the left side of the road.
It is illegal to hitchhike.
When you leave Australia, you will be charged a $30.00 departure tax.

Hopefully, this guide will help you in planning your Australian vacation. Be prepared, stay safe and most of all, have fun on your trip Down Under!

This guest post article was written and provided by Erica Gustafson who is an avid Australia traveler, freelance writer and digital media consultant for Expedia.  When traveling to Australia she enjoys staying at the Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas hotel.