7 Things To Know Before You Travel To Australia
Australia is a mecca for travelers for many reasons. There are lush rainforests in the north, the remarkable Outback, and the Great Barrier Reef are all iconic destinations. Here are some things to take into consideration before planning a trip that will help keep you safe and maximize your experience down under.
1. Australia’s Landscapes are Very Diverse
Australia is the 6th largest country in the world. It spans multiple climactic zones and the seasons are reversed than in the United States. Rainfall differs from the tropical north to the temperate south, while temperatures at one end of the country are often very different from the other. In the red center of Australia, the temperature can fluctuate 80°F in one day, so pack for all conditions if you’re visiting Uluru (Ayers Rock). The area surrounding the Great Barrier Reef experiences two seasons, the wet season and dry season. The summers are hot and humid and the winters are dry and warm.
2. The Sun is Extremely Powerful
Another important factor to consider, especially for travelers coming from more temperate regions, is the sun. There are several holes in the ozone layer above Australia, and the UV index can routinely reach dangerous levels. Always carry sunscreen, preferably with an SPF rating of 60 or above, and do your best to stay out of direct sunlight, especially during the middle of the day. Know the limitations of your body and drink enough fluids. If you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded, find shade immediately and rehydrate.
3. Biosecurity Regulations are Strict
Australia has one of the strictest bio-security regulations in the world regarding the transport of biological entities. This includes food, plant material, and animal products, and failure to declare them can lead to a hefty fine. Australia has been threatened by invasive species before, so if you are unsure about something, always declare it at customs – or leave it at home or on the plane.
4. United States Citizens Must Apply for a Electronic Travel Authority Before Entering Australia
Important: United States citizens are required to apply for a Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), which provides authorization to enter Australia and is electronically linked to your passport. The ETA grants permission to visit Australia unlimited times in a 12 month period for up to three months at a time. There is a AUD$20 service fee. Before purchasing your plane ticket, make sure that you are eligible for an ETA. Your travel team agent can help you with this, call 1-800-788-0829 for more information.
5. Don’t Worry Too Much About The Wildlife But Still Be Cautious
Australia is known for its dangerous wildlife, and yes, often the danger is embellished, but some of the more venomous creatures on earth can be found here. Avoid driving at night out of towns and cities to avoid hitting kangaroos, wallabies, and other wildlife. “Stinger Season” is in the summer in Queensland when jellyfish can be seen on the beaches. During this time, it is necessary to wear a stinger suit or only swim in beaches with stinger nets. Always obey the wildlife warning signs.
6. Tipping is Discretionary
Some Australians suggest tipping and some advise to never tip under any circumstances. If you are going to tip at a restaurant, around 10 percent is sufficient and only tip to reward good service. At restaurants, the bill is always settled in the front of the restaurant, unlike in the United States where the bill is brought to the table. So when you finish, get up and pay at the front. Your tour guides do not expect a tip, but it’s always appreciative. If you think your tour guide deserves a tip, a few dollars tip will suffice.
7. You May Be Confused by the Aussie Slang
Aussie’s have unique slang and the speed that the Aussies speak. A few key common phrases to know: Macca’s (McDonald’s), Thongs (flip-flops), Sunnies (sunglasses), Cuppa (A hot beverage), Good on ya (Great job), Heaps (A lot), Bottle-O (liquor store), and Mozzie (mosquito). In restaurants, what we call “Appetizers” in the United States are called “Entrées” in Australia ; while “Entrées” are called “Mains”.
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