Australia is often overlooked in favor of it’s verdant little neighbor, New Zealand. However, that is not to say that the land Down Under is any less exciting. Indeed, one of the most diverse countries in the world, Australia offers some of the world’s best beaches and diving, amazing and unique wildlife, vast breathtaking landscapes, beautiful and modern cities, an interesting cultural background and history, along with excellent food and wine. Australia truly has it all.
However, planning a trip to the country can be tricky due to travel logistics, weather patterns and age restrictions. Here are ten things to consider before you make the decision to go.
1. Get your visa!
Yes, you do need a visa to enter Australia. The visa process is fairly simple—applications can be filled out online and prompt visitors for basic information and dates of travel. Once submitted, visas are usually granted within a few hours to a week. Be sure to obtain your visa well in advance though, as you will not be permitted to board your flight to Australia without one.
2. The flight down there is not as bad as you might expect
Receiving your boarding pass and seeing your flight duration listed as 14 hours can indeed be a daunting moment; however, relax, it’s not as bad as you might expect. Flights depart out of the US late at night, making it easier to fall and stay asleep (and trust me, sleeping on the flight is key to alleviating jetlag). When you wake up, grab a book or perhaps enjoy a movie or two while you wait for breakfast to be served, and you’ll be in Sydney before you know it.
3. It's a big country, be sure to give yourself enough time to explore it fully
Did you know, Australia is only marginally smaller in size than the continental United States? That’s a lot of ground to cover. Keep in mind that travel distances can be long, and often require a combination of driving and flying. Getting from one place to the next usually takes a full day, so be sure to consider this when contemplating how long to spend at each location.
4. ... Especially because it has so much to offer
Part of what makes Australia such an incredible destination is its spectacular diversity. You can be swimming amongst blizzards of colorful fish and coral at the Great Barrier Reef one day, and gazing out over the powerful Antarctic Ocean, crashing into the precipitous cliffs of Tasmania’s rocky coastline the next. Each location has its own soul, and offers a totally unique and distinct experience. With so much to see and do at any given stop, be sure to give yourself enough time to really explore and get to know the places you are visiting. A minimum of three to four nights, at the very least, at each destination is recommended.
5. Be mindful of seasonality in each region
Another important thing to keep in mind is the seasons. Australia extends across three different climatic zones, including the tropical north, arid middle and subtropical south, each with its own unique high and low season. The Great Barrier Reef should be avoided during Australian summer (December – March), whereas this is normally the best time to visit the more southern regions such as Tasmania and the cities. Be sure to check the weather averages and speak with your Jubel travel specialist to ensure that you are visiting each location at the right time of year.
6. ... As well as strict age minimums
With miles upon miles of open land to be explored, wildlife all around and no shortage of activities and sites to be experienced, Australia is a paradise for kids. In addition, it is one of the safest destinations in the world. However, many of the lodges and hotels enforce strict age minimums. Jubel can help you plan around these minimums and recommend alternative accommodation options in order to craft the perfect getaway for your family.
7. Aussies are laid back, so is the service
Australians are some of the most easy going and friendly people you will ever encounter, and this affability is, in large part, why so many visitors fall in love with the destination. However, this relaxed way of life is often times reflected in the level of service received. This is not to say that the service is bad—everyone is warm, attentive and willing to help, but it’s good to keep in mind that, in Australia, there is no rush, and so service is often a bit slower than what you might be used to.
8. It's an expensive destination
Australia is an expensive destination, due primarily to the country’s strict import and export laws and high minimum wages. Although the Australian dollar has fallen markedly against the US dollar in the past few years, making the country more affordable for US visitors, it is still not cheap by any means. The good news is that the country’s tourism market is beginning to grow rapidly. Whereas a few years ago, visitors were paying five-star prices for a four-star trip, at best, today, the experiences and accommodations are better matched with their prices and truly deliver.
9. The cities are beautiful
No trip to Australia is complete without a visit to at least one of the country’s major cities. In a land where nearly 90% of the population lives in an urban center, it is no surprise that the metropolises are flourishing. No matter if it’s the beautiful harbor, pristine beaches and iconic landmarks of Sydney; the charming, graffiti-clad walls and cozy cafes of Melbourne; or the world-class galleries and fascinating historical sites of Hobart, each city offers something for everyone. Australia’s culinary scene has also been on the rise, and you might be surprised by just how good the restaurants are. Make sure to secure a reservation well ahead of time though, as many of the country’s top restaurants book out months in advance.
10. Pack your sunscreen!
Studies show that the ozone layer over the Australian continent is much thinner than in most parts of the world. Combined with the country’s low levels of air pollution, Australia experiences some of the highest UV levels anywhere on the plant, sadly making it the skin cancer capital of the world. Be sure to lather up, even on an overcast day, so as to avoid the sun’s harmful rays.
With beautiful beaches, tropical rainforests, desert-dry landscapes, friendly locals, and a vibrant culture, Australia is a destination for everyone.
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