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So You’re Going to Australia … 11 Handy Tips

So you’re going to Australia? I know of more than a few wise people who are following my advice and heading really, really far south. Good on ya, as they’ll say in Australia. Rather than just hording my favorite tips for family and friends, I’ll share ’em with all of you.

1. Airline tickets – Australia’s a huge country, and it’s also very empty in the center. If you want to visit a few cities (and you should), think about something like the Qantas Aussie AirPass. I couldn’t find anything similar from Air New Zealand or V Australia – that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist – call either airline and ask if they have something to compete with Qantas for multi-city visits.

2. Eating in the air – Don’t bring food. None of the Australia or New Zealand-based airlines will starve you. In fact, they’ll try to stuff you full of food, fresh fruit and free beer and wine. You’ll even get breakfast. Also, being a big island, Australia is determined to keep foreign stuff away. Even your snacks can pose a threat to the Australian ecosystem, apparently. So away put your trail mix – you will not need it.

3. Clean your outdoor gear – I showed up with dirt from my local trails on my hiking boots. This was met with extreme disapproval by the Ozzy customs agents. Again, it’s an ecosystem thing. So arrive with clean gear.

4. This isn’t the usual coffee – Australia has a pretty distinct coffee culture. Rarely will you get to put cream in your own coffee. And that coffee is usually made espresso-style. I can’t even remember drinking drip coffee there. The good news is that the average Australian barista is well-trained and on par with the upper echelon of American baristas. That’s the way they roll.

5. Tomato sauce and capsicum – That’s ketchup and green pepper to you, yank! Brush up on some of the lingo, if possible.

6. Bond with Aussies in an instant – Want to strike up a conversation with just about any Aussie? Ask for a few tips on understanding cricket. The entire country seems to be sharply divided on Ozzy rules football (aka footy or AFL), Rugby Union and Rugby League. But they all share the love for cricket. Just acting mildly interested is a perfect ice breaker, and you’ll have a new friend in an instant.

7. Relax – Don’t let anything bother you. Missing luggage? Remain calm. Train late? Cool your jets. Things have a way of working out down there, especially if you maintain your composure and sense of humor.

8. Don’t be afraid to drive – I know it’s not the way you’re used to driving. But you should give it a go. Once you stop turning on the windshield wipers when you want to turn on the turn signals, that means you’re making progress. For the first few hours, though, if you feel right at home, you’re doing something wrong.

9. Don’t go to the Australian Venom Zoo before you go camping. Unless you like staying awake at night and quivering in fear.

10. Tipping is kind of rare there. I felt weird about this, but it’s true.

11. You won’t be here every week – It’s a long flight, and a big block of time. Make the most of it. Don’t be afraid to creep outside your budget a bit to do something truly cool that you can’t do anywhere else. But make it worthwhile, like some sort of crazy tour or experience. My main indulgence was a sweet didgeridoo. It was a pain in the butt to lug it around and it nearly caused coronaries for the baggage people in Los Angeles, but it was too cool not to bring home.

There! You’re well on your way to a great Australian vacation. I’ll see you soon … with your kangaroo scrotum keychain, a boomerang and a pound of Highland Pearls coffee beans!

If there’s anything you’re wondering that I haven’t mentioned here, feel free to ask. I’ll answer in a follow-up post. That goes for anywhere … not just Australia.

11 thoughts on “So You’re Going to Australia … 11 Handy Tips

  1. Millie

    We have a dear friend who moved to Australia recently after a divorce. She was born there and went back to stay with family for awhile. My husband and I are planning a trip and I learned a few things from your tips. I had no idea about the lack of tipping, I will have to talk to her about that. I do like the sound of that and having plenty of food on the airline.

  2. Jennifer Summers

    One of the places I wanted to visit is Australia, I want to get a closer look at the kangaroos and other interesting animals they have . Your article thought me so much about this place.

  3. Catherine OZZY

    hahaha i live in australia and we are not all onsessed with cricket, we do not have much special “lingo” tipping is common and and we do not throw didgereedoos everywhere… acctually i found reading this quite amusing 😀

  4. WanderingJustin

    Catherine, I definitely noticed that more Australians are united on cricket versus rugby league and union. There’s always exceptions, but I think cricket gives me the best odds. And yes, you do have a ton of regional dialect. You might not realize it since you hear it all the time – and you might be more exposed to more U.S. slang through media (we don’t get much Australian entertainment here). And trust me, tipping in Australia is nothing like tipping in the U.S. Here, it’s even crept into some fast-food restaurants.

    Hmm, did I say something about throwing didgeridoos?

  5. wallancee

    Friends are coming from the US for our wedding and I keep telling them “don’t tip” – unless the service is EXCEPTIONAL, we just don’t do it – in fact, I have never tipped in my life here and so when in the US find that I accidentally used to offend people by not tipping, simply because I was unaware/out of habit for it.

    I spend a lot of time in the US and Aus as my partner is American, and I love our lingo! I often find that with my partner I have to still, 3 years on, explain some words that I just assume he would know and love the conversations I have with his friends that just end up with everyone but me confused! Sometimes I even have to ask Rex whilst in the US “what’s your word for stubby holder?” (coozie in case you were curious). I love it and embrace it and most likely play it up a lot when I’m there 😉

    Also, at customs, just declare everything – if you do that, most likely you should be able to get through any food you’ve brought, apart from anything that isn’t correctly processed or is a nut or seed etc. They have plenty of warnings and it’s just so much better to declare it all and then if it gets taken, no worries – if you don’t declare and are caught, welcome to Australia with a massive fine! I’d prefer to save my beer money than fork it out for something so silly. Just declare, you may even make it through customs quicker, I usually do 🙂

    Great post, some good tips, and yes, relax, everything works out down here eventually! And cricket is definitely a good bet and also knowing that we call soccer, soccer! Not football (not part of your post, but something I come across often in the US, people correcting soccer to football so I’ll “understand” lol).

  6. WanderingJustin

    Thanks for stopping by and making such a great comment (or bunch of them, really!). I’m with you on football and soccer – the English get all bent out of shape about the word “soccer”, but it really comes from the early days of THEM called the sport Association Football.

    I’ll be sure to check out your blog, too!

  7. wallancee

    No worries! I actually stumbled upon your blog whilst looking for things I could include in a “So you’re going to Australia” package for the people coming over for our wedding – luckily we have some great material, like all the deadly things (I popped in a couple of deadly insects in resin), some panty hose (they stop the deadly box jellyfish from actually stinging you!), translation booklet, plus some chocolate, ours is just so much better, less waxy than US chocolate. I’ll definitely send them your way as well for some more “serious” tips 🙂

    Anyway, as you have probably already noticed, I talk a lot 😛 Take care! 🙂

  8. Caden

    You know, I love this kind of blog which they give tips about a certain places and guide what are the dos and dont’s in that place. Australia is my dream country I have a lot of friend who are working in Australia.

  9. Courtney

    Two of my cousins are now living in Melbourne, they’ve been working there since 1980s and have started their families there…..They didn’t share anything about cricket haha!! Now that is something new for me. Thanks for the post…and the cricket tip.

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