Backpacking in Australia is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will let you experience the rich and unique landscape, as well as the awesome laid-back culture, first-hand. Yet, such an arduous trip requires some careful preparation and planning beforehand. So, here’s a list of 5 things you should know about backpacking in Australia before setting off on your adventure.
1. Save money on accommodation
Although booking the accommodation in advance is the quickest and safest route, it’s not always the cheapest. That’s because hostels have to pay fees to booking websites, which will make your online bookings more expensive. Moreover, this way you don’t have to pay a hefty deposit, meaning you won’t end up being glued to only one place at a specific time but will have a more flexible schedule to visit whatever you want whenever you want it. Also, a student or a hostel card will save you tons of money in the long run, especially if you use YHA hostels which are somewhat pricey but have 5 stars worldwide so they’re well worth it. If you’re more of an adventuring type, party hostels or independent hostels are probably more your style.
2. Buses are the way to go
In the Land Down Under, it’s not only the seasons that are reversed, but the driving lanes as well. If you’re from the UK you’ll probably feel more at home, whereas Europeans and US citizens will take a bit more to get used to. Renting a car is an excellent way to experience Australia and its unique natural scenery first-hand, as long as you remember which side of the road to use. However, be wary as it’s extremely expensive. Renting a car can cost twice as much as your accommodation due to parking fees, gas, etc. Instead, get a hop-on-hop-off bus pass which will give you that added flexibility while not being too heavy on the budget. Also, if you’re going backpacking, you should probably stick to the east coast (ranging from Sydney to Cairns) as its infrastructure is practically built for tourism. Remember that almost 90% of Australia is uninhabitable which means that if you want to visit Perth from Sydney you have to fly over a huge land mass to get there.
3. Always have a backup plan when you’re so far away from home
Backpacking can be quite unpredictable because you never know for how long you’ll be staying in a certain place. Your expenses will grow exponentially each day, and you have to be really careful not to go overboard with your budget. Likewise, there’s nothing worse than being stranded cashless in a foreign country. For this reason, always bring some extra money with you to stay on the safe side. Even if you’ve already cashed in your whole paycheck to book the flight, there are always small personal loans you can use as a backup. In addition, don’t forget to exchange some of your money for the local currency beforehand, so you always have some cash with you for essentials such as bus fees, food, and so on.
4. Ready your taste buds for the local food and beverages
The Australian cuisine will have a huge impact on your overall experience as food and beverages are also a part of their culture. The locals are well-known for their laid-back nature and hospitality, so parties are always on the menu and, believe it or not, beer will probably be your biggest travel expense. Buying cans of beer in liquor stores is cheaper than in bars, but Australians have another ingenious way of getting drunk with the cheap boxed wine they call ‘goon’. Four liters of the stuff costs as much as a six pack of beer, so if you’re not really an enthusiastic wine connoisseur then you better start getting used to the taste. What’s more, if you never tried vegemite, now’s not the time, as your stomach won’t like its salty and bitter taste after a night of goon. Instead, grab yourself a yummy brunch.
5. Animals are out to get you
Everything that’s alive in Australia wants to kill you! Joke aside though, Australia has some of the most whacky and awesome flora and fauna found nowhere else on the planet. Seeing its wide array of indigenous species is a unique experience you’ll never forget. For example, while inspecting the Great Barrier Reef and the amazing coral formations, you also have the opportunity to go surfing, diving, and even sailing to pass your time. Moreover, if you’re not really the beach type, take a look at Australia’s vast Outback, or the ‘bush’ as they call it. Either way, don’t focus only on the cities and parties but visit the wildlife as well. Just don’t stand too close to a kangaroo when taking your selfie as they do pack quite a punch.
To sum up, the more money you save, the longer you can stay and get to experience everything Australia has to offer.