I don't know about you all but I cannot wait until this is all over so I can travel again! I have been to Australia once before (note the cute picture of me with a kangaroo at the end of this post) but would love to go back soon - maybe even live there for a bit? My boyfriend and I visited June 2019 and it was one of the most amazing trips of our lives. If you are planning to travel to Australia or have wondered what it takes to get there, read on for 8 items you should check off your to-do list in preparation for the greatest trip of your life.
So, before you go anywhere, you will need the proper documentation. First, you will of course need a passport. You need a passport to travel anywhere outside your country. Make sure yours is accurate and up to date! If you are getting one for the first time then plan ahead. It can take up to a couple of months to finalize and receive your passport. Second, you will need a visa. When I went to Australia in June, I thought I needed a physical visa. Surprisingly, and thankfully, when traveling to Australia for vacation, you only truly need an electronic visa. You can easily obtain one on the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs website. This was great news when we were gathering our docs for this vacation. You can apply online for 20AUD and you will receive it within 24 hours - I received mine almost immediately. I think it is otherwise free to apply for one if you apply via another avenue. If you plan on staying longer than 3 months, an ETA will not suffice. You would need to apply for a tourist stream visitor's visa. Lastly, you will of course need your plane tickets because how else are you going to get to Australia?
2. flight time and layovers
I live in New York so our flight was extremely long. Although, I believe it would be a long flight no matter where you are flying from due to the fact Australia is really far out there. We had 2 layovers both ways, too. The total duration of the flight + layovers was about 22 hours. More than likely you will fly Quantas, Australia's most popular airline. Pack snacks and anything else that will help you prepare for a comfortable flight - or as comfortable as you'll be able to get.
3. time zone difference
Again, living in New York, we were 14 hours ahead when we were in Australia. Keep in mind the time difference when you travel to Australia because your friends and family may be sleep when you decide to contact them. Also, when you get back home, the jet lag is real. You were warned.
4. metric system
Australia uses the metric system. So, instead of pounds its kilos. Instead of Fahrenheit its Celsius. Instead of inches its millimeters. I made the mistake (a couple of times) of saying pounds and Fahrenheit. It definitely takes some getting used to.
Left is right and right is left. That is just a complicated way of saying, in Australia, you drive on the left side. It was confusing at first but honestly, you get used to it. There are also way less people on the road in Australia compared to New York so that was a plus.
Australia is huge! Depending on where you are going to be visiting, there are tons of places to stay in Australia and you are bound to love where you decide to lodge. We stayed at Crystal Creek Rainforest Retreat in Murwillumbah, Queensland. Yes, this was more of a romantic vacation but we also managed to explore more than just our secluded section of rainforest. Although, having a personal slice of paradise to come back to after a day of exploring was absolutely incredible.
7. best time to visit
Honestly, the weather is beautiful year round in Australia. We visited during Australia's winter. It was still nice and we were still able to go to the beach in our bathing suits. Looking back, we would love to visit during their spring or summer season so we can really soak up the rays. We do not mind being completely toasty. In fact, we prefer it.
8. things to do
There are tons of things to do in Australia. They really value nature and wildlife there, which I adore. So, there are a lot of active things you can do while visiting. We went to visit the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, whale watching, hung out on the Gold Coast, hiked the rainforest, watched glow worms at night - and that's just to name a few. Next time we visit, we are definitely learning to surf. Television is different there too. They don't have most channels and don't offer the same options on Netflix and Hulu as they do in the States. Honestly, I didn't think much of this one. I didn't want to stay inside watching television anyways.
All in all, this was one of the most insane trips I have ever been on in my life. When we left, I legit cried. We talked multiple times about moving there once we got back to New York. Even after the travel adrenaline wore off, we still considered it. When you visit, try to find time to hold a koala bear, hang with kangaroos and get in the ocean!