Whether it’s for a month or a year, if you’re planning on Backpacking Australia you’re probably wondering where to begin; We were exactly the same! As we fast approach the 6-week mark prior to us hopping on that one-way flight it’s safe to say we have this planning malarkey down to a T. So grab a glass of wine and let’s get planning your next big adventure!
The first and most obvious place to start is decided when you want to leave – this is also the hardest part – We’d spent almost 3 years umming and ahhing about whether to take the leap, but when we finally did, we gave ourselves 10 months. That was 10 months to sell everything and save enough money to take with us. Weather plays a huge part in people’s decision to go to Australia so remember that due to their Global positioning they may be on completely opposite seasons to what you’re used to!
June – August is their Winter, September – November is Spring, December – February is Summer and March to May are their winter months.
Australia is HUGE and is split into 6 States, all of which have varying temperatures and things to do/see. So decide what is important for you to have when you first get there. Are you wanting to see Whale Sharks migrating? Then head to the west coast April-July. Wanting to see Koala in their natural habitat; head to Victoria. Year round they can be spotted in the trees of Victoria’s Islands. (Although bear in mind although it is usually more expensive to fly to the East coast than it is to land on the West – internal flights are quite cheap)
So you know when, and you know where. Now you need to start looking at flights. I will write a more detailed post about this as there is so much to consider. We tracked our flights for weeks (obsessively so) before actually buying them. Once they started to rise we didn’t dare leave it any longer; So my top tip – which many would disagree with I’m sure – would be to buy the tickets as soon as you find ones at a price you like.
We made the mistake of saying ‘ooh – good price … but it might be cheaper next week’, and you know what… it wasn’t, some had risen and some had even sold out. No matter how many hacks we tried, and how many times we deleted our cookies and search history. So if you know where you’re flying from/to, book as soon as you find the perfect flights – they won’t be there forever!
Ok, so there are a lot of visa options for Oz but the most common one for backpackers is the working holiday. (subclass 417 for UK/EU passport holders, 462 for non-EU passports – providing you’re between 18 and 30 years old) Let’s face it, very few of us can actually afford to be in Australia for longer than 2 weeks; without actually having an income or a mass of savings. There are agencies that offer to do your application for you ‘with guaranteed acceptance’ but we promise you, it’s so easy to do yourself through the official .gov website that there really is no need to pay a company.
Make sure you have everything at hand ready, don’t be intimidated by the list of questions, answer honestly, and you’ll be fine. The current price of a visa is £285 (10/5/17) and it’s important to know this is a non-refundable fee – even if your visa is refused. Then begins the joy of waiting for the decision to be made, I was lucky enough to get mine back in 5 minutes! Dec, however, had to wait a week, it’s just pot luck on how long it’s processed but try not to panic and enjoy planning the next steps to planning your trip!!
Some like to wing it and see what they can get once they reach their destination, some like to have every night booked in advance so they have one less thing to worry about – it really depends on how you like to travel. Do you want to be tied down to having to be in a certain place by a certain time? Do you want to have the panic/excitement that you might not have anywhere to sleep? We’ve toed the line and booked just our first weeks accommodation. There are several options for accommodation, below are links to ones we’ve used and would recommend 🙂
– Air b+b –
This the main app/website we use to book our accommodation. It’s cheap and allows you to stay with the locals! Here you can book entire apartments, private rooms or even shared accommodation if you wish; Narrow it down to your budget. These do not always run like a professional business, so don’t expect hotel service. Be prepared for towels to not be provided. Also although some do offer a cleaning service others will request you clean the room before leaving;
All hosts and those being hosted are reviewed publicly on their profile so it’s easy to weed through any possible bad stays. We’ve not had a bad experience yet! ** note ** If you’re travelling as a couple, or group, we found Air b+b to be cheaper than paying per bed in a hostel – Sign up by following the link and receive money off your first booking, in turn giving us money off our next room too! win win!!
– Trivago –
We use this quite a lot in the UK, but it’s global too. Like any other comparison website, this one allows you to see a list of all the available rooms and pick which one suits you. We like this one in particular because it seemed to show the better deals. This is mainly hotels and hostels so if that’s the route you want to take – this website is worth a look.
Popular with solo backpackers due to their budget-friendly prices, hostels allow you to share a dorm with fellow like-minded people for as little as £20 a night. This website lets you compare local hostels against each other and book directly with them. If you’re heading to a destination where there is a festival or event on at the time, it’s advised to book early. This also isn’t always the cheapest if you’re travelling with others. Paying per bed soon adds up, and it’s usually always with a shared bathroom.
Like Trusted Housesitters, this Australian site allows you to link up with fellow animal lovers and board at their house for free; in exchange for walking/feeding their animals and looking after their house whilst they’re away. (sometimes a bit of basic house maintenance too). To be a sitter there is a small cost of $65AUD for a year, but this is open to the entire country and allows house owners to contact you directly through your profile too. Like with Air b+b, you are reviewed after each house sit so it’s easy for potential pet owners to see how trustworthy you are! This really is a great way to see the country from a local’s perspective – as well as skip accommodation fees 😉
TO DO WHEN YOU FIRST ARRIVE
So you’ve completed your very basic planning steps. All that’s left is to get there and begin enjoying the sights, right? Well…. not entirely. There are a few little things that will need to be done first to enable you to make the most of the trip – that is, of course, if you’re on a working holiday visa like us 🙂 :
– Phones –
We live in a world now where we can’t live without them, so I’m assuming you’re taking yours with you. If so – you’re going to need to buy a new SIM card (unless you want to be hit with massive wandering fees) There are three main companies in Aus, but if you’re wanting the best coverage and plan on going through the outback at some point, it seems Telstra is the better choice. OH! Be sure to unlock your phone first though!! Call your current service provider to see what you need to do to open your phone ready for other networks!!
– Tax number –
If you plan on working in Aus, you need a TFN (Tax File Number).
Although this isn’t needed as soon as you land It’s probably best to get one before you get carried away with being down under. As of May 2017 you will need your TFN to open a bank account in Australia. Although your insurance number from home will be ok ‘for now’ it’s easier to get your TFN straight away. Just like with the visas, there are companies that will offer to sort this for you for a fee – don’t do it! They’re free to obtain on your own, and the process seems really straightforward. Go to the official website and apply online once you’re in the country!
– Bank Account –
Once you find a job, you’ll need an account for all your hard-earned cash to go into. It’s also cheaper (depending on your home country bank) to transfer into an Aussie one, instead of using your home card directly. We chose to use Common Wealth, but there are other banks available. With CW you can open an account easily online 3 months before arrival or wait and open one in branch; all you need is your visa and passport!