Here are eight tips/thoughts that may prove helpful should you venture to the land down under. Enjoy!
- Get a sim card
DATA IS SO CHEAP! I PAID $30 AUD FOR 4 GBS OF DATA! 4 GBS OF DATA!!!!!! This blew my mind because I pay an obscene amount of money for wireless service and 1 GB of data in Toronto (we need more competition in Canada). I purchased a prepaid sim card from Optus in the Melbourne airport (my phone was unlocked) and within minutes I was set up and connected. I’ve never had so much data at my disposal and OH BOY did I abuse it. I Instagrammed, Tindered, Facebooked, constantly used my map app, checked transit schedules from apps I downloaded USING DATA, downloaded music USING DATA, watched Youtube videos, Facetimed and chatted on Whatsapp. ALL ON DATA. It was excessive and glorious and I would never do this at home because it would cost me $1,340,567 dollars. Or something like that.
And it turns out that getting a prepaid wireless plan is also the budget-friendly travel option in Australia, because wi-fi isn’t free in some hostels and hotels, or is only free in common areas (and is slow as a result). Data for the win!
2. Public toilets are amazing
Australia definitely rules the world when it comes to free public toilets — other countries should take note. Well-stocked with toilet paper and hand soap, the washrooms I used were also pretty clean (for the most part). The questionable few I used were all in the Outback (and all still had toilet paper). YAY FOR TOILETS!
3. Booze is not as cheap as you may expect
Given Australia’s boozy reputation, I assumed that alcohol would be very cheap. This was not true. Cocktails tended to be pricey (I didn’t see cheap bar rail drinks like I do in some places in Toronto) so I drank beer instead. Cold beer tastes extra delicious and refreshing on a holiday during Australian summer – or such was my experience. My favourites were Hahn Super Dry and a couple of the James Squire beers (not pictured). Liquor stores (or “bottle-o’s” as they call them in Oz) weren’t hard to find and there are even drive-through stores for added convenience if you are roadtripping. Don’t drink and drive.
4. Bring a reusable water bottle
This is a good tip for anywhere in the world that has safe drinking water. Bringing a water bottle in my backpack saved me money (and helped the environment) because I didn’t have to buy bottled water. It was pretty easy to find fountains and taps when out and about in the cities. In remote areas however, note that not all water is potable (e.g. some places use well water).
5. Talk to strangers
I had a long conversation with a security guard on the Sydney Harbour bridge about male athletes as role models and educating young men about feminism and gender equality.
I joined an architecture student and her friend for lunch in The Rocks (in Sydney) and learned more about the architecture of the area.
I chatted about my favourite rums with a bartender, and discussed the merits of Tasmanian oysters with an older gentlemen while touring through the Outback.
I also had a number of conversations I don’t remember very well during a pub crawl in Melbourne, but I do recall that they were very interesting.
The point I’m trying to make: talk to strangers, because people are generally friendly and interesting (and Australia is a pretty safe place).
6. Download a transit app
Use that mother lode of data you just purchased on the cheap and download the Public Transport Victoria app in Melbourne or the Opal app in Sydney. Public transit is awesome in these cities. ALSO Uber drivers provide mints and water bottles in case you decide to Uber. Come on Toronto, get with the program!
7. Get a fly net/ fly net hat if you’re going to Central Australia
Central Australia is hot and dry and the flies want your moisture (gross, I know). They fly into your ears, try to crawl into your nostrils and attempt to land on your lips and eyeballs…just remembering this is making me cringe. While the the fly net won’t stop the constant sound of buzzing during the daytime, it will at least protect your face from the disgusting flies. I didn’t have a fly net, and was constantly swatting at my face. It wasn’t fun.
8. Follow Australian tourism accounts on Instagram
I learned about popular sights and attractions before and during my trip by following a number of Australian tourism accounts –and I was also inspired in terms of photography ideas! I still follow these accounts months later, because seeing other peoples’ photos is a nice reminder of my trip and all that I saw and experienced during my holiday. PLUS I’ve learned about new places I’d like to visit in the future! My favourite account: @ausoutbacknt