Despite being a rather remote country, Australia remains to be a popular destination for tourists all over the world – and it’s easy to understand why. Its beautiful beaches, breathtaking diving spots, and lush greens are all sights to behold, attracting travelers from different countries.
Although Australia is one of the most frequently visited countries in the world, not a lot of Americans go there on vacation. Because of its remote location, flights from the US to Australia tend to be long and expensive, discouraging Americans from visiting the country.
The long trips notwithstanding, many tourists still visit Australia from the USA. After all, the country has a lot to offer, both in terms of scenery and activities. The vast expanse of Australia is perfect for those who love a good adventure and enjoy being one with nature.
Visiting Australia may sound intimidating for first-time travelers, but you don’t have to fret because all it really takes is good planning. So if you are ready to brave the long flight and see for yourself what this beautiful country has to offer, here are some helpful tips on visiting Australia.
Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, making it impossible to explore in its entirety in a week. So if you don't have an entire month to spend in this country, it's best to come prepared to make the most out of your vacation time.
For a hassle-free trip, prepare the following:
If you are traveling to Australia for tourism or business purposes for less than 90 days, then you can obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). The ETA is an electronic label-free visa available to people visit Australia for short-term business or tourism purposes.
If you intend to stay in Australia for a period longer than 90 days, you can opt to apply for a Sponsored Family Visitor Visa, provided that a permanent Australian resident is willing to sponsor you.
If you don't have a sponsor, you can also opt to just apply for an ETA and apply for an extension once you're already in Australia.
Of course, you will have to pack your essentials (e.g., clothes, toiletries, medicines) for your trip to Australia – but that goes without saying. Since the four items enumerated above are the most crucial and take the most time to prepare, I will be discussing them in detail here.
Australia has stringent rules when it comes to immigration, so it is extremely necessary that you process your travel documents first. To visit Australia, both a valid US passport and visa are required.
To apply for a US passport, you would have to fill out the DS-11 form and submit it in person along with proof of your US citizenship, identification, and one passport photo. You would also have to pay the applicable fee. For more detailed instructions, check the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
Note that processing of your US passport application will typically take six weeks or, should you opt for the expedited service, three weeks. Take this processing time into consideration when planning your trip, especially since a valid US passport is necessary for visa application.
To move along your request faster, make an appointment with a passport agency or center. They would be able to give you some advice on how you can get your passport processed in a shorter amount of time.
There are several types of Australian visa which you can apply for, depending on the length of your stay and your purpose for visiting Australia. However, most tourists with a US passport will only need an ETA to visit Australia.
The application for ETA can be made through Australia’s Electronic Travel Authority website for a small fee payable by credit card. Note that you have to apply for an ETA within 12 months before your projected return date from Australia. A valid US passport is required to complete the application.
ETA requests may be made before or after you make other travel arrangements. Your travel agency can apply on your behalf, but since the application is online, it is advisable to do it on your own to avoid any mishap in the future.
Bear in mind that ETAs are crucial because without it, you will not be allowed to board a flight to Australia.
Given Australia’s remote location, flights to the country are long as they are expensive. Considering that Australia is already an expensive country to stay in, you might want to save on plane tickets.
That said, you might want to try out budget airlines such as Tiger Airways and Jetstar in place of full-service airlines Qantas and Virgin. Look out for ticket discounts and travel promos from other airlines as well.
Airlines typically offer lower rates when you book early, so try to book a flight at least a month or two before your intended visit to avail of travel discounts.
One-way flights to Australia are not more expensive than return flights, so if you don’t have a fixed travel plan yet, you can purchase a one-way ticket first. This way, you don’t have to pay additional fees should you opt to reschedule your flight back to the US.
Unlike countries in Southeast Asia and South America, Australia is not a budget-friendly destination. In fact, you would typically have to set at least $100 per day for accommodation, food, and activities. If you want to go cross-country hopping, you would have to allocate extra budget for transportation.
So if you want to lessen your expenses, you would want to stay away from hotels and opt for hostels instead. Hostels will set you back around $30-$50 a night, and while still relatively expensive, they are a lot cheaper than hotels.
If you want to do your own cooking, then you might want to look for AirBnb accommodations instead, especially if you are traveling with your family or a group. There are a lot of affordable AirBnb accommodations you can choose from in Australia, several of which have access to a kitchen.
If you’re a great fan of the outdoors, consider camping out during your trip to save on accommodation expenses. Alternatively, you can hire a relocation campervan for $1 per day on top of fuel costs for a cheap transportation and accommodation.
Planning a trip to Australia from the USA would require some skill, not to mention a good sum of money. But as anyone who has been to Australia will tell you, the country’s beauty is well worth the expense and hassle.
To make planning for your trip to Australia easier, make sure to follow the four-step process we outline for you above. Not only will it save you time and shield you from frustration, but it will also help you lessen your expenses.
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