My travel style always seems to change. Some trips I book far in advance and extensively plan for and others I book the flight and then don’t think about it until a couple days before I leave. For my month long trip to Australia, I booked my flight about a week before I left thanks to an insane flight deal so there wasn’t a ton of time to plan it.
When traveling for that long to a country that far away which I will most likely only visit once or twice more in my lifetime, I wish I had planned a little bit more. I saw and did so much and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. But I definitely made some mistakes during my almost 4 weeks on the continent.
I’m a pretty savvy traveler but there are always things to learn from my travels! Here are four mistakes I made while traveling around Australia.
I made the poor decision of assuming backpacking around Australia would be similar to backpacking around Europe. It’s insanely easy in Europe. You just grab a Eurail pass and you can go basically anywhere on almost any train you want. You can easily be in a new city within hours. It is not the same in Australia!
Despite what every map in the States tells you, Australia is a massive country/continent. The east coast cities are each a several hours drive apart. There aren’t train systems like there are in Europe so you pretty much have to rely on long bus rides and planes. I made the poor decision of flying into Sydney when I should have flown into Melbourne and worked my way up the east coast. But instead I went from Sydney north to Cairns, then west to Uluru in the middle of the country, back east to Melbourne, then west to Perth and then east to Sydney to go home! My goodness did I do a lot of backtracking. I wasted a ton of time traveling this way.
If I had a do over, I would fly into Melbourne then Sydney – Cairns – Uluru – Perth. Or even backward starting with Perth and ending in Melbourne. Basically, make sure you don’t backtrack when you book your Australian trip! You’ll waste a lot of important travel time that way.
2. Not planning enough in advance
While traveling, I like to do a mix of planning and not planning. I like to make sure I have general travel figured out and a list of things to do. But I also like to leave my days open in case I hear or see other things I’d like to do.
Because I didn’t plan in advance for Australia, I missed a lot of things that were just too far away. For example, I would have loved to see the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney but since I didn’t find out about them until my last day in the city, I didn’t have time in my schedule to fit it in.
It’s also very expensive to travel this way in Australia. Because you mainly have to rely on flights, if you don’t have more than a month of travel time, you end up spending a ton of money. There isn’t really a Ryan Air equivalent in Australia. They have Jetstar and Tigerair but their prices are similar to that of Spirit in the States. I️ didn’t see any fares throughout my flight travel for under $100 like I did consistently in Europe. And booking them last minute, meant the flights were even MORE expensive!
I always wanted to visit Australia in the summer but when I found a bit of free time during their spring season, I jumped at the chance to spend a month in the country. But I quickly learned that spring isn’t really the best time to go.
Australia’s spring is similar to that of New York – heavy rains! It rained almost the entire 3.5 days I spent in Sydney. While doing the famous BridgeClimb, I was pelted so hard with rain that I couldn’t even look up to get a view of the harbor because it was so painful!
When I went up north to Cairns where the Great Barrier Reef is, it was cyclone season and rained non-stop. Fortunately my reef trip still went but it sort of put a damper on the trip.
It was also stinger season so while in the Whitsunday Islands we had to wear a full body stinger suit if we wanted to swim.
In the Outback, it was the warm, dry season so it was stiflingly hot during my tour. It was even hotter because I was way too afraid while sleeping in a swag so I wore a long sleeve shirt tucked into long pants tucked into socks so no creepy crawlies could get in bed with me! Also, it even rained one day while I was in Uluru, which is almost unheard of.
In Melbourne, it rained during half my stay. Even in Perth where it almost never rains, I had rain! So make sure to check the season before booking your trip to Australia. So much of what I wanted to see and do was outside and while of course, I still saw and did it all, it would have been even more enjoyable in sunshine!
4. Not using BookMe.com
Australia is pretty expensive. I have a hard time saying that because New York City is also really expensive so I’d say it’s on par with New York!
As a solo traveler, I really enjoyed doing tours throughout Australia. I did a mix of day tours and overnights and found that they’re not only a great way to meet people but a good way to ensure I saw everything that I wanted to see.
Early on in my trip, I booked most of my tours by Googling things and going to a travel agent. I’ve never used a travel agent in my life. I always book my trips 100% by myself. But some girls in my hostel room were heading to the travel agent so I tagged along.
Little did I know, I was BLOWING money by going to the travel agent. In Australia there is a website called BookMe.com that has all of the same exact tours that the travel agents and Google have but at a super discounted rate. Some of the trips are more than 30% discounted. On my scuba diving trip, I paid more than $200 and another girl had paid less than $80 through BookMe! I couldn’t believe it.
How the website gets such discounted deals is by filling last minute trips. They specialize in tours that are within a couple days and are not full yet. The tour companies allow them to drop the prices so they can get some money instead of unfilled spots.
If you want to do tours while in Australia, you MUST use BookMe.com. It will save you some serious cash!