ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.
Australia Money-Saving Tips
Consider a Hostel StayHostels are generally the least expensive housing options almost everywhere you go, and many offer free breakfast.
Plan for jet-lagSydney is at least a full 14 hours ahead of east coast US time (17 hours ahead of west coast time), so plan to give yourself at least a day to recover from the massive jet-lag that you will experience upon your arrival.
Visa InformationTravelers to Australia will need either a visa or an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority). We recommend the ETA, which can be ordered online in a matter of minutes for a $16 service charge (eta.immi.gov.au); it allows you to spend up to three months in the country.
Look outRemember, Australians drive on the opposite side of the road. Luckily, Sydney is prepared for confused tourists; look to the ground where you’ll find “look this way” with an arrow painted on the street. Elsewhere in the country you’ll have to remember on your own.
Wild weatherMelbourne’s weather has an unfortunate reputation: wet, windy, wild, and prone to extremes. It’s either very hot or very cold – frequently both on the same day! So no matter when you plan your trip make sure you pack clothes for almost any season.
TippingThe American tradition of tipping is not a custom in Australia, and is not expected. However, if you receive good service you may choose to tip at cafes or restaurants; 10% of the bill would be reasonable.
Check bookings on the Great Barrier ReefSome businesses in the remote parts of the Great Barrier Reef close down during the wet season (November to February), so always reconfirm your bookings before you arrive.
HistoryWhile Captain James Cook was the first person to record the existence of the Great Barrier Reef when he stumbled across it in 1770, it was English navigator Matthew Flinders who named it. Australia’s aboriginal people, however, knew of the reef long before, and many of their important cultural sites (including burial sites and rock art paintings) still exist.
Stinger seasonDangerous marine stingers known as box jellyfish congregate in the waters of the far north from November to May. During these times you should only swim in specially netted zones.
EmergencyIn case of emergency, dial “000” from a fixed line or “112” from a mobile phone for police, paramedic, and fire departments.
Avoid “Schoolies Week” on the Gold CoastIf you don’t like loud music and large crowds of partying teenagers, avoid the Gold Coast during “Schoolies Week.” Similar to Fort Lauderdale’s Spring Break, the coast is transformed into party central as thousands of students converge in mid-November to celebrate the end of their studies.
Duty free shoppingSome of Australia’s largest duty free outlets and shopping centers are located on the Gold Coast, making it the perfect destination for shoppers.
Slip, Slop, SlapThe sun in Queensland is unrelenting causing the region to have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. So do as the local “sun smart” campaign advises: slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, and slap on a hat.
Reservations at wineriesIf you have your heart set on a particular winery, be sure to make a reservation. While most wineries are open to everyone between 10am and 4:30pm, a few wineries limit guests to create a more intimate experience. So it’s always best to call ahead to avoid disappointment.
Time zonesAustralia encompasses three different time zones: Eastern Standard Time (EST), Central Standard Time (CST), and Western Standard Time (WST). South Australia operates on CST, which is 30 minutes behind EST. Also, from the end of October to the end of May, South Australia runs on Daylight Savings time, when clocks are advanced forward one hour.
Cheap flightsIf you’re flying to Tasmania from Australia, be sure to check the websites of budget domestic airlines Virgin Blue (www.virginblue.com.au) and Jetstar (www.jetstar.com.au), both of which offer frequent sales and dramatically reduced ticket prices.
Tasmanian AboriginesIt is believed that the last true Tasmanian Aborigine was a woman called Truganini, who died in 1876. This followed decades of introduced disease, warfare, and discrimination from the European settlers. Today, some 150,000 people claim to have some Aboriginal heritage.
The Tasmanian DevilMade famous worldwide by the spinning creature in the Warner Brothers cartoons, the Tassie Devil is in danger of becoming extinct, thanks to an easily-transmitted facial cancer. In some areas the population has been reduced by as much as 90 percent.
Not-so-damaged GoodsMany stores in large outlet malls will provide further discounts on clothing and products that have been slightly damaged on the showroom floor. Don't be afraid to ask a store clerk for a percentage off if you find a rip in the sleeve!
Cheap EatsDo your grocery shopping at open-air markets and established grocery stores, and look below the eye-level racks – the cheaper items are generally not in easy sight!
Our Experts save you money with travel deals and advice
Always ask for a room upgrade when you arrive at your hotel. They may laugh, but it never hurts to try!
Alex Schechter Assistant Editor
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