Australia isn’t one of the most visited countries in the world with an average of nearly 10 million tourists per year (placing it far outside of the top 10). However, there are plenty of people who want to go to Australia, and for good reason. Australia has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, amazing people, and a great culture.
If you’ve been wanting to head down under but are not sure if you can afford it, there are plenty of ways to save big on your trip. Here are five essential tips for visiting Australia on a budget so you can experience the amazing country for yourself.
Don’t Try To See It All
People who have never been to Australia might not realize just how massive it is. There are certain cities that come to mind first, and most of them are on the east coast, so people think that they can knock out all of them in one trip. However, the major cities are all pretty far away from each other, and most need a full-fledged flight to get from one to another.
Australia is about the same size as the United States, and should be looked at as such. Unlike much of Europe where you can take a cheap train ride from one major city to the other, Australia is much different. The distance from Brisbane to Sydney is about a 10-hour drive (1.5-hour flight), which is similar to the trip between Washington D.C. and Atlanta. With that in mind, try to stick to one major metro area on your trip.
Tipping Isn’t The Same
In the United States, tipping is seen as something that isn’t required, but people will drag you through the mud if you don’t tip a certain percentage or dollar amount for services. Normally, the standard is 20 percent of restaurants and then a few dollars here and there for others. If you’re visiting Australia from the United States, you might feel obliged to follow the same kind of tipping rules, especially because a lot of places leave tip jars.
However, if you don’t tip, people won’t look at you funny or chase you into the parking lot asking why you didn’t tip. Any time that you do tip in Australia, it’s because you want to show that person that their service went above and beyond, whereas here in the States we expect tips for even the most mediocre service. There are laws in Australia that prevent adding tips without knowledge, so don’t worry about being scammed, either.
Travel in May
May is the time of year when those of us in the northern hemisphere finally get to experience warmer weather after a long and cold winter. However, if you want to head to Australia for cheap, you should head there as soon as it starts getting warmer at home. That’s because Australian winter kicks off in June, and the temperatures start dropping around May, which means the prices start dropping, too.
Getting there can be a bit tricky if you don’t live on the west coast, though. There are only a handful of cities in North America that fly directly to Australia, and they’re all in the West. Dallas and Houston are the furthest east airports, with cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver all offering direct flights. If you live in one of these cities, travel in May, and head to Melbourne, you’ll be getting the cheapest possible flight.
Visit the Museums
One of the best ways that you can take in the Australian culture without having to spend a lot of money is by visiting the many museums that the country has to offer. No matter which one of the major cities you’re heading to, there are plenty of museum options, and most of them cost little to no money. Sydney alone has around a dozen great free museums including the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and the Chau Chak Wing Museum.
Other fantastic museums throughout Australia include the Melbourne Museum, the National Museum of Australia, and the Australian National Maritime Museum. There are plenty of fine art galleries, too, including the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.
Beach It Up
If you’re a fan of the beach (and many of us are), then Australia definitely needs to be on your bucket list of places to visit. Almost all of the beaches in the country are free to visit, and there’s no shortage of them with around 12,000 in the country.
That’s more than 60,000km (37,282 miles) worth of coastline to visit. Australia offers up some of the best surfing in the world, and even in its coldest months, visiting the beach is still a fun activity. The best part, though? It’s almost always going to be completely free of charge.