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The road to Australia
Pretty much every article so far on Drunkenpom has been written with the aim of helping the next wave of backpacker make the most of their trip to Australia without making some of the silly mistakes I and many others around me made. All of those articles have been leading up to this point of where all the info comes together to form the road to Australia. Follow these 30 odd stops on the way and you’ll not go far wrong…
Planning stage – 3 months to go…
Heading to Australia for potentially 2 years ain’t exactly the same as an all-inclusive jaunt to the Costa Del Sol. These are the things to think about that may take a while to sort, so give yourself plenty of time to get all of this done:
1. Money: Well, nothing in this life comes for free so this should be the first thing you look into. I recommend, if possible having at least $6000AUD in saving to get you going without having to worry about money.
2. Passport: Not getting far without one and I don’t know how things are in your country but I do know the UK passport office don’t seem to like to rush. You can potentially stay in Australia for up to 2 years, then there’s the rest of the world. If your passport doesn’t have at least 3 years on it then I’d seriously think about getting a new one.
3. Drivers license: If you’re planning on going for a year, you’re going to want to buy a car, so again make sure your license isn’t about to expire.
4. How long do you want to stay: Minimum I’d say would have to be a month, remember up to 3 months on a tourist visa and then it’s a 12-month working holiday visa.
5. Get your visa: Up to 3 months on a tourist visa and then up to 1 year on a working holiday visa. Get one applied for. Generally it doesn’t take to long to get one granted but you just never know, don’t hang about.
6. Flights: Well you’re not crawling there on your face so, booking early might save you some money, also which day of the week and whether it’s school holidays or not can effect cost massively so give yourself time to shop around.
7. Travel insurance: I’m guessing some of you will be thinking spent too much time in Nimbin and gone completely mad! “Get travel insurance 3 months before you travel!? What is this fool on about?!!” To be fair there was a time not too long ago where I would have been thinking the exact same thing. The reason I’m not losing the plot is that if you don’t have valid travel insurance, that really expensive plane ticket you’ve bought could be an even bigger waste of money if for some reason you’re unable to go. Most decent travel insurance policies will refund your flight cost in unfortunate circumstances.
Get the essentials – 1 month to go…
By this point you’ll hardly be able to contain you’re excitement over the impending adventure. Hopefully, by now all the boring paperworky things are done and now you can really sink your teeth into the more interesting aspects of planning…
8. Backpack: If you don’t already have one it’s time to invest in a good quality backpack. It’s worth spending a few quid here as this is what will be carrying your life around for the forseeable future.
9. Walking boots: Trust me you’re gonna cover some ground alright!! Again a fair investment in some good walking boots now will see you right for many miles to come.
10. Camera: Don’t make the same mistake I did and go to Australia without a good DSLR, you’ll see things that you never will again, don’t miss out.
11. Sports camera: If you’re into some extreme sports or even just want to get some underwater shots then you’ll need a sports camera.
12. Laptop: Most people find that when travelling Australia, they’ll have a fair bit of down time. A good laptop is always handy for swapping movies/music with other backpackers.
13. Write an Australian CV: It seems every country has its own ideals of what constitutes a good CV, Australia is no different. I took a few copies of my UK CV but it turned out that a good Australian CV was laid out completely differently. Here’s an example of what it should look like.
14. Open an Australian bank account: Anything you can do before you set off is one less potential nightmare when you get there. I didn’t open an Australian bank account before I arrived, and yes it cost me! After opening my Australian bank account I got in touch with my bank (Yorkshire Bank) to transfer money over and guess what!? I’d have to go into my branch to do it! But I’m 10,000 miles away!!!
15. Stop direct debits: One of the nice things you get to do. All them bills that you did have can suck you dry no more!!
16. Book some accommodation for the first week: Again this should be covered by your travel insurance in the event that you’re unable to go on your trip. I recommend booking a single room for the first week, especially if it’s your first time in a hostel. A 12 bed dorm can be a pretty daunting place if your not used to it.
17. Hand your notice at work in: I’d say one of the most liberating things to do on the road to Australia is go to work and say. “Here’s my notice, I’m going to travel accross Australia, perhaps the world and I don’t know if I’ll ever be back!”
Packing stage – One week to go…
If you’re anything like me, by now you’re work colleagues are thinking “if he mentions the A word again I’m going to gouge his eyes out with this here spoon”. Ah don’t worry about them, they’re only jealous. Not too much left to do now…
18. Pack warm clothes: I and many others I met definitely had their rose tinted glasses on when I packed for Australia. Sunny and warm all the time isn’t it!? No it is not!! Perth in June and July is no warmer than the UK in March! Don’t get me wrong if you’re flying straight into Cairns then don’t worry about being cold but the southern half of the country does get rather cold in winter, so be warned.
19. Sort a phone: Something else I didn’t do and it cost me a fair bit more than it would have if I would have used my head before leaving. If you’re taking it, get it unlocked before you leave as it’s another job down and most likely will be cheaper.
20. Transport to airport: Again you can’t crawl there on your face so get a train ticket or a mate to give you a lift.
21. Change some money: It’s always a good idea to have some local currency upfront. I recommend around $400-500 should be plenty.
22. Tell your bank you’re moving to Australia: If you don’t and they see your card being used in a foreign country, odds are they’ll assume it’s fraud and block the card. The last thing you need.
23. Check the latest airport security rules: These change all the time, so best check last minute to be sure you’re up to date.
24. Fill that ipod: You’re facing up to 30 hours in transit, plenty of tunes will help you get through.
25. Goodbye party: Well you might not see friends and family for a few years, hell, you might not see some of them ever again. Be sure to have a good night with the loved ones before you leave. I had mine the day before I left what a mistake to make, rough as toast for a 28 hour commute ain’t no fun! Just don’t get yourself arrested.
26. Make copies of your ID: Make photo copies of your passport and drivers licence, print a few off. Always handy to have, also get some more passport photos. Entering certain countries require you to have a passport photo which they’ll charge you for and having some already done just helps with obtaining visa at the airports.
You’re on your way – The day has finally come…
This is it! The road to Australia is laid before you!
If it’s your first solo trip the odds are your legs are shaking like a sh*tting dog right about now. Everything you planned over the last 3+ months comes down to this day, so what do you need to do today!?
27. Well there’s the checklist: Passport, visa, flight tickets, phone charger are the most important.
28. Charge devices: Make sure every device you have is charged as if it’s in your hand luggage you may need to show that it’s working.
29. Don’t bother buying cigarettes in duty free: I used to be a smoker and on my way out to Australia thought it would be a good idea to get some duty free cigs, 200 I bought. Gets to Australia, airport security told me that I should throw 120 away as the amount of tax they were going to charge me would make them cost about £20 a packet. In the bin they went!
30. Set about 5 alarms: That plane won’t wait for you…
You’ve arrived! – What on gods earth do you do now!?
That is a very good question. Everyone has different plans and aims for their time in Australia, some have lots of money and no rush to do anything and the rest of us need to crack on. Living in an Australian city, even in a hostel will set you back at least $500 a week. $500 a week is a lot of money when there ain’t any coming in. I saw people turn up, make some bad decisions and go broke. Here’s a few tips that might save you from the same fate:
31. Get your Tax File Number sorted: Getting your TFN is something every backpacker that wishes to work needs to do. Sooner the better!
32. Look at doing some workaway: Finding a workaway host straight off the bat will give you time to sort out your TFN and figure out what direction you want to go in without losing too much money. Meeting Australians that have lived in one place and built up many contacts over time can never be a bad thing.
33. Going out drinking: For many, meeting new people is half of what travelling’s about and what better way to make new friends than participating in the old “Sunday sesh”. Just get a few in ya before you go out. $20 a pint and $14 a shot of sambuca. A few heavy nights out with the hostel lot can easily turn that $500 a week into $1000+. This is where a box of goon will save you some dollar.
34. Stay away from burger bars: Surprisingly a “greasy spoon” burger bar will cost you more for a meal than some well known fast food establishments. I’m gonna say it again $16.50 for a cheeseburger with no bacon, not even a morsel of salad! Check out Dominos tight arse tuesday deals.
35. Cook your own meals: This is always a win. Head down to Coles for some super-noodles and bread… What more do you need 😉 Just stay away from that Coles $1 dollar bread. I’m surprised that stuff doesn’t snap when you try to fold it. I doubt even the ducks would tackle it!
End of the road….
That’s it! The end of the road to Australia! Throughout this post there’s lots of links to other posts I have written that do much deeper into each point I’ve made. If you’re planning that once in a lifetime trip down under then follow them stops and you do pretty well, the rest is up to you….
From now on I will be spending the next couple of months exploring more of my home turf, the UK. I hope you stick around for the ride.