Planning Your Trip to Australia: The Ultimate Guide

By Josh •  Updated: 03/29/21 •  18 min read

Taking a vacation to any country can be a daunting task and learning what you need to take with you, what you need to plan, and what things you will need to buy there can make most people have small heart palpitations.

Australia is one of those countries where everyone wants to go to, with white sandy beaches, warm waters, and a lot of things to see culturally it has become quite a popular location to visit.

To plan a trip to Australia you will need to check your Visa requirements, have the right amount of money in your accounts, and have most of the trip already planned out. Australian customs can be extremely strict and may turn you away at the airport if you are not meeting all the requirements that they have. Planning a trip to the country can also be a challenge as you need to ensure that you have the hotels booked, the trip visits planned, the right pills and all of the cities planned out.

To get to understand this you first need to know where to start planning your trip to Australia and how the number of people you are traveling with will greatly affect the overall experience that you have.

Owing to the diverse and unique wildlife that the country they can be extremely strict with anything from the foods you are taking with you, to the jewelry that you are wearing.

Ensuring that you are entirely ready and have everything planned out will help your trip to Australia not be absolute chaos.

How to plan a trip to Australia?

Planning your trip to Australia needs to be broken up into three separate things, the first of which is where you are planning on going.

Australia is a large country and many people forget that to get from one end to the other can take up to a week of constant driving.

There is no easy way, apart from flying, to reach the major cities, which means you need to plan which cities you want to visit that are near each other.

The second part that you will need to plan out is what you will be doing, if you are sticking to Sydney this can be extremely varied.

However, some of the other cities have drastically different things that you can do and you may go camping for weeks on end while in one city, while on the other end you may laze on the beach for your entire vacation.

The third thing you will need to plan around is how long you want and can go to the country, as this may have the biggest effect on your trip.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that a week is enough to see all they want, however, this is barely enough time to explore all the things around one airport.

Most trips to Australia that are enjoyable need to last around 1-month if they are to be successful in giving the full Australian experience.

What do I need to do before going to Australia?

Before going to Australia there is a long list of things you will need to both research and plan for as they will greatly affect the overall experience you will be having in the country.

Australia has many dangers that you need to be aware of, with many more diseases and viruses that you may need to be tested for before going to the country.

Further, the requirements for the amount of spendable money you have in your accounts to enter the country are also higher than in most other countries.

Compounding everything else you may go to a part of the country where the language they are speaking is not just English, creating confusion as you may not be able to understand or communicate in a foreign language to navigate the streets of a specific city or town.

Australian money ~ furled Australian notes, with black background. Focus on front $100 note
Furled Australian notes, with black background. Focus on front $100 note

Spending Money

This is the biggest barrier that catches a lot of people off guard when they first decide to go to Australia, the official amount listed on their websites is a sufficient amount to cover your stay in the country.

With the average way of this being measured saying that you will spend around AUS$200 per day, which makes longer stays in the country have higher and higher requirements.

Most of the time people will have enough to enter when they have a sufficiently large credit card, with the Australian dollar not being as strong as the Euro, Pound, or US Dollar.

This means that people from these countries can travel with their normal vacation funds already in their accounts without worry. It is usually when someone is coming from a country with a weaker currency that the issue of not having enough money becomes a problem.

Languages in Australia

You should be fine if you can speak English fluently as that is the de facto language that everyone in the entire country speaks. However, the challenge comes when you are planning on visiting more rural areas where there may still be some aboriginal people around.

Usually, this becomes less of a problem if you have a friend with you that already knows the country and how to navigate towards English-speaking people.

However, the English that is spoken in the country can be heavily accented, with words that are specific to the country being used all the time.

Further, because the only language that is everywhere in English you may find that if you are not a good English speaker you will be lost.

Many Eastern travelers find this particular challenge to be a problem as they are entirely incapable of navigating the country because of the large language barriers they are facing.

Cheapest Months to Visit

This can be tricky and will depend heavily on the city you are going to, but like all other countries that have a large tourism structure, Australia has months where it is more expensive to travel than others.

However, you may find that these months are not like the months in your home country, especially if you are from the northern hemisphere.

For local travel, the Christmas holidays become extremely busy because of all the people taking vacations while in the mid-year international travel may pick up as these countries enter their summer periods.

It has been calculated the cheapest month to fly to Australia is in August, as this is the transitional month for the country and most people will not be on holiday, whether they are local or international.

Diseases and Viruses

One of the big upsides of the strict controls that the country has over who can enter the country, and when they can enter, is that there are very few diseases or viruses that you need to worry about.

While some diseases can infect you and causes painful fevers, most of the diseases that are found in the country are also found in developed countries around the world.

Further, viruses like Malaria have never entered the country, which means there is no need to worry about it or to drink preventative medicine to stop it.

More dangerous venereal diseases and viruses are in the country but avoiding contact or practicing the correct safety guidelines will mean that you will not be infected or risk being infected.

Overall, the country is a safe place to visit, however, you may be turned away at the gate if you are found to be infected with something that they consider at risk.

How much does the average trip to Australia cost?

The biggest challenge that you may face when traveling to the country is the overall costs that you will be paying.

Many times, this is what stops people from visiting whenever they can, as traveling can become expensive and cause a large number of challenges as people run out of money halfway through a trip.

While it is recommended that you stay for much longer than just one week, the best pricing guides are all built around the average costs of people only staying in the country for 7 days.

This is because after this period it can be hard to predict the overall costs, as most people staying for longer are also traveling, moving to different hotel rooms, or just camping in the wilds of the country.

Solo travelers

For the solo traveler, the cost of visiting, staying, and eating in Australia is estimated to be around $2000 starting with the international flight.

On average if you are choosing the cheapest seat on the plane it will only cost $1112 and the most affordable hotel rooms costing $55.

This creates the opportunity that you can visit the country, have a place to sleep, and eat every day for an extremely low budget.

If you are planning to travel a bit this price may drastically change as things like other hotel rooms can cost more, while hostels can cost next to nothing. Many solo travelers preferring to travel around a city rather than staying each night at the same place.

This is why you can easily talk to people that went to visit the country on their own with nothing more than the money they gathered from a summer job.

Travelling Couples

Ironically enough traveling as a couple can become a lot more expensive as you are not always willing to go on the cheap. This is exacerbated by the fact you may choose to get first-class tickets which can start at $3492 per person, and most couples are not at all willing to sleep in hostels as these locations offer almost no privacy.

Most couples will be a lot more expensive as well as they want some fine dining, need a room that has a double bed in it and has to purchase two plane tickets.

A couple can expect to pay upwards of $8000 for their entire trip, as they are prone to staying at the same hotel, eat at more expensive restaurants, and above all go to experience much more expensive events.

The thing that always shocks couples the most is that they are not always going to be able to plan for all their expenses, and as such having a few thousand extra will mean they can comfortably enjoy the trip without having to stress about the debt they are getting in.

Families of 4

A family of 4 is an odd phenomenon, as these families are much less likely to ever get a plane ticked above economy class. Most families will get four seats in a row and may be willing to do more layovers to allow the children to relax along the way.

This drops the price of the flight down significantly from those of a couple, reaching a total of just over $4000 for the full family.

Further, a family will get two or one larger room that is much cheaper for a family of four to pay for, while doing activities that are free or cheap.

A family may visit a water park that has a flat entrance fee for the whole day or go to an entirely free beach. Further, families are prone to only eat the food provided by the hotel, while going out as little as possible.

The total calculated cost for a family to go to Australia is only around $6000 to $9000 for the entire trip, for all four members of the family.

What visa do you need from each country?

Visiting Australia requires that you have permission to enter the country, with many people not always aware that you cannot simply walk in using your passport.

Most countries around the world have requirements that must be met for their citizens to enter Australia, these are the things that you may already have done or are preparing to do.

Usually, people will be able to learn what they need to do by visiting the Australian consulates in their country.

Most of the time a visa can be granted that allows you to enter and travel around the country with ease, however, when you are coming from a few select countries you will go through an extreme vetting process.

To understand which countries are easy to enter from, you will need to know which visa applies to you. Many times, it is easy, however, for a few select countries entry into Australia can be extremely tough.

United States, Canada, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea

These are some of the countries that Australia considers the safest, and as such entry into the country for a vacation is extremely easy.

When applying for a visa you will be looking for the ETA Australia visa that validates you for a 90-day stay in the country within the next 12-months. You can visit the country with this visa for tourism purposes, trans, or even business purposes.

It is this visa that many people think of when they want to visit the country as it allows you to do quite a lot of things without having to stress about what you can or cannot do while in the country.

However, because this visa is only allowed to be given to people from a few select countries it can seem hard for others to enter the country on their limited visas.

UK and Europe

This is the much more common Visa that you will know about if you are from the European region as the eVisitor visa is aimed only at people from European countries.

This Visa gives a 90-consecutive day visit for those that hold it, within a 12-month period. As with the ETA visa you are allowed to travel through the country, do business in the country, and be a tourist.

This visa is meant only for people from the EU regions and a few outlying countries and has been standardized because of the similar laws and regulations in these countries.

This allows the Australian authorities to blanket apply what rules should be applied to these people, as they are not likely to illegally stay in the country after the visa time has run out.

Most other countries

If you are not from the countries listed in the eVisitor list or the ETA list then you will have a much harder time entering Australia as their customs offices can be strict.

If you would like to visit the country as just a tourist you will need to apply for a visitor visa, which can last anything from 3 months up to 12 months.

These visas can be granted to simply visit the country, however, most of the time your application will be a lot more successful if you are applying with the purpose of visiting a friend or family.

The requirements that must be met are slightly more strict and the process can take longer to complete as you have to work towards getting all the required conditions set out by the visa.

However, once you are granted this visa visiting and exploring the beautiful country of Australia will as easy as taking a short vacation in your own country.

What are the weather conditions in Australia?

This is the part that can surprise many people that are not prepared for the harsher conditions that some of the countries in the Southern Hemisphere can offer.

Australian winters are rarely freezing, with most people from Japan, the EU, and most parts of the US considering the winter temperatures of Australia to be quite hot.

During summer seasons most parts of the country can easily reach temperatures of well above 113 Degrees Fahrenheit that can and will cause most people to receive skin damage.

This is why it is recommended that most people do not visit the country during the top of its summer season as the sudden heat can cause long-term damage.

However, during the more temperate months such as Spring and Autumn, the country experiences mild to hot temperatures that can be an absolute joy to travel in.

Many people prefer to travel to the country at the start or near the end of these months as it allows them to enjoy the country when it is at its most beautiful, allowing them to easily enjoy the country without dying of the heat.

What are the best voice and data plans for travelers in Australia?

Ironically enough while data plans in Australia and its neighboring country New Zealand are some of the most expensive in the world, the tourist hotspots in the country are filled with Wi-Fi signals.

This is why you will find that most people recommend not buying a local phone sim card if you are aware that you will be staying within main cities and tourist hotspot areas.

However, if you are going to be traveling across the country, to locations that are far away from normal tourist locations you can choose between the three major mobile broadband carriers that the country has.

Vodafone, Optus, and Telstra all offer sim cards for travelers that can buy the sim at the airport, putting money on the sim using a credit card, or by buying airtime at grocery stores.

On average you can simply load $30 onto your phone and use the phone and data as you are going, reloading more data when you run out. Alternatively, you can arrange with your current mobile

provider to have a sim card that can be used across countries. This will cost a lot more but also allow you to still receive and make calls from the phone and sim card that you currently have.

What cities are in Australia to visit?

Visiting any country on earth is more than just showing up and stumbling into things that you may love and like to do. Unless you are traveling alone you will need to have some things planned and the locations where you are going to sleep already booked.

Australia is a country that is so large driving from one city to the next is what most people choose to do for their entire vacation and just enjoy scenery between, when long travel is required flights are much faster.

This is why you need to know about some of the main cities in the country to visit, which ones are the most tourist-friendly and what makes those less traveled a good place to see.

Many times, the only places people will see Australia are those shown on popular media of what the country is like when in truth there are some hidden gems that few people know about.

Sydney

This is the main city, and the first city you should be visiting when going to the country as it is easily one of the most open to tourism as it is near the best beaches has the Opera house and has hundreds of hotels ready for people.

Sydney is the largest city in the country and has well over 4-million people living there, it is the perfect place to experience the best that Australia has to offer.

Perth

Perth is not entirely open to tourism and has a few fewer things to see, however it is a wonderful place to visit if you are looking for something different.

The most famous city on the west coast of the country many people make this city the main aim they are driving towards when traveling alone.

Usually, you will also land in this city if you are flying directly to Australia, like all cities with well over 2-million people though, many things are hidden.

Melbourne

If Perth is like the desert of the country, and Sydney the one with white sandy beaches, Melbourne is the tropical forest paradise on the southern coast of the country.

With a much more temperate climate than most other cities, this city is surrounded by a lot more green than any of the other cities in the country.

Not to mention that this city with more than 5-million people has the official world’s best coffee, you will, however, have to find it on your own.

Canberra

A few hundred miles away from Sydney and Melbourne is the perfect city for you to visit if you want to see the history of the country.

Canberra is the capital city of Australia and has many, many things that you can see that are outside of the normal things tourists may go to.

However, as amazing as this city is it should not be the main city that you are visiting as with all capital cities, it is not entirely geared towards international tourists.

Final Thoughts on How to Plan a Trip to Australia

Visiting Australia is one of the most amazing places that you can visit and it will be an experience to remember, as long as you remember to abide by the rules of the country.

The people will always be friendly and helpful, while many will find that they are tempted to never leave the country. Further, the best thing to do when visiting Australia is moving out of the cities and seeing what else is out there.

Always remember though, as beautiful as this country is, it has some of the most dangerous fauna and flora in the world!

Josh

Josh is a loving dad and husband, writer, business owner, and someone who loves to explore the world. He last travelled to Australia to visit Sydney, Brisbane, and Cairns and am looking to head back soon to see more! He is a huge fan of hiking, drawing, and so much more!