Friday, September 20, 2013

What To Know When Traveling To Australia

This week, we are very excited to feature a guest post from one of our mates in beautiful Australia!  His helpful tips and advice about visiting the land Down Under will make your transition to Australian culture smoother and could save you or your children from injury!

image courtesy of Pixabay
Going to Australia on a vacation can be the experience of a lifetime. The amazing scenery, uncorrupted with overpopulation, beautiful cities, and friendly people are among Australia’s most famous assets.  Although they are a former British colony (they still recognize the British monarch as the supreme sovereign), their mentality and disposition is very different from the British. The Australian society is considered to be an egalitarian one or, as they like to say, everyone should have a “fair go”.

Making A Good First Impression
Although famous for their open-mindedness, there are still some things the Aussies frown upon. They despise pompousness and self-boasting. It is common for them to downplay their own achievements. They are very hard-working and they don’t like people who are full of themselves.

Formal addressing is also not very common, especially insisting on titles when you meet new people. Aussies show their appreciation through respectful behavior rather than through formal speech. So put a smile on your face, be kind and friendly, and you'll be golden.

Understanding The Locals
Formal communication shouldn’t be a problem, obviously, but if you go out with your new Aussie mates, you will be dumbfounded by the slang they use. Try to learn the meaning of a few words at least, so you don’t spend the whole evening silently sitting in the background wondering what the conversation is about.  Though, being as friendly as they are, the locals will likely be happy to explain themselves and make a few jokes at your expense along the way!

Beware The Sun
You should never forget to wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat when going to a beach in Australia. This is where the ozone hole is the biggest, so the UV radiation is worse than anywhere else in the world.

Considering their love for the beach, it is quite probable you will spend a lot of time there even if you are going on a business trip. So, never forget to protect yourself from the sun or you might end up looking like a lobster.

Don’t Let The Bed Bugs Bite
Although some believe that bed bugs only exist in children’s imaginations, bed bugs are a real danger in Australia.  Due to the humid climate and a constant “supply” of humans, entomological variety in Australia is unbelievable. So even if you are staying in a luxurious resort, make sure you check the bed and the rest of the furniture for hidden guests.  While this is not as important for downtown hotels in Sydney or Melbourne, if you are exploring the Australian Outback check your sheets thoroughly before you doze off. 

The Wild, Wild, Wildlife
The unique wildlife is one of the trademarks of Australia, but the cute animals you see in the pictures may not be so cute in reality.  Australia is beaming with exotic endemic species but only a select few of them are sweet and cuddly as you imagine them to be. Most of them are actually poisonous snakes and scorpions, and let’s not forget to mention the crocodiles.

Even the cuties like koalas and wombats bite when they feel threatened. The kangaroos are something to watch out for, especially when driving through wilderness at night. If you hit one, the impact can seriously damage your car and injure the passengers. Never try to get closer and pet one because their kick is so strong it can kill a person instantly.  As if the terrestrial beasts weren’t enough, the coastal area of the sea is swarming with poisonous jellyfish and octopuses, sting rays, and even sharks.

In other words, remember to wear adequate clothes and tough footwear if you are hiking through the wilderness, and don't forget to stay clear of exotic colorful fish when you go for a swim. A smart thing to do is to carry a bottle of white vinegar to the beach, especially from October to April. It is great for soothing irritated skin if you have been stung by a jellyfish.

Tipping The Waiter
This is one of the biggest differences between American and Australian culture. The Aussies consider tipping to be unnecessary since the people working as bartenders, waiters etc. have decent paychecks. This is a lot different from the States where workers in service sector have minimum wages and depend on the tips to earn a decent salary. In Australia, the “tips” are included in the price of the service and you usually make an exception only if you are overjoyed with the service. Of course, in some Australian restaurants it is normal to leave a tip, especially if it is one that is frequented by tourists.

I hope this glimpse into The Land Down Under has shown you that Australia is likely not what you imagine it to be, and that this is precisely the reason you should come, visit it, and get a glimpse of a lifestyle that will change your perception of the world, and, in the end, of yourself. That is what traveling is all about anyway, right?

Written by Mark Tomich, an Aussie living a dream life with two kids, a lovely wife and a couple of huge surfing boards.  They often travel together, and are very happy that they can recieve family travel benefits, for example those given by

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