My First Trip to Australia, I Made 8 MISTAKES!
I believed that my trip to Australia would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In fact, it appears to be a paradise! Everyone in the UK, US has probably daydreamed about moving to Australia at some point.
The fact is, though, that during my trip, I made a lot of mistakes.
SO. MANY MISTAKES.
I also have no freaking idea what was going through my mind as I “planned” this trip (air quotes because, as you’ll soon discover, not much actual planning went into this trip at all), despite the fact that my trip planning frequently veers toward the obsessive. Normally, I can almost instantly navigate a country’s public transportation system and recite 200 years of its history before I even arrive.
Okay, so that was perhaps a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.
Australia, though? I arrived in Australia completely unprepared. I had hardly made any preparations and was fully prepared to wing it.
I could put my lack of planning down to the crippling amount of work stress I had in the weeks before the trip. I could put it down to the fact that I was kind of blotting out the entire trip for myself due to my anxiety over the 25-hour flight. I might even attribute it to pure indifference.
However, it doesn’t matter in the end. There were errors.
It would be pointless for me to keep my first trip’s mistakes to myself, though! The mistakes I made during my two-week trip to Australia are listed below. I made these errors so you wouldn’t have to, and I also picked up a lot of helpful advice for traveling around Australia on a budget.
I didn’t make a wise budget.
Oh, here we are once more. This is where I remind everyone that I’m a huge cheapskate and very frugal when I travel, and that I regret being so stingy frugal on my trip yet again.
Here is the unvarnished truth. In Australia, you don’t need a lot of money to travel. Just like anywhere else in the world, you can survive on the barest necessities. However, no one wants to travel halfway around the world to spend their time only visiting free sights while eating super noodles in their hostel.
To maximize your time in Australia, then? You’ll require a sizeable sum of money.
I should note at the outset that my trip to Australia lasted only two weeks. Yes, I traveled 25 hours by air from London to the East Coast of Australia for two weeks before returning.
I was running out of time to take a vacation from work, and I didn’t want to wait until my retirement to travel to Australia. I therefore just did it!
However, I ought to have planned my trip more carefully and given myself permission to splurge on worthwhile items.
$400 tour of Fraser Island? Nah.
Visit the Great Barrier Reef to snorkel. Absolutely not.
Visiting Uluru? I’m not a wealthy person!
I’m very envious of you if you’re visiting Australia for, oh, a year because you have all the time in the world to eat super noodles in your hostel and still see everything on the country’s must-see list.
However, if you’re only going to be in Australia for two weeks (or, like one complete lunatic I met there, eight days), you’ll need to spend some money to make the trip worthwhile.
The lovely irony is that I only realized my penny-pinching attitude was ruining my trip about a week in. In the end, I decided to change my plans (and incur a loss on previously reserved hostel rooms) in order to take that pricy Fraser Island tour.
But what do you know? The Fraser Island tour was unquestionably THE BEST THING I DID IN AUSTRALIA!
Make the most of it if you’re going all that way! You won’t regret it, I guarantee it. One of my most important pieces of advice for backpacking through Australia is to not be afraid to spend money on once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Delay the trip by a few more months so you can pay for some of the experiences on your bucket list. Spend your vacation money wisely. Do you want to travel such a great distance for such meager results? NO!
I travelled solo
A contentious one right here.
I frequently see Australia listed as one of the “best countries for solo travelers,” but I must regrettably disagree. I’ve traveled alone in 7 different countries, but Australia was by far the hardest.
But I don’t believe I’m always correct. Going solo is undoubtedly more fun than traveling with people you know if you’re going to Australia for a year. Australia is teeming with long-term visitors, and establishing a community there seems incredibly simple.
But you’re only going to be there for two weeks, right?
When I only travel for two weeks, I make sure to pack enough cash to go out for brunch, dinner, drinks, and other expenses. I want to enjoy myself. I want to connect with other travelers who share my interests in having a good time because I have the money to do so (well, within reason!).
Every dollar counts if you’re traveling extensively, as the vast majority of backpackers I encountered in Australia were. Out of the 14 nights I spent in Australia during my entire trip, I only managed to find people who wanted to go out for dinner or drinks THREE times.
I understand that traveling to Australia costs a lot of money, especially if you plan to stay there for a while.
I guess I just assumed that more people would be staying in hostels for an extended period of time on their working holiday than the opposite.
Making friends in hostels was extremely difficult, and since everyone was employed, it was nearly impossible to find anyone who wanted to go out and explore during the day.
I firmly believe that you should travel with someone else unless you have long-term travel plans to Australia. And I highly doubt you’ll ever hear me say that again because I love traveling alone!
In actuality, I felt lonely in Australia. Especially when the other travelers I had made friends with were at work during the day.
The crazy time difference between here and back home in the UK made it so that I essentially didn’t speak to anyone from 10 am to 6 pm every day. Not good!
I travelled too slowly
I know that I moved too slowly. Every single travel writer in the world urges us to take our time, travel slowly, and get to know a place thoroughly.
And while I don’t want to think highly of myself, I believe that my trip stands out as an exception to the rule. I traveled the 10,000 miles to Australia fully aware that I only had two weeks to see and do as much as I could there because I didn’t know when I’d be returning.
When you have plenty of time, why travel slowly? Absolutely. When you know you can return at any time, why travel slowly? Oh, yeah!
Slow travel on what might be a once-in-a-lifetime journey? In my opinion? No!
I wish I had crammed my schedule as full as I could and returned home even more worn out than I already was. Considering that I would have seen much more of Australia than I actually did.
I included a lot of beach days in my schedule. I adore the shoreline. Does anyone not? But I was already kicking myself as I sat on the beach for a second day in a row (again, by myself) and realized I should have moved on to the next location.
Fun fact about me: I have trouble unwinding. Because I must always be doing something, I’m probably a nightmare to live with. Relaxing is stressful to me. It was less than ideal to spend three full days alone on a beach with nothing but my thoughts.
I believe that short trips over long distances are the ideal exception to the slow travel rule. Plan your itinerary and pack every spare moment with incredible activities!
I went back to work the day after I got home
Yeah. This instance of self-sabotage was typical.
But it seemed like such a waste to use a day off to only rest and recover from my exhausting trip home (which was around 32 hours door-to-door). I didn’t want to lose a day that I could have spent in Australia by staying home!
But do you know what I did on my last day in Australia?
I dreaded having to leave for work almost immediately after I got home, and unavoidably after getting little sleep. I arrived around 5 o’clock, arrived at my house around 6, and left for work at 9:30 the next morning.
God, that work week was brutal.
I was sick all week long. I was probably the least productive I’d ever been because I was worn out, jet lagged, unmotivated, and exhausted. People thought I was crazy when I explained why I was so exhausted. Who harms themselves in that way?
I am aware of the temptation to arrive at your destination as soon as possible, even if doing so means forgoing sleep, good health, and sanity.
So did I as well.
However, let my error serve as a warning: don’t do it!
I would have arrived at work rested, been able to enjoy my final day in Australia without worry, and had time to think back on all the incredible experiences I had there before going back to the office if I had had a day at home to recover from my trip.
I had no time to even think about my trip because I had to fight every day to stay awake.
Do you feel like working 12-hour days and then spending your evenings doing your mountain of laundry from your trip? No, not me. It was one of the stupidest mistakes I made on my first trip to Australia because it was a surefire way to get post-trip depression.
The most crucial piece of advice I can give you for traveling on a budget in Australia is to allow yourself enough time to rest after your return flight.
I didn’t research enough
In Surfers Paradise? Who wouldn’t want to travel to a place with a name like that?
Most people, as it turns out.
To me, Surfers Paradise is synonymous with good surfing. Right? Right?? Is it reasonable to assume that?”
Actually, if I had done more than two seconds of research before adding two days to my itinerary there, I would have realized that Surfers Paradise actually sounds like my own personal hell.
The surf in Surfers Paradise isn’t actually that great, as it turns out. in any way. There are no surfers in Surfers Paradise.
Second, I had no idea that Surfers Paradise was Australia’s premier party destination. If you’re from the UK, compare it to Blackpool or, if you’re not, some Cancun spring break destination.
Huge clubs, all-night drinking, tacky gift shops… You see what I mean. The ideal setting for a female who despises nightclubs!
Third, Surfers Paradise simply wasn’t a paradise. It was unclean. The beach wasn’t very nice. There weren’t really any attractions for tourists.
As a result, why? WHY did I subject myself to this? Me, the person who frequently makes 100 iterations of her itinerary? Why did I pick a few towns in Australia at random and just wing it?
Unanswered questions abound.
In the end, Surfers Paradise turned out to be a great time, and I definitely made the most of it in my own way, but it wasn’t exactly the best use of my brief stay in Australia. It was a prime instance of bad planning.
I underestimated how big Sydney is
Which Sydney neighborhood should I choose?
Let’s head to Bondi, then! There are many activities there, and I’ve heard the surfing is excellent. The beach will be right outside my door! Perfect.
Yep. That was pretty much exactly how I reasoned when choosing the Sydney neighborhood where I would stay for four days. I also adored Bondi. The only issue was that it was difficult to enter central Sydney from Bondi.
The journey to the Opera House took almost an hour. Don’t even bring up the trip I took to get home from Manly Beach. I lost all of this valuable sightseeing time traveling by public transportation.
I wish I had done more research to understand Sydney’s size (I’m sensing a theme here…). If I had known, I would have moved to a hostel in a more convenient location to indulge in my inner traveler, but I would have still stayed in Bondi for a couple of nights because it was just so darn fun.
My expectations were so damn high
Australia. the coveted region. a paradise in the tropics.
I fell prey to my own hopes and expectations. In Australia, I had some of the most memorable travel experiences of my life. Australians take their coffee very seriously, and I fell in love with it. I know I’ll go back someday to check off the things on my bucket list that I didn’t get to the first time.
There was no way Australia could ever live up to my expectations because they were so high.
I believed that being in Australia alone was sufficient. I didn’t realize that simply walking around town would change my life, that taking the Greyhound bus would be amazing, and that I would return home frantically trying to quit my job and obtain a Working Holiday visa.
Understand what I mean? How in the world could taking the bus be amazing?
I was obviously disappointed when I left Australia vowing to move there because I was so sure I would want to live there. Never, ever would I opt for a Working Holiday Visa (for countless reasons).
The biggest surprise of all was how similar Australia felt to the United Kingdom. Even though it was sunny and the accents were different, I still anticipated feeling a million miles from home.
When I ventured outside of the cities and experienced Australia’s breathtaking natural beauty, all of my most memorable experiences there occurred. The cities themselves simply had the appearance of any other city.
The only thing that truly transported me to the Australia of my dreams was being outside in nature.
I spent too much time in cities
I learned that Australia’s natural beauty is extraordinary, and I found its cities to be rather uninspiring. I would have planned my travels differently if I had known this beforehand.
I thought, “Huh, that’s weird,” as I was reading my travel guide for Australia. There doesn’t seem to be much to do in Brisbane, does there? They must be mistaken, right?
No, they weren’t.
Cities in Australia are fantastic starting points for tours of the breathtaking Australian landscape, but (in my opinion) they aren’t worth flying 10,000 miles for on their own.
Although it may seem like I’m disparaging Australian cities (with the exception of Brisbane), I assure you that I’m not. God, that place was boring. Sydney was wonderful. In its own way, I even quite liked the Gold Coast.
However, aside from a handful of extremely rare exceptions, I seriously doubt there are many cities in the world that are worth traveling 10,000 miles for.
I wish I had spent more time in nature, but I’m so glad I got out of the city. Get out of the cities is one of my top recommendations for travelers in Australia!
I would have been SO dissatisfied if I had traveled all that way and then just spent my time traveling between cities.
I hope you enjoyed it and picked up a few pointers on how to have the most amazing backpacking trip to Australia!
I had a fantastic time in Australia despite making 8 fairly significant mistakes, and I can’t wait to go back – hopefully without any mistakes this time!
On your trip to Australia, did you make any mistakes? Do you have any advice for guests who are just arriving?
Topic: My First Trip to Australia, I Made 8 MISTAKES!
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By: Travel Pixy