Additional Information About Travel to Australia
TippingAt the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your tour guide and driver a gratuity. Your WEST tour coordinator will collect the gratuity at any point during the tour (many travelers like to pay ahead of time to get it out of the way). Although it is not required, your driver and tour guides rely on these tips, and work hard to ensure you an unforgettable experience. We recommend tipping the equivalence of $3 USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6 USD/CAD to $9 USD/CAD per person per day for your tour guide. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalency of $2 USD/CAD per local guide, payable following the local tour. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
In order to enter Australia, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of your return home. A visa is also required for U.S. and Canadian passport holders to enter Australia. You can obtain an individual visa through our recommended provider, VisaCentral (www.visacentral.com/goaheadtours) or by visiting www.eta.immi.gov.au. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact the Australian consulate for your specific entry requirements.
The flights for tours beginning or ending in Australia will arrive or depart from Sydney, Melbourne or Cairns. On-tour transportation is provided primarily by private motor coach, but may include planes, trains, boats, ferries, or other modes. In your free time, you may wish to explore the locations via public transport. In Melbourne, the Met (M) transportation system covers tram, train and bus travel. The tram is an easy way to see the city. You can purchase tickets in singles or in bulk at shop vendors, Flinders Street Station and Melbourne Central Station. In Sydney, buses run frequently. One of the best ways to see Sydney and the harbor is by ferry. For ferry travel, go to the Circular Quay near the Opera House. Sydney also features a monorail that runs from the city center to Darling Harbor.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
In the tropics, lightweight clothing is suitable year-round. Farther
south in Australia, although the days are often warm during the southern
summer (December–February), a jacket is needed for the evenings. During
the southern winter (June–August), warm clothing is advised. Sneakers
are advised for exploring reefs and beaches, as are a sun hat and
sunscreen. There will rarely be an occasion for formal attire. Please
note: On tours that begin in Melbourne, make sure you check your luggage through to Melbourne as your final
Australia’s culinary traditions show a British influence, tending to be hearty and filling. The emphasis is on high-quality steaks and lamb chops, which are often barbecued. Meat pies, made in a variety of flavors, are also popular. Local specialties include shellfish, such as Sydney rock oysters and crabs, and the fish and chips often rival those in the United Kingdom. The national beverage is beer, and a visit to an Aussie pub is a popular pastime. Wines (especially from South Australia and Victoria) are superb.
There are no health risks associated with traveling to Australia. Travelers should take particular care of sun exposure and drink plenty of liquids. If you choose to go swimming, be careful of powerful surf. Make sure to obey signs and lifeguard orders, and always swim between the well-marked flags. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider for the latest health updates and overseas travel requirements.
The units of currency you’ll be using on your tour are Australian dollars. Better rates of exchange are found in that country. We recommend taking a combination of ATM/bank cards and credit cards. Travelers checks, which can be exchanged for local currency as needed, but are getting more and more difficult to cash. Travelers checks should be used only as a last resort. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges and freeze your account.
The northern section of Australia tends to be hot and humid in the summer, and hot and dry in the winter. The south is generally more temperate to warm (with some colder pockets). Australia is generally an arid country with no significant rainy season outside of the rainforest.
Australia operates on 220 and 240 volts.
Australia has three separate time zones. On your tour, you’ll
encounter Australian Eastern Standard (12 hours ahead of U.S. Pacific Standard Time) and Australian Central Standard (11.5 hours ahead of U.S.
Pacific Standard). When it is midnight in California, it is noon the next day in Sydney. During the summer daylight-saving period, things get
more complicated: The state of Queensland is then one hour behind that
of New South Wales and Victoria.