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. We recommend having at least two blank passport pages for entry stamps. U.S. and Canadian passport holders must purchase an individual visa from the Australian government’s Electronic Travel Authority website eta.immi.gov.au prior to departure. 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. Your tour coordinator can provide local transportation information to you for each city visited
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.
We advise that you pack in layers. Light, loose-fitting clothing that provides comfort when exploring the sights is essential for your tour. A sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers is also recommended for exploring the cities. It’s always a good idea to be prepared for any eventuality—a lightweight sports jacket and/or rainwear are advised. You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or attend a special performance. Waterproof shoes or sandals, a swimsuit, sunscreen and insect repellent are recommended for outdoor activities. A small bottle of hand sanitizer may be helpful when other facilities are not readily available while on the road. Also, remember that it is preferable not to visit religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (and entrance may be denied on this basis).
Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches. Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.
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.
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 major health risks associated with traveling to Australia. At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov. Especially during the summer months, take proper care for sun exposure. 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. If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour as well as any possible delays encountered. Certain over-the-counter and prescription medications may be banned in one or all of the countries on this tour. Importing these drugs can carry severe consequences, including imprisonment. Please consult your healthcare provider prior to departure to ensure that any drugs you may want to bring with you are legal in all countries you will visit. If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify us by calling 855-355-8728 at least 30 days prior to your departure.
The units of currency you’ll be using on your tour are Australian dollars. Better rates of exchange are usually available in your country of destination, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We advise that you take credit cards and dollar bills in small denominations. We suggest informing your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so they don’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges and freeze your account. International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour. Travelers checks are difficult to exchange, and should be used only as a last resort.
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 the standard 220-240 volts and uses Types I plugs with three large, flat pins set on an angle. We recommend packing a universal adapter, as well as a voltage converter if you plan on using your own hairdryer or other device without a built-in converter. The majority of the hotels on this tour will have air conditioning. Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.