So I arrived in Sydney from London (UK) on 15th December 2018.
After spending over 24 hours flying, getting lost in airports and almost being rejected an ESTA visa, the sunshine and heat that hit me off of the plane made it worth it. 30 degrees in December plus beautiful beaches… yes please!
Here are a few things to consider before your flight:
- If you’re travelling from the UK to Australia (or anywhere else in the world) and you’re travelling via America YOU NEED AN ESTA VISA. I thought that because I was travelling with the same airline (American Airlines) and not planning on exiting the airport during a four hour layover that I wouldn’t need a visa but was informed at the checkin desk that this wasn’t the case. This meant that I had an hour to order a visa online, have it approved and be sent an email confirmation before I could check in my luggage. Luckily I’d got to the airport three hours before my flight was due to depart (planning to have a nice coffee with my parents before I leave home for the next 12-24 months) and my visa was approved in less than 30 minutes.
- Snacks – airport and airplane food can be very hit and miss. Always bring snacks. And keep them close by. You know you’ll regret it when you wake up in the middle of the night starving hungry, sitting in the window seat, with the person in the middle and aisle seat fast asleep. Don’t be that guy/ girl that wakes them up.
- A re-useble water bottle – make sure it’s empty when you’re going through security and then fill it up from one of the various drinking fountains stationed around the airport. This saves you money, time and the environment.
- Bring clothing layers – you know that the airport and planes are always either too hot to too cold. Be prepared with extra clothing layers to wear or use as a pillow
Once you arrive:
- Have somewhere to stay – ideally have this pre-booked before you leave home. It makes arriving in a new country so much easier and you’ll have a plan for when you actually arrive. There’s nothing worse than having a 24 hour flight and not knowing when/ where your next shower will be.
- Have a look at airport transport. It’s really easy to get from the airport to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane city centres.
- Sydney has a really good train system – buy a Opal (travel) card at the train station and hop on a train to the city.
- Melbourne has the Skybus – a coach system with various destinations. One of them is the Southern Cross station – a large station in the City where you can catch the train, tram, bus and various coaches.
- Brisbane – I took the Greyhound bus to/ from Brisbane airport but they also have great transport links – you can catch the Airtrain from various stations across the city.
- SIM card/ a way to contact friends and family. I opted for a 30 day Vodafone SIM card as soon as I got off the plane (40gb data, unlimited texts and calls to Australian phone numbers, plus 500 minutes to the UK for $40). Having a way to contact friends and family, and having internet data makes it a lot easier when navigating your way through the city. In Sydney, there are several telephone services desks just outside the airport (you’ll definitely pass these on your way to the train station).
- Medicard – It’s the Australian version of the NHS and will prove invaluable if you need it.
- Banking – depending how long you’re planning on staying in Australia you’ll most likely need to set up an Australian bank account. You’ll need one if you end up working here (to pay your wages into), living here (to pay your rent) and also buying things (and not paying an international transfer fee). In the meantime, it’s a good idea to get an international banking card. I used Starling when I first arrived, loading it up with £ on the app and withdrawing $ from the cash points. Your limited to adding £250 a day to your Starling card so for any big purchases it’s a good idea to start pre-loading your card a few days before (adding £250 a day for 4 days will give you £1,000 to spend later
One last thing…The weather.
Depending how long you’re planning to stay in Australia – and where you’re planning to visit – think of the seasons when you pack and plan your trip. Arriving in the middle of summer in Sydney seems a distant memory when it’s almost winter in Melbourne. Gone are the days of bikinis and summer dresses… now it’s time for boots, coats and umbrellas.
Weather varies state-to-state so pick your route and time your visit carefully.