Things to Know About Backpacking in Australia
I have been travelling alone for over 30 years, 15 years of solo travel in Australia. I love travelling solo and loved backpacking in Australia on my early trips.
Now that I’m enjoying solo travel for over 50, I’m still backpacking now and then, although it’s not my favourite way of travelling because I love the freedom of the great outdoors or longer hikes.
Backpacking alone is definitely the best way to experience Australia on your own and make friends on the go. Fact is, you are going to meet many backpackers in Australia from all over the world.
I know that many women would like to travel on their own and also go backpacking solo, but many feel uncomfortable about travelling solo in the first place.
I recently wrote a post about the best ways to travel at fifty plus. I hope this will help you identify the type of travel and the top destinations to travel alone in Australia for their first solo adventure. As an old saying says:
How to Get Started with Backpacking Alone
To inspire you to travel alone as a woman in Australia, I have put together a list of valuable travel tips to get you started with your solo travels in Australia. It provides you with the knowledge, experience, and tools to choose from great itinerary ideas for Australia.
I have also written a guide book for the Solo Traveller to Australia that helps you quickly create your Itinerary around the country, with no little effort and minimum time invested in online research.
“Age doesn’t matter, it’s the spirit that rules our adventures, not our age”.
Tips for Backpacking Solo in Australia
Now a list of my best tips for backpacking alone around Australia.
Plan accommodation wisely
Make sure you have booked the first 2-3 nights before leaving your country. This takes the stress off you while recovering from jet lag. Remember your flight from Europe will take approx 18-21 hours and from the USA, depending on how you fly roughly the same. If you manage and stop overnight in Asia at the connection airport, you will naturally overcome the jet lag.
Prefer Staying in Hostels
There are hundreds of hostels to choose from in Australia; they are of great value and an excellent way to meet other travellers. You can book your hostel online. Most of them have a website or phone them to check for availability.
Book your bed in a female sex dorm, avoid a mixed-dorm. Or if you prefer a twin room, if you do not like to share. Female dorms are not a guarantee in all hostels. They can, under the circumstances, turn into mixed-dorm. I’d recommend to inquiry with the reception and make sure the female dorm is 100% female.
I have used YHA hostels for many years, and had by 95%, only positive experiences.
Get a YHA Membership Card
YHA stands for the youth hostelling association in Australia. Staying at YHA, among all backpackers hostels, is the safest and the best accommodation option for female backpackers. Do remember to state your YHA card every time you book a bed in a hostel in Australia.
Also, check out for discounts offered for various activities. You can check this on their website; they have a comprehensive list there. And another good reason to stay in YHA is that they are the only hostel chain that can guarantee female dorms all the times.
Make good use of hostel facilities.
Some hostels are huge and well equipped. After long travelling days, cooking yourself a good meal will give you the feeling of being at home and maintaining a healthy diet.
But you may also prefer the vibrant city vibe and taste the yummy Australian food in dining venues, pubs, restaurants, food malls. Melbourne is by far my fave city for food in Australia. With its great and varied offer, it’s hard to have a shortage of dining places to suit all tastes and budgets.
Try out Airbnb Australia
If sharing a hostel-dorm is not your thing, there are many ways to stay in comfortable private homes and rent out either a room or a private apartment.
This is a great way to meet the locals and make friends with the friendly Aussies. I have used Airbnb Australia a dozen times, and I have always been pleased with my Airbnb hosts. You can read how to use Airbnb in Australia and have a great stay.
Pack your backpack with essential stuff
Your suitcase weight should not exceed more than 10 kg, a maximum of 15 kg. Pack only private belongings that you must take with you and leave what you can buy in Australia. What you need is Good walking shoes, comfortable sandals and the right things to wear in Australia.
What to Wear when backpacking
Choosing what to wear in Australia is a bit tricky. First of all, we need to debunk the myth that Australia is warm and sunny everywhere and anytime. It is far from true. And many areas in Australia can be unforgivingly cold, even in the middle of summertime.
Pack this outdoor wear
1. Wind and Rain jacket
2. Warm fleece jumper and long pants
3. Technical Shirts or T-Shirts
4. Base layer for underwear
5. Good hiking or walking shoes
How to travel around Australia when backpacking
Bus Travel in Australia is convenient for backpackers, and there are many bus pass available to choose from. Greyhound Australia is the best company for offering good value backpacker passes. If you prefer driving, then you can look for carpooling or lifts.
There are usually notice boards with a wide choice of posts in hostels; if you prefer self-driving, check out this website site with all tips about driving solo around Australia.
Avoid too much flying.
Depending on the time frame and destinations, travelling by bus or a by car is the way to go. This is a better way to allows you to enjoy the beauty of the century. But if you have to cover long distances of +1000 km, it makes sense to book inland flights.
By long travel distances, a good option is travelling by train, next to the known Australian train journeys like the Ghan Train from Adelaide to Darwin through Alice Springs. You can also cross the country from Sydney to Perth on the Indian Pacific train.
Stay in touch with family and home.
Possibly let your family or close friends know about your travelling route and your destinations in Australia. You can either send an e-mail or phone. Get an international phone card. They are cheap. For 10 AUS, you can make phone calls to Europe or the USA for at least 6 hours.
For local calls, you can either use a national phone card or get a local Travel Sim card for your cellular phone. If you are staying for longer than four weeks, it is worth it. Use Telstra.com.au for your SIM card. It’s the most reliable in terms of country-wide coverage but a bit more expensive than other providers.
Stay Safe in Australia
Make a scan of all your documents such as passport, ID, health insurance and travel insurance in a word doc and send it to your private mailbox. Furthermore, I suggest storing all private documents on USB flash drives convenient for downloading photos and videos from your camera.
Do not walk alone in remote areas.
Australia is a safe country for solo travellers and backpackers. That being said, you should always beware of your surroundings, either in cities or suburban areas, do not walk alone at night and when off the tracking paths in national parks. It’s easy to get lost. In Australia, the mobile phone doesn’t work in remote areas, so for your safety, stick to the marked walking trails all the times.
Protect your skin with sunblock
Australia is really a sunburnt country, and you should beware of this. Use +30 sun protection, even on a cloudy day. The sunlight in the southern hemisphere is powerful, and you easily get sunburnt. Be careful and do not underestimate this aspect. It’s crucial for your skin health and overall trip enjoyment.
Follow these simple beach safety tips; when sunbathing or bushwalking, it is advisable to wear good functional wear, long pants, long sleeves; the more covered you are, the better. Check this post with travel safety tips for your Australia Trip
Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water
Depending on the environment, at least 1,5-4 litre per day. In the Australian Outback, you will need at least 4-5 litre a day with temps of 35-40°C. As a backpacker, you are bound to be walking for long hours in sun-scorched areas or along the beach.
So your body is bound to lose not only water but also, more important, minerals. So to avoid dehydration, it is essential you the lost minerals and vitamins with salty beverages too. You can add citrus like lemon or fresh orange to your water and eat salty food, natural energy bars like nuts, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables rich in minerals and vitamins. Read about healthy travel tips for travelling in Australia.
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Articles for Backpacking in Australia
If you are interested in backpacking alone in Australia, for a longer time than the usual 2 or 3 week-itinerary, here are more useful articles for you:
First published in 2010, last updated in Jan 2021
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