15 Things Not to Do When Visiting Australia
Australia is one of the most stunning holiday destinations globally, and everyone wants to travel to Australia. I have written and re-written it hundreds of times in different ways.
On Rocky Travel, you can find tons of articles packed with top destinations, from travel planning tips to what to see and do in Australia and why travel to Australia.
Not many sites tell you about those important things not to do when visiting Australia, though. Although the cost of travelling to Australia has unarguably an impact on your itinerary, these cost-effective tips will help you travel to Australia on a budget, stay on track and save lots of money on your trip.
All things NOT to DO When Visiting Australia
Why sacrifice adventures, tours and activities that were on your Australian bucket list for a long time? Check out how this list of don’ts for Australia will help you not make the common mistakes and avoid pitfalls, thus maximising your overall travel experience in Australia.
Do not travel without travel insurance in Australia.
International travellers often underestimate it. It does not matter what plans you have when you travel to Australia. You first need to ensure you have covered unexpected expenses like medical coverage and cancellations of bookings.
If you ever need to interrupt your trip for an important reason like illness or family issues, a good travel insurance policy will cover this expense. Medical coverage can cost thousands of dollars in Australia if you travel without insurance. I always get travel insurance. I recommend the one from Travel Medical Insurance from Safety Wings.
Do not travel to Australia without an accurate trip plan.
Travelling without a fixed plan may sound tempting, I know. But if you travel to Oz without planning your trip, it is a huge mistake that you must avoid. The country’s high costs of getting around coupled with the lack of availability will finally end up costing you 2-3 times the average travel cost to Australia. That’s why I have created a smart guidebook to create your itinerary!Check out these Itinerary Ideas for Australia
Do not book your flight to Australia too early.
Most people tend to believe that the earlier you book, the better. This travel rule applies when you plan to travel to Australia during peak season only. You need to book at least six months ahead at Christmas or Easter, but you do not need to book so early for the low season. 3 to 4 months are enough, and sometimes eight weeks may be just the perfect time for a cheap flight to Australia.
Do not rent a car with a different drop off location.
As long as you can plan road trips in Australia in a loop, back to your destination, this will save you at least 100-300 AUD each time you rent a car in Oz. Usually, it’s about 150-300 AUD when you travel interstate and return the car to a different location.
It happens in remote locations like on a road trip to Uluru. However, it is becoming common to have this extra expense added on top of the rental car booking. The drop off is different from the pickup location, even within the same Australian state. Read these tips on car hire in Australia.Get the best car rentals Deals from DriveNow
Do not stay in expensive hotels in Australia.
It’s not easy to find good value accommodation options in Australia. If you want to try out something different, why not consider other options like private stay with Airbnb and why not staying in YHA hostels? They are all great ways of staying on a budget trip to Australia without sacrificing comfort. For the long-term traveller, you can try out housesitting: free accommodation vs house and pet-sitting.find great deals and book your hotels here
Do not drive at night.
It may sound unusual, but this is another good thing to know before travelling to Australia. It indeed is important for your safety not to drive at dawn or dusk because of wildlife crossing the roads in rural and Outback areas. Moreover, bad weather and road conditions can be an issue too.
While driving in Australia is good fun, you must know about all the dos and don’ts. I drove for 70 km one night in North-Western Australia, which served me as a lesson not to do it again.
Do not fly too much within Australia.
Domestic flights in Australia are not expensive, provided you book early and make the most of flight sales and deals. For shorter trips than 800 kilometres, I would go on a road trip or a train journey. If you are planning a two-week trip to Australia, do not schedule too many flights. Consider hiring a car to experience real Australia. There is nothing more rewarding than an Australian road trip and explore the country at your own pace.
Do not use your mobile phone Sim card in Australia.
It is going to cost you a fortune. Instead, buy for 2 dollars an Australian Sim Card that allows you to call landline and mobile numbers in Oz at reasonable rates. Plans start from 30 AUD for 250 minutes. For international calls, you can use Skype for free. Or any international phone card for 10 AUD is used that you can use for any landline calls for 6-8 hours. Telstra is the only provider in Oz that can guarantee decent coverage in rural areas of Australia.
Don’t change money before your trip to Australia.
Do not exchange money at the airport either. While in the past, travellers used travellers’ cheques to save money on commissions. Nowadays, high commissions are hidden when exchanging in any bank. So the best thing to do is withdraw cash from ATMs at the airport and possibly use a credit or debit card with low commissions or credit cards with zero commissions. In Europe, getting a zero-commission credit card is almost impossible. But in the US, you can get many of these credit cards.
Furthermore, do not rely on just one pre-paid or debit card. Take at least two of them, as debit cards are not accepted everywhere in Australia. You will need a credit card for online payments and for hiring a car; most companies prefer credit cards. Debit cards with your name on them will be accepted, though.
Do not use your internet if free wifi is available.
From public places, libraries or a friend’s flat internet connection! The Internet is pricey in Australia. Tourist Information offices will tell you about free-wifi places in town and give you a map with hot-wifi spots. Some apps can identify the next free wifi near your location. Always take care of privacy when using the internet and public wifi on the go.
Do not buy any electronics in Australia.
Everything is costly, like digital cards, and memory cards for your camera. Pack all your electronic devices and extra spare memory cards with you, as these can cost up to 40 AUD. Make sure you have a spare compact camera just in case something happens to your good camera.
Do not take fruits and vegetables with you.
Be prepared when you cross internal borders within Australia. The Quarantine law is strict in Australia when arriving in Australia from abroad and within Australian states and/or from New Zealand. When travelling by car from Northern Territory into Western Australia and from Victoria into South Australia, do not take food with you, or you will have to place it into disposal bins along your way.
The fine for getting caught with fruits & vegetables is about 2.500 AUD. So please beware and do not pack any fresh food when crossing Australian states. You can get more info about Quarantine Law in Australia here.
Do not eat in restaurants every day.
Restaurants in Australia are expensive. Instead, eat natural local food at the street market or buy it at major fresh markets halls for a real Aussie food experience. I prefer cooking your meals when you can and shopping at the local farmers’ markets. You will be amazed at the excellent popular food in Australia.
Do not underestimate the Australian sun.
Get your skin sun smart and hydrated all the time. Drink plenty of water and try to maintain healthy eating habits when travelling. Do not buy water from the convenient local shop around the corner; it will cost you at least 3-3,50 AUD/bottle.
Buy a 10-litre water canister from supermarkets like Woolworth or Coles or discount chains like Aldi. This way, you can save at least 2 dollars a day on a bottle of water. Also, get a refill bottle and fill it up at your destination to help the environment.
Do not disregard the safety rules in Australia.
Australia is not a dangerous country as they like to depict it. However, you need to use common sense and follow simple safety rules. If you come from overseas, I highly encourage you to stick to the safety rules, even if they may sound exaggerated to you, that you come across at the beach, on the roads, in the Outback and national parks and everywhere else in the outdoors.
I can tell you the warning signs are there for a reason, and they help you get familiar with the country and stay safe when driving in Australia.
More dos and don’ts when travelling to Australia
The above gives you an overview of what not to do in Australia. Knowing how to plan a trip to Australia will help you better plan and put money into your daily budget, resulting in hundreds of dollars, if not a thousand.
For more help planning your trip, check out this page with the best travel sites and resources.
If there is anything you would add to this list of things to know before visiting Australia, please leave your contribution to this by leaving a comment in the section below.
And finally, here are some things you should do when planning your trip to Australia. First, I recommend getting my book. I’m biased, but it’s the best guidebook you can find on the market to plan your Australian Adventures. Moreover, check out my list with a few great resources to plan your trip that I use all the time for my travels.
Do not skimp on planning your trip to Australia efficiently
If you want help planning your trip to Australia, download a copy of Your Australia Itinerary in a PDF file. Click to learn more about our Australia guidebook. Or click the image to purchase your copy.
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First published in 2015, last updated in Jan 2023
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Sand In My Suitcase
April 7, 2015 @ 8:34 pm
Good tips. Thanks for sharing. Interesting about not driving at night in the countryside. In Cabo San Lucas and the Baja area in Mexico, we’ve also learned not to drive at night because of the cattle that cross the roads. (It’s also good not to drive on New Year’s Day there too, because the locals like to party loooong on New Year’s Eve and some are still tipsy and drinking/driving in the morning.)
February 17, 2016 @ 8:48 pm
I’m Australian and I always like reading tips from other peoples perspective that come to our country. These are great tips except for the driving at night. You don’t have to not drive at night, it is perfectly safe. When you are in the country side and in rural areas, you just need to slow down and keep a good look out for wildlife. 70km at night in a rural area is to fast and won’t give you enough time to look out for our wildlife. Driving at night is fine as long as you slow down. 🙂
February 20, 2016 @ 3:46 pm
Hi Shara, you can certainly drive at night if you own your car! If you have a rental car you are definitely not allowed to drive at night in rural areas. This is a general rule that all car rental cars apply in their policy. If you still want to drive at night with a rental car you will have to take the responsability as most travel insurance companies in Australia will not cover the costs if an accident occurs. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
November 25, 2016 @ 6:47 am
I don’t know I’d say it’s ‘perfectly safe’ to drive at night time, because there are increased risks. Driving below 70km/hr is a ridiculous suggestion because that’s dangerously slow and actually illegal in a 100km/hr zone – you could be fined. But it’s still safe enough to drive at night if you’re careful. When I was a kid my dad drove at night time a lot.
John De Silva
October 27, 2016 @ 2:41 pm
I am discovering a good “tip” for the Alice Springs area. Somehow try to avoid a car rental that is NOT one-way. When I try to book a weekly rental picking up & dropping off at Alice Springs airport, the price is super-high and there’s a 700km mileage limit. After that, it’s .25 per kilometer!! But, dropping off the car in Adelaide drops the price considerably and provides unlimited miles using Hertz and other operators. Still weeks away from arriving in Australia and already not pleased with so many unpleasant facts about visiting the country.
October 27, 2016 @ 3:07 pm
Hi John, thanks for stopping by! This is a tip that I also give on my other blog posts about how to travel Australia on a budget. If you are savvy, you shall always consider renting a car in a loop back to the starting place, like for instance Alice Springs or Ayers Rock. If you cannot avoid that, then look for alternative options. Almost all car-rentals providers apply an extra fee for one-way rentals. The fact is that in the Outback Australia it’s not so easy for companies to relocate cars straight away. Australia has however not so many unpleasant facts as you say, you just need to plan your trip thoroughly for Australia, so as not to waste money and time! Enjoy your trip and if you need any more tips don’t hesitate to contact me! 😉
November 4, 2016 @ 9:06 am
Hey John, not sure if this helps but there is a couple of hire car relocation website which can be much cheaper especially if you are travelling in the opposite direction to most the other tourists
John De Silva
November 5, 2016 @ 6:29 pm
Thanks, Gil. I did find one, DriveNow. The “unpleasant fact” is that in contacting several car rental vendors, the NT has high rates for picking up & returning cars at the same location PLUS a 700km limit that comes with the weekely rental. After that, you are charged for each km. That can easily add up to a huge bill!
November 6, 2016 @ 3:23 pm
DriveNow is the booking site I recommend renting a car, they recently added a car relocation service. While this is a great way of reducing the cost of self-driving you need to be flexible with dates and time, as most relocation deals in Australia are notified a week or a few days in advance. For long distances like Darwin to Perth or similar, you may be able to get a relocation car at zero cost.
November 5, 2016 @ 12:12 am
I live in Australia & have traveled a lot within Australia. I only use debit cards I have never had one refused. The one thing Australia does is have a PIN number for your cards not signatures. The worst time for driving if you don’t want to hit a kangaroo is dawn & sunset. Don’t underestimate the size of Australia if you’re driving.
November 6, 2016 @ 3:38 pm
That’s true, with Australian debit cards there are no problems. Great to mention the PIN, that’s the only way to use them. But nowadays there are a lot of PayPass cards which work with a simple “touch the screen” to have a payment processed. So no need to remember your PIN any more! With internation debit or credit cards you’d better use Visa or Mastercards, as these are the most accepted cards.
November 25, 2016 @ 6:49 am
Even with PayWave you must use a PIN if your charges are over $100.
November 7, 2016 @ 2:10 pm
Interesting article and I do agree with most of it. However, Australian banks will flog you ATM fees whenever you use your foreign card. We LOVE charging fees in Australia. Also, there is nothing wrong with changing money at airports. Board rates are low because of high rents airports charge. However, most exchange companies offer competitive rates dependant on how much you change. All you have to do is ask. Remember. One exchange fee for $3000 is better than a multitude of fees everytime you use an ATM or eftpos facility.
November 14, 2016 @ 3:49 pm
Indeed there are banks that charge you a couple of dollars as ATM fees for withdrawing money with a foreign card. But some are free. Whenever you see that alert, just interrupt the process and go to the next ATM (and withdraw your money without any ATM fees!). I personally don’t change money at airports cause I don’t like to have too much cash with me. But your tip is good, thanks for sharing it, Thomas!
Nathan @ The TRVL Blog
November 9, 2016 @ 11:18 am
Great tips. I learnt very quickly not to eat out and a cool bag became my best friend while I was travelling the east coast. Also I learnt the hard way about not underestimating the sun!!
November 14, 2016 @ 3:51 pm
Hi Nathan, indeed a cool bag (there are so many different types in Oz) and preparing your meal is the best way to stay away from expensive restaurants which not always offer good value for the money, I am afraid.
January 28, 2017 @ 6:02 am
I was in Australia for 5 weeks for doctoral work, and took my sister with me. We drove though Tasmania (most beautiful place either of us had ever been), flew to Cairns via Sydney and back to Sydney after 3 weeks in Queensland. The Aussiepass air pass served us very well. We lived (well, mostly) on mango ice cream, protein bars and yogurt, which kept expenses down. We fell in love with Vegemite also! I still eat it whenever I make toast! Ate out only at night and never had a bad meal! Yes, beware of the sun, and follow the Oz dictum of “slip, slap, slop” with long white shirts, hats and sun block. To anyone driving in Australia – we drove at night and felt safe doing it, but be aware that gas prices are VERY high. Loved Australia and can’t wait to go back. Oh yes – one other thought. Don’t go in the water at remote beaches during “stinger season”.
November 13, 2016 @ 10:54 pm
Really really don’t under-estimate the sun. And also – tap water is extremely safe to drink absolutely anywhere in Australia. Don’t buy water at all – just have your own container and fill it from the tap every day.
November 14, 2016 @ 3:55 pm
Tap water in Australia is good quality. I also do refill my bottle especially in rural areas (where bottled water cost you 4-5 dollars/bottle) and in many places you can find free filtered-water (which is a softer version of tap-water).
November 22, 2016 @ 11:42 am
An interesting article to read. If your are travelling in the outback you might have to buy water so stock up in big towns. Also good point in being careful at dawn and dusk not night time. I have never had a problem driving at night and hitting an animal is a pretty minimal risk. There are some cheap restaurants but they are normal away from tourist attraction- like in most countries. So make sure you research before going out. Also many have deals like all you can eat or buy one get one free etc. Pubs normally have cheap lunches. The most important things I feel are to understand it is a huge country that has a very high UV index! Sunscreen is always needed. Make sure you so go to the outback when visiting, it’s worth the price!
November 22, 2016 @ 8:18 pm
Hi Jasmin, you are so right! In the Australian Outback there are so many beautiful places to uncover. No need to travel to big attractions, everywhere there is a charming place. As long as you are well-prepared and organized to hit the road, and avoid the wet season, the Outback is always worth it. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
December 23, 2016 @ 4:25 am
Thanks for your great article, I live near Newcastle NSW and with my husband have traveled most of Australia (and overseas).
Your advice about driving is great for people travelling here, if you are wanting to save money on car travel google “standby relocation’s’ this will will bring up a number of websites that show you how to get a hire car from $1 per day. (basically you are returning a car to a rental destination) you can book up to one month ahead and there are T&C’s.
With food check out ‘shopadocket’ website, you can print coupons for dining, attraction passes and many other things
With banking, there are a number of options including debit cards which work excellent here. Do not bring your cheque books as we do not accept cheques in 99% of places unlike America where it was common when I was last there.
With mobiles, it is cheaper to buy a sim here and use it than one bought from your home.
Driving night/day/evening/fast/slow are all fine as long as you are driving to conditions, realise that Kangaroo’s (especially) become moronic when seeing car lights and actually run at them not away! I have personally witnessed a Kangaroo/Wallaby running at our car and hitting the front of it when it was originally over 50 meters away…. Agh!
Definitely get insurance, it is worth it for EVERYTHING.My only other advice is to get onto google and websites and do your homework on what you want to see and do and read articles from people who have gone before you. And don’t forget to ask the locals whats good to see when you are here – happy holidaying 🙂
PS: I am not affiliated with any of the sites above – just a person who appreciates getting the best value for my holiday money.
December 23, 2016 @ 12:15 pm
Hi Donna! Rocky Travel is a top website for first-hand tips and real travel around Australia, mostly focussed on my own travel adventures and those of fellow solo travellers too. Thanks for stopping by and leave your contribution! 😉
August 10, 2017 @ 3:15 pm
I’m a senior born and bred in Australia. It’s entertaining to read other’s views on travelling here. If I were from some other country I’d avoid the major cities. Why bother with cities like Sydney and Melbourne which are nice in their own way but expensive, cosmopolitan, sophisticated, diverse and vast. Seen Vienna, Toronto, San Francisco? Be content. Seen Broken Hill, Kalgoorlie, Longreach, Merimbula, Ceduna, Katherine, Normanton, Fitzroy Crossing or Manangatang? There you will find an Australia that is unique in the world, extraordinary, beautiful and amazing. Take six months, hire a car and explore this marvellous country.
August 18, 2017 @ 3:16 pm
Thanks Michela for your very interesting post. These are very useful tips.
Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad
September 27, 2017 @ 1:48 pm
Great tips! The fruit & veg is something I didn’t know until I’d been in Australia for a few months, so I’m glad you brought that up! It was quite strange really because we worked on a farm for a while, but we had to go through a quarantine bit to get home, so we couldn’t technically take any of their produce home! We also learned the hard way about dropping off a rental car at a different location, unfortunately we didn’t have much choice as we were using it to get to a job, but I started to wish we had just bought our own car.
January 31, 2018 @ 7:00 am
I also have a plan to go there in coming up days to explore the beauty of this alluring destination. I am so happy for it. I hope so that it will be a really great time for me.
June 17, 2018 @ 3:09 am
I’m a Sydneysider and very disturbed that nobody has mentioned safety at the beach. Swim between the flags and if you see signs with pictures of sharks or jellyfish either avoid or check with a local before entering. Never pick up octopii and be careful of brown-spotted sea shells as the Cowrie has a poisonous barb it will use in self-defence.
October 8, 2018 @ 8:21 pm
I lived at the NW Cape of Australia for two and a half years. Practically the outback. It would be good to include some colloquialism. Don’t ask for a napkin in a restaurant ask for a serviette. And don’t try to hitch a ride using your thumb use your index finger