Australia Travel Tips

Note that EHICPlus does NOT offer insurance cover for trips to Australia, but our sister policy ANZPlus can give you a great travel insurance quote for Australia.

Ride in style

  • On your departure day call the airport or check on the internet to make sure your flight is on time.
  • Try to drink plenty of water, whether you’re driving or flying, so you don’t become dehydrated from the air-conditioning.
  • Reduce the pain of popping ears on the plane by sucking a lolly, chewing gum or gently blowing your nose.
  • Make regular stops when driving, and walk around on the plane to kick-start your circulation.
  • When travelling wear comfortable, loose shoes that you can slip on and off easily and that will allow for your feet to swell.

Customs: What You Can Bring Into Australia
The duty-free allowance in Australia is A$900 (US$720) or, for those under 18, A$450 (US$360). Anyone over 18 can bring in up to 250 cigarettes or 250 grams of cigars or other tobacco products, 2.25 litres (41 fluid oz.) of alcohol, and “dutiable goods” to the value of A$900 (US$720), or A$450 (US$360) if you are under 18.
You need not declare cash in any currency, and other currency instruments, such as traveller’s checks, under a value of A$10,000.

Because Australia is an island, it is free of many agricultural and livestock diseases. To keep it that way, strict quarantine applies to importing plants, animals, and their products, including food. “Sniffer” dogs at Australian airports detect these products (as well as drugs). Some items may be held for treatment and returned to you; others may be confiscated; and others may be held over for you to take with you when you leave the country. Amnesty trash bins are available before you reach the immigration counters in airport arrivals halls for items such as fruit.

Know the Aussie climate

  • Regularly apply repellents and only sleep with the window open if you have flyscreens to avoid insect bites.
  • Apply sunscreen regularly. If you are snorkelling or swimming, make sure your back and all other exposed areas are well covered. Four days lying on your tummy in agony does not spell fun!
  • Only swim in the safe area at the beach, between the red and yellow flags.
  • If walking for long periods of time, make sure you take a bottle of water or better yet, a sports drink, to replenish fluids quickly.

Stay safe and sound

  • Keep your shoes on when outside and wash your hands before eating.
  • Jetlag isn’t pretty, but fight the temptation to dive into the hotel bed at 2pm and go for a walk instead. Sticking to regular sleeping patterns will help you bounce back quicker. Also try essential oils such as eucalyptus, geranium, grapefruit, lavender, lemongrass or peppermint dabbed on your forehead or on the balls of your feet for an extra boost.
  • Going on a boat or a long car trip? Combat travel sickness by taking ginger tablets one hour before leaving. Peppermint, spearmint and lavender will also help.
  • If you’re trekking at high altitudes make sure you give your body time to adjust to the thinning air and carry adequate supplies.

Get around town

  • If you’re new to a city, the best way to get your bearings is to take a tour so you don’t spend hours with your nose in a guidebook.
  • If hiring a car carefully check it for dents and scratches and insist the rental company makes a written note to confirm them, so you’re not landed with a repair bill.
  • Collect local bus, train tram and monorail timetables so you can catch as much public transport as possible — it’s cheaper and often quicker than taking taxis.

Quick, super smart tips

  • To safeguard your holiday pics, whether on film or a digital memory card, take a photograph of your address on the first frame, then if they go missing you’ll have the best chance of getting them back.
  • Avoid making long distance calls from your hotel room, it’s expensive! Use reduced rate phone cards.
  • Divide your money into cash, traveller’s cheques and credit cards and keep each in different spots in case you lose your wallet.
  • Don’t use laundry services at hotels; instead go to a local Laundromat or take some clothes soap and wash underwear in the bathroom basin. It’s much cheaper.
  • Keep a travel journal, blog or Twitter account, so you have something to look back on when you get home.
  • Always check under the bed and in the cupboards before checking out of a room. You’d be amazed what people leave behind!
  • Late night shopping is different in most states in Australia – ask locals for the insider info.

Telephone and Communications
In an emergency dial 000 (not 999). This will link you to the ambulance, fire and police services.
Need an interpreter? The telecommunications provider Telstra offers a 24 hour translation and interpreter service. Dial 13 14 50. The local white pages telephone book will provide more information.

Healthcare for visitors to Australia
The Australian Government has signed Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) with the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Norway, Slovenia, Malta and Italy. These agreements entitle you to some subsidised health services for essential medical treatment while visiting Australia.

Access to medical cover
Reciprocal Health Care Agreements cover treatment that is medically essential: this means any ill health or injury which occurs while you are in Australia and
requires treatment before you return home.

Your entitlements
As a resident of one of these countries, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Norway, Slovenia, Malta and Italy, you are entitled to the following health or injury treatments while you are in Australia:

  • free treatment as a public in-patient or out-patient in a public hospital
  • subsidised medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
  • Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatment provided by a doctor.

Further information on Australian travel healthcare is here.

Christmas in Australia: what to expect

Note that EHICPlus does NOT offer insurance cover for trips to Australia, but our sister policy ANZPlus can give you a great travel insurance quote for Australia.

Here is what to expect from a traditional Christmas spent ‘Down Under’:

Climate: staying warm at Christmas!
Christmas in Australia is often very hot. While the northern hemisphere is in the middle of winter, Australians are baking in summer heat. It is not unusual to have Christmas Day well into the mid 30 degrees Celsius, or near 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Christmas shopping therefore is often done in shorts and T-shirts!

Christmas food
Most families try to be home together for Christmas and the main meal is eaten at lunch time. A traditional meal might include a barbecue with seafood such as prawns and lobsters along with the ‘traditional English’ food. The turkey and ham is often eaten cold with a selection of salads. A flaming Christmas plum pudding is added for dessert, or a Pavlova with lots of seasonal fruit. In the Australian gold rushes, Christmas puddings often contained a gold nugget. Today a small favor is baked inside. Whoever finds this knows s/he will enjoy good luck. Another treat is mince pies. On Christmas Eve, fish markets are often full of people queuing to buy their fresh seafood for Christmas day.

Some Australians and particularly tourists often have their Christmas dinner at midday on a local beach; Bondi Beach in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs attracts thousands of people on Christmas Day. Other families enjoy their day by having a picnic. If they are at home, the day is punctuated by swimming in a pool, playing cricket out the backyard, and other outdoor activities.

Santa Claus
Santa Claus arrives in Australia… by surfboard! ‘Santa surfing’ is now popular down under as hundreds of people take to the warm oceans and ride the waves dressed as Santa. Many surfing clubs now hold Christmas charity events where participants done the famous red costume for charity.

Talking of Santa, in the hot Australian outback what better animal to pull Santa’s sleigh along than six white boomers? A boomer is a special kangaroo that Santa uses to pull his sleigh along the rough terrain of the outback. The boomers were made famous in the song by Rolf Harris and John Brown back in 1960. The boomers’ names are Jackaroo, Bluey, Two-up, Desert-head, Curly and Snow.

Our traditional Christmas decorations in Australia are holly, ivy and mistletoe, dating back to Pagan times. The Australians however like to decorate their homes with Christmas Bush, a native plant that has small, red flowered leaves.

The warm weather allows Australians to enjoy a tradition which began in 1937: ‘Carols by Candlelight’ is held every year on Christmas Eve, where tens of thousands of people gather in the city of Melbourne to sing their favourite Christmas songs. The evening is lit by as many candles as there are people singing under a clean cut night sky. The sky with its Southern Cross stars is like a mirror. Sydney and the other capital cities also enjoy carols in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Christmas Sport
Australia has some sporting Boxing Day traditions. A cricket test match is held on Boxing Day every year in the Melbourne Cricket Ground that can attract up to 90,000 spectators. And in Sydney, Boxing Day heralds the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, a 630 nautical mile race that can last several days.

For Christmas with a difference, visit Australia!

Traditional Christmas Markets in Germany

As winter draws in and the holidays approach, towns and cities all over Europe begin to light up with traditional Christmas markets. The Christmas market tradition is strongest in northern Europe, with Munich having one of the largest and most famous. From late November to the end of December, market stalls spring up all over the city’s historic squares, selling traditional Bavarian Christmas crafts as well as food and drink.

A wide variety of wonderful markets
The Munich Christmas market is actually several markets. The largest Christkindlmarkt, or Christmas market, is found in Marienplatz and the surrounding streets, in front of the city hall or Rathaus. Sparkling with lights and ringing with the sounds of Christmas music, this traditional market sells a wide range of traditional gifts, from beeswax candles and wood carvings to sweets, gingerbread and beautiful traditional Bavarian glassware.

In addition to the large Christkindlmarket, a smaller specialist market, the Kripperlmarkt, sells mangers and figures for nativity scenes. This market has existed in Munich since 1757, and today sells figurines ranging from traditional hand-carved wooden models to modern synthetics. The Tollwood Christmas Market is an international market, featuring crafts, food and performers from all around the world. These are only the most prominent markets; there are 20 other Christmas markets scattered around the historic city, ranging from a medieval market to a market at the airport.

Keeping warm
December in Munich can be chilly, with temperatures dipping below zero in the evenings. On cold winter nights, shoppers in the markets can warm up with mulled wine, gingerbread, baked apples and traditional Bavarian cakes and pastries.

Other Christmas attractions in Munich
The markets themselves aren’t the only attraction in Munich during the Christmas season. The town hall hosts daily concerts of traditional music on its outdoor balconies, and many of the markets have their own music and entertainment. Inside the town hall itself, a “Heavenly Workshop” for children provides arts and crafts with staff from the city’s Children’s Museum. Children can bake Christmas cookies and dress up in sparkling Christmas costumes. Ice skating is another popular pastime, with several ice rinks including one at the airport market.

Opening times
Munich’s Christmas markets officially open on 30th November; the main market closes on Christmas Eve, while the Tollwood market continues until New Year’s Eve. The market opens at 10 am (9 am on Saturdays) and stays open until 8.30 pm, except on Sundays when it closes at 7.30 pm.