Planning my Australian holiday took weeks. Long Saturdays in the Starbucks of San Juan were spent creating our itinerary for the two-week trip. I had it easy since I’d be traveling with my very own Aussie and much of the trip would be spending time with Isaac’s family and friends. But it is possible to plan a fantastic Australian vacation from overseas, even if you're not close with someone who lives there.
Here’s what I did before I got there:
1. Applied for a holiday visa (ETA) as a U.S. citizen.
Getting my ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) was surprisingly easy and only costs AU$20 (which comes out to around US$16). You can stay for up to 90 days and I was approved in minutes. The visa attaches directly to your passport, so no need to fuss with printing or having anything mailed to you.
Click on the image below to apply for an Australian ETA.
2. Bought airline tickets using my Capital One Venture card*.
Within the last year, I finally paid off all my credit cards. So yes, I was weary about getting another one. But with how much traveling I do (and plan to continue to do) this is the best credit card around.
Double miles for every dollar you spend
No fees on international charges
Book flights, hotels, and car rentals all through their site
Freedom to choose any airline (huge perk compared to specific airline’s cards)
By putting this trip on my Capital One Venture card, I’ve racked up over 11,000 miles. I know right… actually using a credit card for the perks. What a concept.
Click on the image below to apply for the Capital One Venture Credit Card.
*I am not sponsored by Capital One.
3. Made an itinerary using Google Drive.
Google Docs is available to any Gmail user and allows you to share a document with other Gmail users and update it in real-time through Google Drive. Since Isaac and I both had ideas for our itinerary, we were able to update it independently. This was especially helpful once we got off the ship and were thousands of miles apart. (Dramatic)
See those nine squares in the top right corner of your Gmail page? Click on that to locate Google Drive.
4. Researched tours, shows, and hotels.
Isaac gave me a list of places he knew I’d want to see in Brisbane and that’s where I started. I looked up hours of operation, prices, and events to make sure we didn’t show up spontaneously to find that it was closed or out of our budget. I also found blogs and tourism websites to be especially helpful when booking tours and accommodation. But Australia is extremely chill, so don't be afraid to play things by ear.
This is an example of a blog I used to plan our time in Hobart. Are you heading to Tassie? Click the image to use it, too!
Something I Didn’t Think About:
Adapter for power outlets.
This was silly. On the ship, we had US and EU power outlets and I’d been very much exposed to Isaac’s adapters for his Australian products. This is a very common thing when traveling. But did I have one before going? Nope. I had to buy a very expensive one at the airport.
If you're traveling the globe, I suggest getting one like this that I found on Amazon. Click the image below to buy yours.
And now, I'll leave you with an anecdote:
The Long Flight
In total travel time, it took me just under 30 hours to get to Brisbane. My longest flight was 15 hours from Houston to Auckland and it was really quite dramatic. For starters, I didn’t sleep much at all. In my cozy, economy seat it’s almost impossible for me to get comfortable enough to drift away. But sitting in coach wasn’t all that kept me awake.
Imagine this… we’re seven hours into the flight, high above the Pacific Ocean and I had just finished watching the last two Harry Potter movies (I hadn’t seen the films for the last book so now I’m finally finished with the series). I was trying to relax enough to get a few hours of shut-eye when a young woman three rows in front of me starts screaming, “Help! Help! Help!” – not something one wants to hear on their first (or any) overseas flight.
What in the hell is going on…
The young guy next to her was having a seizure! Poor thing. I immediately perked up and was undeniably shaken by the ordeal. There were two doctors onboard as passengers and they thankfully sorted him out. But I’d like to note that this jumbo plane had about 80 rows. This happened three rows in front of me. What are the odds?!
So, I got about two hours of sleep later on in the flight. We made it to Auckland and I jump on a quick three-hour ride over the Tasman Sea to reach Australia.
Once I arrived in Brisbane, my luggage unfortunately did not. So, it was an interesting travel day to say the least. But all was well because I was thrilled to be with Isaac in the land of wallabies and whipper snippers.
But don't let this story deter you. Everyone is shocked when I tell them. I know a lot of people who’ve traveled to a lot of places and from their reactions, all of this is very unlikely to happen to you. Well… you might lose your luggage but it was recovered a few days later so, no worries.
This is Auckland, NZ from above. My iPhone camera and the airplane window doesn't do this view justice. Honestly, breathtaking. New Zealand is definitely on the bucket list.
Happy travels, mate!