Travel Tips

Practical Travel Tips: Australia
April 11, 2019

Australia is a sought after tourist destination and clients come in with a lot of questions! We’ve gathered some practical advice for traveling to Australia in partnership with our friend and travel expert, Ignacio Maza. Let this advice ease your mind if traveling to the outback feels like a daunting task; with the help of a trusted advisor your trip can go off without a hitch! Here are some practical questions and answers for you to peruse.


Do US citizens need a visa for Australia?
US citizens need an ETA – Electronic Travel Authorization, which is issued by the Australian government in Canberra. It is easy to apply online. There is a small service fee, depending on the website/service provider.  My advice is to request it at least 3 / 4 weeks before departure, to be safe. I also recommend brining a printout of the ETA with you, just in case. The ETA is good for stays of up to 90 days. A sample site is for more information (one of many sites that process these ETAs)


What is the best way to get to Australia?

There are many ways to fly to Australia from North America. Here is a recap of all the various options. Note that QANTAS is QF and Virgin Australia is VA:

  • From Los Angeles LAX:  Nonstop to Sydney SYD on QF, DL, AA, UA, VA. Nonstop to Brisbane BNE on QF, VA. Fly to Melbourne MEL on QF, UA, VA
  • From San Francisco SFO: Nonstop to SYD on UA, QF. Nonstop to MEL on QF
  • From Houston IAH: Nonstop on UA
  • From Dallas DFW: Nonstop on QF
  • From Vancouver YVR: Nonstop to SYD and MEL on AC
  • From New York JFK: 1 stop service on QF (via LAX)

Any advice navigating Sydney airport (SYD)?
FYI : most international/long haul flights arrive in SYD early in the morning, between 6am and 8am local time. This means that the arrival halls and customs & immigration get very crowded. A big timesaver is to use the automated passport kiosks before you get to immigration, good for citizens of the USA, Canada, and the European Union, among other passports. Scan your passport’s opening page, answer a few questions, take a receipt, skip the line and go straight to customs.

There is an airport link train service that runs from the airport to/ from Sydney Central (the downtown business district) from 5am to 12Midnight. The cost is about USD12 each way and the trip takes 15 minutes.  Also note that the terminal 1 (for international flights) is on the other side of the runway from terminals 2 and 3 (domestic flights).


What is my best single resource for information + trip planning for Australia?
Visit the Tourism Australia website. This site has great information regarding itineraries, what to see/do, practical information, and much more.


What did I miss?
So much! Australia is enormous and you need multiple trips to cover the country. On my radar, for my next visit: swim with whale sharks off Ningaloo Reef, see the waterfalls in the Kimberley, explore the Daintree forest, snorkel off Lord Howe island, and search for Tasmanian Devils!


One last word of advice
Book early! Demand for travel to Australia is very strong. Book way ahead to ensure you get the rooms you want at the best hotels and resorts, confirm seats on the most convenient flights, and ensure your experience is the best it can be. If you are looking for holiday space, booking a year out is not too soon.