Ok, so after months and months of debating...i have finally decided to take the plunge and set out for a year of travel in Australia! Woohoo so excited!! I just booked my flight from the NYC to Sydney, leaving on May 11, 2010. My WHV was granted almost instantly! There are a bunch of other things i do need to do before i leave and i would love it if you lovely people could offer some advice
- Insurance - is there a specific kind to get. Is it best to get it for 6mos. at first or just for the full year? How much does it usually cost and any particular one that is good?
- Tax File Number - is it free or do you need to pay for it? If so, how much does it cost? I read you should arrange it within 6 weeks of arrival.
- Bank account - are there any banks that are affiliated with the US or ones that don't charge to transfer money over? I read something about Aus banks charging each time you make a transcation. I hope this isn't true!
- Backpacker cards/ YHA cards - is it best to get any of these. I will be staying at hostels in the beginning of my journey
- Mobile phone - how much does it roughly cost to get one and do you pay on a montly basis or just one time charge type of thing? I have an old Samsung phone that i was thinking of brining over. Or a Motorola razr.
Is there anything else i'm missing?
Anyone heading down there around the same time - let me know...would love to make some friends before i get there
My wife & I are headed to Australia March 11; we are from South Carolina. I plan to call my cell phone provider and see about adding the global service; I understand that its pretty simple. Hope that helps. Good Luck.
This whole blogging thing is pretty cool, maybe even addicting.
you will need a converter to charge your phone. they sell them at radio shack.
Your tax file number shouldn't cost anything, check out the Australian Tax Office site for more info on how to apply, I think you can even do it online.
You can probably buy a pre-paid sim card that will work with your existing phone, these are around $2 to buy and then you put credit on, the disadvantage of pre-paid is call costs and sms costs are usually quite high. The advantage is you can put credit on as you need it and just take it home with you when you leave with no extra charge. Check out some of the Australian phone providers web sites for more details, these include telstra, optus, vodafone and three. If you're staying for 12 months, it will be hard to get a plan that will cover such a short time frame.
Insurance - go for 6 months and then extend, unless you could potentially no have enough money to extend after 6 months in which case go full 12 months now. Make sure the policy you have has emergency assistance in Australia and make sure it covers diving as you may well want to do that on the barrier reef.
TFN - easy and is free just a boring wait in a queue and issued on the spot.
Bank - International transfers are expensive. The only bank that I can see that may cut you some slack would be HSBC if you have an account with them in the US. Some banks in Aus charge you for transactions over the counter that could have been done at an ATM. All banks charge for using a different banks ATM.
Backpacker Cards - really just depends on how often you will use them. I'm not much of a fan.
Mobile Phone: yup I also carry around an old samsung and buy sim cards wherever I go. I also carry a USB charger for it as it's less bulky and I can charge it at the same time as my laptop with just one adaptor.
Things that you may be missing... not really except possibly the need to do an RSA course when you arrive and this can be arranged at most backpackers. This is responsible service of alcohol, it's a course that lasts 1 day and is really dull and i'm afraid that these days I'm not sure how much it costs but it's not too bad. It is a requirement to work in bars and restaurants in Australia. Do also check that if you do it in NSW which states it is valid for. I did mine years and years ago and remember that I had to do it twice as my Vistorian one wasn't valid in NSW!
Have a great trip you will love it!!
TFN : I’m glad to hear you don’t have to pay for the TFN and that you can apply for it online (which I will most likely do). I would rather do it that way and avoid having to stand in line all day.
Insurance: I will probably go with 6months at first, like m1shm4sh suggested, and then just extend it while away. The one that I was looking into at the moment is World Nomads. Its about $260 USD for 6 mos. but it covers any emergencies and pretty much all sporting activities, also covers lost baggage, etc. I’ve read somewhere before that you could probably get it for cheaper. Does anyone know of any others or if World Nomads Ins is any good?
Phone: Thanks Tim – Telestra looks pretty good. It says you could even use your old number but I’m not sure if that part only applies to Austr. Residents. Does anyone know if you could use a Motorola Razr too? I’m not sure if the service is limited to certain phones. I think I will need to get the phone unlocked too.
Bank: I currently have a Chase account but I’ll look into the HSBC account. How does the process usually work? Do you just open up an Aus acct while there and give them your US bank acct number and they transfer over the money for a fee?
Backpacker cards: The only one that seems like it might be of some use is the YHA card. I looked at some of the YHA hostels in Sydney and it says you can apply for them when you get there and they save you 10%, which is pretty good when it all adds up. Do you have to pay for the membership – annually? One time?
RSA: that’s something I need to look into too. I will most likely want to get into something in hospitality and I’ve heard this is needed. Any idea of what the hospitality market is like for backpackers, especially around May/June/July?
Telstra generally have the best coverage, especially with their next g service. I think your motorola razr will work but it's a GSM phone and so you'll only get GSM coverage, it would be best to check with telstra though. The motorola will need to be unlocked, and you'll only be able to use your number if it's an australian one.
When banking it's important to think about how you'll be using the account and where you'll be using it. HSBC is not a big bank over here and if they charge for withdrawing at other banks ATMs you might have a hard time finding a HSBC ATM and if you're travelling outside capital cities chances are further reduced. You may be able to pay for things by eftpos which would mean you don't need to withdraw cash and so wouldn't need ATMs but most banks charge you if you make over a certain number of transactions a month. If HSBC isn't going to be a major benefit to you, I personally would look into one of the bigger banks like St George, NAB or Commonwealth.
Thanks, I’ll try to contact them and see what type of phone would be best, I have a blackberry too…maybe that would be a better option?
Sorry, I’m a little confused about what eftpos are. Is that basically like a debit card, where you use it like a credit card but instead, it automatically deducts from your checking/savings account? I’ll probably look into either NAB or Commonwealth. I seem to remember there being an abundant amount of them around. Do you know roughly how much it would cost to transfer over a few grand into an aussie account?
I think there's a difference between eftpos and debit cards. eftpos stands for electronic funds transfer to point of sale and is an electronic way using your money to pay for whatever you're buying it. Generally these cannot be used online like a credit card. I think a debit card is similar and it can be used online like a credit card. I think what you get will depend on the bank you go with, as will exchange rates/fees.