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Top 10 Things to Do Before You Arrive in Australia

A backpack with passport and boarding pass with map of Australia on the background with the text Top 10 things to do Before You Arrive in Australia

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and travel Australia – congratulations! 

Maybe you’ve already started planning and organizing, but a little voice in your head keeps whispering, “Have I forgotten something important?”

It’s only natural to feel a bit nervous or anxious before your big adventure, but you don’t need to worry too much because I’ve got you covered.

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1. Get a Visa

Obviously, the first thing you need to do is get an Australian working holiday visa. It’s relatively easy to do yourself, but there are some official requirements you must meet.

Here are the basics:

The initial working holiday visa is valid for one year but can be extended for up to three years if you complete your eligible visa days for specified work which we discuss here.

The visa doesn’t start until you enter Australia and is valid for one year after you apply and are approved. So you don’t need to stress, follow the tips below to get yourself sorted.

Backpacker Tip

For more information on how to go about getting an Australian working holiday visa, check out my Working Holiday Visa page. We have also created a Second and Third Year Visa guide to help you easily extend your visa.

2. Start Saving

Australia is a great place to travel, however, it is expensive compared to most parts of the world. So you will need to have some money saved to get yourself on your feet until you find a job.

Once you enter Australia, one of the requirements of your working holiday visa is that you must be able to show that you have proof of funds – usually with a bank statement no more than a week old. Everyone is different but I would say $5,000 AUD is the least amount of money you should have when entering Australia.

Not so coincidentally, one of the conditions of getting a Work and Holiday Visa is  you must have enough money to:

  • support yourself while you are in Australia and
  • leave Australia at the end of your stay.

This is usually about AUD5,000 for your initial stay, plus the fare to where you are going after leaving Australia.

piggy bank, monies and map of Australia

Common costs many first-time travelers to Australia don’t account for:

Security Deposit (bond) – when finding a place to live, you will often be required to pay a security deposit (bond) of 2-4 weeks rent as well as a week or two rent in advance.

Buying a Car – Travelling by car is one of the best ways to explore Australia, you can find a reasonable car for $3,000 – $5,000 AUD and of course pay much more especially for a Van or 4X4.

But you can also get a terrible car for the same money, so I wrote an article about Buying a car in Australia for tips on how to get a great car.

Medical Insurance – If you are not covered by Medicare, I recommend purchasing a medical insurance.

Groceries – These are more expensive in Australia than in Europe and most Western countries.

3. Start Looking for Flights

Once your visa application is approved start looking for flights straight away so you can get yourself the best deal. I suggest you use Skyscanner, Kayak, and Google Flights all on incognito mode and clear your cookies.

Don’t be afraid to book a one-way ticket, I know a lot of backpackers do. The majority of those who book a return ticket for the end of their one-year visa period change it to stay longer or not use it at all because they love Australia and have decided to extend their visa for an extra year or two.

Tips for booking flights:

In Australia, our main Airport hubs are Sydney and Melbourne. Brisbane is slightly smaller and has slightly fewer flights from other countries but is still a hub. Research to see if it’s cheaper to fly into Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane and then get a domestic flight to your desired city in Australia. Domestic flights are often below $100 if you book in advance.

If flying from North America the major airport hubs to Australia are Vancouver, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Some flights connect through Hawaii or Fiji.

If flying from Europe, do some research to see which country has the cheapest route to Australia from Europe; It may not be your home country. Europe is small so getting a cheap RyanAir or budget airline flight to another country in Europe and then to Australia could save you hundreds of dollars.

If flying from South America, Santiago is the most direct to Australia, sometimes making a stop in New Zealand. A Lot of cheap flights from South America go through the United States, however, you may require a special visa to enter the United States if you are not eligible for the ESTA visa.

Backpacker Tip

Australia is quite far away from the rest of the world. Some travelers (especially Europeans) choose to make a stop in Southeast Asia (Bali, Philippines, Thailand, etc) and have a few weeks (or months) traveling around to break the long trip up. South East Asia is very friendly on your wallet but remember to make sure you still have $5,000 AUD for when you arrive in Australia. You can book a flight to Australia from Southeast Asia rather cheaply (usually less than $1,000 AUD).

Remember you have one year from the date your visa is approved to enter Australia and the approved visa period doesn’t start until you enter Australia.

4. Get Travel Insurance

Getting travel insurance is always important when traveling to a new country but may also be required as part of your visa application. For example, Question 33 of the 417 visa asks if you have it. Also, Australia can be expensive; if you are involved in any kind of an accident the medical bill could be well beyond your budget. Also, check out our review of World Nomads to see what happened when one backpacker claimed while in Australia.

5. Have Your Resume Australia Ready

Having your resume (Note: Australians don’t often call them CVs!) “Aussie Ready” before you leave for Australia will help you find a job much faster. There are certain things Australian employers look for in a resume that is different from other countries’ styles. Many backpackers head off to Australia with an ill-prepared resume and it can cost them their dream job. For example, Australian employers would rather you emphasize the experience you have for the type of work you want to do, rather than your most recent experience in an unrelated job.

It does not reflect negatively if you have a gap between dates in your resume like it does in other countries around the world. So put relevant job experience into the job you are looking for.

It is common to hand in your resume in hard copy when you are looking for a job, especially in Hospitality. So have your resume in an easy-to-find place so you can edit it with your Australian phone number, address, and ready to print.

Backpacker Survival Guide to Job Hunting in Australia Ebook preview

6. Get Your Banking Sorted

Prior to arrival in Australia, it is really helpful to open an account with Wise which gives you a multi currency account and card. You will also automatically get your very own account details to receive Australian dollars (AUD) with zero fees. This will mean as soon as you arrive in Australia you can start paying for things and even get paid using your prepaid debit card which works like a credit card except you need to add funds prior to spending. The account also means you can get some cash from an ATM as soon as you arrive with no fees. 

We think it also a good idea to get an Australian bank account which will give you more options for dealing with Aussie dollars and works really well with your Wise account.

You can start to open a bank account before you arrive, but it only become active once you get to Australia. To learn more about opening an Australian bank account click here.

Or you can watch this easy guide from Molly from the UK.

7. Join the Various Facebook Backpacker Groups

The Facebook groups are a great way to find accommodation, work, buy and sell vehicles, events, meet new people, share transport to different locations, and many more useful things. There is an Australia Backpackers page on Facebook and usually a new one is created each year so it only includes current backpackers. There are also ones for farm work, backpacker jobs, vehicle buy and sell, and more.

Depending on the country you are from there are also country-specific backpacker and traveler pages they are usually city specific i.e. Brasileiros Em Gold Coast, Latinos en Sunshine Coast, etc. This is a great way to meet people from your home country and get a bit of familiarity when you’re in a new place, speak your native language, and also they tend to help each other out more.

If you are looking for hospitality work the Facebook pages are really useful, it’s not usually common for hospitality businesses to advertise for workers on Gumtree or Seek. The pages will usually be city specific i.e. Sydney Hospitality Jobs. Just search the city you’re looking for, followed by hospitality jobs and the group with the most members will be the best one to join.

There are also Whatsapp groups but these are harder to find and someone needs to invite you into one.


Sometimes the pages take a few days to accept your request so join as soon as you can even if you’re not looking for a job. It will also give you an idea of the pay rates and hours different businesses are offering in the area you are in.

8. Book Your Accommodation

Have at least a few nights booked in a hostel (guesthouse, couch surfing, short-term room – whatever you prefer) before you arrive in Australia. The last thing you want to do is to look for a place to stay while you are jet-lagged and carrying a backpack!

Renting an apartment or entire house by yourself can be expensive in most parts of Australia, so it’s best to start off with a shared house until you find your feet.

Share houses are very common in Australia, often called “flats”. You will usually rent a room and share the kitchen lounge and common areas with your other flatmates. The room is usually rented by the head tenant (a person with their name on the lease agreement) and not through a real estate agent (they rent the whole house). You can search for a room on Facebook Marketplace,, or When responding to ads for a room to rent, make sure to include a great description of yourself and try to highlight the reasons why you’d be a great fit for them.

Renting a room in Australia is also a great way to build up your references in case you want to apply for an entire apartment in Australia.

9. Buy Your Backpack

Buy your backpack as soon as your visa has been approved. The sooner you buy it the easier it will be to prioritize what to bring and what not to bring – so you don’t over-buy in preparation for your trip.

Some people prefer to travel with a suitcase, this is their personal preference. Speaking from experience having traveled all over Australia and the world to over 50 countries I can definitely say a backpack is way easier to move around.

10. Get Excited!

Going here to Australia on a working holiday visa will be one of the best experiences of your life, so start getting excited. Perhaps you want to blog about your adventures which can be a terrific way to keep in touch with everyone but also has the potential to become your main income and a way of life. Being in Australia will also be one of the fastest years of your life, so you need to make the most of it. Getting here with a positive attitude is essential to finding work, having fun, and making the most out of your stay.

If you follow these top 10 tips you should be well-prepared to travel to Australia.

You will definitely be a lot more prepared than other backpackers I know. They only showed up with my Backpack and Passport and just winged it. That’s why I have created this guide to make it a lot easier for you!

Below are some useful information about Australia.

Travelers Companies

There are travel companies who can help you out with a lot of the stuff mentioned above, such as applying for a visa; getting a tax file number, and opening a bank account before you arrive.

Travellers companies are offering hassle-free journeys to Australia, but choosing a travel company will cost more than doing it all by yourself.

Looking for Work Before You Arrive

You can start looking for work in Australia before you arrive, although it is easier once you are already here in Australia. You can start looking on websites like SEEK and Gumtree or you can start contacting agencies if there is a particular job you want. If you already have friends in Australia, ask them to keep an eye on what jobs are opening.

Understanding Aussie Culture

Having some understanding of Aussie culture before you leave can be very beneficial. Australia is growing more and more multicultural, so an open mind and acceptance of other cultures is essential. Generally, Aussies are known for being quite laid-back, but we are also very direct and will let you know exactly what we think – this is something you may not be used to.

In a work environment, doing rather than saying is key to being successful. Qualities that Australian employers value most of all are honesty, reliability, and hard work. Rather than trying to “sell yourself” to a potential employer, give them examples of what you have done, without needlessly exaggerating.

Aussies appreciate people who are understated and “not full of shit”. The upside to this is that you can just be yourself if you are willing to “have a good go” (try hard).

How to Get Around Australia

Australia is huge, so getting around can be a challenge and expensive! If you plan on moving around Australia a lot you definitely need to look into different modes of transport. There are heaps of ways to get around, from taking a Greyhound to flying from city to city to even buying or renting your own wagon or campervan and driving yourself. Each mode of transport has its advantages and disadvantages. Check out the Getting Around page for the best options for getting around Australia.

Essentials to Employment – What You Need to Work in Australia

Finding a job in a new country can be a daunting task. Essentials to Employment can help you understand what you need to do to get a job in Australia as quickly as possible and hassle-free.

The Most Popular Backpacker Jobs in Australia

A lot of Australia’s fruit simply wouldn’t be harvested if it wasn’t for backpackers, so as you can imagine, backpackers are important to Australia’s economy. This means that there are plenty of jobs for backpackers like you here in Australia. Find out the most popular jobs for backpackers.

Training and Courses That You May Need to Do in Order to Work in Australia

Certain jobs here require some training or completion of an online course, for example, if you want to work in hospitality you may need to do an RSA course

How to Get a Second Year Working Holiday Visa

Is one year in Australia not enough for you? Want to stay for a whole other year or even two? Well, you can simply by doing 88 days of specified work.

You may want to think about doing your specified work sooner rather than later. Many backpackers I know in the past have left it until the last minute and ended up missing out on getting their second year working holiday visa. For more information on getting a second year working holiday visa, check out our Second Year Visa page.

To help you prepare even more for your big trip down under, download your free copy of our Tips from Backpackers Living and Working in Australia, which features real advice from real backpackers, who have been there and done that.

Final Thoughts

We at Jobaroo have many years between us backpacking all around Australia. We’ve experienced what it’s like to be new to Australia and it’s our goal to pass on our knowledge and make things easier for you. We’ve done all the hard work for you and created a massive number of useful detailed guides to help you do everything yourself and spend more time enjoying Australia. Check out the rest of our guides for all the essentials and useful tips on travelling, working and living in Australia.

Safe Travels.

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