On a daily basis I am always asked many different questions in relation to Travel to Australia and New Zealand by Canadians and Americans. I thought I would write a blog post on some of the recent ones that I have been asked- in case they can assist anyone else.
So here are those Australia and New Zealand Travel Questions…
1/ Why do I need a Visa for Australia and not New Zealand when I am a Commonwealth Citizen?
Ahhh Australia decided to try and make some extra money off those folk who visited our Aussie soil for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. This little money maker has stuck around. I personally do not see it going anywhere anytime soon.
2/ Can I use my American Express Card in Australia?
Australia is not overly keen on AMEX Cards. They are expensive for a business to process and you are best off making sure you carry a Visa/Mastercard with you as well.
3/ Will I be charged extra fees for using my Credit Card in the South Pacific?
Yes, you may be. Businesses in the South Pacific do have the right to charge you an additional fee for using your Credit Card. Whilst you do not often see this in restaurants you will see this usually with phone companies, airlines etc. It always pays to ask before you use your Credit Card if there is extra fees.
4/ Why are Airlines like Air New Zealand and QANTAS now charging fees for a 2nd bag and seat selection?
There will never be a true win/win between the airlines and the consumer. The fact is that some travelers do not need to bring a second bag with them, others do. The airlines have given folk the options to decide on what they wish to do and pay for the extra if need be. The same for seat selection. Certain seats are always at a premium on flights and once upon a time some would even be left until airport check-in but now for a fee you can often prebook these. There will always be complaints towards the airlines by consumers- but when you are dealing with the beliefs of millions of travellers it is very hard to ever get it right!
5/ Is the Aussie/Kiwi Dollar going to go up or down?
Hate to tell you folks but I have yet to win lotto so I can honestly say I am an awful fortune teller! Exchange rates seem to have a mind of their own a bit like the weather these days. I can only tell you what I am seeing at the time and where it has been for a while. I for sure can not forecast anything. Oh yes I can! I can forecast that I probably will not be winning the lotto anytime soon as I have not been buying a ticket.
6/ Are Aussies friendly?
Well I like to think so for the most part. We are very straight forward though. Be prepared for sarcasm and bluntness. We love to banter with each other. What may be considered offensive to an outsider just rolls off our shoulders and gives us fuel for fire to throw more back at the other person. You may hear an Aussie call another Aussie an idiot. The reply will often be ” yep you know me way to well mate”. I can tell you now what does not make this Aussie very happy is when she is sitting in Canada in the middle of summer and it is only 15c! What is up with that??
7/ We are planning to self drive New Zealand. How does it feel to drive on the “wrong” side of the road?
I don’t know.. How does it feel? (grin) I drive on the correct side of the road!
Honestly, when you first start driving on the opposite side of the road that you are used to it is very discombobulating. I have found the best way is to look at the other cars around you and also stop and have a think before you do anything. Most of us who have driven on the opposite side have had a ” holy cow” moment when we have realised we are heading down the wrong side of the road. Like anything once you have made the mistake it often scares you into more awareness. Just take your time. That being said, you also need to remember this when you are the pedestrian. Remember to look both ways before crossing the road and also do not assume that cars will stop for you ever! There are no rules in the South Pacific that say the pedestrian has the right of way- unless they are at the crosswalk or traffic lights with the walk signal saying go.
8/ You travel a lot Dianne how do you adjust to jetlag?
Well there are many ways. Some folk like to try the old Melatonin, or Jetlag tablets. Others like to drink as much free alcohol on the flights and then sleep all the way. Others like myself just try and stay awake during the day and get out into the fresh air. I often try and be smart and pick my flights around the time of the day that suits my sleep cycle if I have the option. Of course often having a stopover enroute can help with jetlag as well.
9/ Will I be able to find a decent cup of Coffee in Australia?
Yes! Australia now seems to have coffee shops/cafes popping up everywhere. There is a Starbucks in Sydney but most Aussies like the real coffee type places now. You will have no issues. I can not guarantee what you call “decent coffee” though.
10/ Is it really expensive in Australia/New Zealand?
Compared to North America it is. But you need to remember you are dealing with Islands it costs money to import and export things. Australia also did not really blink at any sort of recession. If you are used to eating out a lot in North America then you may want to try and limit that a bit when in the South Pacific. I like to try and book our clients in apartment style accommodation. This way you can go shop like a local and get some groceries in or visit the markets. Even just having breakfast in your apartment and packing a lunch can save a good chunk of change especially if you are a family.
11/ Is gas/petrol really expensive? We are planning to self drive.
Yes it is. Like anywhere though it helps to know the tricks of when to ” fill up” the tank. Anytime that there is a public holiday avoid avoid avoid! Prices skyrocket. They also have a habit of being put up at the Servo’s ( Service Station as we call them not the Gas Station) from Thursday through the weekend. If you want to get the cheapest fuel then get it around a Tuesday :). If you are staying in an apartment and doing a bulk shop then make sure you keep your grocery receipt- some supermarkets give you a 4 cent ( sometimes) discount on petrol (if you take the receipt to the “servo” that they work with.) Just look at the bottom of your grocery docket and see if there are any fuel discount offers.
So there you have it folks. Myself and my colleagues are always here to assist our clients and give them as many tips as we possibly can to make their trip as awesome as possible. Remember when you deal with a specialist who is actually born and raised in these regions you get a lot more inside advice then you would if you did things on your own.
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