When exploring a new and different culture, what better way to immerse yourself in the local culture, than to LIVE in the local culture? Avoid the tourist traps! Save money, enjoy the local ‘flavor’, and maybe even make some new friends. To live as a local successfully in Australia, and beat the budget blues, first, think like an ‘Aussie
You will need housing, transportation, food, entertainment – possibly even medical and dental care, and what else? Contact with other people, activities, information, babysitters?
Early on in your planning your extended holiday in Australia, send away for every free piece of literature you can find, and use the internet to order brochures and coupons for the areas you are visiting. A few weeks before you go to Australia, check out the local newspaper. Look in the classifieds for holiday rentals, or flats. These well-equipped apartments range in size from a simple studio apartment to a luxurious 4 bedroom with a swimming pool. In general, holiday flats come fully furnished, with all kitchen utensils and appliances, bedding and towels, etc. and many holiday flats even come with a local guidebook, transportation maps, coupons for local attractions, and more! In Sydney, I rented a one bedroom holiday flat, fully equipped and furnished, for about 1/3 of the cost of an equivalent hotel. I also saved about $400 (AUD) on food, although I spent those savings on having even more fun, sailing and surfing on the beach at Bondi.
Getting around like a local is usually fairly easy, especially in the larger cities and towns. I did spend one long and dreary afternoon in Darwin, trying desperately to get around town, but I couldn’t have known in advance that the nearly non-existent bus service in the outskirt community I chose, was one of ‘few and far between’. After that day, I bought a cheap secondhand bicycle, for just those three weeks. Taxis are not all that expensive in most Australian cities and towns, and the train system in Sydney is fantastic! Buy a train pass for a few dollars, and you can go anywhere on the extensive route, from King’s Cross (a very funky and interesting area!) to many of the outlying suburbs, like the Olympic Village and Surrey.
For great dining bargains, eat at local pubs and eateries. In Sydney, most of the train stations have nearby public facilities that are cheap and fast. Beware though, local customs may surprise you. I had never heard of putting a slab of beet on a hamburger, and when the counter clerk asked, “Willya have everything on your sammich, miss?”, I could hardly imagine it would come with beet!” While staying in your holiday flat, use the kitchen to prepare inexpensive meals. Local markets and grocers, not the tourist stores, offer the greatest variety and the best prices. And shopping locally, you might meet a resident that invites you to join in the Sunday bocce games at the corner park!
Read the local newspaper, for events and activities you might want to enjoy. I was lucky enough to be in Sydney during the sailing regatta, and joined up with a local sailing group, who took me on as crew. What a great experience! I would never have known about the ‘real’ regatta from reading the tourist magazines available all over town.
For medical or dental emergencies, I would always recommend calling emergency services (000 in most of Australia, but check when you move into your flat), but for non-emergent needs, ask your host (landlord) for recommendations.
A few other things to think about are cell phone service and internet connections. Heck, I can’t imagine being without my internet for more than a day! Throughout Australia, Telstar offers many communications services for travelers and residents alike. They even have rental phones in many cities, available for a day, a week, a month, or longer. Since many US cell phones won’t work with the Australian systems, look into the short-term options, even before you go by checking out services on http://www.whitepages.com.au. For internet services, many flat owners include connections in the rental cost, but again, check before spending money on unnecessary services.
Babysitters are one thing I would not recommend ‘just picking out of a hat’! Every Australian town, city and even village has a child care registry, use them to insure your precious little one is well-cared for while the folks are out being grownups. Most registries do a thorough background check, and often require bonding, as well.
A few final tips for making your Australian trip fantastic are:
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Do your homework! Use the internet to find the best steals and deals.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Practice adapting to new and different customs!
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Relax, and let this trip be what it is, and what it can be.
By using local services, local transportation, and local entertainment, you can save a bundle on your Australian vacation. Living like a local is fun, less expensive and makes for a terrific experience. You can experience living like a local in Australia, and love it! Just remember, when the burger-maker asks, “Willya have everything on that burger, Miss?” – the ‘everything’ might mean a big thick slab of beet!