Has Corona Virus affected your current or up coming travel plans with us? Well rest assured we're here to help...
UPDATE 19TH MARCH 2020:
Australia has now stopped entry for all international travellers (Australian and New Zealand residents not included) from 9pm on 20th March.
The Corona Virus pandemic is sweeping across the world at a rapid pace and all over the world peoples travel plans are being affected. So if you’re currently on the road or have an upcoming trip with us we wanted to give you a little bit of advice and assure that our team is on hand to help you out!
Can You Still Travel To Australia?
At the moment, in theory yes – Australia is still open for business, however there is now a mandatory isolation period for all arrivals (including Australians) of 14 days. So if you do decide to travel to Australia, you’ll need to be prepared for that.
UPDATE 19TH MARCH 2020:
Australia has now stopped entry for all international travellers (Australian and New Zealand residents not included) from 9pm on 20th March.
What About Elsewhere?
At the moment, there are travel restrictions in place for pretty much all destinations, with New Zealand having a mandatory 14 day self-isolation period, Sri Lanka suspending all incoming flights, and Indonesia no longer issuing visas on arrival without health certificates.
The situation is changing daily and even hourly, so always check before you travel and stay up to date with the situation
What if you’re already in Australia?
If you’re already in Australia, pretty much all our suppliers are operating as usual, however they’re taking extra measures to help with safety and many are now running smaller groups as part of this.
As always please call 24 hours before your tours to reconfirm them as things are changing on a daily basis.
What If You Need To Cancel?
We understand that many of our customers who are planning on travelling or who are already travelling (both in Australia, New Zealand, and beyond) are affected by travel restrictions or may want to return home due to the COVID-19/Corona Virus pandemic.
Our team are working hard to make sure that we help you out as much as possible – so if you need to cancel or have any questions, you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp on +44 740 182 7447 and we’ll be happy to help.
As you can imagine though, we’re getting quite a few requests at the moment so please be patient and we’ll be there for you ASAP!
In the mean time guys, please be safe, look after each other, and take precautions to keep yourselves healthy.
From Chris and the RTW Backpackers team
Last updated: 19th March 2020
Please note things are changing on an hourly basis so check with your government for the latest travel restrictions before/if you decide to travel
On the hunt for the best Great Barrier Reef Tours and not sure what options are out there or how to pick? We're not surprised - the Barrier Reef is one of the top bucket list ticks for any Australia trip and there are heaps of options to choose from. Day trips, dive boats, dive courses, scenic flights...a combination of them...it's all on offer! So to help you decide which Great Barrier Reef tour is best for you here's a run down of the options and our personal favourites... The Best Great Barrier Reef Tours - Which Should You Pick? Great Barrier Reef Snorkelling From $140 Great Barrier Reef snorkelling tours are by far the most popular ways to see the Barrier Reef - which run out of Cairns daily (weather permitting!) and these are the best choice for those on a limited time frame but also those looking for a budget friendly way to check out the barrier reef too. Our personal favourite for is a Great Barrier Reef day trip with the Deep Sea Divers Den - with their snorkel package coming in at $140AUD, which is great value for money. You’ll kick back on their beautiful and spacious boat, enjoy unlimited snorkelling at a variety of dive sites and feast on their lunchtime buffet. If you’re looking for something even more memorable and have a bit of extra budget to play with then the “Get High & Dive Package” is the way to go. This epic day trip includes unlimited snorkelling, an introductory scuba dive and even a scenic helicopter flight back to Cairns - it doesn't get much more action packed than that! Diving The Great Barrier Reef - Day Trips From $210 For anyone interested in scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef holds
We’re not surprised – the Barrier Reef is one of the top bucket list ticks for any Australia trip and there are heaps of options to choose from. Day trips, dive boats, dive courses, scenic flights…a combination of them…it’s all on offer!
So to help you decide which Great Barrier Reef tour is best for you here’s a run down of the options and our personal favourites…
The Best Great Barrier Reef Tours – Which Should You Pick?
Great Barrier Reef Snorkelling
Great Barrier Reef snorkelling tours are by far the most popular ways to see the Barrier Reef – which run out of Cairns daily (weather permitting!) and these are the best choice for those on a limited time frame but also those looking for a budget friendly way to check out the barrier reef too.
For anyone interested in scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef holds heaps of appeal. For experienced divers it’s a huge bucket list tick and it’s also the ideal place to try scuba diving for the first time with an introductory scuba dive.
Again our pick of the bunch is with Deep Sea Divers Den who have a great range of dive moorings to choose from, a friendly crew and even an underwater photographer who’ll help snap your next Facebook profile picture next to Nemo!
Their dive trips include all gear, however we strongly recommend paying the extra for a dive guide – you’ll get even more out of your time underwater.
For those looking for an introductory scuba dive their crew of experienced and certified instructors will teach you all the basics needed to be safe under the ocean and guide you around. With a max depth of 12m it’s the perfect way to test out if scuba diving is for you and discover some of the amazing marine life that calls this part of Australia home.
Learn To Scuba Dive On The Great Barrier Reef & Cairns
Either way you’ll work your way through the theory lessons, written exam and pool skills before putting your knowledge into practice with the open water modules.
On successful completion you’ll be a fully certified open water scuba diver with a world recognised certification!
Diving The Great Barrier Reef – Liveaboards
For those already certified scuba divers and wanting to make the most of their time in Cairns a Great Barrier Reef Dive Liveaboard is the ultimate option – allowing you to squeeze in even more dives and even some night diving too.
Trust us, jumping into the water with a torch and surrounded by reef sharks is something you’ll never forget for all the right reasons!
Sure it’s not the most budget friendly of all the Great Barrier Reef tours on offer, but it’s certainly the way to go if you want to pack in heaps of diving!
If you’re really serious about diving and have the budget then a longer trip out to the Cod Hole and Ribbon Reefs is well worth the splash (pun intended!) where you’ll discover pristine dive sites, less crowds and a whole array of incredible marine life – including the famous Giant Potato Cod.
Scenic Flight Over The Great Barrier Reef
Don’t fancy getting wet or looking for some alternative Great Barrier Reef tours that check out this natural wonder from a different perspective? Well a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef will pack your camera full of incredible photos and give you a whole new appreciation of the vast size of this natural wonder.
From a quick scenic helicopter flight to a a longer scenic aeroplane flight there are a number of options for all time frames and budgets.
Keep your eyes peeled for manta rays cruising along the currents, turtles chilling on the reefs and of course the annual whale migration too.
Skydive Over The Great Barrier Reef
If you like your day trips with a bit more adrenaline then why not take in views across the reef from a skydive at Mission Beach?
Available as a day trip from Cairns or of course from Mission Beach itself, it’s the most popular jump zone in Australia for a reason!
With a guaranteed beach landing and stunning views across the coastline, ocean and reef this is certainly one of our favourite bucket list items that the East Coast has to offer!
So you've booked your flights, you've got your visa all sorted and you're super stoked to be visiting Australia for the first time! You could just land and wing it from there, but trust me when I say that after a long haul flight covering more than a handful of time zones you'll be in no mood to lug your backpack around whatever city you land in trying to find a place to stay. So take my advice and prepare a little! There are a few things that you can sort before you land that will make your arrival heaps smoother and stress free. You want to start your Australian adventure on the right foot and enjoy the first days of your trip. Visiting Australia For The First Time? 5 Helpful Things You'll Need To Know! Airport Pickup The first thing you're going to need to deal with when you arrive in Oz is the airport, or more specifically how the hell you're going to leave it! Some destinations, such as Cairns and Melbourne, have great shuttle bus options that are the cheapest and easiest way to get into the city. Many can drop you at some central accommodation. Check out the following sites for some more info: Cairns - Cairns Airport Shuttle Brisbane - Con-X-ion Byron Bay - Byron Easy Bus Sydney - Airport Connect Melbourne - Sky Bus Sydney, on the other hand, has a great train service that runs direct from the airport into the centre of the city and it's super easy and convenient, especially if you're staying at Wakeup or Sydney Central YHA, which are right opposite! There's no need to book in advance and it'll set you back around $17AUD one way. Accommodation Let's face it: you're going to be pretty overwhelmed,
So you’ve booked your flights, you’ve got your visa all sorted and you’re super stoked to be visiting Australia for the first time!
You could just land and wing it from there, but trust me when I say that after a long haul flight covering more than a handful of time zones you’ll be in no mood to lug your backpack around whatever city you land in trying to find a place to stay.
So take my advice and prepare a little!
There are a few things that you can sort before you land that will make your arrival heaps smoother and stress free. You want to start your Australian adventure on the right foot and enjoy the first days of your trip.
Visiting Australia For The First Time? 5 Helpful Things You’ll Need To Know!
The first thing you’re going to need to deal with when you arrive in Oz is the airport, or more specifically how the hell you’re going to leave it! Some destinations, such as Cairns and Melbourne, have great shuttle bus options that are the cheapest and easiest way to get into the city. Many can drop you at some central accommodation.
Byron Bay – Byron Easy Bus Sydney – Airport Connect Melbourne – Sky Bus
Sydney, on the other hand, has a great train service that runs direct from the airport into the centre of the city and it’s super easy and convenient, especially if you’re staying at Wakeup or Sydney Central YHA, which are right opposite!
There’s no need to book in advance and it’ll set you back around $17AUD one way.
Let’s face it: you’re going to be pretty overwhelmed, tired and not functioning at top speed when you land, so you’ll be wanting have a bed lined up pretty fast!
With that in mind it pays to pre-book your accommodation before you land. You’ll get the best rates and hopefully it’ll mean getting your hostel of choice.
But don’t just book one night (unless you have solid plans to bounce the next day).
Book two or more.
There’s no worse feeling than getting woken up on your first full day in Australia at 10am by hostel staff telling your sad jet lagged self it’s time to check out!
We can book a huge range of hostels all across Australia so chat to our travel experts to find the right fit for you – whether that’s partying at Nomads or enjoying a more chilled vibe at YHA.
If you’re landing in Australia I’m going to assume that you already kind of know where you want to head, or you’re reading this blog to help you figure that out. In which case, good times!
If you figure out your plan of attack before landing you can also get your travel options sorted before you land too, which knocks one thing to worry about off the list and gives you more time to enjoy the Aussie sunshine!
Those opting for the likes of Greyhound Australia, Oz Experience or Stray Australia can book your pass open-dated way before arriving.
If you’re hiring a car or campervan via the likes of Jucy, Travellers Autobarn or Britz, securing your dates before you arrive will mean you get your car/van of choice.
Pre-booking usually saves you a heap of dollar too!
If you’re going to be in Australia for a while it can be well worth grabbing a local SIM card if your phone is unlocked. The main phone networks in Australia are Optus, Vodafone, Virgin and Telstra.
I went with Optus, as they gave the best plan on mobile data for my iPhone. I went for the $2 daily bundle, which offered unlimited calls and text within Oz and 500MB of data per day, with the option of an auto bump to 1GB of data for an extra $2.
There are heaps of different pay as you go plans with all the networks, so shop around a bit and find the one that works best for you.
If You’re On A Working Holiday Visa
If you’re visiting Australia on a working holiday visa there are a few essentials that you’ll need to sort to kickstart your year working in Oz – some of which can be done before you even touch down, or simply sort them once you’re in Australia.
Bank Account (personally I’d recommend Commonwealth for this)
Tax file number
SIM Card (see above for my advice on using Optus)
A polished CV
Of course if you don’t fancy booking all this stuff individually, there are a number of companies that offer Australia Arrival Packages, which bundle together everything you’ll need to get started.
Planning a trip to Sydney soon? Our Sydney Backpacker Guide covers everything from where to stay, to what to do - so you can make the most of your time!
Heading to Australia soon? Well Sydney has to be on your to do list, and our Sydney Backpacker Guide is quick and easy way to discover the best places to stay and what to do in Sydney!
Often mistaken as the capital of Australia (that’s Canberra if you didn’t already know!) Sydney is easily the most famous city in Oz and to be honest I don’t think I really need to sell you on visiting it!
Sydney is also many travellers first tastes of Australia as it’s busy international airport caters for flights worldwide and as a result it’s full of fresh travellers beginning their East Coast Adventure, so it’s the perfect place to meet heaps of new backpacker buddies to explore with.
It’s home to some of the countries most iconic sights too – with the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge topping the list, you can’t travel to Australia and not get a selfie in front of them!
But you knew that already hey?!
Sydney is much more than just those two structures though, as you’d expect from Australias biggest city there are plenty of things to keep you busy.
Whether you’re mingling with Wildlife at Toronga Zoo or Sydney Wildlife Park (the latter is my personal choice between the two) chilling over at Manly or taking a day trip to the gorgeous Blue Mountains as far as cities go Sydney isn’t half bad!
The Sydney Backpacker Guide – Where To Stay & What To Do
State = New South Wales
2638km from Cairns
Recommended Stay – At Least 4 nights
Xmas And New Year In Sydney
And of course it’s also a hugely popular destination for travellers putting together their xmas and new year plans too – with a beach BBQ on Bondi for xmas day and the world famous Sydney Harbour firework display on new years eve.
Just keep in mind if you are descending on Sydney for this period of the year it totally pays to book early, with many hostels booking out up to 6 months in advance – so don’t leave it too late!
Also if you’re heading up the coast after new year be aware that a flood of travellers will be doing the same so bus departures and the next couple of stops up the coast (most notably Byron Bay) tend to book out quickly too as a result, so plan ahead!
Best Things To Do In Sydney
Grab a photo of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge
New Year at the world famous Harbour firework display
Chill on Bondi Beach (bonus points for a xmas BBQ here!)
Complete the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk
Meet the locals at Sydney Wildlife Park
Or head across the water to Toronga Zoo
Grab a sunset and amazing views at the Sydney Sky Tower
Learn more about this iconic city on the Sydney Hop on, Hop Off Tour Bus