One of the top travel destinations for people around the world is the continent – and country – of Australia and the nearby Pacific Islands. In fact, tourism in Australia is a booming industry that brings $35 billion dollars to the Australian market each year. Australia boasts a variety of activities and attractions available for tourists to engage in, and the wildlife and diversity in environment makes Australia an exciting and exotic place to visit. Before you travel to this exciting location, however, it is important to do a bit of preparation so that differences, potential dangers, and unexpected challenges don’t slow you down while you’re on vacation.
Culture and Customs: Preparing to Engage with Australian Culture
Plenty of information is available from Australia’s tourism department regarding the unique history of the country of Australia and how it influences art, society and culture today. Australia uses the Australian dollar as currency, and another logistical strength of Australia as a travel destination is that the national language is English. This makes it relatively easy for international visitors to navigate Australian culture and interact with Australians. However, many people report that it is difficult to understand many of the words specifically used in Australian English, or that deciphering a thick Australian accent can be a challenge. Perhaps it would be useful to learn about some of the linguistic differences between British or American English and Australian English before you embark on your trip, just to feel prepared for any miscommunication that might occur while you are traveling.
Before you leave for your vacation, it is a good idea to do some basic research on the public transportation systems in the Australian cities and towns you plan to visit during your trip. One thing to take into consideration is whether or not you plan to use public transportation and taxis during your trip, or plan to rent a car in order to have more freedom and flexibility during your trip. Renting – and driving – a car in a foreign country can be a daunting task, especially given the concerns of following different rules and regulations of the road. The most clear-cut example of a major driving challenge that foreigners face in Australia is that Australians drive on the left side of the road.
Though foreigners might find that driving on the opposite side of the road is challenging at first, it often only takes a little thought and adjustment to become comfortable with the difference. Therefore, visitors should not hesitate to rent a car during their travels due to concerns about lane-shift. What foreigners and Australians alike actually find interesting is that there is a correlation between driving on the left-hand side of the road – as Australians do – and safety on the road. In fact, the accident statistics related to driving on the left side of the road reveal that it is perhaps safer for drivers to operate on the left, as in Australia there are nearly 50% less fatalities per 100 vehicle miles traveled than there are in, for example, Germany and the U.S.
While traveling, it is especially important that you and your companions can stay safe – and so being aware of any potential risks that you may not be familiar with in your home country can help you do avoid unpleasant or dangerous situations. For example, Australian wildlife and natural landscapes come with dangers that include various poisonous insects, snakes, and spiders – all avoidable by staying within urban areas or by traveling with a tour guide through the wilderness. In fact, it is highly recommended that you do not explore the Australian Outback without chaperoning from a trained guide familiar with the natural hazards that exist in the surrounding environment. Furthermore, be prepared to maintain a safe distance from shore and follow orders from lifeguards when swimming at Australia’s beautiful beaches, which are often rife with rip tides stronger than witnessed in most any other country internationally. As always when traveling, be sure to keep your personal belongings and valuables safe at all times – though Australia has a thriving economy, there are always individuals looking to take advantage of foreigners and pick-pocket or steal from you while you are unaware.