preparing for a trip to australia.

That is a picture of a deadly, deadly stingray. That I snorkled with. And yes, this post title is my gambit to the stairway to the stars, or some better constructed string of mismatched cliches. So yeah. Here are my travel tips.

1) Don't sweat that whole Border Security thing. I mean: don't bring anything illegal and if you do, declare it so they can either shrug and let you through or make you throw it away. But my point is, there are so many more suspicious-looking-than-you people there, like the emaciated man with jailhouse tattoos drunkenly wheeling an Epson printer box around on a shopping cart, a Epson printer box that is half papered-over with hand-drawn Chinese characters and dripping ominously with some viscous yellowish fluid. These are people who have plainly not watched Border Security.

2) Don't sweat your visa either. I mean, assuming you're not going to violate the terms of it. Just do it via the website and forget about it.

3) Buy an Australian pre-paid SIM card for your phone and avoid your own provider's roaming charges. Possibly the smartest thing I did on this trip, but the competition was not super stiff. $20 AUS (14 euro or something) included the SIM and 20 bucks of data, which lasted me at least two weeks. I never did run out.

4) Use Uber. We met 10 or 15 pleasant, talkative, inquisitive Australians (and one crabby alcoholic one) by just trying to get around Sydney. Introduce yourself, sit in front and don’t try to tip. In fact, don't try to tip in general in Australia, it's just easier.

5) If you're in NSW, get an Opal card and use the transit app. It’s good for the ferries too, and we really did see a ton of the city from the buses. Don't forget to signal the bus driver that you want to get on.

6) Also drive. We got to lots of places by car that would’ve been day-ruining by bus, Avalon and Parramatta for example. If you're renting, whatever you do, don't pick up a car from Hertz at the Sydney Airport. 2 hours in line.

Oh right, the whole steering wheel on the right side thing. Yeah, it's probably best if you're traveling with someone who's done it before. I myself drove the car for about 30 seconds and really didn't enjoy it at all...you really cannot see a fucking thing that's going on behind your back left bumper. I was trying to park, in reverse, so it was an issue. Also you shift gears with your left hand, so it might be worth it to get an automatic.

7) Do the coastal walks, but not on the weekends. The Kiama walk was one of the best things we did on the whole trip, but I’m sure much of this had to do with us being alone almost the whole time. 

8) Fucking sunscreen. The Kiama walk was the most sunburned I’ve been in a long time, and it was a totally overcast, drizzling day. 

9) Don't be afraid. Sure, this is the tip that could get you killed, and Australia is by all accounts an extremely deadly country, but we ourselves never did really have any close brushes with death that we knew about. Sure there's that horrible thing that someone said to us about never being more than 10 feet from a spider (the reassuring pull quote from that article is "Australian spiders have a fearsome reputation, but our bees typically pose more of a threat." Ah, great).

Sure, Tamarama could have killed us if we’d gotten caught in the Backpacker Express, thank god we didn't know it was "Sydney's Deadliest Beach" or we'd never have gotten in the water; sure, if we’d actually run into a swamp wallaby on our very isolated Kiama walk we’d have been disemboweled, etc. Sure, snorkeling could’ve involved a stingray needle through the heart. Etc. But it didn’t. The closest we came to getting killed was almost being crushed by a cement truck on the highway, and that could've happened anywhere. So do stuff.


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