Disclaimer: We have only been in Australia for a few weeks so far, and our last trip here was more than ten years ago. These tips are just things I feel might be useful, especially for young parents like us.
1. Two useful apps I’ve been using here are Weatherzone and Urbanspoon. Both are free apps, and available on the iPhone and Android, so anyone with a smart phone should be able to download them. (You can even download them before you travel!)
All about Weatherzone
All about Urbanspoon
2. High chairs seem to be uncommon in many of the restaurants we visited in Melbourne, perhaps because we were in the city area. You might want to consider bringing your stroller along, or a portable baby booster chair, if your child is too small for a normal dining chair.
3. Always pack a sweater when you head out, because the weather can be very unpredictable. The Weatherzone app is pretty accurate, so do check it before you go out.
4. Umbrellas should also be of the sturdy kind, as the winds here are really strong, and those lightweight ones probably won’t last more than five minutes.
5. Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB). The South Australian government has phased out the use of lightweight, checkout-style plastic bags, and as of 4 May 2009, the bag ban has been put in place. Initially, we kept forgetting about the BYOB rule, and ended up buying some bags to bring our groceries home. I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to fold up the plastic bags after we come home, and popping them back into my diaper bag, so that I won’t have to buy more of them again.
6. Wear sensible shoes. Be prepared to do plenty of walking, unless you want to spend a lot of money taking public transport. There are also cobblestone pavements (in Melbourne at least), and unless you are extremely used to walking long distances in heels (which I am not), track shoes or flats would probably be safer.
7. Bring Your Own Bottle (of water). Since you’ll probably be doing plenty of walking, you’ll probably need to get a drink frequently. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants around, together with bubble tea shops, juice bars, and takeaway coffee stands. However, drinks (yes, even a bottle of plain water) from all these places don’t come cheap, and you might find that buying these little drinks along the way, do add up to quite a bit. Plus, it’s healthier to drink plain water! Most cafes and restaurants do provide free drinking water, you can always refill your bottle during your meals.
8. Activate your debit/credit cards for overseas usage before traveling. As of 1 Oct 2013, all 10 card-issuing banks in Singapore will deactivate the magnetic stripes on debit and credit cards, to prevent fraud. The activation methods vary from bank to bank, so do ensure that you do this in advance, in case you have trouble activating them.
9. If you are going on a holiday, bring sufficient cash, as you will need to pay a processing fee when you withdraw money from the ATMs here.
10. Before you book your flight, check to see if there are any major events, like the AFL finals, going on. Small cities tend to have fewer hotels, and you might not be able to get a room if you don’t book early. Accommodation prices will also be higher during these periods, so unless you are planning to go to that particular event, you might want to reconsider your dates.
11. Bring (or buy) plenty of moisturiser and sunblock. The weather here is much drier than what we get in Singapore, and poor Noah has been suffering from really bad eczema (by his standards) since we got here. We bought a tub of Cetaphil moisturiser from the supermarket, but it hasn’t been thick enough for him. We are currently using a much thicker moisturiser, Baby Paw Paw Balm, which is only available from Woolworths, and although he still scratches quite a bit, at least he doesn’t wake up crying and scratching in the middle of the night.
Baby Paw Paw Balm for you?
11. If you are not particular about the brand of diapers your babies use, and would like to buy the diapers in Australia instead of bringing huge packs of your own, I’ve heard that the Huggies diapers here are pretty good. We are currently using the Coles house brand, based on a friend’s recommendations, (and also because it’s cheaper than Huggies), and Noah hasn’t had any problems with them so far. *touch wood*
12. If you need a stroller for your toddler but aren’t keen to bring yours along, you can get cheap ones at places like Target. I saw a lightweight one at only $25, and I’m quite tempted to get it, but I haven’t had the opportunity to try it out yet.
I wanted to come up with a nice number of tips, but erm, I could only come up with 12. (Actually, I only came up with 8, and had to pick C’s brain for more.) Please do add on more tips in the Comments section, if you’ve got any good ones to share.
Enjoy your Aussie adventure! 🙂