Going abroad was always a goal of mine, therefore when I printed my boarding pass to Australia I almost couldn’t believe it. I was really going. This was it.
36 hours later I really questioned my decision on my first time traveling abroad on the second longest flight in the world (8,581 miles long).
Not only was I traveling for the first time, but I also didn’t know a single person I was traveling with. After doing lots of research and talking to study abroad advisors at St. Cloud State University, I decided to go though a program call Education First (EF Tours). This program pretty much takes care of everything for you from booking your flights to creating an itinerary, and ensuring you have a great tour guide the entire time. Because I was going knowing everything was planned I felt a little bit better. However, not knowing anyone and paying a large cost made me extremely nervous.
Planning for a trip abroad is a lot more work than one might think. Creating a packing list, which I’ve attached below, getting immunizations, applying for a passport and visa, checking into all airlines, and actually packing is just the start. Because I was leaving in May, I was a lot more focused on finishing my spring semester of school before thinking about my abroad to-do list. Needless to say, the week before I departed was quite chaotic.
The number one question I got asked after being back is, “Why did you choose Australia?” To me, that seems like a silly question. The better question is why not Australia? To be honest, it was always my number one place on my explore list, and I figured mise well check it off first. So many people go to Paris, Europe, or Mexico, and don’t get me wrong those would all be awesome, but I haven’t met more than two people who’ve gone to Australia. And because I like to be different and make my own decisions, Australia it was. It was also a perk that the trip I choose also included New Zealand. The image below was the route for the three weeks in both countries, with the number beside representing the days we spent there.
Although the cities in Australia were absolutely beautiful, I personally enjoyed the coastal towns like Townsville, Queenstown, and Airlie Beach more. I also found that because it was my first time traveling abroad, every place I went was absolutely astonishing.
There was many things I learned while traveling abroad for the first time. Some of which were due to culture shock while others were personal learning moments. For one, yes all 19 different outfits were a great idea no matter how many times my mom yelled at me saying, “Chelsea you are not going to wear all that.” Well, I’ll tell you now, I wore a different outfit every single day and got plenty of compliments for it. My roommates laughed at me because they knew every day I’d have on another cute travel outfit. My suitcase barely met the weight restriction at every airport, but I think it was totally worth it.
Australia had so many things that were vastly different from the United States. Some things I absolutely loved, while others I was not the biggest fan. The following lists are some of the things I found really cool and different!
-Australians drive on the opposite side of the road as the US.
-The driver’s side is also on the opposite side compared to the US.
-Public transportation such as trains, subways, boats, and taxis are used in every city.
-Their gas prices are miles per liter (which took me a very long time to figure out).
-Cars DO NOT stop for pedestrians, which my tour guide had to remind us many, many times.
-My favorite way of transportation on the entire trip was a helicopter.
The many forms of transportation throughout my trip in Australia. One of the craziest things was boarding and exiting a plane from the back and outside. I thought it was so weird, but so cool at the same time. I also loved the Barbie car at Magnetic Island.
-Needless to say, the food in Australia was amazing! I was very scared about this while going abroad because I am very picky, however after being back, one of the biggest things I miss is the food!
-Fruit was all fresh, and extremely deliscious.
-I practically lived off of steak and hot-chips.
-The smoothies were my favorite.
-All of their burgers are wonderful because their cows are completely grass fed with no added preservatives or chemicals.
-I tried shark, and I loved it! I miss the fish the most after being back in the US.
–The drinking age is 18 in both countries, however their drinks are very pricy. Average $13 US per mix drink.
-My tour guide cooked up a “barbee” on the beach and we all tried kangaroo which was also incredible.
-My favorite meal on the trip was a locals fish and chips shop in New Zealand. The fish was so great I wanted to stuff some in my suitcase to come home.
Comment below which meal you would like to try the most!
-The majority of our hotels were absolutely beautiful! A lot of them had outdoor pools, great views, and all had continental breakfast.
-We stayed in a few hostels that were also fun with a young atmosphere.
-My roommates, Skylar Walker and Audrey Holbrook, made each stay even more fun!
-Most hotels were all open as in you would walk outside your door and be outside.
-Some hotels had gyms, however I noticed the majority of gyms were all outside or people would be running, walking, and biking outside.
-My favorite place we stayed was the Mantra Club Croc in Airlie Beach.
I’ve learned so many things while going abroad, but the most important thing is that every day is truly a blessing. I am so fortunate to have been able to travel to this beautiful place in the world. I am excited to share my experiences with all of you and help others prepare for their first time abroad! I can’t wait to explore more parts of the world as traveling has officially became an obsession.
And last but not least, cherish every moment because you never know when you will be back. Be on the lookout for more blogs from my Australia and New Zealand adventure abroad!
Photos by Chelsea Bauman. © 2021 Chelsea Bauman. All Rights Reserved.