Solo Travel to Melbourne (Guide Part 1: Trip preparation & Visa)
Two months ago I booked a trip to Melbourne by myself and three months later, a week post trip, I find myself missing that place already. Was it something about the neon blue sky and the ombre blue sea that bled into each other at the edge of their ripples, or was it because of the slow pace of life where you could literally drive out to nothing but fields and fields of green grass and brown sandy flatland? I could attempt to relive my memory but still not tease out which portion of my experience was responsible for this melancholy, but ah... I digress. This post isn't about how much I miss Melbourne but rather a guide on what I did to prepare and hopefully I could provide information that would be helpful to you.
I know many have asked, why did I choose to travel alone? I know there is alot of stigma attached to people who travel alone or do things alone (I have had double takes when I purchased 1 movie ticket, and waitress who treated me rudely when I requested for table for 1) but generally, I really love to do things by myself. In this world where everyone is busy, and rightfully so, you cannot expect people to take leave or stop their daily happenings just for you right?
You might say that those who care about you would always put you first, but I don't really like to trouble people or get too attached to them (everyone has their own lives!) I always believed that those who treasure you would automatically make the effort to build the relationship and stay in your life, but that doesn't mean you are always #1. Some have families, some have spouses, etc etc. Besides, it was something I have wanted to do since 2015 and since air tickets were on sale so... I went ahead and booked the trip. Now that I am back, I must say that travelling alone really gives you a sense of liberation. Don't get me wrong, I love to be around people, meet new friends or just vibe together, but sometimes you have to go on a trip by yourself to find your own inner voice again! :)
Okay. Enough of my ramblings, let's begin!
Before the trip: Preparing for Melbourne
1) When you are in Singapore
Travelling to Melbourne requires you to apply for a visa. Sounds troublesome but fret not, you can just pay AUD20 and apply it online via this link (Thank you my friend Des for telling me about this!) This visa allows you to visit Australia for business or visitor purpose, allowing you to stay 3 months for each visit.
My accommodation was 33 storeys high so all you could see was rectangular building tops and fluffy clouds
2) Booking your accommodation
I booked my accommodation through Airbnb, and I really loved staying at different houses. Even my Japan trip was also booked on Airbnb ^^ As it would be inconvenient for myself to venture into the suburbs which I would very much prefer, I chose to locate myself in the CBD area, which is called Southern Cross Station.
This station is very convenient as it allows you to travel anywhere and its sort of a "connecting station", sort of like our Jurong East, Outram Park or Dhoby Ghaut. However, if you are travelling with a companion, you could choose to stay in other areas like Footscray, which has really amazing warehouse bedrooms and mix of people from different ethnic groups. To book your AirBNB, you can use my link to set up an account and get $25 travel credits and I will get $25 too ^^ Please do use it so I could get discounted travel too, I would appreciate you doing so! But if you prefer not to, it is alright as well! I am not advertising for them, so if you sign up via my link it will be from your sheer goodwill!
Thank you mum and dad for accompanying me to the airport and allowing me to go on this trip!
3) Packing for the flight
Assuming you have already booked your air ticket, you have to prepare a few things for the flight! These are the things I brought along with me for the 7+hour journey:
- Red pen (But at the clearing custom I was told to refill my form because I had to do it in a BLACK/BLUE pen, so please bring along a BLACK/BLUE pen!)
- Empty water bottle. You cannot bring liquid of more than 100ml past the clearance. However, you can bring in an empty water bottle and fill it at the water cooler right before you board the flight. 7 hours is quite a long journey, you want to ensure you are well hydrated. Aerosols like your hairspray/sun screen spray should be in your checked in luggage or risk confiscation.
- Loose comfortable clothing. Try not to wear boots, preferably just ballet flats or sneakers because I was told to take off my boots at the clearance area. With that many people passing, you don't want to scramble or hold up the line. If you are carrying a laptop, remove from your bag and put in a separate tray
- A book. Self explanatory.
- IMPORTANT!! If you have a hand carry, put at least a day's change of clothes into it. My mistake when I went to Hong Kong was that I checked in everything into my luggage and when I arrived in HK, the airline told me they lost my luggage. Good thing was I was travelling with a friend, so I could borrow clothes. If you lose your luggage, at least you still have a fresh change of clothes when you reach your destination. Thankfully, I got my luggage back in the end which leads me to..
- Travel insurance. Please buy this! You never know what might happen (eg: I could make a claim when I got stuck in a typhoon in Taiwan and couldn't go home, and when my luggage got lost in HK). So please please protect yourself.
4) Booking SKYBUS
The good thing about Melbourne airport is that it has a direct airport bus service that brings you to the CBD area (Southern Cross Station, as mentioned in point (2)). This saves you your money for booking airport limousines or stuff like that. You can book the SKYBUS online through here. Alternatively, you can also buy your tickets directly at the counter when you reach Melbourne, which was something I opted for. The SKYBUS departs every 10 minutes and the ticket allows you to board ANY bus at your own time, which means there is no prefixed bus schedule to follow even if you pre-book it online. There is free WIFI onboard as well.
Once at Tullamarine (Melbourne's airport), the counter is really easy to identify because it is in RED, and there are announcements playing in the background of the airport stating how it is illegal for taxi drivers to solicit for customers at the airport, so you should be safe from any person who tries to be funny. However safe as it might be, do take note that there might still be people like that, so accept their offer at your own risk!
5) Australian Number
Once again, there is great convenience in obtaining a local number with internet access there because the counter is located directly at the arrival part of the airport. I got my internet plan via OPTUS. I was referred to this from AIRBNB after I booked my accommodation (omg talk about the effectiveness of referring leads hahahha). Basically they charge $2 per day for calls and internet. You can choose from $10 for 5 days or $15 for 7 days and even data for a month. Ask them about it and they will explain more to you. They helped me change my SIM card as well because I did not bring along a pin (something to take note of as well!).
Okay, so these should be all for the pre-trip. In my next few post I will be talking about the FREE TRAM SYSTEM/TRANSPORT in Melbourne, and also the places that I visited/ recommendations. On my first day I did not know there was a difference between a tram and a bus so I stupidly took a bus out of town into the suburb area and ended up walking a good 30 minutes back into town in the middle of the night. Thank god for GPS and the protection of the universe (I know this phrase is laughable, don't judge! HAHAHAHAHA). Please don't make the same mistake as I did! So if you would like to know more, please stay tuned! :)