Here are Josh and I with our packs at the airport, ready to
set out for Australia!
So you've gotten your visa, you've booked your flight, and soon you'll be headed off for the adventure of a lifetime: a year in Australia. A year's a long time, to be sure, but that doesn't mean you have to pack up everything you own in three rolling suitcases and a duffle. In fact, that's a terrible idea. Just the worst. Instead, follow these guidelines for packing for a year abroad (whether that's in Australia or anywhere, really. Just edit the list to fit your needs).

First of all, unless you're planning on settling down in one city for the entire year, you're not going to want to take more than one bag and a carry on. It may seem impossible to narrow down all of your favorite clothes and accessories to such a confined space, but trust me, you will regret it every time you shuffle from one city to the next via plane, train, or automobile.

That said, you will actually need far less clothing and other stuff for a year of backpacking around a foreign country than you do for a week or two in the Caribbean. You'll be doing many of the same activities over and over, moving around a lot so nobody will know you've worn the same shorts for three days, and you'll have more chances to do laundry. And the most important things to keep in mind while laying out your proposed items are utility and versatility. That means layering pieces (as opposed to bulky sweaters and such), items that can be used for multiple purposes (like working and working out), and stuff that goes with everything (solids instead of stripes). So with that in mind, here's the list (and most of it works for guys and girls):

I like to lay out my clothing before I pack so I can get a visual of what all I'm considering carting along. I actually removed at least 7 or 8 of the items pictured here from the packing list. And yes, it did all fit in that little backpack.
  • 3 T-shirts
  • 3 tank tops
  • 1 button up that can be used for work or play
  • A hoodie or zip-up sweater
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 2 pairs of pants or leggings (Yes, 2. It gets cold in many parts of Australia)
  • No more than 6 pairs of socks (make sure at least 1 or 2 pairs are tall)
  • No more than 6 pairs of undies (and 2-3 bras for the ladies)
  • PJs (Don't wear them? Don't care. Your hostel roommates will all but demand that you do)
  • A pair of gym shoes or hiking boots that can be used for working outside and walking
  • Sandals or flip flop (Outdoor sandals like Chacos or Keens might suit you best)
  • A pair of casual shoes for nights on the town
  • A good hat for keeping the Australian sun off during work and play
  • A bandana or two (tame your hair, catch sweat, protect your neck, etc.)
  • A travel towel that packs up small
  • 1 swimsuit
  • A quality rain jacket
  • A warm hat (for those cool southern Australia winters)
  • 1 nicer outfit (like a sundress or skirt for ladies and a nice shirt for dudes)
  • Optional: a lightweight scarf that can be used as a shawl, blanket, or head wrap
Those are pretty much the necessities as far as clothing goes. Although, do keep in mind that if you're backpacking, working on farms or in hostels, WOOFing or HelpXing, you're going to get some things really filthy. Even if you're not doing any dirty work, you'll probably want souvenirs to take home with you. Both scenarios will see you trashing clothes at the end of your trip, so don't bring too many things that are special to you and you'd hate to see ruined or lost. 

But clothes are obviously not the only things that should be in your bag. Here are the other things you'll need to keep yourself fresh, stay in touch with family and friends, and entertain yourself:
  • A shower bag with travel-sized toiletries (yes you'll have to refill or replace them more often, but full size varieties weigh a lot and take up too much space)
    • Soap (castile soap can be used for face, body, hair, laundry, and more)
    • Toothpaste, toothbrush and floss
    • Deodorant
    • Razor
    • One hair styling product
    • Cotton balls and cotton swabs
    • Conditioner, if you must
    • Nail clippers
    • Minimal makeup (just the essentials, and no duplicates)
    • Personal items like extra contacts, tweezers, etc.
    • Optional: Coconut oil can be used for everything from shaving cream to conditioner to moisturizer and more.
  • Medication (personal meds and general meds like pain killers, vitamins, and motion sickness tabs)
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen of at least SPF 30 (I know you want a tan, but the Aussie sun is killer)
  • Two water bottles (collapsible ones can come in handy)
  • A power adapter/converter
  • A camera with charger and memory cards
  • A phone and charger (for which you will get a sim card once you arrive in the country)
  • Travel journal
  • A head lamp
  • Inflatable travel pillow
  • A credit card with no foreign transaction fees
  • Passport
  • Headphones
  • Snacks
  • Handy to have: a travel sewing kit, paracord, lots of zip-top bags for organizing, ear plugs and eye mask
  • Optional: A tablet, e-reader, or small laptop for entertainment and connectivity and something to keep you entertained during long flights or bus rides like a small coloring book or hobby tools
Keep in mind that Australia is not a third world country and you can get everything you need (or forgot) once you're there. Yes, it'll cost more, but if you're coming from the U.S. or Europe, those dollars are currently stronger than the Aussie dollar, so it mostly evens out.

And yes, if you're a savvy packer, it will all fit into a backpack and a smaller book bag. We took even more than this, namely professional gear including cameras and accessories, lenses, mics, recorders, etc. and it still all fit in there. Impressed? You should be. We are every time we stop for a few weeks and watch every single thing we own get vomited out of our bags and all over the floor of whatever room we happen to be sleeping in. Every time we wonder how we made it all fit, and every time it all goes back in. So happy packing, and if there's anything we forgot, add it in the comments below!
The Cape Hauy Track on the Tasman Peninsula sits inside Tasman National Park and affords spectacular views.

Most people leave poor little Tassie off the itinerary when visiting great big Australia. And to be fair, it may look like a small, seemingly insignificant heart-shaped dot hovering below the mainland, but it's full of tastes to be tried, sites to be seen, and adventures to be had. Plus, Tasmanian residents might just be the proudest of their state of anyone in Australia (evidenced by the plethora of "Tasmania!" souvenirs and a distinct lack of "Australia!" paraphernalia). And while it may be small --just a smidge smaller than our home state of Ohio, in fact -- there's plenty to see. And to see it all, we recommend a road trip.

If you're bringing your car from the mainland, you'll have to take the ferry. It'll cost you anywhere between $150 and several hundred for one person and a car depending on how far in advance you book, what time of year it is and how big your vehicle is. Obviously private cabins cost more if you don't want to sit in a recliner for the 12-hour journey.

On the other hand, you can fly from Sydney or Melbourne for under $80, even if you book last minute, and rent a car when you arrive. We scored a deal on a car rental by booking at least a week early, plus we found a $50 off coupon in one of the tourist books we picked up at a local information center. So we only paid about $85 for an economy car for 6 days and filled the tank three times at about $35 each time.

And that's about all we spent. OK, so we maybe spent $100 on food the whole week, but we only paid for accommodation once (a campsite) and that was only $13. How, you ask? How do you think? We slept in our car. Don't turn your nose up! It's not so bad! Plus, you don't have to go more than two steps away to brush your teeth or cook dinner or go to the bathroom (a few steps in opposite directions, hopefully) and when staying in free campsites, of which there are lots in Tassie, and buying cheap dinner supplies, you can spend very little while living fairly comfortably. For a short time, anyway.

We started in Hobart, where we were doing a work-stay for a few weeks prior to our road trip. The day before we left we went to a local thrift store and snagged two warm blankets for $3 each and a little stainless steel pot for $2. Ta-da! Sleeping and cooking were sorted! We already had our inflatable travel pillows and Lexan plasticware, but you could swipe extra spoons and forks from a fast food restaurant if you need some. We did that with napkins and kept our coffee cups from cafes to use for hot liquid and soup. For dinner we're not too good at eating straight out of the pot.

Dinner may not be fancy, but who can complain when it came from a $2 pot and was cooked at a free campsite?

Sleeping in a small car can be tricky. The key is to try out different sleeping positions until you find the most comfortable.

Anyway, we stocked up on food the morning we left. We bought bread and peanut butter, fresh fruit and veggies to munch, trail mix, granola bars, tofu, oats, shelf-stable soy milk, hummus, baked beans, ramen, freeze dried peas, and two jugs of water (not all the campsites we mapped out had drinking water available). And just like that we had breakfast, lunch, and dinner sorted! We stopped once or twice throughout the week to restock, but we only ate out once in Launceston, so we didn't spend much and the cooking all took place in that one pot, mostly on campfires we built with found wood.

Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is the only 24-hour rescue sanctuary in Tasmania.

Tina, a baby wombat at Bonorong, will be rehabilitated and reintroduced to the wild soon.

Feed kangaroos out of the palm of your hand at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Tasmania. If your heart doesn't melt it must be made of stone.

Tasmanian Devils at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. They don't look much the the Warner Brothers animated character.

But back to the route! We left Hobart and headed 30 minutes north to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, the only 24 hour rescue sanctuary in Tasmania. It. Was. Amazing. I giggled like a little girl as kangaroos ate out of my hand, laughed as Josh refused to let an employee holding a wombat pass by without getting to pet it, tried effortlessly to snap a photo of a blue tongue with his blue tongue sticking out, and simply didn't want to leave after a super cuddly young roo held my hand and let me snuggle him. As an animal lover, it was the experience of a lifetime and knowing that Bonorong has rescued and is rehabilitating most of their devils, quolls and other native wildlife makes it even better.

When I finally pulled myself (reluctantly) away from Bonorong, we headed east to the Tasman Peninsula. and set out on a late afternoon hike on one of Tasmania's 60 Great Walks, the Cape Hauy Track. A three hour round trip was strenuous and taxing, but we were awarded with phenomenal views from the tops of cliffs overlooking the Tasman sea. And a stinging bite from one of Australia's poisonous insects, the Jack Jumper. Not cool. And as the sun was starting to set by the time we got back to the trailhead, we opted to forgo the indeterminate drive to one of the free sites we mapped out and paid for a site right there in Tasman National Park. It is with the utmost delight that I state that the $13 paid for itself. Besides making friends with the young couple in the site next to us (so glad we had to ask them for matches!) and staying up laughing and chatting until nearly midnight, potoroos, wallabies, and possums scurried around us all night as we sat around the fire sharing damper and chocolate. I pet a wallaby as he warmed himself, we watched mischievous creatures try to sneak into the back of cars, baby possums get stuck in dinner pots, and listened to devils howling in the woods. It was amazing. And despite not sleeping well as we figured out how best to arrange ourselves in the small car, I awoke a very happy camper.

Ups and downs abound on the Cape Hauy Track on the Tasman Peninsula.

If you make it to the end of the Cape Hauy Track you'll be rewarded with unparalleled views.

Cape Hauy Track, Tasman National Park, Tasmania

Day two saw us at Port Arthur Historic Site as soon as they opened. We went on a walking and ferry tour to learn about the earliest Tasmanian penitentiary's storied past and wondered at the tales of 11-year-old boys who were shipped from England to this working prison for stealing a pair of boots. The whole place was intriguing and we certainly got our dose of history for the day before heading North to the Freycinet Peninsula. We hiked to beautiful Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park with the intention of continuing a circuit along Hazards Beach, but it was getting late and we were tired and hungry. On returning to the parking lot, however, we found several wallabies hopping about looking for snacks from unwitting tourists (you're not supposed to feed these guys as it can make them sick and even kill them). We didn't offer snacks, but I still got kisses from one who smelled food on my breath, which made me very happy indeed.

Port Arthur Historic Site, home to historic events in the distant and not so distant past.

Wallabies beg for scraps in the parking lot at Frecinet National Park. But don't feed them! They may be too cute to say no to, but feeding them people food could kill them.

The view from the lookout above Wineglass Bay in Frecinet National Park, Tasmania.

That night we stayed at a free waterfront campground on River and Rocks Rd. where we witnessed hundreds, thousands of tiny sand crabs shimmying back and forth across the beach, making the whole place look like it was moving. We both finally figured out about half way through the night that the most comfortable sleeping position was in the fully reclined front seats, so, success! Unfortunately, it wasn't early enough to make us want to do a lot of exploring on Day 3. Fortunately, there wasn't much exploring to do on day 3. We headed to Bay of Fires, which no doubt would have been exceptional if it hadn't been so drizzly and cold all day. So we walked along the beach and climbed on the rocks for an hour or two, but hit up the local grocer and found our free campsite, a beautiful, stormy ocean front location at Cozy Corner. The view was exceptional and all night we got to listen to waves crashing outside our car door.

You can't beat a waterfront campsite in Tasmania, especially when it's free.

Day 4 took us west to Launceston where we did a brief bit of urban exploring at the Queen Victoria Museum and the art gallery. Both were free and rather fun, actually. Of course, we're partial to interactive exhibits because we're just big children, and there were plenty of things to keep us entertained. We also took a hike around the Cataract Gorge and watched rock climbers, cliff divers, and swimmers enjoy the sunny afternoon. We camped outside the city on Swan's Point. We started at an overnight area next to Rose Bay Park where there was an electric grill, but a few questionable trucks kept pulling in and out of the lot and we opted to relocate. The first rule of sleeping in your car, after all, is if you don't feel safe, get outta there!

Dinosaur skeleton replicas at the (free) Queen Victoria Museum in Launceston.

Swimming at Cataract Gorge in Launceston, Tasmania.

In any case, after meeting a friend from Hobart in Launceston for coffee who told of the wonders of Cradle Mountain, we decided to double-up the site-seeing on Day 5. It was supposed to rain on day 6, anyway. So we booked it 2.5 hours west to Cradle Mountain, walked around Dove Lake which would have been phenomenal had it not been cold and grey with clouds completely covering the peak. However, it was still an awesome national park. We ate lunch on the trail and when we got back to the parking lot set off north-west for Stanley where we arrived 2 hours later in plenty of time to climb to the top of The Nut and walk around the track on the top. By then the sun had come out, the skies were blue, the water of the Bass Straight was the brightest turquoise, and even though we were fairly certain we were going to get blown straight off the top, the views around every turn were breathtaking. Views only rivaled by our first hike on the Tasman Peninsula. Simply amazing.

The Nut in Stanley, Tasmania.

The vistas from atop The Nut are simply spectacular.

Beaches flank both sides of The Nut, which juts out into the Bass Strait.

The Nut is positioned at the end of the peninsula that is Stanley, Tasmania.

We camped at Brickmaker's Beach, another waterfront site with killer vistas, with plans to head back to Launceston the next day. We wanted to camp closer to the airport to decrease the chances that something would go wrong on the way and derail our travel plans back to the mainland. So we killed another afternoon in Launceston, got coffee, walked around the mall and the park, and camped at a different campsite in Lilydale Falls where we were told there was a platypus, but never found despite our searching. The next morning we returned our car and caught a flight back to Melbourne where we would take off on the next leg of our Australia adventure, but this was a journey we won't soon forget.

Seriously. Free camping and the beach. Could there be anything better?

The view above the city of Hobart near the top of Mount Wellington in Hobart, Tasmania
Tasmania is a pretty cool place, floating beneath Australia's mainland like the little heart-shaped wonder-island that it is. And toward the bottom edge of Australia's smallest state is Hobart, a quaint but happening city full of history, nature, and culture. And fortunately, there are plenty of things to do for free while you're there. So stay a while and explore.

Cascade Brewery - Australia's oldest operating brewery.
Enjoy a respite at the lily pond at the Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens in Hobart. 
The Hobart Rivulet Tunnels under the city provide an enjoyable stroll through street art covered walls.
Huge and sprawling, the Salamanca Market is well worth a visit.
Feeding Kangaroos at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, just a half hour drive north of Hobart.
A twenty-month-old wombat being cared for at Bonorong.
A few hours drive south of Hobart, Bruny Island offers some of the area's most stunning views of the sea and coastline.
Only a 20 minute drive north of Hobart, The Museum of Old and New Art or MONA is a world renowned art museum that is well worth a visit.

Within a few hours drive of Hobart you can find quite a few of Tasmania's 60 Great Short Walks. Tasmania offers some of the most beautiful coastal views you'll find in Australia.

Things to do for Free in Hobart
  • Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery: There's aboriginal art, there's classic art, there's weird modern stuff. There's history, there's nature, there are fun facts. It's where we learned about the infamous Tasmanian Tiger and that of the island's three types of snakes every single one of them is poisonous. And it's free!
  • Beer: At the cool Cascade Bar and Cafe across the street from Cascade Brewery, beer is free every day at 2:00pm. Of course, you have to earn your free beer in a beer pulling competition behind the bar, but everyone who participates gets some!
  • Mount Wellington: Hike, hitchhike, or drive to the top and enjoy 360 degree views of the city below. There are also all sorts of hiking trails on the way up or down, so grab a map at the visitor information center in town before you go and enjoy an afternoon on the trail.
  • The Rivulet Tunnels: At night or during the day, this is an interesting excursion. If you're undertaking it at night, don't forget a headlamp! Access these tunnels that run under the city from the Rivulet Track and wander through tunnels covered in street art and skillful tags. There's much to look at for the kilometer or two you'll be underground, and if you're lucky, you might catch an artist at work. Pop back up in the middle of the city or turn around and exit the way you came in.
  • Salamanca Market: Huge and sprawling, this market has more than fruit and veggies, it has everything you could possibly want from a market. There are soap, jewelry, and leather vendors, food, souvenir, and handmade gift stalls, and just about everything in between. It will be bustling no matter the weather and even if you don't buy a thing, the people watching and street performers will be worth the wander.
  • Farm Gate Market: On Sundays, this market is a great place to get breakfast or lunch (including vegan fare), coffee, vegetables if you're cooking for yourself, and in-season fruit, not to mention plenty of baked goods. It may be small at only a block or so long, but it is mighty!
  • See Some Wallabies: Or rather potoroos and pademelons. Take a walk on the Rivulet track toward Cascade Brewery starting from Molle Rd. It's a great walk during the day, but at dusk or early in the morning you may catch a glimpse of some local wildlife.
  • Rektango: On Friday Nights between 5:30-7:30 at the Courtyard at Salamanca and offers a free evening of funky, hip local music.
  • Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens: While donations are accepted, this lovely botanic garden is free to enter and includes a sub Antarctic plant house, Japanese gardens, and a cactus collection in addition to Australian flora.

Our Favorite Things
  • MONA: Internationally acclaimed and an oft-discussed topic of the locals, MONA is the, uh, unique gallery on the edge of town. It's not the kind of gallery you would probably want to take your grandma to (unless your grandma is super chill and open minded), but it's certainly interesting with it's very quirky, often disturbing, and usually unsettling collection of art. Tickets are $25, but the surrounding grounds are free to walk around and include a waterfront trampoline and a stage that hosts live musicians. And in the summer there's a market on Sundays.
  • Bruny Island: The island is free to explore, but the ferry to get there costs $37. But for the price you can go on some amazing hikes, sample wine, pick berries, lunch by the sea, check out a lighthouse, get coffee, try local cheese, you name it. But there's no public transport, so a car is just about necessary.
  • Bonorong: A half hour outside Hobart is a wonderful wildlife sanctuary. It's an absolute must for anyone who even only kind of likes animals. You'll get to see wombats, Tasmanian devils, quolls, cockatoos, koalas, and other local wildlife that's been rescued or being rehabilitated. Go on one of the tours and you'll get to learn about some of the animals and pet or take your photo with them. But the best part is absolutely the kangaroos. You're given a bag of food upon entering and you can feed the scores of kangaroos that are just hopping free all over the park. Take photos, cuddle one, watch joeys in momma's pouch, and feel the joy of getting nuzzled by the country's official animal. Amazing. It's $26 for adults, but you can feel good knowing it's going to rehabilitation and conservation.
  • Port Arthur Historic Site: For history buffs, head to the Tasman Peninsula about 1-1.5 hours outside Hobart for a day trip to the island's first penitentiary. Learn about punishments that were tried, the crimes that got boys and men of all ages shipped from England, and how soldiers and inmates lived and worked on the waterfront prison. Plan to spend a few hours if not most of the day to get the most out of your $35 admission.
  • Hike: Within a few hours' drive from Hobart are quite a few of Tasmania's 60 Great Short Walks. The Tasman Peninsula in particular contains some of our favorites. While walking is free, a parks pass is not and can be purchased from an Information Center before you head out. They're $24 per car for a day pass or $60 per vehicle for a pass that's good for 8 weeks.

More than just soup, this small vegetarian restaurant offers up tasty Indian food and sandwiches for under $10.

Cheap Eats in Hobart
  • The Soup Stop: More than just soup, this small vegetarian restaurant offers up tasty Indian food and sandwiches for under $10. 
  • Thai Veggie Hutt: Vegetarian Thai food is served up in this small space in the Bank Arcade. It offers dishes to order, but the cheapest option is rice or noodles with one/two/three entrees like green curry and BBQ tofu starting at under $8.
  • Heartfood: Just two doors down is another vegetarian restaurant serving up similar options with often Asian flair.
  • Dumpling World: Serving dumplings for vegetarians and omnivores alike, it's a cheap option for an afternoon snack with a handful of dumplings starting around $3 or so.
  • City Organics: If you'd rather eat in the comfort of your room, this health food store has a variety of frozen meals and snacks, including vegan pies. 
  • Woolworth's: For a quick and cheap meal, pop into this supermarket that has a wide selection of premade salads, sandwiches, and more. Or grab a snack like fresh rolls and hummus for your afternoon hike.
  • Pulp Friction: A good spot for a tasty smoothie (get it? Pulp. Friction...) or salad to go. You can grab either for under $10. Healthy and delicious. They even have vegan dessert bars!

Ways to Save in Hobart
  • Information Center: Drop by the information center when you get to town and let the helpful staff guide you. You can find out what's on while you're in Hobart and pick up a free guide book which has info about free attractions and events and coupons for things like rental cards.
  • Free Camping: If you're looking for cheap accommodation, it doesn't get any better than free. You might not find one inside city limits, but most will be well worth the drive, especially if you plan to do a bit of hiking.
  • Hostels: While we don't often recommend specific accommodation businesses, backpackers know that the right hostel can make all the difference. The Pickled Frog in Hobart in inexpensive, offers cheap drinks, transportation to popular sites, and the staff is friendly and helpful (and might try to interest you in a game of giant Jenga).

If we missed any of your favorite sites or sounds, mention them in the comments below!

The self proclaimed culture and coffee capital of Australia, Melbourne is an exciting place to be. It has museums and restaurants and a million things to do on any given day. It has a public transport system that will get you anywhere you want to be, beaches, festivals and the Melbourne Cup. And when you visit, you don't have to go broke seeing the sights and experiencing the city. Just use this handy guide to Melbourne.

Getting Around Melbourne

  • Train: They run every which way inside and outside the city and it's easy to get all around the city center from surrounding suburbs. Just tap your Myki card on a reader when you get on and off to pay.
  • Trams and Buses: Melbourne has trams in the city and buses to take you elsewhere. The trams go all over the city center and out to popular destinations like St. Kilda and you can use your Myki card to pay for a trip. And as an extra bonus, if you're traveling just within the confines of the city loop, trams are free! Buses mostly offer access to farther away destinations or those outside the city center.
  • Myki Card: It's the only way to pay for public transport in Melbourne. Unfortunately it costs $6 to get one. There are special visitor packs for those doing a lot of traveling around the city in a week or two, but your best bet is to pick one up at a train station as soon as you arrive and keep it topped up using kiosks at the stations or online.
  • City Circle Tram: Totally free, this transport option/attraction offers a way to travel a set route around Melbourne for free. It stops at shopping centers, attractions and tourist destinations around downtown and provides audio commentary along the way.
  • Rent a Car: If you reserve one in advance you might be able to score a good deal, but beware of Melbourne's infamous right hook turns. They even freak Australians out.

Free Things to do in Melbourne

The Australian Center for the Moving Image - discover the history of film in Australia and see special screenings.
Great events can be found happening year round at Federation Square.
Peguins can be seen at the St. Kilda Pier any evening throughout the week.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
The National Gallery of Victoria
There's plenty to do in Melbourne that won't cost you a dime. Explore and enjoy!
  • National Gallery of Victoria and the Ian Potter Center: Art from Europe, Asia and America abound at this gallery. And within the Ian Potter center located inside the gallery, you'll find Australian works as well as special exhibitions.
  • The Royal Botanic Gardens: Not as colorful and impressive as the botanic gardens in Sydney, or even Hobart, a walk through the gardens still provides a lovely diversion on a sunny afternoon, especially for nature lovers.
  • Queen Victoria Market: While it's open every day but Monday and Wednesday, the best time to check out this massive market full of handmade items, artisan wares, food and coffee are on weekends. And during the spring and summer months the Queen Victoria Night Market is open on Wednesdays from 5-10pm, offering a wealth of food stall options, gifts and handmade goods, together with live music and entertainment. Totally worth a trip.
  • Federation Square: Right outside of Flinders Station is Fed Square where a multitude of events take place from time to time. Bands, festivals, art, you name it, it could be here.
  • The Atrium: Right off of Fed Square and near the National Gallery is the Atrium where you'll occasionally find pop up events and free classes like belly dancing or yoga. Over two days passing through we came across a used book sale and a humanitarian architecture project.
  • State Library of Victoria: An impressive edifice all on it's own, this library houses more than books. You'll also find art, historical artifacts, and changing exhibitions.
  • Wheeler Center: Just around the corner from the library is the Wheeler Center, a center for books, writing and ideas. They host events regularly, most of which are focused on books, writers and ideas like author talks and A Festival of Questions. If there's one happening while you're in town, check it out!
  • Australian Center for the Moving Image: Also located right off of Fed Square, this museum is for lovers of film. There are interactive displays, old movie posters, TV show props and replicas (the car from the Original Mad Max, for example), and even facts and figures about old gaming systems. If you're even kind of into movies, don't skip it.
  • The Old Treasury Building: Take a tour of this highly-regarded building to learn a bit about the history, culture and architecture of the city.
  • St. Kilda Beach: If you're lucky enough to be in Melbourne on a warm sunny day, head to the beach! St. Kilda is just a tram ride away and you can spend the afternoon lounging in the sun. Don't forget the sunscreen, though.
  • Evensong: Several Catholic churches in Melbourne, like St. Paul's Cathedral, offer free evensongs From Tuesday-Friday, usually around 5:00pm. Even if you're not Catholic, the architecture, stained glass and beautiful melodies are more than worth a visit.
  • Shrine of Remembrance: Built as a monument to those who died during WWI, the Shrine offers an up close and personal view of Australia's part in the war (as well as pretty great views of the city).
  • Parliament: If politics is your thing, check the schedule to see if you can sit it and watch the Legislative Assembly while you're in town or schedule a free tour of Parliament if they're not sitting.
  • Movies: I love a good free movie in the park. Or on the roof. Or even inside if that's the only option. In the warmer months, Summertime Cinema in nearby Boroondara shows movies in parks around town around 8:30, Southgate Cinema sets up a screen in the Southgate Shopping Center's upper level on Tuesdays.
  • Penguins: For all the cuteness you can handle, head to St. Kilda Pier any evening throughout the week for a parade of penguins. Sure, you could pay a bunch of money for the more structured show on Phillip Island, but you can't beat free. Bring a jacket and a camera and show up around sunset to watch the little guys swim to shore.

Our Favorite Things

The entrance to Luna amusement park in St. Kilda.

Spend the cash. It’s not much for these attractions and it’s worth it.
  • Luna Park: Right on St. Kilda Beach is a Coney Island-esque amusement park with the world's second oldest roller coaster, Scenic Railway. If you only ride one ride, this is the one to chose. The brakes are hand operated by park staff instead of automatic and the wooden tracks really take you for a ride.
  • Rooftop bars: The views are free but the brews aren't, so shell out a few bucks and enjoy a nice relaxing post-dinner cocktail or locally brewed beer at any of the city's many rooftop bars and watch the city light up. We like Taxi Kitchen's rooftop view overlooking Fed Square, the river, and the arts district.
  • The Great Ocean Road: For spectacular views, take a trip on the Great Ocean Road, at least as far as the 12 Apostles, 4 hours outside the city. Rent a car if you like, but you'll probably be able to find others on Gumtree who already have one and are just looking for other travelers to join in on the fun. It may only cost you a tank of fuel.

Grab a Bite

Merry Cupcakes - Delicious vegan cupcakes all under $4. 
La Petite Creperie on Little Collins and Swanston St.
There are hundreds of places to eat in Melbourne and plenty of cheap places to eat in Melbourne, so you won't have to look far to find a restaurant that caters to a small budget.
  • La Petite Creperie: No more than a tiny stand on the sidewalk on the corner of Little Collins and Swanston St., you can grab a crepe filled with Nutella and alm onds, fig and ginger jam, or peanut butter and chocolate from $4-$8, a perfect afternoon snack.
  • Crossways: As cheap as it is filling, Crossways offers bottomless portions of Indian cuisine with no garlic or onion, all vegetarian, and mostly vegan. It's $7.95 and includes dessert and you can keep going back for more until you explode. Which I almost did.
  • Lord of the Fries: For vegan and vegetarian fast food, this is the place to go. There are shops all over the city and they offer burgers and dogs from $5 for a slider to $9 for a pretty hefty burger. Naturally there are fries (chips) and shakes, too.
  • Chinatown: For some tasty Asian cuisine, wander around Chinatown to find a plethora of cheap and quick eats from spring rolls to dumplings and all kinds of Asian food. And a lot of it you'll be able to order at the counter and nosh on your way to the next attraction.
  • OM Vegetarian: More all-you-can eat vegetarian Indian cuisine! It's only $6.50 and you can keep going back for that delicious naan.
  • The Organic Food and Wine Deli (TOFWD): Grab a vegan pie or some burgers or salad. This place has options for vegans, omnivores and the gluten intolerant alike. Dessert, too! Not everything is cheap, but you can grab a pie for around $5-6.
  • Mantra Lounge: With whole meals starting at $9.95, Mantra Lounge is a pretty good deal for tasty vegan fare. In fact, they claim to be the best vegan meal deal in the city. It includes a curry of the day with rice and a salad, or you can opt for any of their other meal options like an enchilada or lasagna. And while you're there, don't pass up a chance to enjoy the ice cream and tiramisu; they're outstanding.
  • Merry Cupcakes: I cannot physically pass up a vegan cupcake. If I come across one in my day to day comings and goings, I must have it. And here, there are so very many options and they're all under $4.
  • Queen Victoria Market: On most mornings and afternoons there are a multitude of options to slake your hunger on a budget at this sprawling market. From $3 falafel wraps to $.80 rolls to donuts to pies to dumplings and breakfast plates, there's something for everybody. It's also a great place to get fresh produce for super cheap if you're staying in a hostel or hotel and doing your own cooking. On Wednesday nights in the Summer there are also various food vendors that offer decently priced dinner at the QV Night Market.
  • Lentil as Anything: Located outside of the CBD and in nearby St. Kilda, this not-for-profit vegetarian restaurant with Indian and Nepalese style food is a "pay what you feel" self-service restaurant, meaning you order what you like and pay what you think the meal is worth. Just don't be too cheap.
  • Cafes: In a city that does coffee this well, it would be a shame not to have at least two or three cups a day. Just about any cafe will serve it up right, so stroll into any one you come by and expect a well-executed cuppa, but we like Padre Coffee and Sun Moth for the atmosphere. If you need help ordering, check out our post on the subject here.

Ways to Save

  • If you'll only be in the city for a week or two and you'll be out and about every day, look into a Myki pass, which offers unlimited travel on public transport for 7 days to a year. It might be cheaper in the long run unless you're staying in the middle of the city and not often traveling farther afield (as there are free trams that run all over the city center).
  • Liven: Download the Liven app for a chance to save at (mostly) restaurants. There aren't a lot of really inexpensive places on there, but if you're going to enjoy a nice night out, you might be able to save a few bucks. 
  • For local discounts try Shop A Docket, where you can print coupons for local restaurants and experiences, and Cudo or All The Deals, where you can purchase deals like on Groupon or Living Social.
  • Check websites like The Urban List, Broadsheet, and Weekend Notes for free events going on while you're in town. You might find live music, movies and festivals, among other things.

So it's half way through December and you're still stuck on gift ideas for the nomad on your list. I get it. We're hard to buy for. We travel too often to need stuff for whatever place we intended to call home, a lot of stuff we simply can't find room for in the car, and if it doesn't fit in a daypack it probably won't see much use. So what's a person to do when hitting the mall this holiday season? Hopefully, this list of great gifts for travelers will put you on the right track.

1. Flight vouchers
Have a frequent flyer to buy for this year? For those of us who love to hop on a plane to explore remote and exotic locales, an airline voucher that can be used toward a dream trip is the perfect gift. Just make sure that airline goes to the recipient's dream destination. Order them in just about any amount on airline's websites.

2. Noise Cancelling Headphones
Bonus points if they're small and ultra packable, but on the whole, we explorers will almost always make room for headphones in our luggage, especially if they help drown out the plane's engines and the baby crying two rows back. Find them online or at an electronics store near you at a variety of price points.

3. State Pride T-Shirts
If your wanderer has pride in where they come from (or you think they should), hook them up with a shirt that reminds them where home (and presumably their heart) is. You might find them at a local gift shop or airport for around $20.

4. Adventure Sandals
We're passionate about comfortable and functional footwear here at Terradrift. And while hiking boots, running shoes and flip-flops are all valuable footwear, the first pair I pack when I'm planning for any trip not in the mountains are my adventure sandals. I'm a Chaco's girl, but Josh loves his Keens. The key is to find a comfortable, supportive, rugged style that will last. And don't skimp on this one. Outdoor stores will carry good ones for around $80.

5. Airport Lounge Pass
Many airlines now offer daily passes to their airport lounges, usually reserved for first class passengers. This is an especially good gift for anyone with an upcoming flight that includes a long layover or someone doing a lot of airport hopping in a single trip. Find them on airline's websites for around $50 depending on the airline.

6. GoPro
Going big this year? Throwing the budget to the wind? Get your explorer a GoPro and they'll think of you every time they film their summit, dive off a cliff, or run through a field of tulips. They're great because they take up very little space and take photos, too. Snag one at your local tech store or just about anywhere online from $130-$600.

7. Travel Coffee Kit
Buy one online or put one together yourself, either make great gifts for coffee lovers. We often bemoan the absence of good coffee when we travel, and a kit that includes coffee, a travel mug, and a small brewing device like a pour-over or Aeropress, complete with filters, will endear you to your caffeine junkie forever.

8. Digital Subscriptions
Those who travel often don't get to enjoy magazines like most. Which is a shame, because there are some awesome travel magazines out there. So if your nomad has a tablet or laptop they travel with, get them digital subscriptions to all the 'zines that inspire them straight from the publications' websites, usually starting at under $10.

9. Hammock
There are so many times when traveling that all I wanted was a hammock, no joke. And for under $70, you can get a lightweight, packable version that's perfect for backpacking, beach vacays, hitchhiking, and just about anywhere that has two sturdy pillars (or trees, or posts...) between 4-7 feet apart. Pick one up at a local outdoor store or online.

10. Hat
Maybe it sounds lame, but I cannot over-emphasize the value of a good hat. The type depends on the journey. A warm beanie with a fun pattern for the mountains, a sturdy broad-rimmed hat for the dessert, a stylish cap for European explorations. Just make sure it's packable and high quality enough to last for a long time. Find one at your local outdoor store for anywhere between $15-$50.

11. Daypack
I know I've said this before, but there's no substitute for a good daypack and the right one will last for years. Look for a lightweight pack with a waist and chest strap, water bottle and accessory pockets, and preferably a spot to slide in a water reservoir like a Camelback or Platypus. Spend at least $60 at a local outdoor store or online for a quality pack.

12. Tablet and Case
A laptop is often difficult to travel with depending on size and weight. A tablet is a nice compromise between a laptop and a smartphone and makes it easier to stay connected to folks back home. But if you're going to gift a tablet (or if they already have one and you want to offer the perfect accessory), wrap up a case that includes a keyboard to make sending emails and getting work done easier. It's invaluable and can cost as little as $20 online.

13. Backup Battery Pack
There's nothing worse than your phone alerting you that only 5% of your battery is remaining as you wander around a foreign city and it's only lunchtime. It's enough to induce travel panic. Give peace of mind with a backup battery pack that will offer hours more usage so they can continue looking up directions to cafes and book hostel rooms for the night. Find them online or in tech stores for $25 and up.

14. Gift Cards
I know, gift cards aren't clever or creative, but I love receiving them and you can generally purchase them in any amount right from the store. Naturally, which store is key. A gift card to REI, North Face, or a local adventure store would leave us as excited as a kid in a candy store. Plus we get to pick out the exact gear we want!

15. Camera
A GoPro and a phone cam are all well and good, but they have limited utility. There's no way you're getting a shot of that cockatoo perched in a gum tree with your iPhone. A small camera with a decent zoom will do a much better job at capturing memories that will last a lifetime. Luckily, we've put together a handy guide to picking one out here. Just don't give a them a selfie stick or we will find you and smack it right out of your hand. Expect to spend at least $300 for a decent camera.