Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Australia & the Pacific
Reload this Page > practical advice needed - GPS, phone, hotels
Notices

practical advice needed - GPS, phone, hotels

Reply

Jul 7th, 2015, 01:53 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 10
practical advice needed - GPS, phone, hotels

We are going to Australia in August for an almost 6 week trip. We've decided on major stops and gotten plane tickets and the most crucial hotel and car rental reservations. I'm working through practical problems now and have some questions:

- I'd like to use our Garmin GPS unit as we drive around Australia. I'll have to pay for and download maps from garmin but before I spend money on that, I'd like to be sure whether it will be usable. The GPS unit has a cord that plugs into the 12 volt socket in ther car (the cigarette lighter socket). Here's a small picture of the plug: http://naturelover.smugmug.com/Other...r%20plug-L.jpg. Will the cars we rent in Australia have the same kind of socket?

- Our USA car insurance won't cover us in Australia. We got advice to buy insurance through the car rental companies in Australia. Is this the best way?

- I have a GSM smartphone with a second SIMM slot. Wil it be straightforward to buy a SIMM and sign up for pay-as-you-go phone service in Australia? Any recommendations on a way to accomplish it?

- We'll be staying in Sydney for a few days when we arrive. We'll use that time to see things close in and see things in NSW in general at the end of trip. Should we pick a hotel in the cente rof town and not rent a car or rent a car for more flexibility? What parts of town are good for a tourist with car or for a tourist with car to stay in?

Any good advice on these questions will be appreciated.
OldListener is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2015, 03:44 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,453
You definitely don't want to rent a car in Sydney or for that matter any of the major cities. In Sydney, parking a car for 3 - 4 hours on a weekday would likely cost around $80 per visit. If you are travelling outside the city that it may make sense provided you drop it off when you return

For insurance, I think the rental companies are a huge rip-off, you will be given the necessary insurance when you book it but the biggie is reducing the excess from $3000 to 0, this can be done without buying their insurance if your credit card already covers it or your travel insurance has a provision for it, check them out

I have never had a problem plugging in GPS systems in any country, I'm pretty sure its a universal plug-in
Geordie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2015, 03:47 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,044
Don't pick up a car until you are ready to leave Sydney. Traffic is heavy and parking fees quite expensive. Much better to use public transport, especially the ferries, to get around Sydney. Our favourite place to stay is at one of the hotels in Darling Harbour - quieter than the CBD but only five minutes walk away from everything. I'd recommend the Novotel at Darling Harbour.
Re the car insurance, we usually get travel insurance which includes covering any excess in the event of an accident. It usually works out much cheaper than taking the hire company insurance.
Can't help with the GPS -I'm still at the stage that my children have to help me with technology.
Hope you have a great holiday.
marg is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 7th, 2015, 04:08 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,680
<>

More often than not your US credit card WILL cover you outside of your country of origin and will act as primary coverage. Have you checked? We have relied solely on our US credit card insurance for rental cars in OZ and NZ over the past dozen years. Ask for a copy of the rental policy from your credit card company and read every word, you might be surprised. We have a Visa Platinum. It even covers excess (deductible).

Do be aware that any rental car coverage you purchase from the rental car agency will be full of exclusions that you won't find in the US. Read every word.

I've never purchased rental car insurance, ever, anywhere. I think it's the biggest rip-off known to man.
Melnq8 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2015, 04:45 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 30,463
Make certain you understand your credit card insurance coverage. As was stated above, CC's generally act as the primary insurance source if you are outside the US. ALSO be aware of whether or not your insurance INCLUDES so-called "loss of use" which is a fee the rental agency attempts to charge for the time any damaged car (under repair) is not available for rental (and revenue generation) to someone else.

I assume you already know that Australian hotels may tack on an additional percentage to the bill if you settle it with a credit card (which doesn't happen generally in the US).

Being able to literally walk away from a damaged rental car (thanks to that high-priced insurance the rental agency sold you) without any liability or additional charges whatsoever is "the biggest rip-off" to some and an absolute bargain for others. Only you can decide that.
Dukey1 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2015, 05:28 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 3,191
Interesting Dukey I have never paid extra in Australia for use of credit card for payment in a hotel or other accommodation .
northie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2015, 08:22 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,680


It's not happened to me (yet) in Australian hotels, but it's a common practice in many Australian restaurants - at last in Perth. Which is why we always used cash or EFTPOS when dining out.

It's also used at the Novotel Airport Hotel in Auckland, a practice that drives me batty. We make a point of paying in cash when we stay there. Funny how the same hotels that insist on a credit card surcharge, also tend to charge a ridiculous fee for WIFI.
Melnq8 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2015, 08:24 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,680
My experience in booking flights online from Australia is that the airlines also charged a credit card surcharge.
Melnq8 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2015, 08:28 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,680
Timely article regarding Australian credit card surcharges:

http://www.creditcardfinder.com.au/c...urcharges.html
Melnq8 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2015, 02:39 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 10,866
The section on Sydney taxi credit card surcharges charge is outdated. The surcharge imposed by Cabcharge was reduced to 5% a year or so ago.

I've not been charged a surcharge at an Australian hotel for CC use, either. Nor can I recall having a surcharge imposed at a restaurant, irrespective of which cc I used.

Some places don't take Amex or Diners, but it's my experience that the hospitality industry doesn't add surcharges.

CC surcharges are required to be displayed and advised verbally at point of sale in all Australian businesses.

Visitors should note also:

1. All taxes are included in the ticketed price.
The only exception to this is where some restaurants impose a 10% or other surcharge on Sundays, public holidays & for large group bookings. This will be printed on the bottom of the menu.

2. Tipping is not expected, necessary or required in Australia.

If the service is exceptional & you wish to tip, do so & it will be appreciated. But a genuine "Thank You" & polite & courteous behaviour is all that is required.

There is a trend in some tourist areas for some( usually casual, international ) wait staff to point out the "tip" section on the bill / CC machine & occasionally actually ask for a tip.

I was at a lunch at Cockle Bay/ Darling Harbour last week when the waitress advised the host "15-20% tip is customary in Australia." Unfortunately for her, we were all locals; the host had merely picked up an accent from years living in the US.

She received a tip. It wasn't what she was angling for.
Bokhara2 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2015, 03:11 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 10,866
If you'll only be in Sydney for a few days, I'd think a self catering apartment in the CBD (Central Business District) or towards Circular Quay/ The Rocks would suit you.

There are lots of good hotel options too - I just like apartments for the extra space, kitchen & laundry facilities.

Have a look at Booking.com to short -list a few that meet your budget & other requirements & come back so we can help you refine your choices.
Bokhara2 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 8th, 2015, 10:19 PM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 10
Thanks to all for the good advice. I checked with our main credit card company; they say were are covered for car rentals paid for with that credit card.

The advice about CC surcharges and about tipping will be very good to know.

I've already booked the international flights and those inside Australia from the US.I don't know whether there were surcharges for a US CC.

I've started looking at hotels in the CBD or the Circular Quay areas.

Any advice on choosing a good cellphone company we can use (with the smartphone that I have). It is a GSM phone that can handle the frequency bands the Australian phone companies use.
OldListener is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 9th, 2015, 12:38 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 10,866
Just make sure your phone is unlocked ( not locked into your current provider).

I'll leave others to recommend the best/cheapest SIM provider for you - I just use Telstra because I need the coverage, but have no idea how they compare costwise.

Also, just a note on using your CC for CDW with rental cars - be aware that some rental car companies embargo / reserve/ charge your CC for the $3k excess as security. In the event of an "insurable incident", they may use that
to pay for the excess / deductible & you will need to claim it back from your CC's insurance section.

IOW - make sure you read the small print BEFORE you sign & pick up the keys. Many companies have their T&CS online.
Bokhara2 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 9th, 2015, 07:24 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 245
Your GPS should easily plug in to whatever rental you get here. We had no problem with ours going the other way.
In terms of sustained coverage across the country you are probably best to get a Telstra prepaid sim. Other companies are cheaper and will tell you they have great service but if you travel outside populated areas then you'll find lots of black spots. Just go to a Telstra shop (there will be one in any shopping centre near your hotel) and they will put the sim in for you and set you up on their network.
Kwaussie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 14th, 2015, 04:14 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 30,463
When I booked our initial (now changed) hotel in Perth I was told quite plainly there would be a surcharge for use of the credit card.
Dukey1 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 14th, 2015, 09:09 AM
  #16
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 10
Thanks for the good advice so far. My next step is to arrange car rentals in Cairns and Darwin returning the cars to the same place and a rental in Brisbane, returning the car in Sydney.

I'd be renting the smallest cheapest cars unless you tell me why not. Stick shift is fine for us.

I can check rates online but it is harder to get good information on how a company is to deal with. Any positive or negative recommendations for a reliable rental car company?
OldListener is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 2nd, 2015, 09:00 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 10,866
I've just clicked back into this thread & wonder how you went / if you've booked your rental car for the BNE-SYD leg.

The reason I ask is that you may be able to get a better deal on the interstate drop off fee by booking through a US based agency or consolidator with one of the major firms here.
Bokhara2 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Aug 3rd, 2015, 04:07 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,020
Also wondering as I am getting ready to make reservations for rental cars in Darwin, Cairns and Tasmania (then in NZ).
FromDC is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 6th, 2015, 11:47 AM
  #19
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 10
I have made my rental car reservations.

Apex in Cairns

Avis in Darwin

Apollo for a camper vehicle in Perth
($ 5000 security deposit required!)

Apex for Brisbane to Sydney

Apex charged my credit card immediately. Apollo charged for the rental but not for the deposit. Avis did not charge my card yet.


A couple of things made comparison and decision making harder. Some prices were in USD and some in Aus. dollars. Some prices included taxes and feess, some did not.

The process seemed easier for Apex than for Avis. If Apex had an office in Darwin, I wuld have rented from them there too.

We'll see how it works out.

I benefited from the replies here and information on other sites including tripadvisor. Thanks to everyone.
OldListener is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 7th, 2015, 10:15 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 297
There are local car hire places in the Top End when you get there. Cairns, Darwin, etc. $50 per day, or weekly rates. We shop around and do the deal on the day. It's pretty easy in those places.
mareeS55 is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:00 AM.