There are three main tour agencies in Australia that I have experienced first-hand in great depth, Happy Travels, Greyhound Wicked Travel and Peter Pans. I would highly recommend booking your tours, Greyhound bus pass and accommodation through Peter Pans as I found their prices to be the lowest, their staff the friendliest and they were extremely patient when it came to breaking down costs and answering any of our questions. Check out my 5 week budget East Coast itinerary and Peter Pan package prices!
My Experience with Happy Travels
I don’t want to dwell on the negative, but my experiences with Happy Travels was quite unpleasant to say the least. There are branches everywhere you go in Australia and the staff will do everything in their power to get you into their shop. Keep walking! Myself and my friend tried out Happy Travels in Sydney a few weeks ago. We asked questions about the bus pass, tours etc and took down notes and really helpful information we got from the representative, whose name was Kyle. After three hours of chatting and bringing us through all the “deals and discounts” he could apparently give us, he wanted us to hand over at least $1800 between us straight up in cash for Fraser Island and Whitsundays.
A Change in Demeanour
When we said we didn’t want to book the tours that day but would come back tomorrow, Kyle sat back in his chair and pointed to the (empty) couches in the room behind us and said “There are people waiting here that would hand over money to me. I’ve just wasted three hours talking to you guys”. From then on, the demeanour changed significantly with Kyle almost refusing to give us anymore information until we explained we had walked around Sydney for three hours trying to find the agency and we needed his help in order to make an informed decision/purchase. He reluctantly agreed to give us the rest of the info we were looking for and we parted ways, not before his colleague came over and tried to sell us the tours again. The experience we had was enough to turn us off going into any other travel agency but we persisted until we found exactly what we were looking for. That’s where Peter Pans saved the day!
Peter Pans Agency
We booked 25 days worth of accommodation and tours with Peter Pans in Byron Bay and found the staff we dealt with (Marc, Millie and Matt) so friendly and patient. They didn’t try to push us into buying anything and created a tailor-made package for us with great patience and insider knowledge. Before I continue, I would like to add this is a genuine recommendation, I have absolutely no affiliation or commission scheme with Peter Pans, they are just amazing and deserve some recognition! Check out Peter Pan’s East Coast packages here and drop into one of their stores for a chat.
Essential Tips Before You Go
The staff from Happy Travels and Greyhound Wicked Travel will do everything they can to get you in the shop door and will then ask you to describe in detail what your backpacking plans are. They will then try to sell you packages for Fraser Island, Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef – the three major excursions for backpackers with a few “free” nights of accommodation. Shop around and make sure you aren’t getting scammed into “discounts” that aren’t really discounts. Finally, talk to other backpackers and ask who they booked with and if you can book your tours with a group you’ll notice a price drop!