How Not To Blow All Your Money When Traveling

Caroline Stratton
April 5, 2016

For Easter break, I met up with my boyfriend, Chris, in Sydney, Australia.  We hadn’t seen each other for seven weeks so we wanted to make the most out of the eleven days we had together.  This was the first trip we had taken together and the longest trip I had planned without the help of my parents. 

We reunited in the Sydney Airport, and needed to get to the airbnb we booked in Bondi Beach.  Since we were so eager to get to our accommodation, we jumped in a cab.  Amateur mistake. 

Tip #1: Do Not Use Cabs/Taxis.  The cab ride, which was around 40 minutes, ended up costing us around $100 AUS ($75 US).  And Uber ride would have cost us half the price.  

The room we had through airbnb wasn’t great; it was small and there were other people staying in the rooms next to us.  However, the location was incredible.  It took us about 15 minutes to walk to Bondi Beach.  On our way to the beach we passed an amazing grocery store where we stopped to get fresh fruit and snacks for the beach.  Also, the owners of the airbnb loaned us their high performance surfboards to take with us to the beach for no extra price.  There were more than enough things to do around the area, including the Bondi to Coogee Beach Walk, which featured ocean pools, rock cliffs, and beautiful white sand beaches, that we never needed to find transportation.  Excluding the taxi ride we took from the airport, we didn’t spend any additional money on transportation during our time in Bondi. 

Tip #2: Pay More to Stay in the Location You Want to Be in.  Booking accommodations that are cheaper, in an area where you will need to use transportation to get where you actually want to be, will cause you to spend more money just getting to where you want to go.  Pay more upfront to save money later. 

Next stop, The Gold Coast!  Here’s where I really learned what not to do.  Since we didn’t learn the first time, we took a cab from the airport to our new airbnb and said goodbye to another $100 AUS.  The house we stayed at was beautiful, and we had the entire house to ourselves.  The downside was that there was no free wifi (or internet at all) at this house.  No wifi means we couldn't look up restaurants, grocery stores, book an Uber, or get directions to places we want to go.  We also happened to be traveling on Easter, a public holiday, so nothing was open.   And finally, the places we wanted to go to were not in walking distance from our house (refer to Tip #2). 

Tip #3: Always Have Wifi.  Sure, if you are tramping or trying to get away from work and school, it’s nice to put away your phone.  But Internet is necessary when trying to get around a city you are new to.  So, when booking an airbnb or hostel, check to see if they offer free wifi. 

Tip #4: Don’t Travel on a Public Holiday. You will struggle to find food because everything will be closed.  Hangriness will soon set it. 

We sorted all of these problems out eventually.  We became frequent customers at McDonald’s because they offer 30 minutes of free Wifi.  I think I’ve eaten enough McFlurry’s to last me a lifetime.  The best decision we made was to RENT A CAR.  It gave us the freedom to make spontaneous stops wherever we wanted, to wake up and decide where we wanted to spend the day, and it allowed us to relax.  In the Gold Coast, we visited Purling Brook Falls (located in Springbrook National Forest), surfed at Kirra Beach, went to Snapper Rocks (where we causally walked up and realized we were watching Kelly Slater and his crew shredding on the waves), and pretended we were on Wipe Out at Aqua Splash: a water park consisting of a bunch of inflatable slides and structures to play around on. 

From here we flew back to Sydney for the last two days of our trip.  We thought we were being smart by using Uber instead of a cab to get to the free accommodation we had, but little did we know….

Tip #5: Check the Fare Estimate on Uber Before Booking! The Uber ride was only around 35 minutes, but it ended up costing $135 AUS.  Little did we know, the rates at the time we booked it were stiffened, and it didn’t help that Sydney is already an expensive city. 

This really forced us to figure out other ways of transportation.  After asking a local, we figured out the local buses/trains.  When it was time to leave, I ended up spending $15 AUS in bus tickets to get from my accommodation to the airport.  So I could have saved myself $120 AUS if I would have taken the time to figure out the buses first thing. 

Tip #6: Use Public Transportation. Obviously walk, skateboard, or bike if you can, but after that, buses will be cheapest, followed by Uber, and then cabs.

For our last full day in Sydney we returned to one of our favorite places, Bondi Beach (which I am proud to say we got to by bus).  Our last day in Australia was perfect.  We went to the local grocery store we loved when we were in Bondi and got grapes, chocolate, and chips.  We laid out our towel (which also functioned as a bath towel later in the day), got sunburned after falling asleep under the hot sun, played in the waves, people watched, bought icecream, and tried not to think about how we were leaving the next day.  This brings me to my last tip which is unrelated to money.  

Tip #7: Make the Most of Every Second. When you have limited days with someone, whether that is family, friends, or a significant other, don’t let a single minute go to waste.

The activities in this post were undertaken during the student’s free time and were not sponsored by IES Abroad.

Caroline Stratton

<p>I&#39;m Caroline, a native to Southern California, and a student at Texas Christian University. &nbsp;I&#39;m studying Social Work and hope to eventually work in the field of child welfare, where I&#39;ll give children who haven&#39;t had the best start to their lives a chance to be successful. &nbsp;I love to play soccer, surf, go on backpacking trips, and eat delicious, healthy food. &nbsp;I&#39;m hoping to meet new people, explore as many places in New Zealand as I can, and gain cultural awareness through my experience abroad. &nbsp;I&#39;m ready for some new adventures and in New Zealand, those aren&#39;t hard to find.</p>

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