I’ve visited Sydney — the biggest city in the southern hemisphere — for three times. Coming from a developing country, I found Sydney very expensive. Even, it was more expensive than another Australian city I’m more familiar with — Melbourne. Though, the comparison somehow is not apple to apple because I lived in suburban Melbourne while visited the Sydney CBD.
Still, I managed to save money during my three times visits. Here is how.
1. Cut your cost of accommodation
Hotels, hostels are super expensive in Sydney. Budget hotels sometimes cost even more than a four-star hotel in Jakarta. Do everything you can to cut this certain cost. During my first and second visits, I stayed with friends studying in University of Sydney. You may want to offer something in return for your host– if money is not acceptable — some sort of souvenirs, food, book. Or you can cook for them. And you MUST do some house chores: cooking, washing dishes, cleaning, walking the dog, babysitting or whatever. For me, it is not polite to stay for over a week for free — even if your host offer so.
My third visit, along with dear husband and baby Oliq — he was 7 months old — we were ill-prepared. It was quite a nightmare to find budget hotel for the first week of the year (it was 2012 New Year). Hostels were off the table because we had an infant in tow. Hotel it was. We were rummaging the web and managed to find Ibis King St Wharf within our budget. The location is not perfect, but good enough and within walking distance to many attractions.
There you go, after plane tickets, accommodation is key.
2. Drink cheap
When I was studying in Melbourne, I sometimes visited Gloria Jean’s Coffee after my restaurant shift. I earned AUD, I spent AUD, fair and square. But when I visited Sydney on my family holiday, such treat was unacceptable. That means, I drank cheap. I carried bottles around, and filled them full whenever I found water tap. Drink cheap, drink free.
3. Eat cheap
Puput and I bought a pack of bread and a box of milk that were almost expired. Usually, supermarkets and mini markets give 50% off for products that getting close to its expiration date. We dip the bread into the milk and there it go: our Sydney brekkie.
We also lived off noodle cups *Indonesians can’t live without*. Other than milk, our nutritious intake was bananas and apples, as the two were quite cheap in Straya. For Oliq, it was bananas. Well, we had one or two occasion treating ourselves in Hungry Jack’s and Nando’s, they are quite good and inexpensive. We stayed away from Indonesian restaurants because deep in our heart we knew we could not afford AUD 10 per person.
4. Always on foot
While we tried every transportation in Melbourne — Metro, bus, tram, cy circle tram, taxi — I could not remember taking any public transports in Sydney, except for airport transport where we took trains. We were always on foot going to Circular Quay, Botanical Gardens, Darling Harbour. I pushed Oliq’s baby trolly everywhere.
Oooops, wait, we took the monorail and gave us a treat to circle the route twice (paying for once, because the tickets were per entry). We went to QVB, Sydney Tower, Paddy’s, City Town Hall etc.
The point is, choose the cheapest. Choose the free one, even if it means you walk hard and far.
5. Relying free wifi
No budget for SIM card and phone credit. I used my hotels wifi, and some free connection everywhere I found.
6. Stay away from paid attractions
My husband is a tower-mania, so, we spent some tens of dollar to buy the tickets to Sydney Tower observation deck. I forbade myself to participate in Harbour Bridge Climb and helicopter ride to save money *uhuk*. We spent a day picnic in free-of-charge Botanical Gardens. The view of Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House was amazing as it was wonderful day. The garden was equipped with some drinking fountains (see point 2 above :D).
7. Do it happily
The fact that I was back in Sydney (with my family, at last) was exciting. I did not care if I had to push my baby around, changed his diaper on a bench in Circular Quay. Carried my baby around along The Rocks. Drank tap water and eat almost expired food. All was well because I was happy.
Plan to go to Sydney soon? Plan accordingly as Australia is expensive (now is even more expensive because AUD is stronger), the weather is extreme, but the cities are so exciting.