I love to travel, but I don’t have travel sponsors. (though I would love travel sponsors!) To stay true to my dollars, I track what I spend while on vacation and report back here. This is what Hubs & I spent down under.
Background: On an random Sunday morning in April, I was browsing Reddit. I came across a travel thread. A travel thread like none I’d ever seen before. The thread claimed I could book airfare to Australia on a reputable airline for cheap. I was skeptical. I clicked and sure enough, Cheap! We both thought it was a glitch. People in the thread expected it to go fast. We had to do it. This was too good to be true.
We texted our bosses and asked for the days off. They agreed and we booked it. From finding it to booking it, it took less than 2 hours. Australia, here we come!
Length: June-July 13 nights, 15 days, because we are time travelers like that.
Itinerary: Fly to Sydney, Gaze at the Opera House for 5 days, Fly to Brisbane, Drive to Byron Bay, Stay for 2 nights, Drive to Gold Coast and spend 2 nights there, Drive to Brisbane, Take it all in before flying back home.
Entry Fees: $1466, including..
Tourist Visas: $29 Whatever it takes not to get deported!
Flights: $1437 including
- 2 people, round-trip from the Midwest to Sydney, 3 total layovers: $1170 What a deal! We didn’t even have to fly on an Albatross!
- 2 people, round-trip, Sydney > Brisbane: $267
Transportation Expenses: $372, including..
Rental: $177 We had the car for 5 days, picking up and dropping it off at the airport.
Tolls: $11 Gotta pay the tolls.
Gas: $20 1 tank. Return it full!
Public Transportation: $146 We took public transportation everywhere and it is expensive! We used it to and from the Sydney Airport with their crazy airport access fees, for 2 day trips out of Sydney (the ferry to Manly & the bus to Bondi), 1 ferry trip from Darling Harbour, 1 day trip out of Brisbane, and 1 transfer between the domestic and international terminal (with more access fees).
Uber: $18 To get to the Brisbane airport at 4am.
Accommodation: $1285, including..
- Sydney: $810 5 nights right in The Rocks overlooking the Opera House. Spendy but amazing.
- Byron Bay: $151 2 nights near the beach.
- Gold Coast: $0 Staying with friends for 2 nights!
- Brisbane: $363-297 = $64
4 nights1 night overlooking the entire city! Our Airbnb in Brisbane was our first bad experience. We got in late, things escalated quickly, we stayed the night as we communicated with Airbnb Customer Service and we got out of there in the morning. Fun fact: Because Customer Service got involved, we can’t leave them a review. Seems like a loop hole to avoid bad reviews.
- Brisbane 2: $260 We booked a room at the Ibis Styles hotel right off Queen Street. Great location!
Adventures: $614, including..
- Blue Mountain Tour: $182 ($91 each) A full day trip out of Sydney to the Blue Mountains. We stopped to hang with some koalas before we made out way back to the city.
- Whale Watching Tour: $132 ($66 each) It’s whale season. This was mandatory. It lived up to all my dreams. Thank goodness I’ve been practicing speaking whale
- Story Bridge Climb in Brisbane: $200 ($100 each) Hubs likes to climb stuff. This is continuing his tradition. We did the Twilight Climb and it was spectacular.
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary: $54 So many koalas!!
- Sydney Opera House Tour: $46 The outside is fantastic, the inside is … unique? I wasn’t impressed, but it was fun to learn more about the building.
This covers groceries, eating out and alcohol. We ate in for breakfast every day, either from the grocery store or at the continental breakfast provided at the hotel. We had snacks while we were out, but we left our frugal card at home and ate out for lunch and dinner. This includes a limited amount of alcohol. It’s higher than I was hoping, but we didn’t break the bank. Food is expensive!
Random expenses: $48.50, including..
- Koala Picture: $13 At Lone Pine, you have to pay extra for a picture with a koala, but you do get to actually hold it! Hubs wanted to hold a koala, so he got to hold a koala.
- Kangaroo food: $1.50 Hubs wanted to feed the kangaroos, so he got to feed the kangaroos. We both fed the kangaroos.
- Born to Fight by Mark Hunt: $14 Mark Hunt is one of Hubs’ favorite MMA fighters. He happens to live in Australia and his biography is only distributed down under. We looked at a few book shops and it was over $30. We found it at this bargain price at Target. Thanks Target!
- Finding Dory movie: $20 Finding Dory came out the weekend before we left. Finding Nemo is one of my favorite movies and I quoted it the whole time we were there. On our last day in Brisbane, we woke up to pouring rain so I seized the opportunity to see the movie. It’s cute!
TOTAL COST: $4460.99!
Overall, it was a fantastic trip. My goal was to keep it under $4500 and we did just that! Outside of Sydney CBD, everything was new to us. We didn’t face any major challenges and we keep learning how to roll with whatever we may face. Now if only that flight was a little shorter!!
Do you keep track of vacation spending?