Country recap and budget tips: Australia


Posted by Beth | May 18, 2016

Days in the country: 6 (unfortunately lost 2 days thanks to flight delay)

Cities visited: Melbourne and Sydney

Favorite lodging: Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney. Perfect location!

Favorite food: Steak dinners overlooking the Sydney Harbour at The Glenmore Hotel, and only $12 on Monday nights!

Favorite activities: Seeing a show at the Sydney Opera House and a rugby match at Allianz Stadium. Hard to choose a favorite in Sydney, so here were our top seven experiences. 

What we enjoyed the most: It was great being in a Western country and being able to indulge in some amazing comfort food, speaking English to everyone, using Uber, and splurging on fun activities like going to the theatre. The fact that Australia felt the most like home made it more appealing than less appealing at this point in our trip.

This place did the trick for satisfying my donut craving!

This place did the trick for satisfying my donut craving!

What we enjoyed the least: There was a club lounge in the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Sydney but despite our best efforts at asking nicely for an upgrade or at least access it was a no go unless we wanted to shell out hundreds of dollars. I guess if that’s the only thing we can come up with that was disappointing then it was a pretty good trip!

What surprised us: For some reason we expected to love Melbourne more than Sydney but we ended up much preferring Sydney.

What we would have done differently: We would have planned more time in Australia. We had to skip winery tours along Great Ocean Road near Melbourne and the Hunter Valley near Sydney.

Favorite person we met: Probably the bartender at Lobo Plantation. He fixed us $18 hand-crafted cocktails. A definite splurge but cool experience and he gave us some helpful tips for our trip to Bali the next day.

Our best pro tips: 

  • Uber is widely available in Australia and we found it to be even cheaper than public transportation.
  • In Melbourne you can rent a bike for 24 hours for only $3.

    Biking along the Yarra River in Melbourne

    Biking along the Yarra River in Melbourne

  • Both cities are big on happy hours so you can get discounted food and drink during certain hours if you plan ahead.
  • There are no Priority Pass lounges in Sydney or Melbourne so time your airport arrival and eating schedule accordingly.
  • Skip the Opera House tour and see a show! Booking the day before we still found plenty of availability for theatre, comedy and orchestra shows. Book ahead if there is a certain ballet or show you must see, such as Swan Lake.

IMG_6094Currency: Australian Dollar. 1AUD = .73USD

Hotel points redeemed: 100,000 Club Carlson points and 2 Club Carlson free night e-certificates

Airline miles redeemed: 10,000 American miles and 12,500 Alaska miles. Both of these airlines are partners with Qantas, so we were each able to use points we had available in different programs to book award tickets on the same flight.

Flexible points redeemed: 2,961 Arrival points (offset fees on flight from Melbourne to Sydney) and 35,712 Citi points (free flight into Melbourne)

Total out-of-pocket expense: $867.34

Daily average: $72.28 person/day (Our most expensive country by far!)

Click here to see our Australia itemized expenses

Australia Spend

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