Tag Archives: sydney

Airbnb

You may have noticed in my last post that I spent only $313 on lodging for seven nights in Sydney, a city that has a cost of living higher than London, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and New York City. Did I stay in youth hostels and sleep in a room with six of my closest strangers? Nope. Did I buy camping gear and sleep under the stars? Nope, although that might have been nice. I used the services of my new best friend, Airbnb. Full dislosure: if you book a stay by clicking on that link I get 25 bucks.

If you’re a seasoned traveler then Airbnb is old news, but many people I talked to back home had never heard of it. I first used Airbnb to book several days in Denver and Boulder, Colorado and I had a great experience. The premise is pretty simple: you want to visit a cool city but don’t want to stay in a boring Motel 6 and someone in said cool city has an extra room he or she is not using. Voila! Airbnb fills the gap and lets travelers search for renters, kinda like match.com but without the expensive dinner and ignored follow-up call.

You can save a bunch of money using Airbnb. I think I spent $40/night for my stay in Sydney, on top of which the service adds a percentage for their cut. I stayed with a late-20s college Doctoral student who wasn’t there most of the time. I had my own private room with a full-size bed, desk, etc, and a shared bathroom. My host knew a ton about the area, cooked dinner a few nights, gave me tips on getting around via trains and buses, let me borrow a bike (all three hosts I’ve stayed with have let me borrow bikes, which is an awesome way to explore a new city), and told me which off-the-beaten-path areas to check out. Sure, there are even cheaper lodging options. I just did a quick search and you can get in a hostel for $28/night but are you going to leave your huge backpack in the room when you want to go out exploring? Or I guess you could hang out with the pinky up crowd at the Hilton Sydney for $430/night (good lord).

So I think Airbnb is pretty great, but you have to be smart about it. Look at lots of available renters, get on google maps and research the area in which they live, read their reviews carefully. Think of it like ebay; you wouldn’t PayPal someone a hundred bucks if they had a bunch of negative reviews. Oh, that’s another thing- the website takes care of all monetary transactions. You request to stay with a host on certain dates, the host agrees, you pay the website by credit card, done. No money changes hands between host and traveler.

Sorry for the informational posts lately, but I’ve started to get a real passion for helping people realize that they can afford to get out and travel. In our next exciting episode I’ll tell you what I’ve been up to since leaving Sydney.

Cheers!

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Week 1 Costs

People get funny when talking about money. Whether it’s your salary, 401k value, new car price, or how much a trip costs, no one wants to come across as a pretentious braggart. Well, stuff costs money, and people spend their money in different ways. With that in mind I’m going to borrow an idea from my friends over at OneSixtyK and provide a weekly breakdown of what it’s costing me to hang out over here in Australia. My hope is that it helps someone plan for his or her own trip.

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Taronga Zoo

The other day I continued my tourist adventure of Sydney by visiting the Taronga Zoo. Like any red-blooded American, I’ve been to the zoo countless times. I was hoping for a unique experience on a completely different continent and that’s exactly what I got. The zoo was clean, well laid out, and staff were friendly. It’s across the harbor from downtown Sydney so you have to hop on a ferry, which was about a $10 round trip. From the ferry you’ll get up close and personal to the opera house as well as good photo ops of the harbour bridge.

I really want to edit some of these pics but a 7″ tablet makes that painful. I’d also love to post more pics and comment on a few but they take forever to upload and I’m tired of sitting in this apartment. Yesterday’s adventure involved borrowing a bike and a 25k roundtrip to the beach (that was interesting in a country that drives on the “wrong” side of the road) and today will be museum day (to avoid the sun and nurse my sunburn).

Without further adieu, the pics:

And a video just for fun…

 

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My first full day in Sydney

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So, I’m probably just as curious as you about how this blog thing is going to turn out. I’ve never blogged before, nor have I ever been a journaler or a diary-ist. Gross. We’ll see how it goes.

The pic above is where I hung out most of the day Tuesday, which is Darling Harbour (note the Euro spelling because I’m refined now). No, that’s not the Sydney Opera House on the right. The Harbour is a tourist area with a super cool playground for kids (ahem), a great splash park, and all kinds of cool interactive water features. I didn’t take many pics because it was windy and rainy until around 5:00 pm. There’s a gift shop, a big grassy area (Tumbalong Park), many restaurants, the Chinese Garden of Friendship, an IMAX theater, aquarium, etc.

Things I did on my first full day in Sydney:

  • Lots of walking.
  • Started figuring out the train system. Public transit, in general, is pretty foreign to this Kentucky boy.
  • People watching. The harbour is very touristy.
  • Constant searching for free wifi as I had not yet activated my local cell service.¬†For future reference, there is free wifi at the harbour near the McDonald’s. While sitting outside, a father and young boy and girl walked by. The boy asked “Ded, can we get Macca’s for dinnah?” To which the father replied “Macca’s or KFC on the way home?” “KFC on the way home” was the unison reply from both kids. Am I in the US?
  • Watched The Hobbit in 3D on the largest IMAX screen in the world.
  • Sunshine! Up until I left the movie theater I literally hadn’t seen the sun in about 36 hours.
  • Discussed gun control in the US with a self-proclaimed bi-polar, schizophrenic, alcoholic while a homeless man dug through yet another McDonald’s garbage can and ate whatever he found. Poverty and people in need exist everywhere, it seems.
  • Walked to Woolworth’s near where I’m staying for groceries. It’s funny how brands that were once huge in the US, but are now secondary, flourish here. There is a Woolworth’s, Aldi, and KMart in the nearby shopping mall.

For some reason, Jeremy Renner showed up at a local movie theater. It was a pretty big deal and I just happened to be walking up the street as he was getting out of a limo. Seemed like a pretty gracious guy.

Jeremy Renner visits Sydney

That’s about it. Let’s see what I can explore today…

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Hello Sydney!

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Today I arrived in Australia! Well, unless you’re reading this from the US, in which case… Tomorrow I arrived in Australia! Send me a PayPal gift and I’ll let you know who wins the Superbowl.

A 14-hour overnight flight becomes a hazy mixture of napping, drooling, sub par meals, foreign odors, neck pain, and peeing. Much like a nursing home, I’d imagine. It’s kind of scary to think that there’s nothing below you for thousands of miles but ocean, so every little bit of turbulence makes me wonder if I’ll be reprising the role of Jack on Lost. If that means I get to hook up with Kate then I’m OK with it. Screw that Sawyer dude though.

Overall, the passengers around me were quite pleasant; no crying babies, no kids kicking the back of my seat, no chronic personal space violators. Of course, you always want to sit next to a local so you can pick his or her brain about your destination. In true karmic fashion, I happened to sit next to two Cajun cousins, one of whom lives minutes from the little Louisiana town in which my father grew up and the other lives two hours north of my hometown in Kentucky. They’re in their 50s, best friends, and are off to explore New Zealand. Pretty awesome.

It’s rainy here in Sydney today so it looks like I’ll be researching indoor activities. Cheers!

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