Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Melbourne, Australia on $50 a day

I normally travel to developing countries, where traveling is fairly inexpensive, even cheap in some countries, but I just got back from one week in a very expensive city, in an expensive country - Melbourne, Australia. 

How expensive? Well, the currency exchange rate is US$1 to AU$1.07. So, basically we pay slightly more than their price. Here are some of the prices that blew me away: a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream for $12; a pint of beer for $10 ($5 during happy hour); and a pack of cigarettes for $17. Ouch! Lots of great reasons ($$$) not to have any vices. 

Here are some of the money saving tips that helped me stay within my $50 a day budget:

  • Just because you eat it, buy it, or do it at home, doesn't make it a given when you're traveling. If it's more expensive at your travel destination than at home, it's time to reconsider how important that thing is to you and possibly find an alternative; you may be pleasantly surprised. 
  • Check with your bank(s) and credit card(s) to make sure that they don't charge you international fees. If they do, consider opening a new account that doesn't or choose the lesser of the evils. 
  • Exchanging currency is big business for companies. Exchange rates vary from one company to the next. But don't just go on the posted exchange rate, because they also charge a fee. This fee is negotiable. 
  • Always check prices online. Deals are everywhere, but rarely at the front desk. 
  • Hostels are a great way to meet people and save money on lodging. If sharing isn't an option, most of them have private rooms and they're normally cheaper than hotels. 
  • Public transportation is a great way to get the local experience - The good, the bad and they ugly. 
  • Local buses are a great way to see a city for a fraction of the cost and they stick to a route, so you don't have to worry about getting off track. And if all else fails, the bus will always take you back to where you started...unless of course, it's the last bus of the day... 
  • Travel with a device that has WiFi access. There were plenty of free WiFi spots all over town. And if I wanted it at my hostel, they were charging $4 per hour to use their computer or $4 for a day for WiFi. 
  • Skype is awesome! Free computer to computer calls and cheap rates for calling phone numbers from your computer/mobile device. 
  • It's amazing how little you actual need. It's also amazing how much it costs for your luggage to travel: airline baggage fees, airport luggage carts, taxis, car rentals, portage, etc...
  • I've traveled around the world for months at a time with just a carry-on sized backpack (32 liter) and a small messenger bag. It's doable, liberating and super cost effective because you aren't ruled by your things. 
My $50 a day Budget (give or take):

         $25 a night hostel bed
         $6-8 for breakfast
         $6-8 for lunch
         $8-10 for dinner
         $5 or less for everything else, depending on how much I spent on food.

Basically, I eat less, I walk a lot, I enjoy free entertainment, and I don't party. It's not for everyone, but I always enjoy myself.  

Here's to your adventures! 

-Leah Schonlank
35 countries and counting

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