Keyword: PROMO FARE.
It is a habit of mine to regularly check for promo fares. I seldom (or never) travel with regular fares. Thank goodness for promo fares. Travelling has never been this affordable.
Both flights were with Cebu Pacific, the low budget airline based in the Philippines. I booked each flight separately since booking direct Cebu to Sydney would cost twice as much as Manila to Sydney.
These days, you can book Manila to Sydney and vice versa flights for half the cost of what I had paid for. Those were the days when there were still fees and surcharges added to your fare. The last time I checked, you can fly to Sydney for as low as Php9,000 roundtrip. But if you think about it, Php18,000 for a roundtrip ticket to Australia is not that bad.
Tip: You can skip adding meals to your booking (each meal being Php500). They’re not that good. Buy some food from the airport enough to last you the entire eight-hour trip. Don’t forget to prepay for your bag. It is cheaper than paying for your bag upon checking in.
My Sydney-Melbourne flight, however, was bought out of impulse. This was not included in my itinerary. Upon checking for things to do in Australia, I saw that you can take the train from Sydney to Melbourne. Ecstatic, I sent a message to my childhood friend based in Melbourne. He advised me to take the plane instead because it will save me the time and hassle. And I did.
There are also lots of promo fares in Australia. The key there is planning it ahead. I heard that you can fly for AUD50. Please note that you can absolutely take the train to Melbourne or anywhere in Australia if you have all the time in the world. And it’s quiet affordable, too.
My Sydney-Melbourne ticket may have been booked out of impulse, but so far, it’s the best decision I’ve ever taken. I can see myself living permanently in Melbourne. The place is THAT great!
You may check the details of my Visa application here.
3. Terminal Fee
Terminal fees for domestic travels (Cebu and Manila, I think) are already included in your tickets. For international flights, however, you will have to pay for it separately.
I know, I know. I can probably write an entire novel full of rants regarding nonsense fees and taxes. But anyway...
4. Travel Tax
Oh yes, you have to shell out Php1,620 before you can get inside the airport itself. See rant on #3.
5. Package Tour
2-Day Great Ocean Road, Mornington Peninsula and Phillip Island Tour from Melbourne
The best US$ 205.95 I’ve ever spent on a tour. I mean, it was absolutely wonderful! And I would do it again! (If not, I’d rent a car and take the Great Ocean Road trip at my own pace). I booked this tour via www.viator.com because it was the cheapest I saw that time. This is normally $259.00.
These were the highlights:
-2-day tour of the Great Ocean Road, Mornington Peninsula and Phillip Island from Melbourne
-See the limestone rock formations of the 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge along Great Ocean Road
-Visit the coastal townships of Apollo Bay, Lorne and the Split Point Lighthouse at Aireys Inlet
-Snap pics of Portsea’s bathing boxes and the views from Murrays Lookout on the Mornington Peninsula
-Hand-feed wallabies and kangaroos and meet the koalas at Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park
-Watch the famous penguin parade at Summerland Beach
For more details, you may check www.viator.com here.
Gastronomic experiences come with the package. (I’m not a heavy meat eater. I am more inclined towards a pescatarian-vegetarian diet).
Kangaroos are unique to Australia and so are Kangaroo steaks. So, I had to have one.
Needless to say, I didn’t eat meat for a month. Meatlovers will probably love it. It was just too much red meat for me.
My friend, John, purchased the prepaid sim card and registered it under his name. Unlike here in the Philippines, one cannot register a mobile number in Australia that easily. You will need an ID to get a number registered.
I initially bought Vodafone’s 10-dollar recharge cap. For 7 days, I had $100 worth or credits (voice and text) and it came with 250MB worth of data. I used up my initial data limit within 7 days so I bought another 500MB data for $5. This was enough to last me through the remaining days of my trip. I was mainly using Viber and Facebook messenger. I uploaded pictures when wifi was available.
I didn’t use much of my voice and text credits since I only had 3 contacts in Australia.
Prepaid Cap Recharge
$100 cap credit (voice and text) and 150MB data + 100MB bonus. 7 days expiration
500MB Data Add-on , 28 days expiry
8. Pocket Money
Australia is a very expensive country (if not, the most expensive). I initially had AUD550 with me when I left for Sydney. I had planned on withdrawing money from my bank once in Australia and use my credit card for incidental costs. Unfortunately, my bank card didn’t work in Australia and lost my credit card! Talk about blessing in disguise.
Thankfully, i have very supportive and generous friends in Australia. They adopted me during my stay there, prepared breakfast and lunch before I left for the day. They were there when I almost had nothing.
During my 2-week trip, I only spent for one night in a backpacker/dormitory in Melbourne. I spent the rest of my nights at friends’ homes and 1 night in far south of Australia during the tour.
Getting around Sydney and Melbourne was easy. You can get information on Opal (Sydney) and MyKi (Melbourne) in these highlighted links. There’s clearly a huge difference between Sydney and Melbourne. You can get around Melbourne for as low as $6 unli/day while $15 unli/day in Sydney. Great thing about Melbourne is that you can get free transportation (!!!) anywhere in the CBD area. My Sydney trips were mostly c/o my good friend, John.
Part of my pocket money went to meals and snacks. But then again, take note that my good friends sponsored most of my meals. TimTams and Cadbury!
Lastly, I think I spent around $100 on shopping (i.e.sunblock, chocolates, moisturizer, etc.).
So, there you go. I hope you find these helpful. And remember, you budget will always depend on your planning and preferences.