You may have seen the story. If not, Lucas Peterson, the New York Times’ “Frugal Traveler”, explained how to have a $1000 day in Sydney for just $100. While the piece is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, it’s always amusing to see foreigners try to grapple with our city’s price tag.
We eat, we drink, we whine, we repeat. It’s just the lay of the land; as embedded into our social fabric as our acceptance of metered parking. Frugality in Sydney? Good luck.
Let’s hear how this seasoned budget traveller converted a budget of $1000 into a mere hundred, without sacrificing on quality.
Peterson begins with breakfast. His concierge at the Four Seasons suggests Bills, where a “Fresh Aussie” breakfast and Bloody Mary will set you back $47. Peterson has a penny-pinching alternative: go to Bourke Street Bakery, which is great, but some yoghurt, coffee and a takeaway tart is not quite the same experience – even if you have saved yourself enough for another beer this weekend (middy of course, not a full schooner).
Travel the city, see the sights. Try a helicopter tour, insists Peterson’s concierge. Which is all well and good, if money is no object. Thirty minutes will cost you $350 per person. Instead, Peterson recommends a ferry ride from Circular Quay to Rose Bay. Revel in the sparkling harbour and pay a mere $5.75 for the 15-minute trip. Again, while our ferries are undeniably pleasant, we get the feeling the experience won’t take your breath away in quite the same fashion as 360-degree views from 1000 metres above ground.
Next, lunch. Skip the $175 seafood platter for two at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant, says Peterson, for Thai at Spice I Am ($14.50). The only common denominator? Fish.
Continue your adventure by immersing yourself in culture. You could take out a loan and do a backstage tour of the iconic Opera House, breakfast included, for $165. Or you could remember your income and change the tour to the regular $37 variety. Reward yourself with a $25 cocktail later for your efforts.
Peterson finishes off with a feast. A short but lovely daydream about booking in at Aria becomes a pizza at Coogee Pavillion. Here, you can still watch the sunset, and post on Instagram, but also meditate on your $900-odd saving.
So, yes, travellers can absolutely have a nice experience in Sydney for $100 a day. But let’s not kid ourselves – you get what you pay for.