You have no idea how happy I am to be back. Sure a trip out of Singapore is always lovely but nothing beats the company of family and friends. I can be as far as strolling down the happiest city in the world, but whats happy if I have no one but myself to share eh? Solo travelling can be lonely you know, thats why this time, I dragged my lovely Lynn along
Before I jump right into the crazy time we had, I’d like to do a Pre-Aussie trip post! TA-DA! Yes, to prepare you for the adventures ahead (who knows you’ll be pulled to go over?) I want to share with you the many things you need to be aware of before jumping right into the plane and bid sunny Singapore goodbye. This is just like pumping fuel in the car before the journey I understand some of my friends have already start making plans, don’t worry I’ll provide you with every cost we had to fork out to help you plan your little trip down under! You ready?
First off, please make sure you DO A CHECK on yourself. Things like consulting your parents, asking your friends around and stuff like that. To me, I feel parent’s blessings are really important, especially when I’m travelling and I am still under their care so the very least respecting their say is top on my priority list. Having someone to travel with is second, for safety reasons and free “entertainment” :p But really, having someone along is crucial especially if you’re a female and you’re not much of an explorer
Second, BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS! Find the cheapest buys by booking your flight few months ahead, even a year would do good! It’s always best to get over a year tho – its cheaper, it buys you more time to save and it gives you time to do your fair share of research. AND please ensure your passport isn’t expiring anytime soon, you don’t want to spend time in the immigrations now do you?
Third, VISA! Yes, we need Visa to enter Australia. I heard rumours we don’t and I heard those who didn’t, had to fork out AUD 50 at the immigration for not applying. So please grab your visas, its as easy as filling out a form and wait for approval. And it’s as cheap as SG$12.90, I got mine from EasyETA and I know it sounds too good to be true and the price may be doubtful to some, but I applied and I received it and I went to Australia and back without facing problems, so trust me?
Forth, INSURANCE! Once you’ve settled your tickets, get insurance right away. I mean, if your trip’s confirmed why wait anyway :/ Try to clear as much as you can so you can forecast the amount you may need to bring during your trip. The cheapest and safest option is NTUC, I booked for the both of us at SGD 51 in total whereas buying a single pass is like SGD 40! Save so much right? See, another reason to travel in a group, you save more!
Fifth, ACCOMODATION! This option depends on who you’re travelling with, your itinerary, your style of travelling and everything else. For my case, we went for Bed&Breakfast where we actually stayed over at local home/apartments for a few days at a really good price. I’ve talked about this, it’s called Air BNB. This site is awesome because you can choose whose house you want to stay over depending on your budget, and how close you want to be to the city. I’ve ditched hotel and resorts after I found this portal a few years ago, and till date I’m so impressed with its services. You get to stay at a good price AND you have the opportunity to live like the locals. I think its good experience, it’s much more rewarding than staying at a pricey hotel. Then again, different people have different perspectives, so if you’re up to explore what the country’s got to offer, you know what to do. Otherwise you can sit and watch deals go up and down over sites that provide good hotel deals like Agoda.com!
Sixth, TRANSPORTATION! So while we were at Sydney, we took public transport because we felt their tranportation system was good enough to get us around the places we need to be. Please don’t muka terperanjat when you’ve got to fork out AUD 16.40 for a one-way train ticket from Airport to City! It is expensive, so if you’re going to stay for more than 3 days, get the 7-days unlimited travel pass by train/bus/ferry at AUD 30++. So much cheaper! Unless you’re staying near the city and prefer to just roam around your comfort zone, theres a free shuttle bus 555 that takes you around for free. Stay away from cabs unless you really need it, it burns bigger holes in your pockets than hailing a cab in Singapore. Besides don’t you not want to eat in the double decker trains? I love it okay! I love how we can turn the seats around! Haha
Unlike Sydney, renting a car in Gold Coast sounds like the best option, considering how tight our schedule was. What I did prior to our trip was to reserve cars from both Avis and Hertz, same pickup point, same package but different cost. Why did I have to do TWO? Well turns out I actually sensed we were going to face some hiccups and I was right! Hertz was being fussy with the documentations, especially signatures, personal details, etc. So after 5 minutes, we turned our backs and head for Avis. Things were so much smoother with Avis, we had our details sorted and paperwork done and we’ve got our keys within 10 minutes. The best part was we even got a complimentary upgrade to a Camry. Inclusive of car insurance and GPS for 3 days we paid only AUD 288 (petrol depends on your usage, half tank for a Camry had us at AUD 70)
Seventh, CURRENCY EXCHANGE! Change your money here in Singapore! And if possible, stay away from changing money from the airport. Go to Mustafa Centre if you must, it saves alot of money! I found an offer at Tanjong Pagar for SG$1.26 – AUD 1, Changi was SG$1.29 – AUD 1 and in Australia? SG$1.35 – AUD 1. Crazy kan? So please do change your money in Singapore before you fly off!
Eighth, ENTERTAINMENT! If you are planning on visiting places of interest or theme parks and all that, get them online. It’ll save you alot of little coins that you can use for other purposes. Like for example, I did a good research on getting discounted tickets for my trip to Dreamworld, per entry is AUD 80, I got mine at AUD 51! With that AUD 30, I can get least 5 rounds of Golden Churros okay! But anyway, if you’re renting a car, Avis provides a discount book that gives you a 1-for-1 ticket, so whichever suits you best
Nineth is something you should do when you arrive at the airport, the most crucial thing ever! Yes, COMMUNICATION! So the sim cards are really easy to find, just grab Vodafone. It provides micro sim as well, so you can either use it on a normal sim card phone or you can break it easily to use as a micro-sim. To get the sim card its $2 at any convenience store. The harder bit is activating it :/ I spent 45 minutes sitting on a bench at Circular Quay trying to figure it out. So upon grabbing the AUD 2 sim, I bought the recharge as well at AUD 29.90. Activating the sim goes as annoying as talking to a recorded operator asking you questions and recording your voice like your name, passport number, female/male, address in Australia, etc and finally to activate it, you will have to wait till the customer service officers are available to assist you. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to speak to them within 10 minutes, my case was pure bad luck Anyway why I recommend the AUD 29.90 package is because with that you get AUD150 free credit (calls overseas, etc) + 500 mb worth of data usage + free usage of facebook and some iphone applications. Lets just say you run out of 500mb data, they will deduct excess from your AUD 150 worth of credit (psst whatsapp, viber, instagram and twitter uses up the 500mb btw)
Tenth, HAVE FUN PLANNING! Sit down with your buddies and discuss who wants to go where and agree to an itinerary to ensure everyone gets their fair share of fun. It can get messy okay unless you have a lovely buddy along (like Lynn who agrees to everything) life won’t be candies and cakes. Haha! I’ll blog about Sydney on my next entry! Look out for it