5 things people don’t tell you about Sydney before traveling

Travel Tales, Travel Tips, Trip Report 4

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I have always wanted to travel to the land down under but it always seemed too costly for me. During the low season, prices average from $1,200 from LAX to Australia, while peak season prices vary from $1,600-$1,800. In May, I saw prices drop to about $850 round-trip. Lucky for me, I recently signed up for the Visa U.S. Bank Altitude credit card which comes with a $325 credit back when you book directly with airlines. $525 round-trip to Sydney? Umm, yes, please!

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5 things people don’t tell you about Sydney before traveling

Here is my list of the 5 things people don’t tell you about Sydney before traveling. With this list, your Sydney, Australia experience will be much better. I’ve performed the research online and experienced it firsthand, now you get to enjoy all of the benefits!

 

5.  You need to sign up for an ETA

While you don’t need a visa if you have an American passport, you will still need an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority). The ETA fee was $20 AUD, which converts to $15.19 USD.

The process was fairly easy and within 6 hours, I was given a ETA number associated with my passport number. Your ETA is valid for up to 1 year with unlimited entries to Australia. To apply for your ETA or find more information, visit their ETA website.

 

4. Use the SmartGate

What is SmartGate?

SmartGate is the U.S. version of Global Entry. If you have an American passport that has an electronic symbol, you are eligible to use Smartgate at designated airports.

5 things people don't tell you about Sydney before traveling

Photo Courtesy from DHS website

 

Step 1: Find the SmartGate Kiosk.

You will need to insert your passport into the kiosk. The kiosk will ask you several questions and at the end will give you a ticket. Take the ticket and proceed to the gate near the customs and immigration booth.

5 things people don't tell you about Sydney before traveling

Photo from the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection

 

Step 2: Insert Ticket into the SmartGate

You will need to insert the ticket that was given to at the kiosk. Once inside, the SmartGate will take your picture and open the gate for you to clear immigration and customs.

For those of you who like collecting passport stamps from countries you’ve visited, take notice that you will not receive a stamp on your passport through this process.

For a list of participating airports, visit the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

5 things people don't tell you about Sydney before traveling

Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection

 

Here is a short instructional video on how easy and fast SmartGate is.

 

3. You can use Uber in Australia

Public transportation is fairly easy to use and navigate through Sydney, but, if you find yourself running late to a location, Uber is a great alternative.

Remember to sync your Uber account with your Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)  account because you are now eligible to earn Starpoints  with a qualify stay. I stayed at the Westin Sydney which qualified for this promotion.  In addition, make sure you use a travel credit card that earns your 3 points per dollar spent.

5 things people don't tell you about Sydney before traveling

Coverage in Sydney

 

2. Free Food with your Priority Pass membership

If you have a credit card that gives a Priority Pass membership, you’re eligible to use it at participating restaurants and bars at the Sydney airport!

You will get $36 AUD worth of credit on food and drinks, including alcohol!

Most people associate the Priority Pass for lounge access and forget about what other perks it has to offer. On my way back home, my first stop was Benny’s Burger and I got Wagyu beef Burger, fries, and a Craft Beer for under $36 AUD.  For my second stop, I went to Peroni Bar and got two 24 oz draft beers and a bottle of water.

To know which restaurants and bars qualify for the $36 AUD credit, visit the Priority Pass website.

5 things people don't tell you about Sydney before traveling Benny Burger Sydney Airport

Can’t beat a free meal!

 

1. Vivid Sydney

Before my flight was booked, I had no idea what Vivid Sydney was about. While I was searching different attractions to visit in Sydney on Instagram, I came across the Vivid Sydney account.

I was pretty lucky to fly into the opening weekend of Vivid Sydney and experience it. I have never experience a whole city being so alive and active at night time. The neon lights and vendors added to the experience by providing an one of a kind experience found nowhere else in the world.

Vivid Sydney only runs for a few weeks, so plan accordingly if you want to experience it. It’s something I’d highly recommend.

5 things people don't tell you about Sydney before traveling Sydney Opera House

The famous Opera house during Vivid Sydney

 

The Bald Thoughts

Traveling to a new destination can be stressful at times. Before this trip, I knew nothing about Sydney except for the famous Sydney Opera House. Most of my friends never traveled to Australia, making it much harder to ask for advice. I had to look up everything and make sure I wasn’t missing anything.

After my trip was done, I thought it would be a good idea to let readers know 5 things people don’t tell you about Sydney before traveling.  I hope you find this information useful for your next trip to Sydney, Australia. Let me know in the comments below if you think there are other things readers should know about.

 

The opinions expressed here are the author's alone and have not been reviewed or endorsed by any company or third-party, unless clearly stated otherwise. The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the advertiser. It is not the advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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About the author / 

Charlie Suarez

Charlie spends half the year traveling for work as a marketing manager, which has enabled him to achieve Delta's Diamond status. When he is not in the friendly skies, he’s actively looking for techniques to accumulate points and miles. With a passion for East and South East Asia, Charlie focuses on unique experiences and deals in the region to readers.

4 Comments

  1. TB July 17, 2017 at 7:43 pm -  Reply

    I can only see one thing about Sydney – Vivid Sydney. The rest is not at all about Sydney, sorry.

    I’ll help you out:
    1. Vivid Sydney
    2. Coast Walk from Bondi to Coogee
    3. “Roar and Snore” at Taronga ZOO
    4. Take a ferry to Manly Beach
    5. Have (late) lunch at Sydney Central

    You’re welcome 😊

  2. Jon July 19, 2017 at 7:13 pm -  Reply

    Free Delta miles with Uber?! I thought this was a promotion with Lyft. If Delta is there, please let me know 🙂

    • Charlie Suarez July 19, 2017 at 11:07 pm -  Reply

      Thanks for the comment Jon, I actually meant SPG Starpoints since I stayed at the Westin. I blame the jetlag 😉

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