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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.