1 week/$100 (Day 1)

The Challenge?

Flight was awesome. Flew from Toronto to San Francisco to Sydney. The stopover in San Fran was only 45 minutes. The hop-off-hop-on connection made it feel like I flew 18 hours straight (approx.) from home to Oz. Quick and dirty.

While flying I was thinking of a way to get to my flat without paying for a cab. Cab fare from SYD would cost me around $35. Taking the Airport Link Train would cost me $15 but would only get me to Town Hall. I wouldn’t be able to carry my 2 packs the rest of the way by foot. Decided I’d figure it out when I got there.

Ready for take-off.
Ready for take-off.

Turned out United Airlines left my larger pack in San Fran. Baggage claim services assured me it’d be delivered (free of charge) to my flat the following day. Worked out PERFECT! I grabbed the Airport Link into the city for $15 and walked the rest of the way. I had another pair of pants and a tee in my small pack anyway. Plus I got $100 compensation from my Capitol One Aspire MasterCard under the included baggage delay insurance. All worked out. (TIP: A lot of private companies offer shuttle services to and from the airport for the same price. Give it a Google). 

***

Arrived back in Sydney on the bloody hottest day ever… over 43 degrees (C).  Hung out with my roomies, caught up with an old flame, took a couple of melatonin tablets and went off to bed. Snoozed.

***

Weather cooled since yesterday. For no apparent reason whatsoever this has to be my favourite day in Sydney to record. Over Xmas I decided I’d come back here, look for farm work somewhere in southern Australia to get my second year visa, then settle again and work… EFF THAT.

At THIS moment… I feel one year in Oz will satisfy me. Things could change (UPDATE: I want to stay longer). Right now I’m living at my old flat rent-free hoping my former landlord doesn’t hop in to catch me frying eggs in my PJs: “fancy seeing you here Canadia.” Might be a tad uncomfortable considering I have yet to hand back my key (forgot to before leaving in December). Opps!

My plans now? Possibly stay in Sydney for a bit… rent-free. How? Couch surf, work in a hostel or stay with O (my old boss). Before leaving for home she mentioned I could crash at her place if I needed a bed. Sweet. Plus my friend from the Philippines is looking for a flat so maybe I could crash there. Plenty of options.

Plans for the next week are to remain in tourist-mode until I’ve had my fill. Screw finding work, screw finding a new flat, screw pricey bonds. I love travelling and my closest friends know me to be a wanderer … might as well.

*** 

Today’s weather reminds me of springtime in Niagara Falls, ON. Cool and breezy… lovely. Tonight I’ll look up a few free things to do—or things that are going on in Sydney. Right now is Sydney’s festival time so there’s loads of things to look out for. Just winging it and keepin’ it simple.

Also going to keep up with my IWTK posts. I can feel it will lead to something great in the long run… looking forward to it. 🙂

*** 

Sitting in the Westfield food court. Grabbed some Guzman Y Gomez. Beef burrito bowl with guacamole… yummmmm. Grab a loyalty card if you’re a Mexican food fiend like myself.

A man and woman are sitting to my left. They’re colleagues. Actually… she’s his boss, and she’s politely bit*hing to him about his less than mediocre sales as of late.

To my right are a group of middle-aged Asian women who just ordered gelato from the Italian café behind us. They are looooving it. Just shared a few laughs with them and took a few pics of them with their waffle cones. They just called themselves ‘ice-cream addicts.’ Enjoying life.

Boss woman to my left just gave her employee some sage advice: ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING.

Time for a post-meal read. Today’s feature: Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek. Highly recommended.

***

Almost 9PM. Sitting at Darling Harbour on a beautiful night. Live music playing in the background and a giant rubber duck floating by the dock. No idea why… possibly part of what’s going on with the Sydney Festival. The kids are looooving it. Really makes me want to buy a bow and arrow, shoot the rubber ducky and watch it slowly deflate as the kids wail in the background. I’m evil. 

Darling Harbour, Sydney
Darling Harbour, Sydney

Time to head home, make some din, then off to bed.

Track of the Day:

DRAGONETTE-Live in This City

Coin:

Lunch  – $12

Groceries (dozen eggs, baked beans) – $6.23

TODAY’S TOTAL: $18.23

WEEK’S TOTAL: $18.23

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Checking in baggage and… the law of attraction?

I reeeeeeally wanted to take my MEC pack with me to Oz. I had all my clothes vacuum-packed and tried my best to stuff the bag the most efficient way possible. It turned into an extremely frustrating life-size game of tetris… but I really tried. My pack was brimming. I tried it on… I can do this! Turned out the only way to safely carry the pack was to go at it strategically: place pack on a 45 degree angle along the bed, slide my arms through, roll over to my side and stand up… mission.

I bit the bullet and went for the trusty Samsonite (Sam). My mom was also proud to see that she was right… the pack just wasn’t cutting it. So I transferred everything from the pack to Sam, sat on it, zipped it up and headed for the airport with my mom and good neighbour. We made bets on the way there to see how much Sam would weigh… it was heavy.

When I was checking-in my luggage, the United attendant informed me that it was 10 pounds overweight. He suggested I take some things out and throw them in my small backpack (my carry on). I declined… no room and too much of a hassle. The attendant said he’d see what he could do.

He looked into my flight and noticed that there were upgrades available (for first class), and that the upgrade would cost less than the price I’d have to pay for obese Sam. First class ticket holders were also allowed to check in more luggage of inflated weights meaning my luggage would clear!

So although I still had to pay a few extra bucks, it saved me from paying full price and I got bumped into first class! The deal didn’t grant me first class all the way to Sydney (that would’ve been sweet), but it did for my 2 connecting flights from Toronto to Denver, and Denver to San Fran.

And funny thing… a week ago I was thinking to myself that it would be nice to somehow catch a ride in first class! Woot! Mission accomplished.

I’m currently waiting in a nice deli in the San Francisco airport waiting for my last flight of the day to Sydney. Here we go!

Getting my finances in check

There’s a myth out there that preaches you need a hefty chunk of change to pursue travelling as a hobby. And after hearing from more than a few friends about their returning home in deep debt, I thought I’d take on the challenge myself.

I had 8 months to save up for my travel expenses. It cost just under $2300 for my flight and working visa, and $415 for a new laptop I’m bringing with me. I decided I want to leave with a $2000 financial cushion to cover any expenses while travelling (this may seem a tad prudent but keep in mind I’ll be working while travelling). All in all that comes out to $4715.

I paid off the $415 for my laptop by selling a crap load of stuff on Kijiji and Craigslist (guitar, exercise equipment, roller blades, food processor, skates…). Another $4300 to go!

Over the last 8 months I’ve set aside $135/wk into a separate savings account with automatically scheduled deposits (really takes the sting off making those payments myself). To cover rent, food, entertainment and any other miscellaneous expenses, I thought it more than fair to bring in a minimum of $1000/month while abroad.

I think I’ve prepared myself quite well so far… as best as I can anyway! The rest will have to depend on what happens when I get there! 🙂

If you don’t know how long you’ll be travelling, purchase a one-way ticket. Many people will tell you to buy round-trip because it’s cheaper… which is true. But if you think you’ll likely change your departure flight because you’ll want to stay longer, you’re looking at a minimum $250-$300 change fee.

If you end up needing to change your flight, compare flight change fees of the travel agency you booked with with the airline directly. I saved just under $100 CAD changing my flight through American Airlines, rather than with Flight Network.