My sweet friend Brandi from Pittsburgh recently messaged me that her friend will be traveling alone to Sydney next month. How exciting!! We are all aware how traveling alone can be a bit scary. And a lot of us rely on the internet for information – from finding safe hostels, to how to save money, to where the best spots to visit are.
I first went to Sydney in December right before Christmas so the weather was gorgeous. Everything was decorated with Christmas stuff and loads of people were out shopping around. The second time I went to Sydney it was in February and the weather was still perfection. I learned a lot both times I have visited.
One thing I have learned is that all the hostels in Sydney are absolute shit. I didn’t have a good experience in two of the hostels there. One of the upsides to the shit hostels is the friendly backpackers you will meet but don’t expect a quiet sleep. I used Hostelworld.com to try to find affordable hostels. All the ratings and reviews were pretty ordinary. Lots of comments on how dirty and unkept the rooms and bathrooms were. I feel as though it is a hit or miss situation. Some people may not have the same opinion as others so my advice is to just search on what you are really looking for in a place. Read the reviews. On literally every review site about the hostel. You will thank yourself for taking the time out to do that. Ain’t nobody wants a case of the bedbugs. I’ve met people who have had them and they don’t sound pretty. They are parasites that hide or lay eggs close where humans sleep such as mattresses, bed frames, cracks in walls, and furniture.
How do you check for bed bugs beforehand? Well, from what I have learned from fellow backpackers is don’t put your bags onto your bed the second you get into the room. Check the mattress by lifting up and searching for a bug or blood spot from a previous bite. Check between the cracks of the bed frame and if it is a bunk, check above it especially in the corners for any eggs. You will genuinely know when you are bitten. I hear it’s unpleasant.
Moving on to something more pleasant, let’s talk about places to see. Besides the beautiful Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. There are loads of laid back places to spend time at. I spent a fair amount of time in Hyde Park. Hyde Park is the oldest public park in Australia right smack in the middle of the Sydney CBD. Conveniently by two major railway stations and shopping centres. It’s also within a 10 minute walk to some of the popular hostels. This park is so serene. You’ll find in the middle of the park, straight across from the St Mary’s Cathedral, a gorgeous centrepiece called Archibald Fountain. If you take the free walking tour of Sydney, you will learn the history about this beautiful fountain. The last time I was in Sydney, a man playing his acoustic guitar put on a little show for everyone in front of the fountain. It was so relaxing and nice. Along with the fountain, the park has well kept gardens and over 500 trees. It’s truly a must see for all tourists.
Back to more about the free walking tour. It’s seriously awesome even though it sounds boring. It’s free. Who doesn’t love free? They give two tours out of the day. One at 10:30 and one at 2:30. It goes on for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours and covers loads of places and Sydney information/history. You don’t have to sign up. You just meet at the town hall which is in the CBD area by the Queen Victoria Building which is another cool spot. Bring water and a snack, wear walking shoes, a hat, and sunscreen. Australia’s sun is harsh, man. Coming from a redhead with experience.
If you’re feeling a beach day, you have many options in Sydney and they are quite close. If you want to head over to Manly beach, hop on a 30 minute ferry! Heading to Bondi beach? Hop on a 45 minute bus ride! It’s all quite convenient and all from Circular Quay which is by the train station. You can purchase a smart card called the opal card at any 7/11 or railway station to use for the ferries, buses, and trains! It’s awesome and easy. There is no fee for the card itself but you will need to top it up with money and I believe the minimum is $10. One awesome thing about Sydney transit is that on Sundays there is a $2.50 cap. So if you want to head somewhere far like the Blue Mountains or one of the beaches…go on a Sunday. It’s crowded but it only costs $2.50 to go anywhere!!
Can I just put it out there that Bondi beach has free wifi…awesomeness.
When it comes to saving money, I advise friends to cook!! You can head to a Coles or Aldi. They always have specials on food. And sometimes your hostel will have a free food box in the fridge or pantry. Eating at restaurants in Sydney is so expensive, so limit it but still have fun. My go to meal that is easy/healthy to make: Quinoa, tuna, avocado, feta – quinoa helps with weight loss and metabolic health. Tuna is a good source of Omega 3. And avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fats.
Speaking of cheap, the Dendy movie theatre near the Opera house does cheap Tuesdays! We payed $13 for a movie ticket compared to $22. Good idea for a rainy day.
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to get away from the city crowd then the Blue Mountains tour is pretty sweet. It’s a bushwalking trail filled with steep cliffs and rainforests. I did a group tour for $75. That included transportation by a van there and back. Our tour guide was pure Aussie. He literally could have been Crocodile Dundee mixed with Jim Jeffries humour. I loved it. We sadly got rained out that day but it was still beautiful.
Hostels do a lot of pub crawls or events such as movie and game night. You will meet loads of people to go out with if you are traveling solo, so no worries. Just be open to opportunity with a smile on your face. It’s tough being in a new city along with a whole new country, but Australians are happy to help.
Sydney is a great city. I really came to love it there because there is always something to do and you don’t have to have loads of money to do stuff. Accommodation is the main wallet drainer. Couchsurfing and Air bnb are other options if you aren’t feeling a hostel environment.
If you have any particular questions, feel free to comment below or email me at Alyssanicole51616@gmail.com