How to Skip the Gate Fee and Get to the Sydney Airport for Cheap!

Chances are, if you are visiting Australia (or even New Zealand really) you will be flying in/out of the Sydney airport. Dan and I flew into and out of Sydney 6 times while we were traveling in Australia and New Zealand. Australia’s biggest city also has the country’s biggest and busiest airport. But what’s the best way to get to and from Sydney’s airport when you are traveling on a budget?

The only options for getting to or from this airport are a taxi (expensive), the train, or the only city bus that goes to the airport, bus #400 from Bondi Junction. The bus is definitely the cheapest option, but it only really works if you are coming from Bondi Junction. If you happen to be staying around there, by all means take the bus, but for everyone else, going all the way out to Bondi Junction to get on a bus for over an hour just seems crazy. Plus there is a better way to save yourself some money while getting to the airport.

In my opinion, the most obvious travel option to the airport is the train. It is definitely fast; only 15 minutes from the center of Sydney. But there is a catch when traveling by train to Sydney’s airport. There is a special gate fee for exiting at both the domestic and international terminal train stations. The story goes that the reason for these fees is because before the 2000 olympics, the government wanted to add an easier way to get to the airport than the bus. They hired a private company to build the airport link – a 4-stop detour on the green line – and the private company decided to charge gate fees on all 4 of it’s stations to recoup their investment. I’m going to assume that the local community complained about their suburban stations costing substantially more than nearby stations, because eventually the extra charges were removed from the suburban stations. But not from the 2 airport train stations!

Additional fees to get to the airport aren’t new. You find them at most major airports. Here in New York City you can get to JFK International Airport on the subway – it will only cost you $2.50 – but to actually get to the terminals you have to pay to take the AirTrain. That will set you back an additional $5. So $7.50 total to get from anywhere in NYC to any terminal at JFK International. The gate fee to exit at Sydney’s airport terminals is $12.60 AUD ($11.42 USD). That’s on top of the $3.80 to $4.60 AUD ($3.44 to $4.17 USD) that the train trip out to that neck of the woods costs. This means that to get off of the train the stop before the domestic terminal costs $3.80 AUD ($3.44 USD) from city center, but to get off at the domestic airport terminal costs $16.40 AUD ($14.86 USD). The international terminal is a bit farther away (Sydney prices their stops by distance), so from city center it will cost you $16.40 to $17.20 AUD ($14.86 to $15.59 USD). And to get to the stop after the international terminal? That only costs $3.80 to $4.60 AUD ($3.44 to $4.17 USD). Dan and I weren’t having that so we thought let’s see if we can circumnavigate the system.

Crossing the bridge to the International Terminal.

Crossing the bridge to the International Terminal.

Turns out, it isn’t really that hard. Both trips are flat and right around a mile from the train station to the terminal. This is the beauty of traveling light. Throughout the trip I kept saying that we have time but not so much money. Well if you are in the same boat, I highly recommend walking!

To get to the Domestic Terminal:

Get off the train at Mascot. This will cost you $3.80 AUD from Sydney CBD. Walk south on Bourke Road. Continue south on O’Riordan Street. The entrance to the domestic terminal will be obvious! This walk is more straight forward than the walk to the international terminal. This is really easy! Totally worth doing if you have an extra 20 minutes and aren’t dragging a big, heavy rolling bag behind you.

Follow that sign!

Follow that sign!

To get to the International Terminal:

This one is a bit more complicated, but there is at least one sign (see above)! Take the train to Wolli Creek. This will cost you $3.80 to $4.60 AUD from Sydney CBD. When you exit, walk down Brodie Spark Drive. At the end of the drive you will see a park along a river’s edge across the street. Cross the street and walk in the park along the river’s edge. Stay along the river’s edge until you have to bear right to make sure you can get on the walkway along the bridge that crosses the river. Cross the river. On the other side you will see the sign in the picture above. Follow the sign and cross under the overpass. Keep to the left for a few minutes until you see the international terminal on your right. This walk includes a park! Totally worth it before a long international flight.

I hope this tutorial will encourage you, brave readers, to consider sticking it to the man and saving yourselves a few bucks before your flight out of Sydney. Travel safely!

What We Packed For Our Six-Month ‘Round-the-World Trip

We should really just dive right into this, as it’s going to be a long, bullet-pointed travel packing list. Many (MANY!) people have asked us what we brought on our 6-month journey around the world. Particularly once they find out we have less than 10kg of stuff to each of our names. Obviously it’s pretty much just the essentials. But what are the essentials for a round-the-world trip covering many different climates? Here is what got us through:

***Before I dive into what we brought, I want to put in a disclaimer here. All the links below that link to products on Amazon.com are affiliate links. This means if you buy something after clicking through our links we get a very small commission. I just wanted to be upfront about it! We are hoping it pays back the cost of running this site (eventually). We certainly aren’t making a living doing this. And we would never link to anything we didn’t truly love and use constantly on this trip. We just wanted you to know!***

Molly’s clothes:

Molly's clothes

Molly’s clothes

  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 5 pairs of socks (these are the best socks ever. No blisters! I use them at home too)
  • 3 bras (2 regular, one sports)
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 pair of pants (that zip into capris)
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 1 dress
  • 1 skirt
  • 5 long sleeved garments (one heavy fleece, one button up light jacket, 3 long sleeved shirts. The fleece was a later addition on a freezing day where I forgot a sweater. I think 4 long sleeved garments are likely enough.)
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 5 tank tops (including an older version of this one from the amazing Vaute Couture)
  • 1 sarong (all-purpose. It can be a towel, a skirt, pretty much anything.)
  • 1 scarf
  • 1 t-shirt for sleeping in (a super-comfy t-shirt.)
  • 1 pair of athletic shorts for sleeping in
  • Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It 2 Sided Cube (Everything except the heaviest outerwear fits in here)
  • Eagle Creek Travel Gear Pack-It Mesh Stuffer Bag (I used this as my dirty laundry bag)

Dan’s clothes:

Dan's clothes. Artfully arranged by Dan!

Dan’s clothes. Artfully arranged by Dan!

Miscellaneous things:

medical and toiletry products, games, and some miscellaneous things.

medical and toiletry products, games, and some miscellaneous things.

Top left. It goes into that blue flowery bag:

  • Pads and tampons (these are the necessities of life…)
  • Small glass nail file (borrowed from my mom) and travel nail clippers
  • Tweezers
  • 2 eye masks and earplugs taken from an airplane flight (rarely used, but good for the occasional loud or bright hostel)
  • Hair ties and a brush
  • 2 packages of dry laundry soap sheets (essential!)
  • Dan’s extra glasses and my glasses

Top middle 3 ziplock bags:

  • The left one is our shower stuff. It contains a plastic container with dry conditioner (purchased at Lush), a plastic container with a bar of soap in it, a small container of shampoo (under 3 oz), a tiny bottle of face wash for my pimply face, and a few razors.
  • The two right ziplocks are our liquids bags (when we are flying the shampoo and face wash get added to these). At this point in the trip they are getting pretty empty. But I will tell you that when we left I brought 5 containers of vegan contact solution, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, face cream, hand lotion, a stain stick and maybe a few other travel-sized liquids. The bags were very full. Your liquids needs will vary, and change with time over the course of your travels just like ours did.

Top right:

Middle left. Fits in the quart-sized ziplock bag:

  • Small travel medical kit. We added things to a pre-made kit. We added extra bandaids and neosporin.
  • Temperature-stable, vegan probiotics. These were purchased on the road. Sometimes eating out all the time gets to my stomach. These help.
  • Medical tape
  • Moleskin
  • A small container of ibuprophen and a small container of pepto-bismol
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine and antibiotics (we have never had to use these, but we figured better to have it just in case! My doctor prescribed the antibiotics for me specifically for the trip before I left. Just in case!)

Bottom left in the ziplock bag: Dan’s electric razor with its accessories, and Dan’s contacts.

Bottom left corner: Games! Hive Pocket, Struggle For Catan – the Settlers of Catan card game, and a deck of cards.

Bottom right side:

Electronics, rain gear, and miscellaneous stuff.

Electronics, rain gear, and miscellaneous stuff.

  • Shoes! 1 pair sneakers, 1 pair water sandals, 1 pair flip flops for each of us.
  • 1 lightweight umbrella
  • 1 waterproof raincoat each (essential!)
  • 1 fleece sleeping bag each (essential!)
  • Cords for all of our electronics
  • The electronics: 1 Chromebook, 1 iPhone 4s, 1 iPhone 3gs as a backup, 1 knockoff Nokia Lumia 925 purchased in Cambodia, 2 Kindles (one old and one new), 1 Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS19 (great camera, but a bit of dust got stuck between the lenses about 3 months into our travels), 1 Fujifilm FinePix XP60 (our camera for the final 3 months of our trip. Great for the underwater photography we did at the Great Barrier Reef!), 1 iPod nano, 1 64GB usb stick.
  • The outlet adapters. Yes, we had a different one for each country, but these adapters are so good and reliable, I thought they were worth it. They do not convert voltage (those would be transformers), but if your electronics are relatively modern a transformer is not necessary. We didn’t need one for any of our electronics.
  • A loop lock
  • The best travel power strip ever.
  • A mesh bag for all the cords.
  • Sunglasses
  • A microfiber travel towel.
  • A bandana.
  • A visor.
  • A blanket/skirt. (purchased in Thailand so Dan could get into a Wat, but then he really liked using it as a blanket so he kept it.)
  • A daypack with all of the things in the bottom left corner of the picture in the top pocket of the backpack (lip balm with spf, headphones, a headphone splitter, earplugs, B12 pills, house keys, a pen and pencil, probiotics and ibuprofen, our expenses notebook and Dan’s notebook. The water bottle goes in the backpack side pocket.
  • Not shown are our computer case that the Chromebook goes in, and the money belt that comes with us everywhere.

This is what it looks like all packed up:

All of our stuff all packed up for our 6-month trip.

All of our stuff all packed up for our 6-month trip.

Was everything above used on this trip? Nope. We haven’t touched the duct tape once and almost the entire medical ziplock bag has gone unused. But am I glad we have those things just in case? Yup! The biggest surprise of the trip was how much we used that little hand-crank flashlight.

If any women out there are looking for a new backpacking backpack, I highly recommend mine: The Gregory Sage 45 backpack. I’m 5’3″ and I wear a size small backpack. It’s comfortable, a good size and shape, and fits in overhead bins. Don’t ask about Dan’s bag, though. It’s a knock-off he bought in Cambodia!

Okay, I think that’s a long enough packing list for you. For the record, this stuff we brought covered us over 3 continents and from temperatures of 50 degrees Fahrenheit to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Please let us know if you have any questions about what we packed or how we packed it in the comments and we will be sure to answer them!