A Student’s Guide to Traveling to Melbourne on a Budget

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One of the best parts of studying abroad is getting the chance to explore the many sights and sounds of your host country.  Traveling to Australia meant that there were countless ‘bucket list’ items that I needed to check off before venturing back to the United States.  There are the popular tourist options, such as seeing the Great Barrier Reef and holding a koala bear, but I also wanted to get a well-rounded experience in my traveling.  For me, this meant visiting the beautiful city of Melbourne, Victoria.  Melbourne is one of the hipper and more local areas of Australia. There are a ton of things to do there, and with each activity comes the worry of how to be able to experience as much as possible, without breaking the bank account. This article is dedicated to giving tips and tricks on how to travel to Melbourne on a study abroad student budget!

There is winter in Australia, however it is much colder in some areas than others. Don’t waste money on buying warm clothes when you get here!

For those that do not know, Australia’s seasons are opposite of the United States; Our summers are their winters, and vice versa.  Before studying abroad in Australia, I knew that I would be leaving the hot Midwest summers for the ‘chilly’ winters of the Gold Coast.  To my surprise, however, the Gold Coast winter means sunshine, blue skies and 75 degree whether almost every day. Not too bad of a winter, is it?  Melbourne, on the other hand, has much cooler temperatures than what I was used to in my town of Surfers Paradise.  Although the weather is still quite mild for it to be winter, packing a jacket and scarf is still a good idea!  The wind can be a bit bitter, so to ensure you get the most out of your experience, you should dress warmly to explore the city. Taking it from my personal experience, you do not want to have to buy new jackets, hats and scarves here when most everyone has plenty of those clothing items at home. It may take a little extra luggage space, but pack it in advance so you can spend that extra money on other things!

Take advantage of the free walking tour of the city

Getting a chance to see a city from a local’s point of view is a really cool opportunity for a tourist.  In Melbourne there is a company called ‘I Am Free Walking Tours’ that takes people around the city for a two to three-hour tour. The tour group is run on donations only and is guided by a local historian that can provide details on the historical sites, as well as showing the more ‘hip’ or present day city sights.  This is a great way to go off the beaten path and see a side of the city that you may have not seen on your own.  The tour in Melbourne showed buildings and places from the ‘Marvelous Melbourne’ era and ended with seeing the present day graffiti walls created by local artisans around Melbourne and Federation Park, which is home to many restaurants, cultural attractions and even an outdoor ice rink! Rather than paying money to do ‘tourist’ type activities, this free walking tour allows you to see most of Melbourne, without even having to dig into your pocket book! The sights are beautiful and you will feel even better about taking the tour knowing that you did not have to spend a lot of money on it.

Enjoy the local atmosphere and take in the many unique sights and sounds that Melbourne Offers

Melbourne is a city that offers a one of a kind experience for travelers.  At every corner there are musicians singing covers and original songs, artists showing off their skills with the beautiful graffiti walls and so many delicious local restaurants that it is hard to choose where to even begin. Instead of spending your travel allowance on organized trips and expensive dining and bars, my advice is to take your time and explore as many local areas of the city that you can. Try hole in the wall restaurants and stay away from the chains. My favorite from my travels to Melbourne was a restaurant on Brunswick street called Chiquito & Co. If you like burgers, chicken and the best ice cream ever then this is your place! Try the caramel and chocolate fudge sundae, you won’t regret it! Go to Lygone street and eat some authentic Italian cuisine, visit the Melbourne Zoo using your student discount for reduced prices and check out free places like the Victoria State Library.  Think outside of the tourist box and you can find all kinds of free and cheap things to do that are just as fun and unique.  I found that the more I made myself try local things while in Melbourne, the more I felt like I belonged to the city, and the less money I spent.  There are many unique things to do while in Melbourne, and my hope is that you take advantage of every opportunity that you can during your visit! If you follow these few tricks and tips you will be well on your way to enjoying a great trip to Melbourne, without having to break into that piggy bank!

Lilli Southern is a Communication Sciences and Disorders major at Butler University. She studied abroad with IFSA at Griffith University in Australia. She is an international correspondent for IFSA through the Work-To-Study program. 

Article by Lilli Southern