Since we left our office jobs both Matt and I have noticed our relationship with money has changed. We used to be so focused on saving and preparing for the future, we’d always tell ourselves, ‘no,’ when it came time to spend some of our hard-earned money. I guess, looking back, when you have to do something you don’t enjoy to earn your paycheck, you want your time to have been well spent. Now, our approach is vastly different. When an opportunity arises for us to spend our money on something we love and will make us happy, we always say yes and go for it. It brings happiness, joy and great memories into our lives, motivates us to keep working hard and, I believe, attracts more great stuff into our lives.
I bring this up as a lead-in for this blog post because sometimes people see cheap airfares to a place they want to visit or an adventure they want to have and they deny themselves. Trust me, I know, the budget is always a factor, which is what makes it the lead-in for this post. You don’t have to break the bank to have an amazing time, you don’t have to pack your bags and set off an epic twelve-month adventure to create amazing travel memories and you don’t have to deny yourself a whole lot of fun because it’s the ‘right thing to do.’ In my opinion, the right thing to do is whatever the heck makes you happy.
For us, that was saying yes to an invitation we got from the team at Space Hotel in Melbourne, who flew us down for one whirlwind night. I’ve honestly never thought about doing a quick, overnight jaunt to a city like that before but it was awesome! The fact it was such a quick trip made it even better because there was no pressure to see and do everything. We stayed centrally, caught up with a very good friend, made new ones, laughed our butts off and ate fantastic food! So, here’s what we got to see, do and eat and how you can take our itinerary and use it as a guide for your very own budget-friendly 24 hours in Melbourne + a few of our tips on how we save money when we travel.
We departed Brisbane’s domestic airport at midday, bound for Melbourne. The airport offers great rates on parking if you use their AirPark, which means you park a little further away from the terminals then catch the free transfer bus to/from the international or domestic terminal. We pre-book online, which saves us money too. With the two of us, this option always works out far cheaper than if we caught an Uber or cab to the airport. It’s also really freakin’ convenient to drive yourself, jump out the car and onto the plane then get away quickly when you arrive back from your trip.
With carry-on only, our arrival into Melbourne was nice and easy. Knowing we didn’t need to wait for bags, I jumped online and got us seats as close to the front of the plane as possible so we could ensure a speedy exit from the airport. When it comes to saving money on airfares, we usually keep an eye out for the dedicated sale days of budget airlines or sign up for sale alerts from the airlines or online compare services. It also pays to check out other airports, if you can. For us, we can often find a slightly cheaper rate on some domestic fares if we fly from the Gold Coast instead of Brisbane airport.
On arriving at Melbourne airport, the SkyBus is a great option for getting from the airport to the heart of the city. It should cost you around $18 per person one-way if you book online or $36 per person round-trip. Of course, if there are a few of you, it may pay to look into Uber as, depending on the time of day and demand for a ride, it can cost around $50.
We arrived at Space Hotel and checked into our room. If you haven’t heard of it before, Space offers a mix of backpacker/hostel and budget hotel accommodation. I actually stayed here many, many moons ago when it was straight hostel style and it was rough. They’ve totally done it up, added some amazing private rooms and made it a fantastic place to stay in the heart of Melbourne.
Location-wise, you’re perfectly positioned in central Melbourne so it’s super easy to save money by walking around or jumping on the tram to get around. I was really impressed with our private room – it was a generous size with plenty of space to spread out, unpack and get comfortable. Our ensuite was sweet and simple, really clean and the shower was fantastic (yasssss water pressure!) The highlight though has to be the amazing private balcony with stunning views of the Melbourne skyline and one heck of a golden sunset. One thing that always holds me back from booking a quick trip down to somewhere like Melbourne is the cost of good accommodation in a good location – Space really nail it, offering both those things and more!
After watching a little of the sunset from our balcony, we headed up to the rooftop for even more incredible views of Melbourne and a few cold drinks. Whoever had the idea to put a rooftop hangout spot on the top of Space Hotel is a legend. The views up there are amazing and it was such a great way for us to start the night, feeling surrounded by the city, watching the lights come alive and getting excited for a whole lot of fun.
We headed downstairs and jumped in a couple of cabs bound for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. One thing I didn’t know is how affordable tickets are to the MICF – I assumed it was going to be really expensive because the comedians are so talented. After a bit of research, I found it the Festival pride themselves on being incredibly affordable, with the average price of a ticket being around $30! Incredible, right? If you weren’t visiting during the festival, you might like to try to catch a theatre show, check out some art galleries and markets or explore places like Hosier Lane, which we did just before the set started.
After the show wrapped up, we walked around the corner for a late night bite at Uncle Restuarant, a fantastic Vietnamese restaurant. The food and vibe were both fantastic, we got stuck into Banh Mi, the most delicious edamame I’ve ever had, black wild rice, wok tossed zucchini and a few other things I had never tried before. After quite a few cocktails, loads of laughs and with a belly full of great food we headed back to Space.
We climbed into bed, got cosy and drifted off to sleep for a much-needed night of rest.
In need of a great breakfast and a Melbourne-quality coffee before our flight, we took a quick stroll down the street to Mr Tulk. The food here was fantastic and the coffee, of course, was delicious! I really didn’t want to stuff it up and have a bad breakfast as I only got one shot at it and Mr Tulk really delivered. I also love that the cafe is connected to the incredible State Library of Victoria, so if you have the time, you can pop in to check it out before you head off. Sadly for me, it wasn’t open yet and we were on a tight timeframe (libraries are one of my favourite places in the world – a real introvert dream with the mandatory quiet).
We checked out of Space Hotel at 10am, jumped in our ride back to the airport and climbed aboard our plane bound for Brisbane at 12:10pm, touching down in sunny Queensland at 2:20pm. It was a whirlwind trip and the kind of trip I had never done before – jetting down for a quick 24 hours (or less, really) in a city and it was just so exciting. There as no pressure or expectation to do a lot, we just got to enjoy the few things we had planned and pack a whole lot of love, laughter and joy into our trip.