Brisbane on a Budget: A Frugal 36 Hours in Brisbane

We have headed up to Queensland from Tasmania for our next big adventure (stay tuned for the details).

Stop 1: Brisbane!


Cities can be mega wallet busters if you aren’t careful. We managed to make it quite a frugal 36 hours in Brisbane. Here’s how!

How We Got There:

Each flight from Hobart to Brisbane was 10K miles via my American Aviator Mastercard. It allowed us each one checked bagged. The 3rd check bag would have been AUD$100, but a glitch in the system let us off the hook and we got it for free! I’m relatively new to the miles game, and it was quite thrilling to see it pay off 🙂

Where We Stayed:

Brisbane Quarters
The Brisbane Quarters

The Brisbane Quarters is a hostel just a few blocks away from the main downtown area. While our 6 people in bunkbed hostel days are a thing of the past, we got a private room with a private toilet and shower for just AUD$36 a night.; a solid 1/3 of the price of any hotel. The shared living area was neat and spacious with amble cooking space, and it was fun to be amongst fellow young travelers.

Amenities: Brisbane Quarters does provider a breakfast of yogurt, toast, and cereal, there’s laundry, a gym (just a few dumbbells), and a small pool.

How We Got Around:

From the Airport to the City:  We took the airtran, which was AUD$28 for two people (an $11 discount from buying just one ticket). However, an Uber would have been about the same cost and much more time efficient.

Around the City: Our own two legs covered quite some ground, clocking in nearly 30,000 steps on the full day. We also tried out the Neuron scooters. Everyone in the city seemed to be riding these electric scooters, and the system is simple. You download the app, scan the code on the scooter, tap “use helmet” which unlocks the helmet, then scoot off! When you’re done, you just tap end ride, return the helmet, and leave the scooter anywhere on the sidewalk. I foresee myself owning an electric scooter in the future… just sayin’.

TIP!:  We paid the $.38/minute rate for our 30 minute ride later to realize there are great pass options! (see below)

Neuron Scooter rates
Neuron Scooter

The Free Sites We Saw:

  • The Botanical Gardens
  • Roma Street Parkland: the biggest thrill was seeing lizards everywhere!
  • Fish Lane: an awesome alleyway chocked full of graffiti

Mostly, we just wandered around the neighborhoods, soaking in the city!

Note: All the museums are free, but we didn’t have the time to make it to any.

The Splurge:

To celebrate the start of a new adventure, we splurged on an epic meal at Hashtag Burgers and Waffles.

Hashtag Burgers and Waffles
Hashtag Burgers and Waffles
Hashtage Burgers and Waffles

Hashtag Burgers and Waffles is a hip burger spot in Fortitude Valley, and OH MAN, these burgers are something special. The “moist AF lean beef patty” is thick and loosely packed, which is why it’s so decadently juicy. To my delight, the bacon leaned more towards the crispy side as oppose to chewy, and the pickle added the perfect crunch to balance out the moistness. Another winning trait of these handfuls of smoky deliciousness was the right bun to filling ratio.  Often, burger buns take away from the burger because they are too thick and bready, but that was certainly  not the case with Hashtag Burgers and Waffles. 

Jeremy went for the double patty, I added onion rings on mine. Both were top notch. We also got an order of loaded tater tots (fine, not wowing), as well as chips (fries) that were perfectly crispy and salty. The meal set us back around AUD$70, but hey, at least the checked back from free! (Click HERE to learn more about the history of French fries!)

The Treat:

Doughnut Time
Doughnut Time

After a day of putting major mileage into our legs, the 4:00pm slump had a sugary treat calling our names. In Southbank, Jeremy got a smoothie from Boost and I headed to Doughnut Time to get a big, fat doughnut.

The Other Eats:

For our other meals, we popped into Cole’s and grabbed a rotisserie chicken, wraps, hummus, spinach, and a vegetable slaw.

Frugal traveling advice: don’t eat every meal out!

Final Thoughts….

Brisbane is a sleepy big city. While there are plenty of businesses, attractions, and people, it didn’t feel congested. Perhaps it’s due to the lack of international travel, or perhaps it’s just because I can’t help but compare every city to New York.

We made it through with our budget intact, and it was the perfect launch point for our next big adventure:

A two month road trip in a campervan. Stay tuned for the adventures to come!

7 Comments Add yours

  1. laskegaa says:

    Why would they call it a “neuron pass?” Where are all the people? No one in the streets?

    That hamburger looked phenomenal. Let me guess: you see very few fat people in Australia despite the food?

    We’re having fun counting snowstorms and trying not to slip on the ice when we step outside to replenish the feeders. One of these days, maybe Sunday, the temperature may rocket past freezing! Global warming, Ha!



    Sent from my iPad



  2. Brisbane is pleasant but not a mind blowing place. My brother lives there and we went there two and a half years back and he couldn’t think of a must do experience. I liked taking a ferry up the river and seeing the city from there.


    1. You know, I was admittedly a bit underwhelmed. Any Queensland recommendations by any chance?!


  3. jasonlikestotravel says:

    Looks like you had a good time given how short a time you were there, that’s a great hostel price for a private room too! I really liked the street art pieces you posted too, I’m sure it doesn’t compare to Melbourne but good to see there are some nice pieces of art to admire 🙂
    Hopefully I’ll get back to Australia at some point and can visit Brisbane.


    1. You know I haven’t had a chance to get to Melbourne yet. We were originally going to start there, but given the COVID restrictions, we decided it was best to stick to Queensland. I hear it’s an incredible city though!

      Liked by 1 person

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