How much does it cost to go to the Urban Sketchers Symposium?

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In this article, I will share the cost involved to go for the Urban Sketchers Symposium, Asialink Sketchwalks and other overseas workshops or sketching trips.

Airfare


Airfare is a huge variable and is of course determined by the location you’re traveling to.

I’m from Singapore and these are how much I paid for the various trips:

The Auckland airfare may be higher due to fewer airlines flying, we’re just coming out from Covid-19, and I upgraded to Premium Economy for one of two flights. On hindsight, it’s more worth the money to buy a seat with more leg room than upgrade to Premium Economy.

When the USk Symposium was in Singapore in 2015, obviously I did not have to pay for airfare or hotels.

To compare airfare, you can use Google Flights or Skyscanner. After you have an idea of the airfare pricing, head over to the official airline website to compare prices again.

Depending on the website you use to buy tickets, there are may extra charges associated, e.g. credit card fees. So it’s good to compare the final price on the final check out page after all the fees are added.

Hotels

Comparing prices for hotel accomodation is easy. There are so many websites you can use for comparison, e.g. Agoda, Trip.com, Booking.com, etc.

Prices for hotel rooms of course will vary significantly depending on the country. Generally speaking, hotels in Asia are cheaper than those in Europe or USA.

Just budget for the number of days you are staying. You may want to stay a few days before and after the symposium. If you have the time and budget, it would be great to come one or two days earlier so that you have the time to settle down, or maybe get a few warm up sketches done.

And if you have the budget, I highly recommend you get a hotel nearest to the hub.

My stay in Auckland at Four Points by Sheraton was NZD 225/night (SGD 185 or USD 139). The hotel room rate is cheaper than what you can find in Singapore for the same type of room. I paid for 3 nights, dinner, latte and laundry so I spent NZD 800 (SGD 656, USD 491)

Transport


You have to budget money for transportation too, such as for shuttle bus or train ride from the airport to the city, and for public transport such as bus, metro or subway.

For the Auckland symposium, I paid NZD 34 (USD 21) for two shuttle bus rides to and from the airport. I also paid NZD 35 (USD 22) for the e-scooter pass so that I don’t have to take Uber or taxis.

Definitely do some research for cost of airport transfers and public transports, including taxis and private hire cars from Uber and competing companies. You can do a search on how much taxis or Uber cost from airport to your hotel or city centre by searching Google or on Reddit.

So total was NZD 69 (SGD 57, USD 43)

Symposium passes

For the symposium in Auckland, Workshop passes are USD 450, Sketch passes are USD 260 and Partner passes (for opening and closing reception) are USD 20.

Since I’m the correspondent, I did not have to pay for the passes. But if you are there for workshops, demos or lectures, you have to factor in the expenses for these passes. It is possible to get some discounts if you are able to buy the passes during the pre-sale or early bird period.

Food

You can research how much food costs by looking menu prices of restaurants, cafes and eateries you can find on Google Maps. For budgeting purposes, you can look at menus from fast food restaurants such as Mcdonald’s, KFC, Subway.

I budget NZD 20 per meal and most of the lunches were sponsored so I probably paid maybe six meals which is NZD 120 (SGD 99, USD 74)

Laundry

If you do laundry, you can probably find the prices for laundry services, again, with Google Maps. And if you do laundry, it may be good to stay near laundry shops or coin operated laundry machines.

Hotels may also provide laundry services but usually are much more expensive unless the hotel has coin-operated laundry machines.

Art supplies

If you’re going for the Urban Sketchers Symposiums, there are art supplies booths from sponsors. It’s a good opportunity to buy art supplies at the symposium because there’s a large selection to choose from, and you don’t have to pay for shipping.

SIM card

You’ll definitely want to buy a data SIM card so that you can use your phone.

I purchased an unlimited plan from New Zealand telco Spark for NZD 112 (SGD 92, USD 69) since I was video correspondent and did not want to run out of data during Youtube livestreaming. I used less than 20 GB for the 8 days I was in Auckland. So unless you’re backing up your RAW files or videos to Google Drive, you probably don’t need more than 20 GB for your SIM card. I could have saved so much money by going with the smaller data plans.

Or you can purchase plans based on time periods, e.g. for a week.

You can find the prices of tourist SIM cards on telco websites.

E.g. A tourist SIM card with 100GB in Singapore starts from SGD 10 or USD 7.50.

Miscellanous cost

You may also want to be some extra cash for backup. You can probably bring your local currency but check in advance for moneychanger locations.

The extra money could be good for an extra cup of latte, or in my case I had to buy an very expensive NZD 5 wrapping tape and NZD 5 AAA batteries. That’s SGD 9 or USD 7

The money could be used to buy gifts or souvenirs.

Buy a comfortable pair of walking shoes if you don’t already have one.

Grand total

I spent a total of SGD 3,556 or USD 2,664 for the Auckland trip. The Airfare and accommodation represent 74% and 18% of the expenses. So that’s means 8% went into food and miscellanous costs. Yeah, airfare is the real killer.

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