You are in Milwaukee and need to get to Sydney Australia in April 2019 for a 3-day business conference at the Wesley Conference Centre for a total of one week in Australia and another 4 days for travel. All costs are in USD with conversion rates from AUD at 0.73 cents per 1 AUD
Getting to Sydney is going to take time and a lot of waiting. You will need to get to the west coast before making your final trip to Australia, so it will require figuring out the best deal for air travel. As you will be going through multiple airports, you need to factor in layovers and delays. The most direct route from Milwaukee is: Milwaukee -> Minneapolis-St. Paul -> Los Angelis -> Sydney. Delta Airlines can get you to Sydney and back for around $1200. Your total travel time combined is just under 50 hours.
There are of course other airlines out there and more than one way to get to Sydney, but to get the best price, you need to plan ahead and be prepared to do a lot of research into all the available options and what you are willing to do to get there and back. The trip is not going to be an easy one and it will take a toll of your health short term, so you should keep this in mind when booking.
Total Cost: ~$1200
Getting a hotel can be difficult for conferences that are large. Getting the right one in the right place is equally as hard. There are plenty of hotels within walking distance of the convention center which gives you options and the best price. For example, the Travelodge Hotel Sydney Wynyard has a standard room for $143 a night. The conference center is 1 kilometer away, a 12-minute walk. There are also restaurants, parks, public transportation in the area as well. A one-week stay would cost you ~$1000 before taxes and fees.
Along with normal hotels, there are AirBNB options as well. Searching in the Central Business District gives you quite a lot of choices with very attractive pricing. This could be a better option, but you will need to be aware of all the conditions of using an AirBNB. The upside is that you will reduce your time in restaurants as you will have access to a kitchen, allowing you to cook and store your own meals. Once choice would be a studio apartment that costs $71 per night, with fees attached it comes out to just shy of $600.
Total Cost: ~$600-$1200
To enter Australia as a US citizen, you must have a valid and non-expired passport and a visa. To obtain a passport, you have a few steps to do before filling the application out. You will need to prove your identity and citizenship, a correctly taken color photograph for the passport, and the required fee to process and issue the passport. You will need to apply for a normal passport book as the passport card is only valid at land borders coming into or out of Canada and Mexico. Once you have all the required documents and photo, you can begin to fill the application out, but you must take the documents and application to an authorized agent who can complete the form.
Once the application is in, it can take 4 to 6 weeks to get the passport in the mail so do this as early as possible. There are quicker ways to get the passport in a hurry, but they are vastly more expensive. Once you have your passport, you can now apply for your Australian entry visa. This process is quick, and you will usually know if you were accepted after submitting the online form and payment is confirmed. All you need to do is go to https://www.eta.homeaffairs.gov.au/ETAS3/etas and apply for an ETA. This visa is good for one year from when it is issued.
Total Cost: ~$160
Getting There and Back
Now that you have the major components of your trip planned out and booked, all you need to do is get there. You have many options to get to your departure airport such as public transportation, taking a taxi or Uber/Lyft, driving there yourself, or having a friend take you. Each has its own pros and cons and it all depends on personal preference. I would suggest however that you take a taxi or an Uber/Lyft as you might have some issues with concentration due to the travel and time change making it more dangerous to drive yourself. All that is left to do is check-in, head to your gate, and begin the long journey. On the final leg of your trip, try your best to stay awake if it is daytime in Sydney and sleep when it is nighttime in Sydney to begin the adjustment to the new time zone.
Once you finally arrive in Sydney, you will have an option of using public transportation or a taxi or Uber/Lyft. While you can rent a car, it is not advisable unless you are planning on leaving the Sydney area. Now that you are at your hotel/AirBNB, unpack and get things ready for the first day of the conference the next day.
When it is finally time to leave, just do everything in reverse, but do take care when you do arrive back in the US as you will be experiencing jet lag from your arrival into Sydney. You will have lost quite a bit of sleep and you need time to recover and it will not start until you get back home. This process can take a few weeks to fully complete, so take your time and do what you need to do to readjust.