Thinking of going to Australia, but you don’t have a big savings account at hand? Well, you’ve probably heard this a lot of times already, but Australia can be very expensive. Before we were here we already knew this too, but we were still amazed whenever we did grocery shopping and saw our total at the checkout counter. But of course there is a way to travel Australia on a budget. Luckily for you we made this guide to make it easier to spend less so you can do more with the money you have. Think cheap transport, cheap food, cheap accommodation and cheap tours.
Travel Australia on a Budget
How to travel around Down Under
So the thing is that Australia is very big. You can really underestimate the enormity of this big country. For instance, we really wanted to visit the pink lake Lake Hillier, which is located 720 kilometers of Perth in Western Australia. Although we’re currently in Western Australia, it’s still a very, very long drive to get there and we might not go after all.
This means that you have to plan ahead a bit. We already mentioned this in our article 10 Useful Tips for Living and Traveling in a Campervan. Do some planning, but stay flexible: write down what you really want to see and create a route for yourself. Just know that you won’t be able to see the whole of Australia if you only have a couple of weeks. Know where the places are that you want to see. Don’t book a flight to Perth if you want to explore Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road. This way you don’t have unexpected expenses such as flight tickets to the other side of the country.
Hop on the bus
There are several options to travel around in Australia. For instance, you can choose to go by bus. We’ve met multiple backpackers that use Greyhound buses to get around the country. Greyhound often has specials and different types of passes, such as the Hop On Hop Off, Short Hop and KM Passes. It’s also advisable to book in advance to get cheaper tickets.
Buy, rent or relocate a car
But you can also choose to buy or rent a campervan or car. It might be cheaper to rent if you’re not planning to stay for a long time. There are lots of different companies where you can do this, a few popular ones are Britz, Jucy and Wicked Campers, although they are all fairly expensive. So be sure to compare prices with car rentals before you make your decision. We actually really recommend to buy a car or campervan, as you can always sell it when you leave Australia. When you’re planning a longer trip in Australia, it’s definitely more profitable to buy your own car. On Gumtree you can find lots of different cars and campervans. Be sure to check the car at a mechanic first. A car can be cheap, but if a lot is wrong with it, the car can turn into a very expensive investment.
Another brilliant way to travel around is relocating a car or campervan. From $1 a day you can drive a car or campervan, which you have to move from A to B. On the website of Coseats you can find different deals. For instance, you can drive from Adelaide to Alice Springs in four days for only $1 per day. It’s a super cheap way to travel, but it gives you less freedom, as you always have a deadline to deliver the car to the assigned destination.
If you’re planning to rent, buy or relocate a car or campervan and want to do so in the cheapest way, find some mates and travel together. This way you can share the costs of the car and fuel. If you don’t know anyone yet to travel with, you can always post a message in one of the multiple Facebook groups for backpackers in Australia, let them know the route you plan to take and ask if anyone is willing to travel with you. This can save you a lot of money and you’ll most likely meet some amazing people.
How to eat Down Under
To be honest, we’re not the best with eating cheap. We love food and we love good food. Luckily there are still ways to eat a healthy meal without it being to expensive. We can get lazy sometimes and go to the supermarket and buy whatever we want. Or even worse, we go out for dinner and order whatever we want. Although you do need to indulge sometimes – and if you have the budget for it that’s really fine, it’s not really the way to save money on your meals. When you’re on a budget you can’t just buy everything you want without thinking about it.
Thus, be sure to get the cheapest variation of everything you buy. Coles and Woolworths often have weekly deals, so keep your eye out for this. If there is an Aldi nearby, do your groceries there, because it’s cheaper than other supermarkets. Buy the house brand of everything, go to the local market and get your fish, veggies and fruit there. When you have left overs, save it for the next day, it can be your lunch or dinner (again). If you’re camping and you don’t have a way to keep your food cool, don’t buy anything that can melt or go bad quickly – or eat it right away.
If you’re feeling like going out for dinner, choose wisely. We have this powerful tool these days called The Internet that enables us to compare anything, so you can also compare the prices of the restaurants that are close to you. Use websites such as Tripadvisor or Dimmi to do this. Look out for specials and deals! Sometimes you can use your student pass to get a discount, not only for restaurants, but also for shopping, tours and more. Also, go to ethnic restaurants; we’ve been to a lot of cheap places that serve Thai food, Indian food and even sushi, and it was really good. Other cheap local restaurants along the coast are often places that serve the classic fish and chips.
Where to stay Down Under
If you’re planning to rent/buy a campervan, its very convenient that you already have a home to live in. But of course you can also bring your own tent or caravan. The cheapest way of camping is to stay at rest areas or camping spots. WikiCamps is very useful to find these free or cheap spots to spend the night. Most campings are around $20 and they usually have everything you need such as showers, toilets and a camp kitchen. Rest areas are usually free, so that’s the best budget option. However, these rarely have a shower, but sometimes a barbecue and toilets.
This is a great way to stay in different places around Australia. Actually last week we took care of someone’s house while he was away for ten days, but we just met him at the bar we work, and we didn’t really need a place to stay for free. However, this shows that people are really looking for someone to take care of their place when they’re gone, and it’s really nice to have a whole house to yourself for a while.
Furthermore, it’s actually a very cheap way to accommodate yourself while traveling in Australia! People often don’t want their place to be completely empty while they’re on holiday, so they rather have a trusty backpacker like you taking care of their place. When you google “housesitting Australia” you’ll see that there are plenty of website already dedicated to this phenomenon. Also, you can find ads on Gumtree of people that are looking for house sitters.
Okay, so we haven’t stayed in one hostel while we were in Australia, so we don’t have a lot to say about this. But we know there are plenty of hostels that offer cheap dorms or private rooms where you can stay and immediately meet lots of other backpackers. We’re not sure how cheap it is, but it’s a lot cheaper than all the fancy hotels!
This is our favorite way of getting accommodation. We’ve experienced that it’s often cheaper than hotels and also in better locations. Some places even come with a local tour guide, if the Airbnb host is kind enough to give you some tips about the area. Until now we’ve had such a good experience with Airbnb. Sometimes you can get a whole apartment for yourselves for only $30 a night. It’s probably not the best budget option, but once in a while you can really find a decent deal. So be sure to check it out once in a while!
How to tour Down Under
We don’t go on a lot of tours in Australia, because usually they are very expensive. Always consider if you really need to book a tour. If you have a car yourself and the places you want to see can be accessed with it, why book a tour? Take some friends and make your own fun tour. There are also lots of amazing free walking tours or hikes that you can do yourself. For a lot of destinations and places in Australia you don’t need a tour guide, you just need to know where to go. We usually just look up every information we need to know online and go to the places we want to visit ourselves.
It’s not always possible to go somewhere on your own – you might not have a car, 4WD or a boat. Check out different deals and specials for tours you really want to go on. For instance, if you want to go to the Whitsundays, Airlie Beach or Townsville, check out the website Bookme. They have all kinds of different packages and deals for al sorts of activities and tours. Again, make sure you compare prices. Even though a certain tour is claimed to be a great deal, it’s not necessarily so. It’s difficult as you often don’t know what a normal price could be for a certain tour, but just browse around and compare! There are so many different websites that help you choose the cheapest one.
Get yourself a job
If you barely have any money at all in Australia, you should get a job -although you probably already figured that out. But consider getting a live-in job somewhere, as this makes it so much easier for you to save a lot of money. We wrote an article about working in a remote area, where you can actually save money really fast.
Hopefully this article was useful for your budget travels in Australia. If you have any recommendations or questions, please leave a comment below.
Be sure to check out our articles How to get your tax back in Australia, Working Holiday Visa: Save money fast and 10 Useful Tips for Living and Traveling in a Campervan for more Travel Tips as they are all useful for your budget travels in Australia.