I have been in Australia for 4 months now and I have to admit, we have been a little hit & miss with budgeting. It is generally more expensive than the UK but there are ways to keep the costs down. Budget travel doesn’t have to mean staying in horrible places or not enjoying yourself.
Before arriving in Australia, we had never stayed in a hostel before and honestly, we were quite apprehensive about it. Hostels are a great, cheap place to sleep whether you are on a budget or not. There are different styles of rooms for most budgets. The larger the room, the cheaper it will be. You can sleep in a 10 bed dorm for around AU$25 per night. 4 bed dorms are around AU$30 per night and a private double room is between AU$70-$80 per night ($35-$40 per person).
Hotels aren’t always great when it comes to budget travel but if you subscribe to hotel websites, they can often get discounts. You can save £25 on your next booking by clicking my link on your next hotel stay.
Camping & Camper-vans are another option for budget accommodation with pros and cons. There are many free campsites across Australia that have limited or no facilities but there are also campsites that charge a small fee in exchange for use of communal shower and kitchen facilities.
Working for Accommodation is hit and miss in my opinion. I have seen job advertisements for a 20 hour per week job in exchange for free accommodation and when minimum wage is $17.70 this is only beneficial when the accommodation would cost over $350 a week. This in my opinion is not worth it but if you could work one day per week for free accommodation then I would recommend it.
Food & Drink
Travelling is different to holidaying in lots of ways but one of the main ones in my opinion is choosing where/what to eat and drink. On holiday, I often budget to eat out at restaurants a lot or choose inclusive packages. When I am travelling long-term, I can’t have the same lifestyle that I would on holiday or I would run out of money really quickly.
Australia has many free BBQs in public places which are so fun to take advantage of. You can pick up a BBQ Pack (4 burgers, 8 hotdogs) for $8 and you’re sorted! Doing things like this can keep the cost down and be entertaining.
Hostels have fully equipped kitchen (though you’re surprisingly hard pressed to find one with an oven – if you know of any let me know) with fridges and cupboards where you can store your food items. Using farmers markets for fruit & veg is often more cost effective than supermarkets so take advantage.
After 6 weeks of being in Australia we bought a car. We were about to start farm work and it seemed to be the best option. You are more hireable on a farm with your own transport and the country just opened up for us.
Lots of people hire a car or camper van for specific lengths of time and sometimes you can get a good deal. You can use Compare & Choose to find deals comparing different companies looking at price, locations of pick up and drop off and the dates you’re looking at.
If you’re in a city, there’s not a need for your own transport. I know that in NSW and QLD they have a transport card similar to London’s Oyster Card where you tap on & tap off for your journey. It is a prepaid travel card that you can use on most trams, trains, buses & ferries. The NSW has the Opal Card & QLD has the GoCard.
You’re in Australia and just because you are trying to budget travel doesn’t mean that you don’t want to go on days out or adventures.
If there is a larger group of people then you can often get discounts on entry so make sure you research before you visit and try to go on the same day as friends & book together.
If you want to hire surf boards, paddle boards or kayaks, many hostels let you hire them using your passport as a deposit so don’t wait until you’re at the beach or you could be paying $15 per hour. Planning ahead of time helps a lot when budget travelling.
Currently I have only visited places across New South Wales & Queensland so I only have a perspective on locations across these two states. Cities are more expensive than towns, that is to be expected, however you can find more savings in cities.
On a Sunday, Sydney has discounted public transport where all day you only have to pay a flat rate of $2.80 for travel including ferries, buses, trains & trams. On the ferry to Manly Beach you can expect to pay $9.80 each way on the fast ferry (20 minute trip) but choose the slower ferry (30 minute trip) and it is only $1! Sydney is the most expensive place that we have visited so far and because we didn’t want to work there, we quickly moved on.
Towns such as Port Macquarie & Coffs Harbour that are less well known are cheaper in bars, restaurants & even supermarkets. By spending time is lesser explored locations, you can save more money. Even accommodation is significantly cheaper.
Across Queensland you can use your GoCard to get discounted public transport journeys. Brisbane is cheaper than Sydney but you are still in a city so expect to pay city prices.
Surfers Paradise and Noosa are beach towns and beautiful. I find that if you want to eat out in places like this, lunch time is the best as you can get amazing savings. Laguna Jacks in Noosa have a good sized $10 burger & chips lunch time special that if you ordered at dinner time would cost twice as much.
How have you saved money whilst travelling Australia?