Travelling in Australia travel doesn’t necessarily mean spending a fortune on your trip. Despite the high cost of living, (Australia scores no. 6 of the most expensive countries in the world) there are many ways to reduce expenses and travel on a budget is possible. If you follow a simple step-by-step plan, choose cost-effective ways of getting around and stay in budget-friendly accommodation, you can save a lot of money and travel to Australia for less than 80 dollars a day.
I know it’s easy to make mistakes and choose the wrong things if you don’t research first. I have been travelling around Australia for +14 as a solo traveller. When you go alone, you are bound to spend more, so over the years I’ve learnt many things on how to cut down on the overall cost of travel.
I wrote a list of good things to know and not to do when visiting Australia that will help you avoid many common pitfalls that first time-travellers experience. It will also help you create a realistic budget for travelling to Australia.
How much does it cost to travel to Australia
I often hear “I cannot afford to travel to Australia because it’s too expensive”. It is commonplace and not real. That Australia is an expensive country to live and visit is a fact, but I can tell you that in some respects travel in Australia is as pricey as in Europe.
However, there are a few things that have an impact when budgeting for your Australia Trip. For instance, if you can choose when you travel and are flexible with dates, you can keep travel expenses low and grab the best travel deals. Visiting in the low season means saving money.
In over 14 years of travelling alone in Australia, I have experienced the country in many different ways, from the lowest budget travel in 2004 when I spent around 4 thousand Euro for 10 weeks to the highest cost of the trip in 2013 when the Australian dollar reached the highest exchange rate, that made my travel expenses 30-40% more expensive with over 7,5 thousand Euro for 10 weeks.
Fortunately, the Australian dollar has been dropping considerably over the last months, so for overseas travellers is good and can re-consider Australia as a travel destination for their holidays.
Despite the Australian dollar fluctuation, I have learnt what works and what doesn’t. I have realised that you cannot travel to Australia without a well-thought-out travel plan because if you do, it will quickly drain your budget over time.
Things to know when planning a Budget Trip to Australia
Here is a list of my best travel tips for travelling Australia on a budget that will help you create the itinerary travel plan that works well for you.
How to plan your Australia Trip the smart way
It all starts with proper travel planning. I cannot stop emphasising the importance of having a good plan, which is crucial for a successful trip. It is not only for”making the most of your time”, but first and foremost regarding saving money on all those things that suck.
With proper planning, you can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars on your Australian Holidays.
- Australia is a remote country not for last-minute decisions
Basically, for every trip to Australia means flying from another part of the world, therefore finding a cheap flight to Australia should be the primary goal of every savvy traveller. While Skyscanner and Google.com/flights/ are great planning tools for finding cheap flights you can use the incognito version on your browser to avoid higher flight rates linked to a browser with a disclosed location. Check out this page with tips on how to strike a flight deal.
- Make sure you know the best time of the year to travel to Australia
I have been travelling throughout the year. March to May and Sept to November are the best months for visiting Australia. These months are in the off-season, which means there are no crowds with warm weather and it’s cheaper than on another period of the year. Travel to Australia off-season will save at least 20-30% on the airfare and also on all main travelling expenses.
- Make an itinerary plan that works well for you.
To create a travel plan that matches your wants, needs, interests, style and budget, it requires time. It is why I have created many free resources and a guidebook: hands down the best travel book for Australia that you can find online.
- Travel distances have an impact on your Australia Trip
Often distances are underestimated, for obvious reasons. It’s not easy to evaluate how much time it takes to get from A to B regarding times, effort and money. That’s why I have written a guide-book with a full section about it. On this post, you can read more about the importance of knowing driving distances and rules in Australia. And why and how you should break down your trip in segments to best suit your needs.
Prefer short road trips and consider flying for distances over 1000 km. Hire a car or a camper van for longer time and travel in a loop back to your starting point, by doing so you avoid paying for an additional fee for dropping off your car at a different location.
Tip: If you only have two weeks, stick to one area of Australia only. Build your itinerary around two main Australian cities and explore places in that area.
- Plan and Book early all your domestic flights
If you book early, you can fly for less than a hundred dollars from Sydney to Melbourne and most cities. If you miss out on the flight deals and wait till the very last minute, you may end up paying three to four times the regular flight price. Jetstar is one of the best Australian airlines that offers excellent value discounted flights every week. Sign up for the Friday Frenzy and get email alerts with the best deals.
Domestic flight deals in Australia are released 3-4 months ahead, so plan your online search accordingly.
Tips for saving money on accommodation in Austalia
After the initial cost of going to Australia and getting around, the significant expense is accommodation. But where do you stay on the cheap in Australia? Forget hotels, they are way too expensive, especially if you plan a more extended trip. The average hotel’s rates are between 160 to 250 per night for a double room in a three to a four-star hotel. Bed and breakfast rooms cost around 120 to 150 AUD, and the cheapest way is to stay in Australian hostels.
On the Rocky Travel Blog, you can find my guide to hostel accommodation. They are less expensive than hostels in Europe and are of excellent value.
YHA hostels are in my opinion the best hostels I have ever stayed. You can book private rooms starting from 60 to 70 AUD with shared bathroom to 80 to 100 AUD with private bath. Shared dorms are available from 20 to 30 dollars.
Private accommodation in Australia is reasonable and is the most valuable option I would consider if you travel alone and like to stay in a real home with the locals. The rates vary a lot depending on the location, the type of house or apartment and the facilities offered. On average the cost is close to a private room in a hostel, but you can find places for 200-250 dollars a night if these are beachfront locations and villas with pool and more amenities.
Tips for budget accommodation in Australia
To recap here are some great tips on choosing budget-friendly accommodation in Australia:
- Save on lodging by staying in hostels
The YHA hostels are what I recommend, good value with excellent facilities, offering double rooms for less than 100 AUD per night. Here are my picks for the best YHA hostels in Australia.
- Stay privately with Airbnb
You can use this link and get 40 AUD off your first booking. In Australia, you will find heaps of great locations for 70-100 AUD per night and the benefits of staying with the locals are unmatched.
- Travelling long-term in Australia
If you plan to go to Australia and stay long-term, then I would try house sitting as this is the cheapest accommodation. I have done this several times.
On this post, you can read about how to get house sits in Australia.
How to save money on long-term travel in Australia
- Camping in Australia maybe not your thing, however being Australia a top destination for camping, you could try it out. For short road trips, you are better off with hiring a car and staying in cabins, or built-in tents. I would recommend hiring a camper van on long-term travel only and make use of the Wikicamps app to locate the best-suited campsites. There are many basic campsites for a small fee, and some are free. An excellent chain for camping lovers is the BIG 4 campsites.
- Eating out in Australia doesn’t have to be expensive.
In cities like Melbourne and Sydney, there are food halls and street markets where you can eat for 10-15 Dollars. In rural areas I would recommend the RSL clubs or Bowling Clubs, they have good meals at reasonable prices. I have written a post about the best places where to eat in Australia on a budget.
- Internet and Mobile phone in Australia is outrageously expensive!
For Internet I would recommend the 4G Wi-fi von Telstra, plans start from 30 Dollars/3 GB for one month, the 50 Dollars gives you 5 GB to use over unlimited time. Make use of the free wi-fi in cities, Melbourne State Library has the best wi-fi in Australia, but everywhere in public places you can use free wi-fi. Telstra offers the best coverage, but it is the most expensive for mobile plans too. Lebara is another excellent option if you want to use it for international calls also, for 2-3 cent/min you can phone nearly everywhere in the world. Check out this page for more info on the best travel apps for Australia.
- Want help to create your own Australia Itinerary
Without the hassle of wading through tons of information on the internet? I have created a compact guide-book that will help throughout the entire process. It gives you an in-depth knowledge of how to evaluate, choosing and balancing out a time frame with places to visit. You can also get a free chapter and get an overview of what you get with the guide-book.
Saving money tips for day-to-day expenses in Australia
There are three main Australian Supermarkets chains: Woolworths, Coles and IGA. They are all over the country, however, in remote outback areas, there are only local grocery stores. I mostly shop at Woolworths because of their organic food label, Macro Wholefoods.
Discount supermarkets are becoming more popular in Australia, like the German discount supermarket Aldi; I was happy to discover it in Melbourne a few years ago when I picked up a rental car close to Franklin Street, the ideal place for shopping before setting off on a road trip to the Great Ocean Road. Aldi Stores are located mostly in cities, but more stores will open throughout the country.
On this page, you find the Aldi Store locations with new openings. Local fruits and vegetable markets are useful if you want to cook and buy fresh local produce. In cities like Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide there are daily fruit and veggie markets where you can shop at reasonable prices and get the best local produce.
The Cost of Food in Australia and how to save money on meals
You will be stunned to see the prices of bottled water in Oz. The cost of a bottle of water in food stores or supermarkets is 3,5 dollars for 1,5 litre. If you consider that you will be drinking an average of 1-3 bottle/day, it comes to 150-200 dollars/month, which is insane. To save on bottled water buy the home brands from Coles and Woolworths, for less than 1 dollar per bottle. Aldi offers reasonable prices for bottled water too.
Plastic water tanks from 2-10 litres of water are also available from supermarkets, and it’s the best way to save money on water when you go on road trips. As soon as you travel out of cities prices get higher so get all your shopping done in the city. Tap water is okay if it’s filtered and you can refill your bottles. In some hotels/hostels, they offer free filtered drinking water, which is the best way of keeping the cost of water low.
Cheese and all milk products are expensive in Australia. You will not find anything below 8-10 dollars for a small piece of cheese. A scoop of ice cream costs 5 dollars which is ridiculously high.
How expensive is it to eat and drink in Australia eating?
While a meal in a restaurant will cost around 40-70 dollars, you can eat with 10-25 dollars in shopping food malls from a variety of freshly cooked food stalls. Eating at local food markets is of good value. Coffee and cake the average is 8-10 dollars, but I once paid 14 dollars in Perth! Drinks in Australia are costly. For a pint of beer 6-8 dollars, the same for wine 8-10 dollars if you consider that beer and wine are local produce they are overpriced.
Electronics and non-food products
As most electronics brands are from Asia, Europe or the US, everything is exorbitantly expensive. So as a rule don’t buy electronics and if you need a spare part of your camera, computer, or any electronic gear buy an Australian brand which is less expensive. I once needed a memory card for my camera in the Outback I spent 37 dollars on one memory card.
Where to shop for cheap Travel Gear in Australia
For toiletries and all, you may need on your travels try BIG W is an Australian chain of retail shops with a wide choice of non-food items at a lower price. Dollar Sense is another chain of discount stores where you can buy everything you need on the go for low prices. You can also check out websites for coupon codes and get free coupons which entitle you to discounts on products and services.
Conclusion on how to travel on a budget in Australia
Visiting Australia on a budget is possible. Once you know all the critical elements for researching, planning and choosing cost-effective ways of getting around the country you are halfway on the right path. Then it’s up to you how and where you want to save money. You may want to save money on transportation and accommodation and use those savings on tours and activities or the other way round. I hope this guide has shown you the best ways on how to travel to Australia cheaply.
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