Traveling Australia on a Budget
If Australia is on your travel destination bucket list, then we’re right there with you! This week Destination NSW is helping us out with a guest post that has a ton of great tips for traveling Australia on a budget. So if you’re looking for tips on van rentals/hires, driving, public transportation, camping, budget lodging, food, drinks, SIMs, WiFi, and of course things to do and see in Australia, then keep on reading!
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This post is contributed by Destination NSW.
Australia is the 6th largest country in the world which has a similar land mass to the United States. With this in mind, it can be difficult to choose where to go and what to see, especially if you are confined by a budget.
So, depending on the duration of your stay it might be a good idea to pick a specific region of Australia when planning your holiday, like Melbourne, the East Coast, or Western Australia. As Australia has little competition with goods and services in comparison to many continents around the world, there are generally higher taxes. So here are a few money saving tips and tricks when travelling around Australia on a budget.
Where to Stay While Visiting Australia
Hostels in Australia
Australia has a great backpacking culture, and with it, an extensive network of hostels to cater! Hostels around Australia are always located around the central landmarks and natural attractions like beaches. You can book a bed in a decent hostel for as little as $20 a night.
Airbnb in Australia
Airbnb, a home sharing service is more popular than ever in Australia. With more than 60,000 properties listed nationwide, you can easily snatch up a bargain of a room for your travel group. And don’t forget to get your friends to sign up through your referral link and you’ll both earn Airbnb credits!
Free Campsites in Australia
Australia is blessed with so many breathtaking natural landscapes, that campsites are literally everywhere. Depending on the time of the year and the location of the campsite, some destinations charge a fee. However, there are many beautiful and free camping sites around Australia for you to park at for the night.
Trusted House Sitters has allowed us to travel the world on a budget, but more importantly given us an opportunity to make new friends and have cute and cuddly companions along the way. Sign up and start your profile to find your next great adventure in Australia!
How to Get Around Australia
Flying in Australia
Thankfully, in recent years the prices of air travel have dropped, as originally there was an oligopoly between Virgin and Qantas, making competition low and air fares high!
Nowadays, there are a number of spin-off budget airlines, including Tiger Airways, Rex Airlines, Jetstar and JetGo. These discount airlines offer flight deals, for example with Jetstar’s Friday Frenzy you can snap up regularly priced $150 AUD tickets for as little as $39 AUD!
Plus, if your flying to Australia from Canada you may be able to save money and see more of Australia with the Qantas Explorer Pass.
In general, when searching for flights be sure to book directly through the airline to ensure the cheapest price possible. You can find which airline is offering the cheapest flights through apps and websites such as Skyscanner or Google Flights.
Whether you’re flying to/from Australia or within the country, be sure to get Priority Pass and get airport lounge access. You’ll enjoy a quiet work area with comfortable seating, fast Wi-Fi, snacks, beverages, and sometimes even showers and sleeping pods!
Driving in Australia
When it comes to driving, fuel in Australia can be rather expensive, especially on the weekends. Be sure to fuel up during the middle of the week and try and walk or ride bikes as much as possible.
Acquiring a vehicle for travel can be easy. If you are doing a shorter trip e.g. a few weeks, your best option is to hire a motorhome or campervan from a company like the gregariously decorated Wicked Campers, Britz, or the green and purple JUCY vans. For a longer-term option, e.g. if you are travelling for the year, you might consider purchasing a motorhome in Australia. This might be a better option, as you can then sell the campervan at the end of your trip.
Public Transport in Australia
Each region in Australia has their own public transportation network. For example, Melbourne city has an extensive tram line established to cater to their large population, but a smaller rural town will have much less frequent bus services.
For New South Wales, you can look up bus, tram, light rail and train timetables at Transport NSW.
If you are staying around Sydney, be sure to invest in an Opal Card. Similar to the UK’s Oyster Card, an Opal Card will get you from A to B relatively cheaply. So, be sure to check schedules and ticket prices before you travel and forgo spending big bucks on your transport.
How to Save Money on Food in Australia
Grocery Shopping in Australia
Australia’s two largest grocery chains, Coles and Woolworths offer fuel discounts when you spend over $30 AUD. Plus, at their associated bottle stores you can find specials on alcohol, like a bottle of wine for only $10 AUD! For maximum everyday grocery savings look for discount grocery stores, like Aldi or Kaufland (coming in 2019).
Use Free Barbecues in Australia
All around Australia at local parks, gardens, beaches and communal areas, there are electric barbecues available to the public for use, free of charge!
Cheap Drinks in Australia
The Happiest Hour App
Happy hour is the best time of day, wherever you are. The Happiest Hour is an app used throughout Australia to find which pubs are having drink deals near you. You can generally snap up a schooner for about $4 AUD and a glass of wine for $5 AUD.
Don’t Drink at Venues
Liquor stores in Australia are very cheap compared to pubs, clubs and bars. So buy your own slab (24 pack) and head to a scenic area for some drinks with friends. Whilst a fair few beaches and parks prohibit alcohol, there are many nice places where you can drink alcohol and enjoy some beverages with your mates for a cheaper price then going out to the pub.
BYO Restaurants in Australia
Many restaurants and dining venues around Australia are BYO (bring your own). So if you are after a night out, bring your bottle of wine and drink it at the restaurant. The most you will be charged is a corkage fee, which will be around $3 a head.
Things To Do in Australia on a Budget
All along the coast of Australia are some of the world's most beautiful beaches, from world famous Bondi Beach to more exclusive hidden sanctuaries along the East Coast. By spending most of your day enjoying the sun and the sand, you will save exorbitant amounts of money on entertainment, especially if you are travelling with kids. But remember the Australian sun is powerful, so sunblock and cover ups are a worthwhile investment!
Bushwalking/Hiking in Australia
Australia is home to many stunning and well preserved National Parks and natural wonders. Look up a National Park near where you are staying and head out for the day to see wildlife, waterfalls, incredible landscapes, native bushlands and enjoy a challenging hike through the Australian bush.
Swimming in Australia
Even near the sea, Australia is swarming with freshwater swimming holes. From rivers to lakes, there is no shortage of water in Australia. Enjoy the local rivers, but be aware of currents and never swim alone. If you are a keen angler, you should also throw a fishing line into the Australian waters, and try and catch yourself some dinner!
Free Walking Tours in Australia
Especially in central business districts like Melbourne and Sydney, you will find free walking tours everywhere! Walking tours are a fun and informative way to learn about the local history of the areas you are travelling through and will give you insight into Australian culture.
Local Farmers’ Markets in Australia
Whether you are in the city or country, there are local markets to be found everywhere. Farmers’ markets are a wonderful way for communities to express their local talent and flavours, and they are also a wonderful place to snap up a bargain!
Staying Connected in Australia
Cheap SIM Cards in Australia
When travelling around Australia, communication can be extremely cheap, with some SIM cards costing only $1 AUD, and regular prepaid credit costing only $30 AUD a month. This will get you calls and texts, and you can buy data packages on top of that if you will be without WiFi.
How to Get Free WiFi in Australia
Australia has many free WiFi spots, including McDonalds, shopping malls, airports, most hostels, Airbnbs and hotels. Not to mention Telstra phone booths have free WiFi too. You will rarely be without WiFi around Australia’s capital cities and city districts!