How to travel in Australia cheaply?
We get a lot of questions about our trip in Australia. Obviously you can find a lot of useful informations on various travel blogs. Particularly, our Polish readers were curious about all budget issues. If you read this post, probably you’d like to experience a great aussie adventure, which also will not ruin our wallet. Based on our brief visit in Australia we want to share with you a few tips how to travel cheaply and save few bucks. We hope it will be helpful for you as well!
Our Australian adventure lasted exactly 3 weeks and us 91 USD per day. I must admit that before the arrival to the Down Under we didn’t do homework and certainly we didn’t have the knowledge that we have now. The initial plan assumed flying by cheap Asian airlines to the Gold Coast, renting a camper and finally road trip to Sydney. And yet plans were changed when we found in Malysia a super cheap tickets from Bali to Cairns. What can I say – 5 minutes later and we got on our mailbox cofirmation of the flight;) Plan is just a plan, and we have no problem to change it sometimes!
So how can you “DO” Australia cheaply?
1. Find and grab cheap tickets!
From Poland to Australia is flight to the end of the world. A dozen or so / tens of hours on the plane, with a minimum one stopover. This is not, of course, nothing terrible. Especially, if somebody loves to fly, right? The one disadvantage, it might be only the ticket price. Flying in high season without any sale or error fare, it may be even in the range of one thousand euro. So find some alerts or subscriptions, check different travel websites with great deals as for ex. fly4free, momondo, skyscanner etc. Several times we have seen great deals from Poland to Australia within 600 euro. If you live in Europe you should also consider the option of departure from other European cities, or just find the cheapest option to get to the South-East Asia (choose popular interchange hubs of cheap airlines, for ex. Kuala Lumpur – Air Asia and Denpasar – Jet Star). Sales on tickets to Asia occur much more often than to Australia. Good luck!
2. Rent a camper without one way fee or make relocation.
2 days before departure to Australia from Indonesian Denpasar, we did research hoe to find relocation deal. Have you ever heard about it? That’s awesome option to travel cheaply! So we found great deal on Jucy website and made reservation on 4-berth camper just for 1 AUD daily! (they had only one type of campers). So from the first day we had a mobile house and the best option to travel. Relocation has, however, also disadvantages.
On the other hand, when we were looking for another camper for 2-weeks rental from Brisbane to Sydney, we chose Travellers Autobarn – company without one way fee. So make sure you’ll not pay that as fee (depends on the company) can cost you 150-250 AUD. We know that it’s worth to spend the same amount for fuel, food and other pleasures! So look at the offers like this one!
3. Do not pay extra for extra options.
When you want to do the relocation deal or just rent a camper and you fill online all the necessary fields, you’ll notice a box with additional options.
The most common include: GPS, chairs / tables, tents, prepaid gas bottles, etc. Choice of options obviously depends on the company. Prices are per day, so for eg. you want to rent a camper for 3 weeks so a daily fee for the GPS (around 7 AUD) give you at the end amount of 147 AUD. We met two German girls who paid similar amount. But we can take a GPS with saved map, download the application maps.me with the map of Australia, or eventually even buy any GPS in Asia and sell later on Australian gumtree (and even earn some money;)).
We used the maps.me and despite a few shortcomings, it is one of the most useful applications!
4. Take more friends or find a new over the Internet.
It seems to me that the budget and the optimum is travelling as a foursome. Cost of camper, fuel, food, camping can be shared and at the same time we can not complain about the lack of companionship Of course, I’m sure it must be pretty cool option travelling in a larger group – but then the cost of renting a sufficiently large camper is also much higher, and can be difficult to determine the plans of every traveller 😉 In our opinion vans and campers are the cheapest when travel 2-4 people. You can always take your tent/s and solve the problem of the camper space 😉 As I wrote earlier – we did’t have an exact plan what we gonna do after dropping off our camper in Brisbane. On the way we stopped at the library and placed ad on gumtree that we are willing to join to any camper from Brisbane to Sydney. We introduced ourselves and wrote that on this day we will be in Brisbane and by that date we have to be at the airport in Sydney. We have two weeks and are happy to join the group, which has a similar plan and share all costs. When we checked the mail two days later, we got two proposals from other travellers. Finally, after short e-mail conversation, we decided that we’ll rent a camper again. It works on the opposite way as well. When you have a reserved camper, some free space and the desire to meet new people along with saving some the money – definitely should visit gumtree, put your photo and write a few words about yourself. I guarantee that surely someone will be interested in your offer, and you’ll have a few bucks in your pocket.
5. Do shopping at the supermarkets and cook.
Aldi, Coles, Woolworth – there are markets visited quite often by us for larger shopping. Aldi seems to be the most competitive when it comes to the pasta products, sauces, cans – overall the food, which we do not have to keep in the refrigerator. As for other food products, we liked Coles and Woolworth. Often we used the promotion type 2 for 1 and bought more just in case. Sometimes we had to buy something at a gas station or in a small grocery – just to make you aware, the prices there are adequately higher. If you are curious about food prices, just check with uncle Google.
As a travellers on a budget we tried to avoid eating in pubs or restaurants. We counted that one dinner in restaurant equals food for few days from supermarket. However, we like cooking and actually we were very glad to prepare meals ourselves after dew months in Asia. There is nothing more pleasant than morning scrambled eggs in a park overlooking the ocean, or a night concocting in a total wilderness with a glass of wine. Probably you think that our Australian meals included only eggs, toasted bread, pasta and sauce from a jar 😉 Quite the opposite – we tried new products, which we found on store shelves and varied our meals with vegetables and fruits.
6. Connect to the world.
Internet. We heard a lot of stories how the Internet in Australia is expensive. After arriving in Cairns and the first shopping, we bought a sim card at Telstra network. We wanted to touch with the world, so we called free phone, registered card and loaded it for 10 AUD. What was our surprise when, after checking our Facebook we got a text telling us that our account balance is 0. Our jaws dropped. So we were forced to stop by McDonald’s, where the internet was free but only for half an hour (although in some restaurants a bit longer). Next day I noticed at the checkout great deal with the same network as described above. The condition was: do shopping for more than 30 AUD, and then for additional 1 AUD, you get a sim card supercharged with a value of 30 AUD. And this is what we call a good deal, right? We found out about the details and with the best spent 1 AUD in Australia we went to the camper to register the card. This time we abandoned the option of phone calls and text, and chose only broadband.
In our iphones we had option to activate hotspot thus we had internet throughout the camper, almost everywhere For everyday use, it was enough to be connected until the last day in Australia.
So we recommend checking supermarkets promotions. That was in May/June 2015. It is very possible that they still have the promotion!
On the other hand, when we wanted to carry out some more incriminating internet tasks, we used the public library, which is basically in every city. Desk, chair, nice atmosphere, ability to recharge all batteries. For free.
7. Collect bills with supermarkets and refuel cheaper.
The price of fuel varies by region. Starting journey in Cairns and ending in Sydney we could seen slight differences during refueling. Every time when we did shopping at Coles over 30 AUD, we got a discount 4 cents on fuel at selected stations. Usually, we take any discount codes, promotions, and other with a pinch of salt. Paragon landed in the wallet. Next time we did shopping in Woolworth, and again we got the same discount. We found out that we can total discounts up. It turned and thus save 8 cents per liter. On the first partner station we refueled to full and actually it worked as we spent much less!
Sometimes we checked the indicative price of fuel on the internet. We were aware that the prices of fuel in a big city may be more competitive than at the small station somewhere on countryside… When planned going to total wilderness, we tried to refuel in the city – even as we still had half of fuel tank.
We also learned that the price of the fuel depends on the day of the week. The most expensive is on Wednesdays, and cheapest on Tuesdays;)
8. Sleep for free.
When we rented a camper, we thought it would fall off us for any costs of pay campsites and caravan parks. But several times we paid for them. We certainly didn’t regret the money spent, but rather more we just felt the need to stop somewhere and have a brushup Access to power, hot shower, washing machine and often fantastically equipped kitchen facilities or the Internet. Additionally, we tried to choose brilliant location (usually by the ocean). In other cases, we slept for free. We brought an application wiki camps, set the filter as free nights and every morning we made a decision where we can get. A couple of times the application failed and instead of a night in an interesting place we slept on car parks by petrol stations or on rest areas 😉
Camping in St Lawrence was one of the best free options to spend a night with jumping kangaroos around and an amazing sunset. Second – hidden parking in a side street in Palm Beach near Sydney where we were woken up by a stunning sunrise as on image below…
9. Buy fruits and vegetables from the farmer.
The first time when we went to the supermarket and saw what are the prices for vegetables and fruits… we thought that the whole Australian trip we spend in the company toast bread. No, I am joking. Strolling through the aisles, all the time we were coming back in minds to the Asian market stalls with juicy fruits, shining with colours and flavours. So that time we left supermarket with lemon and a small pack of tomatoes. Quite accidentally we stopped once on the route at the pavilion with fruits and vegetables. All in all it tempted us a plate with an incredibly low price of…Pumpkin! To sum up we didn’t buy pumpkin but instead 3 massive nets of fresh fruits and vegetables. Where? At the farmer’s market for the equivalent of lemon and these 4 small tomatoes…
10. Avoid toll roads.
Most Australian highways is of course free of charge. The problem for you budget may be tolls, especially when you passing large bridges in the city, suburbs and in the center of major cities. The first potential charges appeared before Brisbane. Maps.me application does not have this option, however, we can set route through Google maps and check option: avoid toll roads. Then we save an offline map. It was the same with Sydney. You have to pay there for a single pass through the Harbour Bridge as well parkings in Sydney are damn expensive! Our advice? Leave a camper in Manly and catch the ferry. Following this way, many residents move to work. And what’s more we avoid unnecessary costs, stress, traffic and have the great view from the ferry to Sydney Opera. At every time of day
It may be helpful also to save some graphics from Google, if you get closer to toll areas and do not have access to the Internet.
To sum up, Australia is not so terrible expensive as people use to say. Obviously, after being few months in Asia, in the beginning we are little shocked but we can not go to extremes and only focus on how to save every dollar It worth to gather together some informations about our trip, and maybe even use our or other bloggers tips. It may cause you’ll not lose the whole fortune exploring the land of the bears koala. Everything is definitely a individual matter and depends on our idea, travel style, and many other dimensions.
Have you already bought a ticket? Do some research before departure and enjoy the moment of your travel in Australia! It will be great! 😉
If you have any more tips how to save money regarding travel in Australia on a budget – please, don’t hesitate to write them below in a comment! It will be very useful for other and us! Thank you.