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How To Travel To Australia on a Budget

If you are intending to travel in Australia on a budget, this post is for you.

I hate to shatter your dreams of endless Great Barrier Reef scuba dives and glasses of champagne whilst watching an Uluru sunset because Australia is a little on the expensive side. But this post sharing tips Australia budget travel tips will help.

Australia is a huge country with a small population, which means a lack of competition. Our government doesn’t mind slapping on high taxes, especially when it comes to those finer things in life we enjoy, like a cold beer at a nice pub.

They don’t mind a few rules and fines too!

Recently we wrote about the high cost of travel in Australia which caused a little bit of a stir. One reader even suggested we leave HIS country (Psst, it’s our country too – born and bred).

It’s no secret Oz is expensive, but when you say it out loud some people take it personally.

So today we hope to help you lower your costs on your trip down under.

Travel to Australia on a budget is still possible and today that is our focus.

If you follow our tips, you will close up that hole that travel to Australia can create in your wallet AND have an awesome time.

How to Travel in Australia on a Budget

Firstly, let’s put Australia into perspective and why you need to think about what you hope to see and do when you visit Australia.

Many travelers disregard the actual size of Australia and it’s landscape until they arrive, and end up regretting the choices they made in the planning stage.

Australia is the sixth biggest country in the world and about the same size as mainland USA. So, considering the country is so vast, the problem becomes how to visit Australia and where to visit?

Think about how much time you have and then make a list of your must-see places in Australia and plan accordingly.

If you only have one week and you’re on a budget, it would be best to focus on one or two regions. You don’t want to be traveling from Sydney to Perth then back to Cairns. You and your bank balance will be wiped out.

If you have three or four weeks, check out our 3-week itinerary for Australia which has detailed tips on where to go and what to see and do.

But, if you have an extended period of time, more than one month, you’ll have more flexibility and strategies you can use. Let’s dive in.

GETTING AROUND AUSTRALIA

Flying around Australia

Once you get here, Australia is the land of long distances and for so long we only had two airlines, Qantas and Virgin, so there was a lack of competition and prices were high.

Thankfully, air travel is getting more competitive and cheaper.

Tiger Airways has cheap domestic flights within Australia, and after a few teething issues in their early days like late departures and maintenance, they’ve scaled back their number of flights and are now doing much better.

Virgin and Jetstar are the two other main domestic carriers to consider.

Jetstar has a Friday Frenzy deal where you can snap up a flight sometimes for as low as $19. The flight route changes each week and the competition is fierce, though.

Rex Airline has a backpacker pass available only to international travellers, which gives you one or two months of unlimited Rex air travel. Rex flies to regional areas such as Broken Hill, Kangaroo Island, King Island and Coober Pedy.

When searching for flight deals in Australia we always start with Skyscanner which is a comparison website that searches thousands of flights. Once you find your best deal, you book directly through the airline or agent (no extra fees).

Download the new Skyscanner App, which makes it easier for you to find the best travel deals. It’s an all in one flights, hotel and car hire search engine app!

Also, read our in-depth post 21 ways to find cheap flights online for extra tips!

Whilst we’re on the subject of flights, if there are three or more of you traveling to an airport, it will probably be cheaper to share a taxi than the train link.

Driving around Australia

Driving the Savannah Way in Queensland, Australia
Driving the Savannah Way in Queensland

Fuel is expensive and the price will vary from state to state and region to region. Currently, in the Northern Territory we are paying up to $2 per litre for diesel, but you will pay less on the coast.

If you’re driving around Australia long-term fill your car with friends instead and split the costs.

According to MotorMouth Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to top up on fuel. Avoid buying it on the weekends, especially if a public holiday!

Check Coles and Woolworths supermarket receipts (dockets). If you spend a certain amount, you’ll get fuel discount coupons, which will save you from 4 – 8 cents a litre. This can add up especially when driving often and long distances.

FUEL SAVING TIPS:

  • Remove excess weight from your vehicle to increase your fuel economy.
  • Stay in central locations where you can walk to places and don’t have to rely on your car constantly.
  • Plan your routes – don’t back track on long drives and avoid congested areas in big cities.
  • Use air conditioning sparingly in the summer.
  • Maintain your vehicle – get it serviced and check that your tyres are at the right pressure.
  • Drive at a steady pace and use the right gears.

Car Rental in Australia

RentalCars.com is our favorite site for searching rental cars. They compare all the major car rental sites at once to find your best deal. Just remember, one-way drop offs usually incur a fee so try and plan your flights and trip so that your driving loops back to your original pick-up destination.

Want a campervan? Check out Relocation rentals where you can rent a campervan for as little as $1 a day. You’re given the vehicle, the route, a time frame and sometimes fuel allowance. Basically you are getting a vehicle really cheap to be the delivery guy.

Juicy are popular campervans to rent. We’ve been seeing these bright green vehicles all over Australia. If the backpackers are using them in droves they must be good value.

For families and larger campervans check out BritzMauiApollo Campers who have a large range of inventory.

Outdoorsy RV rental

New to the market in Australia is Outdoorsy.

It’s the largest & most trusted caravan, campervan and motorhome hire marketplace on the planet.

Basically, it’s the Airbnb of the motorhome world! They have a range of motorhomes and campervans from vintage campers to modern trailers. Plus, they come with up to $1M in insurance coverage.

You can check out their campervan rental options here. 

Driving Your Own Vehicle in Australia

Consider buying a car if you intend on being in Australia for a long time. You could sell it at the end of your trip and reclaim some of your initial outlay.

Consider a camper trailer like ours below or a caravan, especially for long-term family travel in Australia. It’s a big country, so having a home on wheels is a more economical option.

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