A Road Trip In Australia On A Budget? It's Possible!

 

Going from Asia to Australia was quite a shock for our budget. From India to South East Asia was already a small increase for us budget-wise but Australia? Oh my... Of course, we knew it would be much more expensive so we did our research in advance and now after a month long road trip along the East Coast we have some tips on how to save money. A road trip on a budget is definitely possible. Here are some tips on how to travel Australia on a budget.

View from Castle Hill, Townsville.

View from Castle Hill, Townsville.

Car or camper van in Australia?

The first difficult question after deciding to go to Australia for one month. Some people say it's cheaper to rent a camper van. Some swear on a car and hostels and then there are people who say you should buy a car or camper van when going to Australia.

Buying a car was not an option because one month is just too short for that. If you're going for three months or more and your time schedule is flexible then I do think it's the cheaper option. 

What an Australian road trip is all about!

What an Australian road trip is all about!

After reading tons of articles and blogs about choosing between a car or camper van in Australia it became clear to me that a car was the way to go for us; but it all depends on your travel style. If you really want to travel on a shoestring and don't care about electricity, hot showers, limited space or other camper related things, then a camper van will be the best option for you and also the cheaper option. We like a tad more comfort so if we would’ve chosen to travel with a camper van we would’ve probably gone to camping sites with electricity making the whole thing more expensive.

When you know that the more comfortable camping sites cost AUD 30 – 35 per person, renting a camper van becomes more expensive than renting a car and it pretty much evens out with the cost of staying in hostels and Airbnbs. And it did.

Where to stay

We think the best way to really save money is to cook your own food and because you’ll need a kitchen you'll have to stay in either hostels or Airbnbs.

Airbnb in Australia

We checked out the prices of Airbnb in Australia and we found out that it's often cheaper to rent a private double room from Airbnb than a single dorm bed in a hostel. You just have to look for the good ones and be OK with not staying in city centers, which can save you tons of money on parking.

Our Airbnb room in Rockhampton.

Our Airbnb room in Rockhampton.

We had some of the best Airbnb experiences in Australia for AUD 30 to 40 for the both of us. All were private double rooms and sometimes even with private bathroom. We met some really nice Australians and that's what really adds value to our trip. For us, using Airbnb in Australia has been an awesome experience.

Hostels

Sometimes however we couldn't find affordable Airbnb rooms so we had to go with hostels and again, location decides the price. We were able to find some double rooms with shared bathroom for around AUD 50 but we definitely recommend using Airbnb in Australia.

Our hostel room in Airlie Beach: Good but doesn’t beat a nice Airbnb room.

Our hostel room in Airlie Beach: Good but doesn’t beat a nice Airbnb room.

What to eat in Australia

You need to cook or assemble your own food! That's what will save you tons of money. You'll have to go back to basics and eat the same thing for a few days days but who cares, right? We cooked some awesome meals for around AUD 5 each.

How much does food cost in Australia?

In the supermarket we always checked out the discount shelves. Products about to expire are sometimes 50% or even 75% off. You can sometimes even find a good steak, burgers or chicken for a steal if you’re lucky.

Another trick when buying anything, is to compare the prices between the different brands. For drinks, look at the prices per liter and for food and snacks, look out for the price per grams. Don’t be deceived by the big or small price label.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to eat what you find on the beach to stay within your budget…

Don’t worry, you won’t have to eat what you find on the beach to stay within your budget…

The trick is to keep it simple when you plan a meal. Focus on 3 ingredient meals. In hostels and Airbnbs salt, pepper and oil is usually available so you won’t need to buy these. You can, however, buy a few other cheap ingredients that can be used in multiple meals to make them tastier, like tomato paste, garlic, a salad dressing or olives.



Another cool Airbnb: A farm house.

Another cool Airbnb: A farm house.

What to drink in Australia

Coffee

Do you like your coffee in the morning? Sometimes you'll stay in a motel or hostel that has complimentary instant coffee in the room. There's always more than you need but you paid for it, right? Just take the ones you don't use.

Beer

Don't drink beer! It's so expensive and not that good either (if you're used to Belgian beer).

Wine

Wine is surprisingly affordable. We always found a few bottles for AUD 4 or 5 and some were actually decent. Another option is to go for a bag of 4L for AUD 14 but I can't tell you if these are any good as we didn't try them.

How much does fuel cost in Australia?

It’s cheaper than most places in Europe but will still take a big bite out of your budget. One tip I can give you is to go slower. Go 5 or 10 km/h below the speed limit and you will save money over long distances. The time you’ll lose over let’s say 250km is just 10 - 15 minutes. I’d rather save the money!

Conclusion

Accommodation is expensive, even if you go for dorm beds or cheap Airbnbs. Where we saved the most money is definitely food. Our daily average came pretty close to what we spent in some Asian countries like Malaysia and you don’t have to eat rice every day. Be creative and you’ll eat like a king for a steal!

 
Australia, TravelJoris Hermans