With stunning scenery ranging from forests and mountains to pristine white sand beaches, Australia boasts a plethora of attractions, making it the favorite destination for tourists from all over the world. Relax with a craft cocktail on an island beach resort, hike through lush rainforests, enjoy the exotic greens and blues, or the urban buzz of the vibrant metropolitan cities.
But, when you have to travel on a budget, Australia can be an expensive affair. It’s primarily because Australia is a large country with a comparatively small population and the competition in every aspect is very less. Thanks to which, the government taxes heavily on most of the products and services.
When I first traveled to Australia a few years ago, I was oblivious to this fact and so I underestimated the entire travel expenses. But learning from the previous trip, I traveled to Australia again last year and realized that it’s very easy to travel and live in Australia without having to spend a lot of money. Let me share a few of my secrets and show you a few ways how to travel in Australia on a tight budget.
Australia isn’t a cheap place by any means, especially when it comes to staying for a couple of weeks. From beautiful Australian resorts to B&Bs, hotels, and hostels, the country has a variety of options to choose from.
We usually like to spend more on activities than on accommodation or transportation, so we had to be very selective. We spent most nights in hostels and some in hotels and Couchsurfing homes.
Since we had a mix of stay options, the average accommodation cost per night:
Hostel: Dorm rooms range between USD 15 – 25 while private rooms can go up to USD 60
Hotels: Budget hotels cost around USD 50 while some larger chain hotels will cost around USD 75 with breakfast per person
Our quick tips:
- Hostel stays are highly recommended because they allow you to meet fellow-backpackers and learn from their experience
- Stay with locals. Couchsurfing is very common in Australia and I have stayed in a few destinations free of cost, with getting so much of knowledge in return.
- Locally run guesthouses are the cheapest. We haven’t tried them but it sounds like a new experience to have.
- Camp on the beach for a couple of nights. It’s absolutely safe and the most beautiful experience to look at a million stars and listen to the sound of the waves while you fall asleep.
Travel like a local
Transportation expenses are another set of huge expenses on any trip and Australia is no different. The best way would be to travel like the locals – by public buses and trains, at least in the major cities. Outside these cities, there is very little access to public transportation. Especially on the West coast, it is often cheaper to fly than get a bus.
Our quick tips:
- Walk and explore every city.
- Rent Bicycles and tricycles: USD 10-15 an hour
- Some cities like Sydney and Melbourne have free shuttle and tram services.
- Don’t bother booking an Uber either. Use public buses and trains on the East Coast at least.
- US-based Greyhound bus transportation company is active in major regions of Australia and you should use it often. Also, there is a backpacker bus company in Australia called the Oz Experience. It majorly operates on the East Coast and the central regions of Australia.
- Skip renting a car. The country is huge and it’s impossible to cover it by driving.
- You can hitch a ride with other backpackers using sites like Gumtree and Jayride.
- Flying is sometimes the best option as Australia is a vast country. Since there is low competition in the aviation sector, domestic flights are usually expensive. But, in my experience, they are still cheaper and of course faster than many other transportation modes
Food – yet another recurring expense to keep in mind. There are tons of ways to reduce food-related expenses and limiting those luxury meals to 2-3 times during your visit would be a great way to do so.
Our quick tips:
- Cook your meals: As eating in any local joint is not very cheap, the best way to curb your expenses is to cook the majority of your meals.
- Eat out only when you have full day activities planned. A good heavy meal can be anywhere between USD 10-15
- Local alcohol like Goon and Cascade Beer are the cheapest options. Recommended!
Probably the most important aspect of the trip and ideally the one on which one would like to spend the most.
Our quick tips:
- Australia has plenty of free tourist attractions. A majority of botanical gardens and parklands are free entry. Museums and government-owned attractions like national parks only require small entrance fees.
- Exploring the city, beaches and the jungles comes at no cost.
- Sydney has a free walking tour at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm every day
- Apart from this, you can go explore the unexplored parts of the cities and islands. You can trek into the jungles and have amazingly mesmerizing views at no charge of course. All such adventures have created remarkable memories.
Other suggestions to keep in mind:
- Get a cheap phone plan to explore the cities on your own.
- Book tours as a package as group bookings will give you great discounts.
- Seek out free Internet on various free hotspots available throughout the country.
- Many hostels offer travelers the opportunity to work to get free accommodation. Recommended to further curb your accommodation expenses.
- Try WWOOF – A platform that gives you free accommodation in return for your few hours of work on the farms.
Do you think we missed mentioning any other important details? Or you think, these above mentioned suggestions gave you a lot more insights before you travel to Australia? Do let us know your thought by commenting below.