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How to Travel Australia for Cheap

Uluru - Camping under the stars at Uluru is definitely on my Australia Bucket List

Australia has been on my bucket list for years.  Ever since I can remember I have wanted to go and explore the land ‘Down Under’, to see kangaroos in the wild, cuddle a koala and get lost in the Bush with Crocodile Dundee.  But it never happened, and instead, I ended up focussing my attention on Latin America (so far, at least).  One of the reasons for this is because I learned how expensive Australia is.  While I am backpacking on a budget, Australia seems to be way out of reach, both for the flights to get there and for the cost of living.  However, I’m not ready to give up my dream just yet!  Instead, I asked two fellow travel bloggers who are experts in budget travel in Australia for their top tips on how to save money while backpacking in Australia.

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Backpacking Australia on a Budget

Claire Martin from Claire’s Footsteps has spent most of the last two years travelling around Australia on a budget, and has some great tips for how to get around Australia cheaply, and where to stay when you’re strapped for cash:

How to Save Money Travelling in Australia: Buy a Car

Buying a car in Australia seems like a big expense, rather than a way to cut costs – but if you think of it as an investment, it can help you save a lot in the long run. Public transport in rural Australia is nearly non-existent, so having your own car allows you to do a lot of self-drive trips, rather than take pricey tours. Transport costs are reduced when you split petrol money with friends; once a few of you are on board, you’ll be saving a lot compared to organised tours or hop-on-hop-off bus passes. If you’re in Australia long term, it’s much more economical to buy your own car rather than rent. And provided you keep the car in good condition, you’ll be able to sell it once you’re done; and maybe even make the same amount of money back that you originally paid for the car!  Websites like Gumtree are a useful resource for finding cars to buy, and for selling it again after your trip.  Backpacking Australia Facebook groups can also be a good source to find cars for sale, and to ask general advice from fellow travellers.

Buying a Car in Australia - How to save money Backpacking in Australia. Credit: Claire's Footsteps
Buying a Car in Australia – How to save money Backpacking in Australia. Credit: Claire’s Footsteps

Free Camping

If you’re road tripping around Australia, free camping is a great way to see the best sights without spending a penny. You can use the Wikicamps app to find free campsites and turn on filters to specify what kind of campsite you’re looking for – e.g. one with toilets, one in a scenic location, one with mobile coverage etc.

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Most of these campsites are completely free to use; although some are run by local pubs or roadhouses so it’s courteous to spend a little money at their establishment. And remember to respect both other campers by keeping the noise down and help the environment by clearing up after yourself!

Here are some more tips for backpacking Australia from Claire’s blog.

Tom Stevenson from The Travelling Tom has more tips for saving money on day to day expenses like food, drink, and wi-fi:

Shop in Local Markets

One of the best things about travelling in Australia is the number of markets that are in towns and cities. Almost every major city has a market you can visit to get great value fresh produce. I always found that the prices here were cheaper than what you would pay in supermarkets. This is especially true if you head there just before the end of the day, when the vendors are looking to shift most of their stock. If you visit close to closing time you can pick up some great bargains, saving you quite a lot of money in the long run!

Sydney Opera House by Night - How to save money Backpacking in Australia
Sydney Opera House by Night – How to save money Backpacking in Australia

Buy Wine instead of Beer

As someone who likes beer, it was a bit of a shock to find out how expensive it was in Australia.  A 12 pack of beer could easily cost upwards of $20 AUD and, sometimes, even $30 AUD. As a thrifty backpacker, there was no way I could justify spending that much money on beer! Thankfully, wine is a lot cheaper in Australia than beer. You can pick up a bottle for as little as $4 AUD in some places. It may not be the best wine, but if you’re trying to save money, it will be a lifesaver!

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Use Wi-Fi in Libraries and McDonalds

One of the downsides of travelling around Australia by car is that you will have limited access to wi-fi. Unless you are on a fantastic phone deal from the likes of Optus and Telstra, you won’t be able to access the internet in a lot of places. There is an easy solution to this, though. Almost every library in Australia offers free wi-fi. If you’re passing through a town and spot a library, you can stop for a bit and use their wi-fi at no cost. The same applies to McDonalds, all their restaurants offer free wi-fi, as long as you buy something. Stopping there for a break on your trip is a handy solution to a lack of wi-fi, and you can use the bathroom there too!

You can read Tom’s full Australia backpacking guide on his blog.

After reading these tips, I hope you are more confident about being able to travel and save money Backpacking in Australia.  Australia will never be the cheapest country for backpackers, but under 30s can apply for the working holiday visa, and those who have missed the boat like me can take these steps to make sure our dream trip doesn’t cost the earth.

What do you think, have you been backpacking in Australia?  Do you have any more tips to share?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment below.

If you’re looking for travel insurance for your trip to Australia, get a quote now from World Nomads.

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Tips for Backpacking Australia on a Budget How to Save Money Backpacking Australia on a Budget

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Last updated: September 9, 2020

14 thoughts on “How to Travel Australia for Cheap

  1. Francois - Virevolte says:

    Very helpful tips! I did not know camping was free but I knew Australia is very expensive! Same as buying a car, I think there is no other real option if you are going to visit Australia for few months!
    Thank you

  2. Nicoline says:

    I used to live in Australia, and I can confirm that the country isn’t cheap at all. These are great tips! I often went to some museums as almost all of them are free to enter and many of them have free wifi too. ☺️

    • Claire says:

      Thanks Archie! I think teaching English could be a great way to earn some money while travelling, although maybe not in Australia as most people speak English anyway, and if not there are plenty of native teachers. I know people who have taught in Japan, Korea, China, and even online so it definitely does work in some locations!

  3. Jitaditya says:

    Yes… this is how you save money while travelling. While a lot of people consider travelling to be expensive, actually we can all survive by acting like a local, using public transport, and doing proper research before visiting. Australia seems to be no different in this case.

  4. Indrani says:

    Very helpful tips to save money. I had no idea beer can cost more there not that I am a big fan of beer. It indicates several other items too can cost more. I am glad to know about free wiki camps.

  5. Mansoureh says:

    Great tips. I really want to go to Australia, but I want to go for at least a couple of months and right now, taking two months off is not possible. But when I go, I will use your tip about buying a car. I really want to travel around. maybe I should think about renting a caravan. which way do you recommend?

  6. Danila Caputo says:

    Australia has always been on our bucket list but we still haven’t visited because it can be quite expensive. We never really thought of buying a car to save money, sounds insane but with your tips it sure feels easy!

  7. Milijana says:

    Since I prefer wine than beer, I am fine with the prices in Australia. After all, it would be a sin to miss some of good Aussie wines while in Australia.

    Nice tips; I like the idea of buying car for the road trips on budget.

  8. amit says:

    Some really great tips here, I spent two years backpacking Aus but I was on a working holiday visa so allowed me to work, none the less the budget did get stretched a lot of times – And I do agree with the buying of a car, if you shop around and get in touch with other travelers who bought a car but leaving the country you can pick up some bargains. I see cheap wine was mentioned but no word of goon haha.

  9. Rhonda Albom says:

    Interesting tips. I live in New Zealand, so Australia is close and easy for me to travel to as we have open borders. Some great tips here like freedom camping and buying a vehicle. To save even more money, you could drink water instead of wine.

  10. Jenn and Ed Coleman says:

    Buying essential transportation equipment in county and then reselling it is a great tip. This could work with scooters are bikes as well, depending on your mode of travel. When I was a kid, we took a family trip from Cairns to Sydney. Every night, we would sleep on the bus and everyday we would wake up in a new city. While this was a good way to travel the coast, it wouldn’t and didn’t get us out to the Bush.

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