- Michelle Sole
A thrifty backpackers guide to Australia
Many backpackers are put off of travelling to Australia because of the sheer cost of it. There is no denying that a return flight is going to eat into your budget. Once you've taken that hit there are many ways to be thrifty and make those dollars go as far as possible.
Consider renting a car or buying one if you are in Australia for a longer period of time. Many tourists rent big campervans but these are expensive to rent and cost a lot in fuel. A car gives you a lot more freedom than a bus or plane ticket, both of which can also be expensive. If you can, drop the car in the same location that you picked it up from, as many car rental companies charge premiums of $700 plus for one way rentals - do the sums, you may be better taking a few extra days and paying the fuel to return it to the pick up location.
Shop around at fuel stations. The price of fuel in Australia varies enormously from one station to the next. You can see more than a 10c difference in a single town. If you see somewhere very cheap, fill up so you don't get caught out. This is especially true if you are going to some of the islands as the fuel there can sometimes be nearly twice the price.
Buy a cheap tent and air mattress. There are many cheap and even free campsites across Australia. Just be sure to camp in permitted places, as fines for illegal camping can be hefty. This is also a good way to meet other travellers and locals (and get up close to kangaroos).
Buy a cooking stove and a sauce pan. Eating out in Australia is great, but if you are doing it every night it will cost a fortune. Simple one pot meals can be cooked up quickly and cheaply.
Find a buddy to travel with. Travelling with friends is not only good company, it's also a beneficial when it comes to splitting bills for petrol, groceries and car rental. Australia is massive, so it's also good to have a second driver for those long days on the road.
Get a local sim card. This way you can stay in touch with family and friends cheaply. You can also use your phone as a GPS and use it to research areas of interest.
Take advantage of free opportunities. There are lots of cost free opportunities in Australia. A lot of national parks have free entry and have fantastic walking tracks. Many of the big cities have free museums and tours. Be sure to do your research and ask at local information centres, so you can make the most out of these.
If you can, get a working holiday visa. This will allow you to keep your options open. If you run out of money you can pick up a job and continue without having to return home and start saving to return all over again.
To conclude, you have to weigh up how much you will enjoy your travels if you are counting ever dollar that you spend along the way. You are here now, think of the activities you want to do before you arrive and budget for them accordingly. It will be worth a few months extra work before your trip, so that you don’t leave wishing you could have done more!
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