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). 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 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 Britz, Maui, Apollo 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. How to travel Australia on a budget Our home on wheels Hot Tip: If you buy a camper trailer or caravan try and resell it in the north or west of the country as you’ll typically get a higher resale price. Sites for buying cars include: Read More: How to travel around Australia – caravan or camper trailer? Getting around by Bus in Australia Research each Australian city for any free public transportation routes. For example, Melbourne and Adelaide have free inner city trams and Sydney has a free CBD shuttle (route 555) which runs every 10 minutes on a loop from Central Station to Circular Quay via Elizabeth and George Streets. Greyhound Australia is a national bus service. We recently experienced them travelling from Airlie Beach to Townsville. I found it comfortable and was an easy ride. The girls enjoyed it and were pretty well behaved, although the aircon was crap. Oz Experience operate like Greyhound with the hop-on-hop-off system and have different passes depending on length of trip and areas covered Premier also has been highly recommended for bus travel in Australia. We highly recommend against getting the bus from Sydney to Perth. It’s a long journey with nothing much in between. We met someone who did it and then tried to tell us Australia was really boring. Go figure! Getting around by Train in Australia If you’re a family and in Sydney on a Sunday, take advantage of Family Funday Sunday – for $2.50 per person, your family can enjoy a great value day out anywhere in Greater Sydney with unlimited travel on all trains, buses, ferries and light rail. Whilst we’re on the subject of Sydney, check out our post: 18 free things to do in Sydney. Long distance train travel can be expensive but you can find rail passes covering the train network across Australia that give you great savings. Rail Passes start at $298. Some great rail journeys in Australia are the Ghan travelling from Adelaide to Darwin, and the Indian Pacific travelling from Sydney to Perth. Great Southern Rail, which operates the Ghan and the Indian Pacific has a number of special backpacker fares and low-season discounts. Where to sleep in Australia If you can time your visit right by staying mid-week, you can really save on accommodation in Australia. Especially avoid the big cities over a weekend if possible. We’re stunned by how much the prices for a bed can rise on the weekend – some places triple. See our in-depth post 18 ways to save money on accommodation. Camping in Australia Australia has so many National Parks and many of them you can camp in for free or a small cost. This will involve bush camping. A night here and there is perfect to help reduce costs. The most popular campsites will have basic amenities – power, toilets, and water. Caravan Parks They are usually clean with fantastic amenities on the beach – the best location in town. Big4 and Top Tourist Parks are the two main players and have all the amenities and are great for families but very pricey especially during peak holiday periods. Cost of powered tent sites in caravan parks depend on number of persons and for families they will charge you per child. Prices start from $35 up to $60 depending on time of season and location. Same goes with powered sites for caravans and camper trailers. Sign up to the Big4 membership and the Top Tourist Park membership for discounts. FREE Camping Free Camping is possible at designated camping sites in many locations. They just don’t have the facilities that paid parks have. Last week we stayed at an awesome free campsite by the river at Gregory Downs in Outback Queensland. Check out for listings. WikiCamps is a great app we’ve just discovered which has a user-generated database of caravan parks and campsites with user reviews on the features. Camping in Australia our FREE campsite at Gregory downs Camping is a great way to meet Australians and for families the best and cheapest way to travel around Australia on a budget. In Sydney, a great option is to camp on Cockatoo Island on the Harbour. Wake up to views of Sydney Harbour Bridge for about $45 a night. Bargain! Staying in Hostels Hostels are another cheaper option. A dorm room on average will be $20 to $30 and a private room around $80- $110. If you are considering a private room then it might make more sense to see if you can get a cheap hotel for around the same price. There are some hostels that are great for families. is a great search and comparison site that pulls data from all the main hostel websites to help you find the cheapest price. We’ve stayed in plenty of YHA hostels as they are usually of a high standard and are better for families. Many have family rooms, if not you can book out an entire 4-6 bed dorm to yourself. We liked the spacious 6-bed dorm we just had to ourselves at Bungalow Bay YHA on Magnetic Island – it came with its own bathroom. Yay! You can also get YHA memberships which give you a 10% discount on accommodation and any tours they offer. Every little bit helps when you travel to Australia. For great views of Sydney Harbour at a third of the price you would pay anywhere else, the Sydney Harbour YHA- The Rocks is definitely the place to stay. Have breakfast on the rooftop with views of the Opera House. Hostels also have common kitchen areas which is great for saving on meal costs! View from Sydney Harbour YHA the Rocks View from Sydney Harbour YHA the Rocks Apartment Rentals We love apartments or home rentals when we travel as a family. It gives us a lovely break from our camper trailer or hostels. It’s a great opportunity for us to all have our own space, catch up on work, do the laundry and cook our own meals in a full kitchen. We need to have that bit of home every now and then. This is the best option for families or two families sharing. It can also work out to be cheaper than hostels if a group of travellers get together and share. Again, depending on the location and time of year prices will vary. And mid-week will be your best bet in the major cities. Some great websites for searching apartments Australia include: AirBnB AirBnB We tried Airbnb when traveling around Australia. As an example, we found an awesome 3-bed apartment in the city of Townsville for $105 per night. Every other apartment we found was at least $250. We regularly check the AirBnB listings in all the major cities from now on! You can start by going here. our AirBnB apartment in Townsville our AirBnB apartment in Townsville Hotels If you’re looking for a low-cost hotel chain, Travelodge and ibis budget hotels are two chains worth checking out. We don’t stay in hotels nearly as much as we used to pre-kids, but below are our favorite search sites we use: – sign up to their rewards program (stay 10 nights get 1 night free) House Sitting or House Swapping The house sitting strategy has not worked for us as our schedules are never planned more than a week in advance so we have little flexibility to book things in advance. And because we have a set route we’re following there is little flexibility in that regard to just change direction and go where the house sit is. Competition is also fierce. But if you are super flexible and can travel where the house sits are rather than find a house sit to suit your plans, then it can work very well for you. For house sitting sites check out: Trusted Housesitters Aussie Housesitters Mind a Home House Carers House swapping is also an option. Try Aussie House Swap or House Swap Holidays. Helpful Tips There is a strategy behind finding the right house sit and beat others to the job. Check out this comprehensive guide on Housesitting to be ahead of the game. Eating Cheap in Australia It’s tough to get cheap food in Australia. The majority of your meals will have to come from your own culinary skills. Be sure to leave room in your budget for the odd meal out as we do have beautiful produce and amazing meals can be found. Don’t miss out on our fresh seafood all around the country. Below are a few tips for getting cheap eats in Australia. Supermarkets Coles and Woolworths are our competing supermarkets whose love for price wars can really benefit you. Cook your own meals and grab supplies for a picnic rather than eating out. In smaller regional areas, you’ll find IGA or Foodworks. I prefer IGA. I find their prices are cheaper and often have great specials. They also support local produce suppliers. Eating out in Australia If you’re going to eat out often, go for breakfast or lunch instead of dinner – prices will be cheaper. RSL’s, Memorial Clubs, Bowling Clubs and Surf Clubs – Almost every town in Australia will have at least one of these clubs that have relative cheap food and drink. Enjoying a cheap lunch at Port Douglas Surf Club Enjoying a cheap lunch at Port Douglas Surf Club Shopping Malls – Hit the food courts in any of the shopping malls for lunch. They typically have cheaper meals. Research restaurants in the area carefully, you might be lucky to find a “children eat free” deal. Some of your accommodation may have coupons. Ask the locals for their picks for eating out. Check the back of your supermarket receipt. You will often find deals for nearby restaurants such as two for one. Australia has lots of takeaway places (take out). You’ll find them in every town and are mostly Asian, Italian, Greek, fish and chips, bakeries or chicken shops. You will find meals much cheaper here than if you were to eat in. Menu Log is a great app for finding takeaway deals. This app tells you what restaurants are nearby and who home delivers. It’s on iPhone and Android. Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Malaysian food is often still the best value. And you cannot go wrong with Chinatown in Sydney and Melbourne. It’s where you’ll find cheaper prices and large servings. Read more: 14 places to eat in Sydney 17 Places to eat in Melbourne Picnics – still one of the best ways to have an economical meal. Take advantage of the beautiful city parks, beaches and foreshores. Lay out a blanket or towel and source your supplies from the supermarket or farmers market and pick up a cheap bottle of wine from the bottle shop! Eating in – of course cooking your own meals with supplies sourced from the supermarket or farmers markets will save you money. We make self-contained accommodation with a full-kitchen a priority on our travels.