There’s no denying it, Australia is an expensive place to travel to. Speak to the locals and you’ll discover its an expensive place to live too, even if you do have full time employment there. One thing that has never changed is the appeal of an Australian travel adventure. Around 6 million tourists visit every year, a huge amount considering the population of Australia is only 22.7 million.
So why is Australia so expensive? Well for one thing their economy has been booming for years now. The mining sector especially has created massive exports which have kept the economy growing while much of the rest of the world suffered an economic downturn. It’s also expensive due to infrastructure. Small, largely populated countries like the United Kingdom and Japan enjoy a vast infrastructure of roads and railways to transport everyday products like groceries. While Australia’s infrastructure spans thousands upon thousands of miles.
Never fear there are ways to make your money go further in Australia so we’ve taken a look at some of the best ways to budget yourself and be prepared for the higher prices you’ll find everywhere.
Stay in a big hostel
Australia is well set up for tourists and even those on a budget too. Cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane all have an abundance of accommodation options but I’d highly recommend going for a hostel. Unlike hostels in other parts of the world, Australian ones are a cut above the rest and don’t worry its not all dorm rooms either. The larger they come the cheaper the rooms and you can get a decent private room for less than a dodgy budget hotel. They also offer a great chance to meet people on the same budget as you and together you can save money by sharing taxis and group bookings on excursions. I can recommend the appropriately named “Big Hostel” in Sydney.
How to reduce food and drink costs in Australia
There’s one thing you can’t avoid at least 3 times a day and that’s food. Australia’s food prices might seem extortionate compared to countries in Asia but there are ways you can save a few cents. One of the easiest ways is to cook yourself. You’ll find its a lot cheaper to buy bulk groceries and store them at your hostel, breakfast is usually included and if possible it’s worth heading back for one other meal. In my experience it’s easier to do that in the evening so you have the whole day free for sightseeing and lunch out somewhere. Dinner is usually more expensive out than lunch would be too and you can always head back out on the town after you’ve eaten. Try and avoid expensive meats and eat more pasta, rice and noodle based dishes if you can. These ingredients are cheap to buy in bulk and will give you lots of energy for your nights out.
Tuesdays are the days you want to splash out as most restaurants, cinemas and cafes have special deals on. You’ll often find set meals for as little as $10 and movie tickets at half price. So if you’re looking for an evening out I’d highly recommend you make it a Tuesday!
Saving money on transport in Australia
If you’re looking at getting around by public transport then it’s worth getting a tourist pass or longer term travel pass that covers your entire stay. There’s also a free tourist bus in Sydney that loops around some of the major sights and is a great way to get about and save some money. Look out for the 555 every 10 minutes from Central Station to Circular Quay, along George Street and Elizabeth Street. It runs from 9.30am to 3.30pm on weekdays, except Thursday when it runs until 9pm, and 9.30am to 6pm on weekends.
If you’re looking to hire a car and do a major road trip I would actually strongly advise looking in to purchasing a car instead. There’s lots of decent second hand V8 cars, often big estate cars that you can get for around $2000 – $3000. This may seem a lot of money but remember you can pretty easily sell the car again when you’ve finished you’re trip. We did this and bought a car for $2,300 AUD. We covered more than 5,000 km over 3 weeks and sold the car thanks to some well places posters on free bulletin boards outside shops. We sold it for $1,700 so our 5,000 km road trip cost us $600, much cheaper than hiring a car. Of course you run the risk of not being able to sell the vehicle but we’ve heard many success stories of doing this. Just be sure to pick a car you know you’ll be able to sell. Nothing too old and shabby. You can use sites like Gumtree and Craiglist to help advertise your car too.
The price of fuel in Australia is something of an oddity, at least to a British guy like me. The price fluctuates during the week with the most expensive days being Friday and Saturday. The cheapest is around Wednesday, presumably due to demand. So be sure to plan ahead and fill up your car on the cheapest day.
Compare the cost of living
You can use this handy cost of living comparison tool to see how how Australian cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane compare to other cities from around the world. You can even compare by categories like nights out, shopping and transportation. See how your nearest city compares.