Going on a road trip in Australia is a dream come true, but it’s something that you definitely have to plan for. Even if you intend to cook your own meals and only camp in free camping spots etc, you’re still going to end up spending quite a bit of money, so budgeting is key. In this article, we’ll bring you through all the things you’ll likely have to pay for (before you set off and during your trip) so you can get an idea of how much you need to have saved. That way you’re in the best possible position to make the most of your Australian adventure!
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Formalities: Visa and plane ticket
In order to enter Australian territory, you must have a visa. There are a few different options available, depending on whether you are a simply a tourist looking to explore the continent, a backpacker hoping to travel and work, or you’re a student.
Here are the 3 most commonly used visa options:
|Working Holiday Visa|
|1 year||$635||This visa is reserved for people 18 to 30 years old (or 35 years old for some countries). It allows you to have an extended holiday in Australia and work here to fund your trip.|
From less than a day (a few minutes or hours) to 4 months
eVisitor subclass 651
|3 months||Free||This visa allows you to go to Australia on holidays, visit friends/family, undergo training or study and conduct short professional research.||1 to 6 days|
|3 months to 5 years||$710||This visa allows you to study in Australia, bring your family members with you, and work limited hours in any sector.||A few weeks|
The first thing to do is to compare different websites and airlines. If you are flexible, don’t hesitate to look at flights on different days as fares vary from day to day.
Good flight comparison websites include Skyscanner, Opodo, Liligo, Edreams or even Kayak. There is an infinite number of them, so you’ll be busy for a while!
A flight from Europe to Australia takes no less than 24 hours. You will have a stopover in one of the following countries: Singapore, India, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia or Thailand. The airlines that commonly operate on these flights are: Qantas, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways.
Be aware that prices are often a rollercoaster ride and change from day to day. You can find a great fare by searching on Monday and the same journey is €300 more expensive the next day…That’s the internet for you.
To avoid this, several solutions exist. You can turn to a travel agency. They will be able to find you the cheapest flights on the market for a small agency fee. A few tips: be flexible (regarding your departure date and airport, as well as on your city of arrival), do your online research in Incognito mode on your browser to avoid cookies, and time your trip for an off-peak time of the year. You should buy your plane ticket at least two months in advance, and on Tuesday or Thursday between 1 and 4 am. Now you have the advice you need to get the best deal!
Average fare for a return flight from London to Sydney: About €1300/person for a 24-hour flight. This rate can easily double depending on the time of year.
Family road trip budget
We recommend that you stay in Sydney (or your arrival city) for 3 or 4 nights and book a hotel or Airbnb. You can look for hotels on Booking.com, and then go directly to the hotel’s website, where you can often find better deals.
For 3 nights Airbnb at York & George: $180/person. The good thing about Airbnb is that you will usually have access to a kitchen, so you don’t have to go out to eat, you can cook for yourself.
After that, it’s time to rent a motorhome and explore the east coast. At the end of your stay, it’s a good idea to book a night in Cairns before your flight home. As an example, for 1 night at the Coral Tree Inn it is $40pp.
Most rental companies are located outside the city centre, near the airport. So you’ll need to use public transport or a taxi to get there.
The main rental agencies (which you will obviously find in Cairns) are: Britz, Apollo Campervans, Jucy Rentals (5% off via this link) and Cruisin Motorhome.
The price will vary depending on a number of factors: the type of vehicle chosen (number of seats, facilities such as shower and toilet, range, season, length of rental, booking deadlines, etc).
The average price of a daily rental (in October/November) for a 4 person motorhome (2 adults and 2 children): $100 with Jucy Rentals, $180 with Britz, $300 with Apollo Campervans and with Cruisin Motorhome. On average, you will have to pay no less than $200/day for a rental in the spring.
To help you further in your search, see our article dedicated to motorhome rental in Sydney.
Daily expenses (fuel, activities, extras)
These expenses are quite subjective, everything will depend on you and your desires, as well as your route. Nevertheless, we will try to give you an idea of the various expenses.
A trip from Sydney to Cairns is 2415km. The current price of petrol is between $1.80 and $2.20 (you’ll find higher prices the further away you are from civilisation and the closer you are to the bush).
Assuming the average price per litre is $1.80, and you drive 120km/day for 30 days. You will then spend $210/day. This is the maximum budget you could reach during your road trip.
Expect to spend 120$ to 240$ on meals out (1 to 2 dinners at a restaurant per week for four people with an average price of 30$pp).
Outings and activities
In order to plan ahead and enjoy yourself, we advise you to budget $1000 to 1500/person. The coast is full of activities and outings of all kinds: boat/yacht trips, jet skiing, parachuting, seaplane or helicopter flights, scuba diving, trips to the Whitsundays, surfing lessons, fishing trips and much more.
4WD road trip budget
Plan the same budget as the one above.
Allow between 2$ and 3$ for insurance/day.
Generally speaking, 0$ if your vehicle has been checked before your road trip (remember to do a check-up, it is important). In case you break down, prices are very random depending on the origin of the problem.
Outings and activities
As mentioned, we advise you to stretch your budget as far as possible and to allow a minimum of $1000 for this unforgettable road trip. It is better to have a little more money on hand just in case and not to deprive yourself.
If you don’t mind sleeping in a free camp then you are already sure to save money on this point! We advise you to download the WikiCamps Australia application (8€). It will allow you to know all the campsites and sleeping areas where you are.
If you eat only home-cooked meals, you should expect to pay an average of $10/day/person or $70/week. For a restaurant meal/week, add an average of $50 and for fast food about $20.
Excursions and activities
The East Coast is full of incredible and unmissable activities! As we have budgeted for this, you don’t have to choose which ones you like best… you can try them all! To get the best rates, try to book in advance on the Internet or to go directly to the agency (the day before or the day of the tour). With this second option, of course you are taking some risks: high rates and/or unavailability (especially during the high season).
Here is a list of the main activities you should not miss:
The prices below are per person and may vary according to seasonality.
- Blue Mountains (abseiling day or canyoning): from $92/person.
- Fraser Island (2 day coach tour): $400/person.
- Whitsunday Island (2 day cruise from Airlie Beach): from $280/person.
- Airlie Beach SkyDive: from $230/person. Additonnal fees for photos + video.
- Great Barrier Reef Snorkelling and/or Diving Day: from $135/person for snorkelling + $7 tax to be paid locally.
- Magnetic Island (Return Ferry Transfer Townsville to Magnetic Island): from $39
For more information & reservations.
- Visit the Billabong Sanctuary in Townsville: $45/person.
- Daintree Rainforest Crocodile Encounter Cruise: $38/person.
For more information & reservations.
Magnetic Island Ferry
There are two options: you can walk to the island as a passenger, or you can take your own vehicle. On foot, the round trip fare is $30/person. With your vehicle, the cost is $216 to $240/person depending on the season.
Magnetic Island Bus Day Pass: $7/person.
Daintree Rainforest Ferry
As for getting to Magnetic Island, you have two options. On foot, the ferry will cost you a modest $4/person. With your own vehicle, the fare is $39/person.