Going on a road trip in Australia … A dream that can’t be achieved for free! Before conquering the country of kangaroos, learn about the expenditures you are most likely going to make. It’s not a good idea to go traveling on a whim! Preparing is key to fully enjoy your adventure. In this article, I share my road trip experience in Australia on a 1-month budget. All expenditures my family and I made during the 4-week road trip on the east coast, from Sydney to Cairns. Approximately 4,200km of distance traveled and extraordinary memories engraved on our hearts.
In order to enter the Australian territory, you must have a visa. There are a few options, depending on whether you are a tourist, a backpacker, or you want to settle down in the country. In my case, I applied for the popular Working Holiday visa, which allowed me to travel and work in Australia for a period of one year. It cost me AUD 485. I received the answer about 2 hours after I had made the request. The processing time varies from a few minutes to about a month though. The rest of my family obtained a free tourist visa, which allowed them to stay in the country for 3 months.
– Working Holiday Visa: AUD 485
– Evisitor Visa: Free
Once my visa application was granted, I started looking for an affordable flight ticket. To be completely honest with you, my ticket ended up being slightly more expensive because I left in a hurry to seize an opportunity. So I had booked the flight 3 weeks before taking off.
When looking for a flight, I browsed various websites and flight comparison platforms (such as Skyscanner and Opodo). Understanding the price level as well as the number of flight hours and stopovers, I decided to get quotes from several travel agencies (Travel agencies don’t only offer all-inclusive vacations). You can benefit from their expertise to get great deals for moderate agency fees. That ‘s how I ended up getting my plane ticket for €1250 return to Sydney, a 21-hour flight with only one stopover in Dubai. A night in a hotel for the evening of my arrival was included in the price as well.
If possible, consult a travel agency and quickly seize a good opportunity because prices are constantly changing.
Round Trip with Emirates Airlines (Nice – Dubai – Sydney) + night in hotel: 1936 AUD
Hotels and AirBnB
Our trip started in Sydney, where we spent five days and another day for a tour to the Blue Mountains. We stayed in a hotel room in Darlinghurst for 3 nights and then in an AirBnB apartment in the Potts Point area for 2 nights. By browsing on Booking.com and on Airbnb.com, we were able to get reasonable prices. Then, we picked up our motorhome from the Sydney Motorhomes Agency and hit the road.
- 3 nights hotel in Darlinghurst (Sydney): AUD 190/ person
- 2 nights Airbnb in Potts Point (Sydney): AUD 170/ person
- At the end of our road trip, we booked a night in a hotel in Cairns on the Booking.com website.
- 1 night hotel in Cairns: AUD 47/ person
In order to realize our roadtrip on the East coast, we hired a campervan for 3 weeks (23 days). After using a comparison website for campervan companies, we chose a fully equipped 4-seater for AUD 4789.48. During our trip, we mainly stayed in rest areas because our campervan was fully self-sufficient. To find the most convenient camp spots, we used the WikiCamps app for a one-off payment of $7.99. This app is a real gem for finding the perfect place to spend the night outdoors in a safe environment.
On two occasions, we had to leave our vehicle at a campground for it to be safe while we were going away to Fraser Island and the Whitsunday Islands. It was also an opportunity to recharge the batteries and the water tanks.
- Motorhome Rental: AUD 4789.48
- WikiCamps App: AUD 7.99
- Noosa Campground: AUD 272 (4 nights)
- Airlie Beach Campground: AUD 90 (2 nights)
Tours and activities
During our trip, we obviously accomplished our list of the top things to do on the east coast of Australia. When booking tours, one option is to contact companies directly just the day before or in the morning to get the best rates. However, you risk a tour being booked out, especially in peak season. Instead, we chose to secure our spots by using an online travel agency who listed the best deals.
We did the following tours and activities: (The rates below are per person and may vary according to the season)
- Blue mountains (abseiling + canyoning day): AUD 199
- Fraser Island (3-Day Beach Camp): AUD 460 + scenic flight of the island: AUD 60
- Whitsunday Island (2-day cruise departing from Airlie Beach): AUD 275
- Skydive Airlie Beach: 299 AUD + 35 AUD taxes to be paid on the day of the jump
- Scubadiving on the Great Barrier Reef: 230 AUD + 6,50 AUD (Taxes) + 36 AUD (2 dives)
- Billabong Townsville Tour: AUD 36.50
- Daintree Crocodile Cruise: AUD 25
Ferry to Magnetic Island: AUD 16.50 / person (price may vary depending on your status)
Magnetic Island Bus Day Pass: AUD 7 / person
Ferry to Daintree Rainforest: AUD 27 / vehicle
As in everyday life, we also had to factor in living expenses to have a good time during our trip.
- Gas: AUD 598.30 (the price varies according to more or less touristy places)
- Food: AUD 549.60 (We did a family road trip without really restraining ourselves)
- Going out for food and drinks: 256.75 AUD / person (depending on your personal preferences)
- Unlimited Toll Pass: AUD 75 (one-ff payment for the entire stay)
On our 1-month road trip in a motorhome, we completed 4,184 km from Sydney in the state of New South Wales to Cairns in Queensland.
Updated on the 31/12/2019. Initially published on the 05/10/2018.