Are you planning to travel around Australia soon? The cost of living Down Under can be pretty high, so it’s always good to save money where you can. You’ll figure out your own ways to reduce your expenses during your trip, but in the meantime, we’ve put together these handy tips.
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Save money on your plane ticket
Booking your plane ticket is an important – and expensive – step when preparing for your trip to Australia. Luckily, there are a few tricks that can save you money on your journey.
- Book in advance: Generally speaking, tickets are cheaper when they are reserved six to twelve months before you intend to travel.
- Be flexible: Ticket prices vary depending on the day of the week you travel. Tickets are usually cheaper during the week compared to weekends, and early morning or late evening/night-time flights are cheaper than late morning, afternoon and early evening flights. Avoid school holidays, Bank Holidays etc if you want to save money.
- Fly in the low season: Fewer people fly to Australia during its autumn/winter season (March to August) so tickets are much cheaper compared to high season.
Save on money transfers
To transfer money to Australian dollars without paying huge bank fees, you can use companies that specialise in international money transfer, like Wise or CurrencyFair.
Using one of these companies will allow you to make serious savings, compared to the exchange rates and fees attached to using a bank for the same transfer. Exchange rates go up and down, so in order to save the maximum amount of money should wait for a favourable exchange rate before you do your transfer. You could easily save around €50 (£44) on a transfer of €1000 to €2000.
Get 5 free money transfers with CurrencyFair through our website.
Take out travel insurance
Having comprehensive travel insurance for your trip to Australia is essential. You never know when you could get sick or have an accident, and if that happens, you could be hit with a huge medical bill. The pandemic was proof that you should always expect the unexpected!
It’s sometimes cheaper to sign up for a full year’s coverage rather than going month by month.
Compare travel insurance for the Working Holiday Visa
We’ve compared your options to help you choose the best travel insurance to cover your Working Holiday Visa in Australia, so you can set off on your adventure with peace of mind.
Get the best price on a car
If you’re buying a car in Australia, make your purchase during the low season (March–August). During this time, there aren’t as many backpackers arriving and looking for a vehicle, so prices are lower. During the high season, lots of backpackers will be looking to buy cars, vans and 4WDs, so if you sell your vehicle during this time you might even make a profit. Also think about where you are going to fly into – some cities will have better deals than others!
Read more: Choosing and buying a vehicle
Save on fuel
The price of petrol in Australia varies significantly. In some remote parts of Australia, you’ll find petrol for $2 a litre! In contrast, you’ll find petrol for less than $1/L in some regions and cities. So make sure you fill up your vehicle wherever you can get the cheapest price – even if that means filling a jerry can and bringing it with you!
Also, keep your receipts when shopping at Coles or Woolworths! Participating stations will allow you to earn between 4 and 8c per litre of fuel.
Travel without a car
Travelling around Australia without owning a car is definitely doable, and several alternative modes of transport are available to you.
Carpooling: Many travellers offer lifts to others to reduce fuel costs. You can find people to carpool with in Facebook groups and on dedicated carpooling websites. Normally you will be expected to contribute to the cost of fuel for the trip.
Relocation: Relocation allows you to get from point A to point B quickly and at a lower cost. Most vehicle rental sites offer this option, which consists of transferring a vehicle from one agency to another. Relocation will, in most cases, only cost you the price of gas and a day pass ($1-5).
Cut down your food bills
Groceries are quite expensive in Australia, so food is probably going to make up quite a lot of your daily budget. It is interesting to note that prices in supermarkets can vary throughout the day. It’s cheaper to shop at the end of the day, when you can take advantage of reductions on unsold items like baked goods and fresh produce. Some are reduced by as much as 50%. Also, don’t forget small local producers who sell their produce on the roadside, who operate based on trust. They display their prices, you take what you need and leave money in a box provided for this purpose.
Get a cheaper phone plan
The first thing is to remember unlocking your phone before leaving your country. This will avoid troubles when arriving in Australia. Then, it is time for you to choose a new operator. Way cheaper than its rivals, Aldi Mobile is the Australian low cost company. You will have the opportunity to choose between different offers like “Pay as you go” of some value packs going for $15 to $45.
First things first – remember to check if your phone is unlocked before coming to Australia. Then, choose your mobile network and the plan that best suits you. Aldi Mobile and Amaysim are the cheapest phone networks available. Aldi Mobile uses Telstra coverage, and you can choose between Pay as You Go or their “Value Pack”. Amaysim uses the Optus network, and its coverage isn’t as good in regional Australia as Telstra’s is.
Being independent and having the right equipment will save you a lot of money during your road trip. Having a camper van equipped with a cooker and cooking utensils will save you eating out all the time. A solar shower can also be a good buy if you want to avoid paying for a campsite just to use the shower. Avoid campsites you have to pay for when you can – instead, look for “rest areas” that offer free parking. You can also use the free BBQs that are available in most towns in Australia, and when it’s hot, you can use the free showers that are often found beside beaches.
The second-hand market is huge in Australia. Second-hand shops like Vincent dePaul, Salvation Army, Red Cross and Op shop, are everywhere and will often have everything you need for just a few dollars. Whether you’re looking for camping gear, clothes, or equipment, they are always worth a look. If you prefer to shop online, Gumtree is a good option, as is Facebook Marketplace.
Bargain stores like Target, K-Mart and Big W are also great for saving money. They have all the necessary equipment for travel and road tripping, from cameras to water cans.
Hardware stores can also be great places to find deals, especially when fitting out your vehicle. You can, for example, find scrap wood in stores like Bunnings or Miter 10.
Save on cigarettes
Australia has some of the highest prices for cigarettes in the world. To save money, roll your own cigarettes and buy them in supermarkets as opposed to newsagents and corner shops. You can forget about duty-free stores, as Australian customs law only allows you to bring two packets of cigarettes into the country!
Save on alcohol
Alcohol is also heavily taxed by the Australian government, so many backpackers buy cheap boxed wine, known as goon. 4L of goon will cost you around $10. A drink in a bar will cost you at least $6, so you will save a lot of money this way – even if goon doesn’t exactly taste great. Again, remember to use the promotions at the bottom of your receipts when shopping, as you will be able to find special offers like two bottles of wine for $25 as opposed to $40.
Rent a cheap campervan
There are a few things you should know if you want to save money on renting a campervan in Australia. First of all, avoid renting in small towns because the prices will be higher and you will have less choice. Also be aware that prices will increase depending on supply and demand, so you’re better off booking well in advance and travelling during the low season.
Cheap van rental
All our advice and tips for renting a cheap campervan in Australia, including promo codes, price comparison websites and more!
Get tax back on equipment
Need a new device, like a GoPro, computer or camera? Buy it in Australia at least 60 days before you leave the country and keep your receipts. You can then request a GST refund, which is equivalent to VAT (10%).
Read more: Get your GST back when leaving Australia
File your tax return
When filling out your tax return, remember that work-related expenses (eg, work uniform, tools etc) can be deducted from your income, so you will pay less tax overall. Again, keep your receipts for these items!
Read more: Tax return in Australia
Try WWOOFing or HelpX
A good way to see more of Australia, meet locals and save some money is to try volunteering! Some websites like WWOF Australia and HelpX offer you the chance to work a few hours a day in exchange for accommodation and sometimes food or even a little cash. It’s a good way to travel without breaking the bank.
Read more: Volunteering in Australia: Wwoofing & HelpX
Pick up some free food
In some big cities like Sydney, Melbourne or Hobart, you may occasionally find events organised by societies, where food is given away for free in bars or restaurants. These meals are usually vegetarian or vegan and are often cooked using unsold products from supermarkets. You are encouraged to make a donation so they can continue to offer this service to others.
On weekends, shops like Bunnings often have $2 sandwiches!
Browse discount websites
Sites like Groupon and OzBargain offer discounts ranging from 50 to 90% and will allow you to save a lot of money on all kinds of things, from days out to clothes to electronics. Download the apps on your phone and check them from time to time to see what bargains you can get.
Take advantage of wardrobe clear outs
Other people’s wardrobe clear-outs are a great way to dress yourself on a budget! You’ll find lots of deals on Gumtree and Facebook groups, as well as Facebook Marketplace. Weekend markets and second-hand shops are also great places to find bargains.
You can also sell your own clothes as a way to make some cash.
Download money-saving apps
Some food apps like the McDonald’s food app will allow you to save money – for example, $2 coffees, 20% off your next order, etc.
Do you have any other money-saving tips? Share them with us in the comments!