Leaving for Australia soon? All along your trip, you will discover ways to save money. However, here are some tips to reduce your costs.
#1 Plane ticket
Booking your plane ticket is an important step while planning your trip. Fortunately a few tips exist to reduce its cost:
- Book in advance: Tickets are generally cheaper if you book them 6 to 12 months in advance
- Be flexible: the ticket price depends on the day you want to travel on, but also on the period of the year you want to book in (school holidays, weekends…). Tickets are usually cheaper in the middle of the week, early morning and late at night.
- Travel during the low season: Travelling to Australia in autumn or winter (April to August) is less common, tickets are cheaper then.
#2 Money transfers
If you are willing to transfer money without losing too much on it, then you can use the services of a specialised company, Wise (formerly TransferWise) or CurrencyFair for example. These companies will have you saving a fortune considering banks’ prices and changing rates. To benefit from their advantages at their most, check out the changing rates often and wait for the best timing to do the transfer.
You can easily save up to $50 on a $1000-$2000 transfer.
#3 Travel insurance
Travelling to Australia with good insurance is a MUST! If you have an accident, health and hospital costs are going to be crazy expensive. So in the end, you will probably save a lot of money, even for a small incident.
For more information: Travel Insurance in Australia
#4 Buying a car
To make the best of your buy, here are some tips. It is often a good idea to buy during the low season, heaps of backpackers are leaving and few are arriving. Cars go for much lower prices. At the opposite, during the high season, many backpackers are looking for a car, a van or 4WD. Prices are going up heaps.
Also, if you want to get a good deal from your old car, you would probably better sell it at this period. You might even get lucky and make some benefits from the sale.
For more information: Choosing and buying a vehicle
Fuel price in Australia varies significantly. In some remote areas, you may find some service stations selling fuel for $2. On the other hand, you will find some areas where fuel is cheaper than a dollar. It is extremely important to consider this aspect of the road trip and to fill in where it is the cheapest. Also, you can fill up some jerry cans when dealing with the best prices.
Besides, keep your receipts, they are worth money! Supermarkets such as Coles or Woolworth offer some deals on them but they also allow you to save up to 8 cents per litre of fuel.
#6 Travel without a car
Travelling around Australia without a car is totally feasible. A few options exist for you to travel around the country without having to invest into a vehicle. You can rent, share rides with other travellers, take the bus, the train or even prefer the plane!
- Carpool: a large amount of travellers are offering trips to reduce their fuel costs. There are some specialised website existing (hophopride.com) as well as Facebook pages (Australia Ride Share)
- Relocation: Allows you to go from point A to point B quickly and without spending any money. Most of the time the car rental agencies give the option to transfer the vehicle from an agency to another over a limited timeframe. Relocation will cost you the fuel as well as a daily $1 to $5.
In Australia, the food part of your budget is usually pretty high. It is interesting to consider that in supermarkets prices are changing during the day. It is better to go shopping at the end of the day. Indeed, there are heaps more discounts, particularly on fresh products, sometimes up to 50%! Also visit local markets (usually on the week-ends), you will find delicious products for cheap (especially if you are going when it is about to close!)
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.
Being independent and having the right equipment will save you a lot of money during your road trip. You will need a cooker, some kitchen tools, etc to avoid eating out. A solar shower can also be a good buy if you are not willing to pay for a camp site to use the facilities. Avoid the places you have to pay for, instead, look for the rest areas! There are also free showers, free BBQs, available in numerous places in town. A good idea would be to download the app “Wikicamp” on your phone ($7.49), it is the backpacker bible while being on a road trip. You will find all the information concerning campsites (free or not), rest areas, BBQ, showers, toilets… Everything you need to make your searches easier! Finally if you prefer a paper guide, Camp Australia Wide (Hema Maps) or Camping Around Australia (Explore Australia) are extremely complete.
#10 Get the right equipment
The second-hand market is really well-developed in Australia. Charity shops like Vinnies, Salvation Army, Red Cross, etc are everywhere and are full of amazing stuff! Go to have a look you might find all your camping gear for only a few bucks.
Online, Gumtree and MarketPlace are the best places for second hand products.
If you are looking for something new, there are many really cheap stores like Kmart, Target or Big W. You will find everything you need, from a camera to jerry cans.
Some tool shops can finally also be interesting, particularly if you are preparing your car (bed, etc) for a road trip. Bunnings or Mitre 10 are for example selling some wood.
Australian cigarettes are some of the most expensive in the world. To save a little, buy rollies and shop at the supermarket, usually cheaper. Also forget the duty free shop or importing some cigarettes from home, it is strictly forbidden to enter the territory with more than 50g, fines apply!
Alcohol is also extremely taxed by the Australian government. Your wallet saver is going to be the goon of wine. Much cheaper, 4l of wine will cost you around $10. If you are looking for wine a bit nicer and still cheap, look for the discounts! There are constant discounts at the bottle shop and some nice bottles go for half their price, you can easily find a good wine for $7-$10.
However, drinks in a bar will most of the time cost you minimum $5. Drinking (a bit) before going out will save you some cash.
#13 Renting a campervan
There are some tips to know to limit your expenses when renting a campervan. First of all, avoid small towns, you will have less choice and it is going to be more expensive. Then, remember that prices increase depending on the availability (same as flights tickets). You will find way better prices by booking in advance and in low season. Also remember that if you pick up your van in a town and drop it off in another one, you will be charged a one way fee…
For more information: How to rent a cheap campervan in Australia?
You need a new device? GoPro, computer, mobile, etc. Buy it in Australia and you will get 10% GST back. Keep your receipts and ask for your GST refunds when leaving the country. You need to buy you devices a maximum 60 days before your departure date.
For more information: Get your GST back when leaving Australia
#15 Tax return
When doing your tax return declaration, you can get some supplementary refunds by declaring your work related expenses. You will declare all the expenses made on a working context (clothes, tools, cost of certificate…). A percentage will be deducted from your tax and you will pay less!
For more information: Tax return in Australia
#16 Woofing HelpX
A good solution to fully enjoy Australia, meet locals and save a bit is volunteering! Some websites offer to exchange work against food and accommodation. Thanks to Woofing or HelpX you will be able to work a few hours a day to pay for your room, your food and sometimes even a bit of cash. A good way to discover Australia for cheap.
#17 Dumpster diving
In a more extreme way, Dumpster diving consists in picking up some unsold product in supermarkets’ bins. Heaps of products are thrown away every day, even if they are still consumable. So if you are starving, don’t hesitate!
Just be careful … it is illegal.
# 18 Meals (almost) for free
In Sydney, Melbourne or Hobart, you may find occasionally “giving away food” events organised by social organisation in bars or restaurants. Those meals are often cooked with the unsold products from supermarkets and are good opportunities to try so vegetarian or vegan meals.
On weekends shops like Bunnings offer some $2 sandwiches. Some Salvation Army shops (charity shops) offer free bread or cake in their shops, so don’t hesitate to visit them!
#19 Discount websites
Websites like Groupon or Ouffer offer discounts from 50% up to 90% on a large variety of products (clothes, electronics, restaurants, etc.). You can also download the Shopback App which allows you to get some cash back when buying on participating websites. A lot of known brands (cottonon, theiconic, target etc.) are available from the platform.
#20 Wardrobe clear out
Good opportunity to renew your wardrobe for very little money, the wardrobe clear out can be found on MarketPlace on Facebook or Gumtree. Also visit the local second hand shops. You can find a lot of good quality or cheap clothes depending on your budget.
Updated on the 08/01/2021. Initially published on the 20/09/2018.