I’ve lost track of how many people that have told me that Australia is an expensive place to travel. They must be living the luxury lifestyle if that’s the case. Australia, if anything was one of the cheapest places I have ever travelled round, so much so that I made bucketloads of money when I was there, indeed enough to take 4 months off work. People, and particularly young backpackers are clearly going to the wrong spots, or perhaps ill-informed, badly prepared or simply spending money in the wrong way. Here’s 12 reasons to prove the myth wrong, all from my own experience of living in Australia:
Camping out – cheap and cheerful
1. Sleeping – Although hostels are great, take a break from them. Don’t be spending your entire time in hostels getting drunk! Camping is the best option for travelling cheap in Australia. A tent can be bought for $15 – 20 and some nights you will camp out for free. Make it your home for the next few months as you “backpack” round the land down under. Most campsites have toilets and showers, lots of them are even close to places where you can get part time/temporary jobs.
2. Eating – If you insist on eating out – then head to pubs that do $10 steaks and such offers. They often throw in a beer or a soft drink for this. One of the tricks I used while in Australia is monitoring pubs that did cheap big meals and the times they apply. I found that most of them are lunchtime specials. In which case, it’s hardly a big deal to transfer your main meal of the day from dinner to lunch. Eat cereals and toast for breakfast. Don’t be afraid to venture into Hungry Jacks or McDonald’s for a cheap breakfast either. Hungry Jacks also offer unlimited refills – take your flask in. They’re not going to chase out paying customers. And McDonald’s has free wi-fi. If all else fails stick to vegemite sandwiches! Top notch!
“He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich”
3. Transport – Don’t be flying round Australia! I spent almost 2 years living there and didn’t once use an internal flight. Use Greyhound and book early, or better still – meet up with others, buy a car and off you go – you’ve got your own vehicle now which you can sleep in and drive to campsites with. Share the petrol costs and even get a job and share lifts to work. And if getting a Greyhound, of course get it at night to save money on accommodation (simple obvious things the way). Gumtree, hostel notice boards and travel websites also offer carshare options.
4. Get a Working Visa (of some kind) – I can’t understand how those that are eligible for a working holiday visa in Australia don’t use it. The amount of travellers I met in Australia that said “we’re only here for 3 months so we’re not working” then followed it up “this place is dear”, well why didn’t you just get a working visa then? Even working for just a week or two in Australia can earn you over a thousand Australian Dollars.
5. Entrance Fees – Again it sounds obvious but don’t be paying entry into places – there are loads of FREE things to see and do in Australia. Hiking for one, some amazing biutifuloficial to see, beaches (completely free), fancy dress parties (make your own costumes for free), museums are often also free entry (including the amazing War Memorial in Canberra), as is walking across Sydney Harbour Bridge. If you want to see Koalas and Kangaroos – these can all be done for free. Kennet River on the Great Ocean Road is a decent spot for Koala watching at sunrise. Kangaroos and wallabies are hard to miss.
Why pay for stuff when this type of view is free? (Sunrise in South Victoria, 2010)
6. Coupons, vouchers, tokens – The amount of travellers I met who never bother picking up those brochures, fliers etc. that lurk in bus stations, airports, pubs, hostels, tourist information centres etc. – I kept picking up these brochures and finding money off coupons, savings on tours etc. Bars often even give out a free beer to entice you in – go in, take your free beer and leave.