Make the most of your trip around Australia – a backpacker’s guide to Australia. You can surely visit Australia on a budget and I’m sharing my top tips for an epic backpacking/budget road trip around Australia.
Backpacking in Australia was one of my biggest life chapters since I started traveling. I lived in Australia for nearly two years on a working holiday visa. I worked on a dairy farm for quite a while and I also traveled around Australia for an extended period of time pretty much everywhere around the country.
During this trip, I realized that the best way to travel around Australia was by car. While driving around Australia, I could see a lot more of the country but it was also giving me more freedom as it was cheaper, camping-friendly and I could stop anywhere just to make the most of the Australian views out there.
If you’re planning on visiting Australia whether you’re going on a holiday or on a working holiday visa, you’ll have to sort out your visa first. You can apply for these visas through us and we will work out a great deal for you.
Book your flight to Australia and Prepare your Australia Itinerary
The second thing you’ll have to keep in mind is where to start your journey. Australia is a huge country and people seem to forget how big it is. Having a big country to explore is great but it also makes it hard to travel between cities as every city is quite far from one another. There are normally three options to consider; flying, driving or by bus.
I personally tried two of these options. I flew and I also traveled around Australia by car. Flying in Australia is quite expensive. You can sometimes find great deals with some of the low-cost airlines such as Jetstar but flying also means you’ll have to skip many things on the way, which could be unfortunate if you want to make the most of your trip around Australia.
If you’re planning on doing the typical backpacking Australia route, which is the East Coast, you might want to start your trip in Cairns, Melbourne or Sydney.
If you’re keen to explore and play outside, you should then start in Darwin or Perth.
To plan a smart Australia itinerary I’d recommend you research the destinations that interest you. It can be smarter for your budget to have an itinerary in mind while planning your trip around Australia.
As mentioned previously, the best way to travel around Australia is by car or campervan. Driving around Australia on a budget is doable, so you should definitely consider it!
Every state in Australia has different rules when it comes to buying a car, so here are a few tips to help you make the most of your budget.
Australia is camping friendly, which means you can camp pretty much everywhere around the country. You should install WikiCamps on your phone to find the free campsites nearby. You have to pay to use the app, but your money will surely be well invested! Whether you prefer sleeping in a tent, in your car or in your comfortable campervan, you should know that the easiest way to buy a car is via Gumtree.
Some states make it harder for people to buy a car, but the easiest one that only requires you to pay your matriculation online (which is the easiest) is Western Australia. You can normally buy Western Australia cars pretty much everywhere, but this should be one of the best points to keep in mind when buying a car. You can also find a cheap campervan via Gumtree.
In case you don’t already know, Gumtree is basically the website every Australian and backpacker uses in Australia. It’s similar to eBay, Craigslist or Kijiji. It’s basically the best second-hand website you can find in Australia to buy and sell cars, furniture, electronics, etc.
If you’re not sure if you should buy a car in Australia, let me convince you. I wasn’t sure either when I first arrived in Australia. Buying a car sounded quite expensive, and I wasn’t sure if my budget would be ready for it.
- Many backpackers are getting rid of their cars before leaving the country. For a quick sale, they will accept great offers and this means you won’t have to pay too much for a good car. If you know about cars and even better if you know how to fix a car, you could find awesome deals. We bought cars in pretty good condition for as little as AUD 200-600 when we were in Australia and we bought a van for AUD 1000. (The boyfriend I had back then had a secret passion for cars and we did buy a total of 12 cars during our trip around Australia.)
- Traveling by car in Australia saved us a lot of money. We slept in our car when we needed to and we could carry all our stuff in one place, which was perfect for those who travel with more than simple carry-on luggage.
- Road-tripping around Australia was so much fun – we saw a lot more than most travelers and we discovered so many places that can’t be accessed by bus or by flights.
- You get to sell your car in the end, which means you’ll get your money back, or maybe even more. If you managed to fix a cheap car you could also sell it for more, and depending on where you are the demand could help you raise the price. To get at least your money back, you should start advertising your car a few weeks before your departure. Otherwise, you’ll get desperate for a quick sale!
Backpacking around Australia can be quite expensive. Of course, many working holidaymakers can afford a lot more because of the attractive Australian wage, but still, it won’t be as cheap as Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe.
Here are my top budget tips to help you make the most of your backpacking trip to Australia AKA how to travel Australia on a budget!
- Cook your own food. You can find barbecues pretty much on every beach and in many campsites. You should invest in camping cooking toolsif you’re road tripping around Australia. Eating out is definitely expensive so you should avoid it when you can.
- Find travel buddies. Sharing the cost of your trip around Australia will help massively. You can find travel partners in the many Australia Backpacking Facebook Groups. It’s easy to just type backpacking Australia in the Facebook search bar and you should find plenty of suggestions.
- Camp as much as you can. Camping is the most budget-friendly option because it’s FREE in most places. So, get a tent!
- Find a volunteer position if you’re struggling with money. You can find volunteer opportunities on Gumtree, in Facebook groups or directly via Worldpackers. This way you will get free accommodation and food, which could be handy until you find a job in Australia, or go back home.
- Plan your itinerary and travel slow if you can. Knowing which route you’ll take prior to your trip will help you save money later. Personally, we did a lot of back and forward when we were driving around Australia and we should have planned better to save fuel. Also, if you travel fast this means you’ll spend your money faster on fuel and transportation. So it would be worth it to take your time and enjoy the laid back vibes you can only find in Australia.
How much money should you save before going to Australia? The more the better. Even though the visa application suggests you should have a lot of savings, I arrived in Australia with less than AUD 2000. What seems to be decent wasn’t really, as it can take a while to find a job and accommodation is expensive in Australia. So, here’s what you should keep in mind.