Australia is one of these countries you definitely want to visit, but it’s hella expensive to travel around. That’s why many backpackers save this destination for later. Just like you, we didn’t want to wait several years to finally be able to travel to Australia, instead we figured out a way for backpacking this country on a budget. To help you do the same, we collected our best tips on how to save money and still have the best time while traveling through Downunder.
Save this on Pinterest to read later. ⇩
Tip # 1: Stay in hostels
I guess most of you already know this, since it’s very basic. However staying at hostels is the cheapest option in Australia. Even if you are traveling with a partner, it’s less expensive than a hotel or an Airbnb. We booked pretty much all of our hostels on Hostelworld. If you are a little bit more on the minimalistic side you could also try Couchsurfing. Unfortunately, we have not tried that yet, but we heard very good reviews about it.
Tip #2: Take the Greyhound bus for backpacking Australia on a budget
Most backpackers that are coming to Australia want to travel up or down the East Coast. It is the most popular travel route. For doing that, you have two options. Either, you can rent a campervan and drive by yourself, or you can take the Greyhound bus. At first, we wanted to take a van and do a road trip up the coast. However, we figured it would be much more expensive due to the costs of the van, camping spots and fuel, than taking the bus pass. That is why we would recommend taking the Greyhound bus pass. It is actually very comfortable to not drive by yourself and they offer a LOT bus stops on the way. So, that you can see everything you would want to. Plus, in opposition to New Zealand there are way fewer spots to stop on the way.
Tip #3: Avoid (paid) tourist attractions
Another tip on for backpacking Australia on a budget is to avoid visiting the main tourist attractions. Normally, those kinds of activities cost a lot of money and are mostly overcrowded. Oftentimes, you can find even better spots and activities by just walking around and exploring, or you do some research online beforehand. For example, hiking or relaxing at the beach are super fun and doesn’t cost any money. We would choose a walk along Bondi Beach before a walk through a museum any day.
Tip #4: Cook for yourself
This tip goes hand in hand with tip #1. When you are staying at a hostel you also have access to the kitchen to cook your own food. This makes saving money way easier, since eating out in Australia is not an option if you are on a budget. We’ve been eating out as little as possible to save money and mostly cooked for ourselves. The cheapest supermarkets in Australia are Coles and Aldi. Another hack is to take the magazine with the daily offers at the entrance of the supermarket or just look out for reduced items. You’ll quickly realize that the offers in Australian supermarkets are VERY good. Sometimes, the products are 70% less of the original price.
Tip #5: Use the hostel free food shelf
Another option to save money on food is by checking out the free food shelf of the hostel. When backpackers are leaving the hostel, they often leave their remaining food at the hostel. Basically, every hostel provides a free food shelf. It’s common to help yourself. That is your chance to take some of the items if you need them. Sometimes, they might leave decent stuff there. It’s worth a try!
Tip #6: Be flexible with your schedule
The prices of accommodations and activities can vary depending on various factors. When we were traveling up the East Coast the Easter Weekend made prices rise very high, which made us change our schedule to not spend tons of money for two nights. We looked for alternative places to stay at during this time and continued to travel after this weekend. The bottom line of this is to be flexible with your schedule and check if there are cheaper alternative options available on your route. This could save you a decent amount of expenses.
Tip #7: Use public transportation or walk
When you come to Australia you obviously want to get around and explore the country. The best option if you backpack Australia on a budget is to use public transportation in the bigger cities like Sydney and Melbourne, or to just walk. For longer distances you can use busses, trams and the subway. In Sydney they have the Opal card and in Melbourne the myki card, which are very simple to use.
Tip #8: Try hitchhiking to backpack Australia on a budget
The more adventurous way to save money on transportation is hitchhiking. We actually tried that once, when we visited the Royal National Park in Sydney and we didn’t want to take an expensive Uber to get back to the train station. Of course, you need to be careful who you are asking to drive with. However, our experience turned out amazing. We got to know a couple that is currently living in Australia and they even insisted on taking us back to the city. So it was that we didn’t even have to take the train back. Experiences like this make traveling way more fun and you’ll make some friends!
Tip #9: Book early
Booking your tours and activities early is the best way to save some money. Basically, every backpacker wants to do the Fraser Island and Whitsundays tour. As they are already pretty expensive it’s helpful to book them as early as possible to get a good offer. Also, do some research on the competition and if they have cheaper options. In Australia, you are most likely to get the best price at one of the agencies, which are located in hostels and the cities.
Tip #10: Use discount apps
Using discount apps can lower your expenses a lot when you are backpacking Australia on a budget. We used the Groupon app to save some money on food, drinks, activities, and tours in Downunder as well as in New Zealand. Just check out their seasonal offers close to you. It’s definitely a game-changer!
As you can see there are a lot of options to lower your budget for backpacking Australia. This makes the trip way more enjoyable and affordable. However, don’t let the money be your guide, if you really want to do something special – do it!
Which tip will you try first?
Let us know in the comments!
Sophia & Long