Australia: Expensive? You’re kidding, right!!

Australia expensive? Think again – do it on the cheap like me!!

I’ve lost count of the amount of people that have said to me they thought me that Australia is a very expensive place to travel round. They must be missing out on some essential tips and tricks or maybe they are living the luxury lifestyle in the land down under. Australia, to be honest was one of the less expensive places I have ever worked and travelled round, I was making loads of money when I lived there, enough to take 4 months off work and travel full time. Many young backpackers must be going to the wrong places, or perhaps they are ill-informed, not properly prepared or just spending and wasting their money in the wrong ways. Here’s 12 full proof ways to save money and reasons to prove the myth that Australia is expensive is wrong, all from my own experience of living in Australia. [I:]

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 really want to eat out, head to pubs that have $10 steaks and similar offers. They often also give you a beer or a soft drink as part of the offer. A useful hint I used while in Australia is checking out pubs or bars that offer cheap big meals and monitor the times they apply. I noticed that most of them are around lunchtime – that’s when they have the most specials. Come on it’s hardly a big deal to transfer your biggest meal of the day from dinner to lunch. You can easily just eat cereals and toast for breakfast. And you’re a backpacker so don’t be afraid to head into Hungry Jacks or McDonalds for a cheap breakfast. Hungry Jacks also offer unlimited refills on drinks – so why not take your flask in and top it up? They’re won’t chase you out you’re a paying customer. McDonalds also offers free wi-fi. You can always fall back on good old vegemite sandwiches! One of my favourites! [I:]

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 by the way). Gumtree, hostel notice boards and travel websites also offer carshare options.

4. Get some kind of a Working Visa – I don’t understand travellers that are able to get a working holiday visa for Australia but yet they don’t buy it. The number of travellers I met in the land down under that say things like “we only plan to stay for a few months so we’re not planning to work” and then they follow it with “this place is expensive”, so why didn’t you get some kind of a working visa then?! Do it – even by working for a week or two in Australia can earn you over 1000 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 landscapes 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. [I:]

6. Money saving coupons, tokens and vouchers – Seriously these types of coupons are everywhere and most travellers miss them. Try picking up leaflets and magazines in bars, travel agents, bus stations, airports etc and you will be extremely surprised to hear that they often contain money off and free entry vouchers. Sometimes you even get a free beer – head to the bar to get your free beer then leave!

7. Woolworths and Coles value brands – i remember meeting a couple of English girls moaning about the price of everything in Australia while drinking Del Monte orange juice for breakfast along with Kellogg’s Cornflakes! If you can’t take yourself down a rung or two for a few weeks or months by buying the value brands, then you honestly have no ground to stand on moaning about the price of things!

8. Don’t Go To Nightclubs after 10pm – At weekends and after 9 or 10 pm most bars and nightclubs tend to charge entrance fees and put the price of drinks up. Why bother paying more for your drink. If you really must go to a club, go on a weeknight and head in before 9pm. But honestly the best option is to head to the Bottle Shop (Liquor Store/Off Licence) and get a takeaway (carryout) and drink at the hostel or campsite with your new mates. These nights are often the best! [I:]

9. Internet – I also met a couple of guys in Brisbane moaning about the price of the internet. I never once paid to use internet in Australia. Leave facebook alone until you really need it. What do you think travellers did 20 years ago before the likes of facebook? Exactly! Get to meet people in the hostels and campsites and hang out with them. I went 5 weeks without being online when I was in Tasmania. I had some experiences and travel tales in that time that I wouldn’t have got sitting on facebook! If you really, really insist on using internet in Australia at least be clever about it – maximise your usage of it when you have it for free in a hostel while you have it. The next campsite or hostel may not have it or may charge for it. If all else fails, bring a small laptop with you and buy the cheapest coffee in McDonalds and sit and use their free wifi (free all over Australia and normally for about 20 minutes).

10. Try not to book things in advance. Despite what you hear – don’t be bookings too many things in advance. Advance bookings normally mean deposits and in Australia your plans change a lot so that hostel you just booked a night in for 2 weeks time might just be a wasted deposit as you’ve met another group of backpackers doing a road trip and now you’re going with them. Only book something if you are 100% SURE you’ll be doing it.

11. Laundry – The obvious is to wear the same clothes over and over again, and hand wash them. Done that myself manys a time. If you really feel the need to use laundry – get 2-3 cotton buds on sticks and stick them in the coin slots in the machines to get free laundry. Most of you reading will know this trick. A well known travellers “secret”. [I:]

12. Use Fake student ID – Yes things become cheaper when you have a student card. I’m not telling you to be fraudulent – just get a fake student ID card – you’ll save entry fees in a lot of places – it’s not like you’re going to climb over the fence into zoos!

Honestly, folks this might sound like a bit of a rant and in many ways it is, BUT I just really want to let people know that Australia is a magnificent country and a great place to go. And it’s cheap if you know what you’re doing!! Those are just a few of my tips – there are tons more ways to save money.

Don’t hold back if you have thought about it – go to Australia and do it cheaply!

For more amazing advice on doing Australia on the cheap check out Jonny Blair’s insightful travel, work and lifestyle website Dont Stop Living.. Also published at Australia: Expensive? You’re kidding, right!!.

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