Australia is a notoriously expensive destination. The minimum wage is $19/hour, cigarettes are almost $30 a pack, and you’ll be hard-pressed to eat a good meal as a couple under $60 – $80. But, if we managed to visit the South of France on a budget, you can bet your ass we have some good recommendations for you to travel to Australia on a budget. No dramas, mate, we got you!
Most people travel Australia for 2 – 4 weeks because it is so large and requires a good bit of time to truly see more than one destination on the continent. Compared to the standard 7 – 10 vacation, this will obviously require a bit more budget to be able to travel for the extended period. As such, it’s imperative you heed our Australian budget travel tips.
When we arrived in Australia the AUD was trading at $0.72 USD. It has dipped as low as $0.67 and is currently sitting at $0.68. If you’re an American, this means your dollar goes quite a bit farther than it did 6 months ago. As the Aussie Dollar is tied significantly to commodity prices, you can watch for dips in iron ore, gold, and other natural resources as indicators that the AUD might be falling. Regardless, as an American or European, you have serious purchasing power in Australia.
November – March is the best time to visit Australia as it is the hottest, dryest, period of the year. This is summer here in Australia, as the seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere.
The last few months (June – August) have been cold, rainy, and windy. Not ideal, but if you want to save money on your flight and accommodation, fall and winter are great times to visit. The weather is starting to turn as we approach spring, so maybe plan an end of summer trip and come on down in September?
When the International Space Station passes over Perth it is closer to us then the next adjacent city. Here on Cottesloe beach, we enjoy gorgeous, pristine beaches, a relaxed vibe, and an incredibly small amount of tourists. This means beaches aren’t packed, there is relatively no traffic, the locals are friendly, and prices are lower than those in Sydney or Melbourne.
Cost of living, food, goods, accommodation, etc. are all more affordable in Perth than they are in Sydney and Melbourne. It is likely the most affordable major city in Australia. Rather than blow your budget on the east coast in a week, spend 2 weeks exploring Western Australia and the beaches of Perth.
Invariably, Airbnb is the cheapest and most comfortable accommodation option and Australia is no exception to the rule. There are hostels around Australia that welcome backpackers from around the world, but assuming you want a bit of privacy, Airbnb is the best route. If you’re a couple or a family, paying for a private hostel is often more expensive than a private Airbnb. You can find a nice Airbnb here in Cottesloe on the nicest beach in Perth for $60-70 AUD per night.
Perhaps the best part about Airbnbs is being able to cook your meals at home. Food in Australia is WAY overpriced. You’ll be hard-pressed to eat a meal out at a restaurant here for less than $30 per person. Our favorite spot here in town has a salad that we love…it’s $28. Rather than blow your budget on mediocre food, head to Woolworths, Coles, IGA or one of the other major grocery stores, buy some ingredients, and cook your meals at home.
Cross country flights are relatively expensive and the flight between Perth and Sydney takes about 4-5 hours depending on which direction you’re flying. It’s probably best that you want to choose a coast you want to visit and then rent a camper van or a car and road trip along the coast. Gold Coast or West Coast? Where will you choose?
Camper vans are incredibly popular options for travelers visiting Australia because you can reach remote destinations and have a place to sleep.
Car rentals are pretty cheap here as well. We have rented cars quite extensively through Kayak and have usually gotten rates around $20-30 per day. Don’t forget to drive on the left!
If you’re an American telecom customer, don’t pay for an overpriced international plan when you can, instead, purchase $30 Telstra prepaid SIM card that will give you 20 GB of data and unlimited minutes. They sell them at every Telstra store. Of course, there are a number of other mobile phone providers with similar plans.
The best sites in Australia are all free or require only a small entry fee. Skip the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb, rent a car, and drive to Royal National Park. Drive the coast of Western Australia and explore some of the most gorgeous, most remote beaches in the world.
Avoid buying overpriced drinks at bars. If you can avoid alcohol altogether, you’ll save a ton of money, but if not, you should hit up one of the many bottle stores around the country. Alcohol taxes are no joke here in Australia, so you’re sure to encounter higher prices than you’re used to unless you live on the Vegas Strip.