Australia is not known among travelers for being particularly budget friendly. In fact, if you’re not paying attention, you could easily run out of money before your trip is over. But do not despair! There are a few things you can do to stretch your money while Down Under.
Change your accommodation expectation. Stay in a hostel. Of course, you knew I would say this, and if you have never stayed in one before, hear me out because nearly everyone who has stayed in a hostel is nodding in agreement right now. Hostels can save you a tremendous amount of money, even if you aren’t willing to go the whole hog and stay in a large mixed dorm with fifteen strangers. Most hostels have small dorms of 4-6 beds available for nominal fees, and some are even restricted to females or males only. While the majority of individuals who choose to stay in hostels are still in their twenties, the number of budget-conscious travelers in their thirties, forties, fifties, and even retirees is growing. It’s not uncommon to see entire families staying in hostels together, taking advantage of the private rooms that are still significantly cheaper than hotels in the same area.
Or, you can stay in someone else’s home. There are a number of websites that allow not only house sitting (I used housecarers.com when I was housesitting in Perth) or house swapping, but simply renting someone’s home or a room in their home. This is particularly advantageous if you have a large number of people who can split the rental cost (which usually only increases a few dollars with each additional person, if it increases at all). In addition to this being a cost-saving method, your host can recommend things to do and places to eat that are “local approved” and sometimes they will even offer to give you free tours of their city or a free authentic meal. Another option is couch surfing to stay for free while still benefiting from the local knowledge of the homeowner/renter.
Which brings us to food. Of course you are going to want to sample the local cuisine, what is vacation without new a delicious foods?
However, not only does eating out for every meal rapidly eat a hole in your wallet, after a week of gastronomy you are sure to start feeling at least a mild case of indigestion. This is when staying in hostels or someone’s home presents yet another bonus: kitchens! Cooking for yourself will not only save you money and possibly prevent some upset stomachs, if you share your delicious meal it will also bring you new friends.
One final general way to save money while traveling through Australia is to take advantage of public and alternative transportation. While in the major cities you have absolutely no need to drive a car. Take Brisbane, a darling city on the Gold Coast, for example: buy a Go Card for a few dollars deposit, and use it to pay for trains, buses, ferries, and bike rentals simply by tapping it on the card reader at the beginning and end of every journey. The fair will be automatically deducted from your card balance and you can continue to fill it up as needed at the machines all over the city. Speaking of bike rentals: after paying the deposit for your Go Card, you can actually rent the bikes for free in 30 minute increments. Simply ride the bike toward your destination, and if it takes you longer than thirty minutes find another bike station before your time is up so you can return the bike you have and get another bike complete with another thirty minutes of riding time. Free! If you are in Perth take advantage of the free CAT buses. The 4 different routes cover the main city centre and allow you to easily reach the main tourist spots, you’ll often find locals on them too since they cover a good distance. Melbourne also has a free city centre tourist tram and bus service.
There you have it: a few easy ways to save money during your next trip to Australia. Remember, the more you save on accommodation, dining, and transportation, the more you can spend on Vegemite for all your friends and family to try!
Chris Moshi hails from Scotland – a 9-to-5 escapee who’s opted for a life of travel and enriching experiences.
Chris is currently traveling through Australia and sharing his travel experiences, tales and tips via his blog at my30stravelblog
Oh! You might also find a mention of cars in his posts, once or twice…