Who told you Australia was expensive? Someone that didn’t do it on the cheap like me…
I’ve heard from loads of people that have gone backpacking in the land down under that it is a dear or expensive place to travel. These people really must be living a luxury lifestyle if that’s their impression of the land down under. Australia has to have been one of the cheapest places I have ever travelled and worked in, I earned tons of money when I was living there, enough to take four months off work. Young and inexperienced backpackers must be doing things wrong if they find it expensive. Maybe they are perhaps ill-informed, badly prepared or just spending their cash in the wrong way. I’ve concocted 12 sure fire reasons, all from personal experience on how to live cheaply in Australia.
1. Sleeping – OK, yes, hostels are great, but you have to take a break from them. Don’t be spending your entire time in hostels getting drunk! Camping is by far the best option for living and travelling cheaply in the land down under. You can find a cheap tent for $15 – 20 and in some places you will be able to camp out for free. Make your cheap tent your home for the next few months as you “backpack” and camp your way round Australia. Lots of campsites have toilets and showers too, and some of them are even close to places where you can get part time and temporary seasonal or harvest jobs.
2. Eating – If you insist on eating out – then head to pubs that do $10 steaks and such offers. They often throw in a beer or a soft drink for this. One of the tricks I used while in Australia is monitoring pubs that did cheap big meals and the times they apply. I found that most of them are lunchtime specials. In which case, it’s hardly a big deal to transfer your main meal of the day from dinner to lunch. Eat cereals and toast for breakfast. Don’t be afraid to venture into Hungry Jacks or McDonalds for a cheap breakfast either. Hungry Jacks also offer unlimited refills – take your flask in. They’re not going to chase out paying customers. And McDonalds has free wi-fi. If all else fails stick to vegemite sandwiches! Top notch!
3. Transport – Don’t be getting flights around Australia! I lived there for a couple of years and I never used an internal flight. Use the bus company Greyhound and book them early, even better idea is to hook up with others, get a car and off you go on a road trip – you have a car now which you should equip for sleeping in and stay on or near campsites with it. Cut your costs by sharing petrol and sharing lifts to work. Also if you are getting a Greyhound bus get it at night so that you save money on accommodation. These are simple and obvious things by the way but often neglected by travellers. Other good places to look are hostel notice boards and local travel websites. Gumtree and Facebook can also be useful.
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.
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. Nightclubs after 10pm – did you really go to Australia just to attend expensive nightclubs? I certainly didn’t! You’ll notice that after 9 or 10 pm (especially on weekends) the prices of drinks go up. Seriously to all those backpackers in Australia – get yourself a carryout, a box of goon and some tinnies and sit with your new found friends.
9. Don’t Spend Too Much Time On the Internet – Facebook is great and all that but seriously you didn’t go to Australia just to tell other people where you are and what you’re doing. So stop moaning about the price of the internet – yes it costs a lot so don’t pay it – simple. Here’s a few alternatives (if you have brought a laptop with you) – eat at McDonalds and use their free wi-fi, buy a coffee in an internet cafe that has wi-fi (at least you have a coffee for your money), stay in a hostel that has free wi-fi. If you don’t have a laptop – borrow from travel buddies if you really need to get online. And a long term cheaper option is to buy a USB stick which acts as a wireless internet modem – this is only recommended if you plan on staying in Australia for a while.
10. Hold back on booking things early. Plans in Australia always change so don’t be booking tours or hostels in other towns or cities that you expect to be in in a few weeks time. You might change your plans and have already paid a deposit. Go with a free spirit and enjoy it!
11. Washing Clothes – Wear the same clothes again and again and hand wash them in sinks. I did this often in Australia. If you desperately need to use a washing machine – get a few cotton buds on sticks and place them into the coin slots in the laundry machines to get free laundry. Most of you reading will probably know this trick. A well known “secret” of travellers.
12. Fake student ID – Again things become cheaper when you pull out a student card. Nobody really cares if its fake or not. Give it a risk and save some dollars.
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.
Get out there and see Australia – what are you waiting for?
For more resourceful advice on doing Australia on the cheap check out Jonny Blair’s resourceful travel, work and lifestyle website Dont Stop Living.. Free reprint available from: Australia: Expensive? You’re kidding, right!!.