It’s not often that you’ll hear the words ‘cheap’, ‘travel’, ‘destination’ and ‘Australia’ in the same sentence.
Australia is an amazing country and one that offers a vast array of travel experiences, but a visit here comes with a hefty price tag. For many overseas guests, it’s a once in a lifetime experience, but if you don’t want to be paying the trip off for the rest of your life, here are the top ten ways to save money on travel in Australia.
Choosing when to visit Australia for a short trip (say two or three weeks) is important if you want to get the best from your budget. Australia’s peak seasons work in reverse to much of the northern hemisphere. High season is generally the summer months of December and January, which is when most Australians take their annual holidays. Airfares and accommodation prices always spike at this time.
Also avoid Easter and Australian school holiday periods (these vary depending on which states you plan to visit).
Australia enjoys amazing international airline connectivity. Key hubs into the country include Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the Middle East, Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing in Asia, and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver in North America. Airfares have actually dropped significantly in recent years, thanks to greater competition. Browse the airfares of 450+ different carriers in one place on Faremart — a cheap fare mart where you can book your ticket at the best possible price. It’s worth doing a search across different dates just to see what fares you come up with.
You can also set up fare alerts on Faremart for domestic flights within Australia, and get great deals as they are released.
If you plan to stay in hotels, these are the cheapest months to travel to Australia’s key cities according to Trivago:
Expect to pay anywhere from $120 to $220 per night for a reasonable hotel. If you are booking hotels as you go, call ahead and see if the hotel will beat the best price you have found online. Chances are they will.
Airbnb is huge in Australia, but renting a city apartment is generally not much cheaper than staying in a hotel. Hostels are by far the cheapest accommodation option and you’ll find dorm beds available from between $20 and $40 a night. YHA Australia operates several hostels that offer private rooms with ensuite bathrooms. These are superb value, and are usually in great locations.
Australia has a world-class dining scene, but if you plan to eat out a lot, you’ll need a big budget along with that appetite. Expect to pay around $30 to $40 for a main course in a mid-range restaurant.
That said, there are some easy ways to save on your holiday food bill.
It’s one of the great paradoxes in life that priceless artworks can be enjoyed for nothing at many of the world’s greatest cultural institutions. That’s certainly the case in Australia. The National Gallery of Australia (Canberra), the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art (Brisbane), and the Art Gallery of South Australia all offer free entry to their permanent collections.
Australia has hundreds of fabulous attractions, but the entry costs will really add up — especially if you are travelling with a family. Invest in a Multi-City Flexi Attractions Pass. The pass offers savings of up to 40% on many top attractions and things to do in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and the Gold Coast. Choose a five or seven attraction pass, then get strategic and plan how you can maximise your saving.
Also research the websites of top attractions for special entry deals. For example, Melbourne Zoo offers free entry for all children on weekends.
Guided walking tours are a fabulous and generally low cost way to get the most from your visit to Australia’s key cities. Every major city offers an array of guided walks, and ‘free tours’ (where you give a donation at the end if you enjoyed the experience) are also on the rise. Here are some of the cheapest and best value guided walks:
If the budget is really tight, you can usually download self-guided city walks from local tourism bodies onto your smart phone.
Yes, everyone wants to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the majestic Opera House on their visit to Australia, but reducing the amount of time you spend in capital cities like Sydney will cut the cost of your trip dramatically. So, get out and see the country!
Travelling by bus or car is generally the cheapest option. Check out Greyhound’s hop on hop off bus passes. Self-driving is great as you’ll have the freedom to go where you want, when you want. Here are some tips for saving money on car hire.
You have to travel light on a visit to Australia. It’s that simple. Lugging heavy suitcases around a country this big is not much fun, and checked luggage is not automatically included in low-cost domestic airline fares. Add to that the fact that Australia’s airlines (full service and low-cost) are getting stricter by the day on enforcing carry-on luggage limits. If you are even a kilo over the seven-kilogram carry-on limit, chances are you will be charged. And no, playing the hapless tourist won’t cut it!
Save money by…
Forget expensive attractions and pricey restaurants. Tick off each of these experiences and you will have seen the real Australia — for next to nothing!
Have a great trip!
This post was published thanks to Faremart.
Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the top ten ways to save money on travel in Australia? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.