Australia is a beautiful, expansive, cosmopolitan, rugged, unmissable and, unfortunately, not as cheap and your other classic backpacker stops such as Southeast Asia. For many the idea the open road, running to your own schedule and taking your bedroom with you is appealing, not just for the freedom, but also the potential savings.
Read on for our essential tips on saving big bucks while you’re on the road, so you have more moolah for the important things. Like a 2 years supply of Tim Tams for when you get home. What?
1. Free Water
Stock up on water bottles and then fill them up from the free public water fountains (bubblers), saving on average $2.50 a bottle! Make sure the taps are marked as drinking water though, otherwise it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
2. Free BBQs
You’re in Australia, the spiritual home of the BBQ, so why not have one every single damn night? Need another reason? Well almost all camp-sites have free BBQs for you to use, so you won’t even have to buy those horrid and wasteful disposable ones. Score.
3. Pack lunch
Not every meal can be char-grilled kangaroo steaks. Sorry. For those long driving days be sure to have provisions on board for an old fashioned packed lunch. Even our smallest vans have an esky and our larger vans have a fridge and small kitchen so no need to survive on service station snacks.
4. Fill up on Tuesdays
Not the name of the newest local indie band (though we’re keeping that one in our back pocket), but the little known fact that if you buy petrol on a Tuesday in Australia, you’ll save up to 15% compared to other days! Plan those fuel stops carefully and that could add up to hundreds of dollars over a long trip.
5. Fuel Vouchers
Woolworths (not the same as its defunct UK namesake, this one actually sells things) and Coles both do fuel vouchers when you spend over a certain amount with them. Stock up your fridge and save, but only on Tuesday. Remember that.
6. Camp Booklets
These little books are worth ten times their weight in gold as they’re chock full of tips for free & legal parking, cheap camp-sites, details of the facilities available, discount vouchers and loads more! No more stopping at any site you find after a long day’s driving only to find you’re paying through the nose for a patch of scrubby grass.
7. Find travel companions
Put notices up on boards in local hostels, post on Gumtree and Facebook, and find like-minded travellers who don’t fancy hours and hours on the bus and would rather hang out with a group of insanely attractive, ridiculously entertaining new best friends (that’s you) in return for contribution to the petrol fund.
Use your head here, meet up with the person first over a coffee or (more realistically) a beer and make sure you’re cool with spending the next few hours/days with them before committing to the ride.
8. Book open ended activities ahead of time
You know you want to sky dive over the Great Barrier Reef, sail around the Whitsundays, learn to scuba dive, climb Sydney Harbour Bridge and chill out on Fraser Island, but not sure exactly when you’ll be rocking up in your home on wheels? You can book all of these activities and more ahead of time (i.e. before you leave the UK) with no set dates and confirm when you’re on the road.
Not only does this mean an initial saving (we often get better deals here than you will on the ground), but also the money has already been spent and doesn’t come out of your road trip fund. You could even ask for one as a cheeky birthday / Christmas / leaving present. Cracking.
9. Find the right campervan for you
There’s no cheaper way to travel Australia than in one of these funky (yep we’re still using that word) campervans or wagons from Travellers Autobarn. Get a home from home from just £31 per day and you can’t really go wrong!
Have we missed something glaringly obvious? What dingoes we are, let us know in the comments!