World’s Most Expensive Country? How to Travel Australia on a Budget
If there’s one thing I can tell you now that I’ve spent twenty months here in Australia, it’s that this is a country every traveler must experience at least once in their lifetime. Stunning landscapes, friendly locals, and unbelievably good weather make it an ideal vacation destination, except for one thing: Australia has been rated the world’s most expensive country for the past four years. But all is not lost! It is possible to see this costly country inexpensively, I promise! Here are a few tips to save money while traveling Australia.
1. Turn your holiday into a working holiday
If you’re planning to spend an extended period of time in Australia, why not apply for a working holiday visa? This will allow you to spend up to a year down under, and even if you’re keen to spend more time traveling and less time working, when your cash supply is running low, you can always do a few days of casual work to replenish your wallet. Casual employees earn upwards of $20 per hour, so working just a few hours a week is not a bad way to boost your funds.
2. Road tripping? Rent a campervan!
There’s no better way to see the real Australia than an epic cross-country road trip. You’ll need a way to get around anyway, so why not rent a vehicle that can double as accommodation? Campervans or RVs are a fantastic and economical way to see Australia. You can save money you’d otherwise spend on hotels and have tons more flexibility when it comes to where you’ll stay and when. DriveNow is super handy for comparing various companies’ rates and vehicles, letting you save even further on your road trip, and offers campervan rentals in Sydney and other cities.
3. Going a bit farther? Fly discount airlines
Australia is a big country. I mean really big. So, if you want to get a little farther than a road trip will reasonably allow, you’ll need to turn to flights. The good news is that Australia has a few discount airlines. They aren’t perfect, but I’ve found them to be at least a little less frustrating than Europe’s low-cost airlines. When flying within Australia, check out Jetstar and Tigerair for better deals.
4. Sticking in a city for a while? Airbnb it up!
I’m a massive fan of staying in hostels while traveling, but, unfortunately, I’ve found many of Australia’s hostels to be pricey and subpar. Often, for similar prices to a dirty shared hostel room, you can find lovely Airbnb rooms, especially if you’re willing to venture a little out of the city center. It’s a great way to discover new neighborhoods and meet people in your new city. And, believe it or not, Australia’s cities can be enjoyed on the cheap. Check out these tips for exploring Melbourne on a budget or my ideas for free or inexpensive sights in Sydney.
5. Hit up the grocery store
I’d always recommend trying local foods when you’re traveling, but if you’ll be in Australia for a long period anyway, cooking at home can offer some big savings. Meals out in Australia will usually set you back at least $20 Australian/$15 U.S., but essential groceries are fairly inexpensive. Coles and Woolworths are the least expensive supermarkets, and both offer great deals on home brand items. Even if you’re camping, you can make some pretty impressive dishes: check out this recipe for Dutch oven roast lamb.
6. Become a happy hour aficionado
Also frustratingly expensive in Australia? Alcohol. If you’re a backpacker, I’m sure you’ll want to make the most of your trip by having a drink or two (or ten), but this will add up quickly. Fortunately, there are loads of daily happy hours around Australia, often offering drinks that are cheaper even than liquor stores (or bottle shops or bottle-os, as they’re called here). $4 Australian/$3.10 U.S. for beers, cider, or wine? Yes, please! Check out some of Sydney’s best happy hours here, or do a quick Google search to find those near you.
7. Reclaim tax and superannuation when you leave
If you’ve spent more than $300 with a single business, you may be eligible for a tax refund when you fly out of Australia, and this can seriously add up. Learn more about Australia’s Tourist Refund Scheme here. Additionally, if you’ve worked while in Australia, you’ll have earned 9.5% superannuation on your income, which Australians must save for retirement, but you’re welcome to access the money when you return home. You can find more about claiming superannuation here.
Yes, Australia’s high prices may be off-putting, but you can still see this spectacular country even on a backpacker’s budget. So what are you waiting for?