One of the most exciting ways to truly capture your country's spirit is by going on a road trip.
Roadtripping allows you to move at your own pace, discover new sights, and really dedicate yourself to a journey that’s uniquely your own.
And, let's face it. Australia is enormous—spanning over 7.5 million square kilometres. The vibrant cities are only the beginning of what awaits you in the Land Down Under.
If you're worried about the cost of such an undertaking, don't be! There are plenty of ways you can have fun while driving around Australia on a budget.
Here are some tips to help you drive the scenic country for cheap.
1) Determine Your Vehicle
It should come as no surprise that you'd need transportation to get from one location to another. Most people would be working with the vehicle they already own, but if you're thinking of renting a car, consider the following:
- What's your budget?
- What are your driving needs (off-road, camping gear)?
- How much space do you need to be comfortable?
If you're working with a limited budget, it's important to watch your fuel and maintenance costs. A smaller car can save you on diesel prices, but it comes with the added cost of minimising your storage space and passenger capacity.
You'll also never know when your car might need repairs. Fortunately, there are resources like Enji that help you get in touch with local mechanics no matter where you are in Australia. So if worse comes to worst, you'll at least be safe despite being in an unfamiliar location!
2) Plan Your Route Ahead
Once you've got your vehicle sorted, it's time to start thinking about your route. If you're planning on travelling Australia from coast to coast, you'll want to be strategic in how you travel. This way, you wouldn't impulsively make purchases or drive longer hours than necessary.
Start by mapping out your must-see routes and approximate driving time between destinations. This will help you be more time-efficient and help you budget your food, lodging, and activities as a whole.
In addition, booking your accommodation in advance can save you money and ensure you have a place to stay at night.
3) Consider Camping and Free Activities
You don't have to stay in a hotel or hostel every night if you don't have the money for it. There are plenty of options for affordable camping and lodging, from the wide open spaces of the Outback to the outskirts of major cities like Sydney and Melbourne.
These camping grounds may also come with their own amenities like grills and picnic areas, so you can save on costs by cooking your own meals in these places too. Backpackers tend to only spend about $100 a week on food, so try to stick to this budget as well. Limit restaurant meals to twice a week, max!
In addition to that, there are also a number of free activities you can enjoy on your trip. For example, national parks and beaches are always worth a visit and don't require any entrance fees. Alternatively, you can spend an afternoon simply admiring the natural cliffs and landscapes that Australia has to offer.
4) Know Your Roadtrip Essentials
Of course, no roadtrip is complete without the right supplies. In addition to the obvious (food, water, sunscreen), there are a few other items you should bring on roadtrips:
- An emergency first-aid kit
- A map of the local area
- A working phone and charger
- Jumper cables
- A flashlight
- Basic tools for car repairs
- Extra clothes and blankets
- A spare tyre
Consider buying these items in places that sell them for cheap, like hardware and retail chains. Planning ahead also gives you some time to score on potential deals on travel items, so keep an eye out!
If you can't afford the more expensive items in the list for brand new, you can always look for second-hand sellers online. Remember, it's better to have a little more than you need, rather than not enough at all.
5) Start Saving Now
You've made it this far, so it’s fair to say you’re probably dead set on making a road trip happen.
So instead of waiting until the last minute to start saving up, start getting serious with your finances right away.
Begin with a goal in mind of how much you want to save up, and break it down into smaller, more manageable increments.
For example, if your goal is to save $5,000 in one year, you can set aside about $420 a month. This way, you won't feel overwhelmed by the daunting task of saving such a large amount at once.
A road trip is a spiritual journey as much as it is a physical one. It's an adventure that helps you explore not just the land you call home, but also yourself.
We hope these tips have inspired you to plan your own budget road trip around Australia.
Best of luck on your journey!