Looking to travel the land down under, but don’t want to break the bank in doing so? We have accumulated tried-and-tested tips on how to travel the (let’s face it, rather expensive county), on a budget. Below you can find some conventional and unconventional ways to save whilst travelling.
1. Travel in Spring & Autumn
Summer and Winter are popular seasons for both native Australians and international tourists due to the array of festivities and optimal weather conditions. Spring and Autumn, though, are often underlooked seasons for travel but shouldn’t be in this country. You can still find temperatures between 11-20°C or 50-70°F in the Spring months of September, October, and November in South Australia. Additionally, these months will bring low rainfall and chillier evenings. In North Australia, you can expect temperatures in the Spring Months of March, April, and May to be between 13-30°C, or 56.8 – 87°F. However, in the north, you may need to prepare for your fair share of evening thunderstorms. In Western Australia, temperatures will be between 6-19°C with moderate rainfall, but mostly sunny days.
Similarly, In Autumn, you can find temperatures to be between 9-20°C in South-East Australia, 23-32°C in North Australia, and 12-30°C in the West. Of course, in Autumn, it is wet season so you can prepare for your share of rainfall. Because of this, you can expect more pleasant (but humid) evenings where temperatures cool a bit.
While traveling in these months does not promise endless days of sunny skies, they do promise reasonable temperatures and cool evenings – besides, who doesn’t love a good rainfall every now and then?!
2. Book your International & Domestic Flights with Low Cost-Carriers
If you are travelling on a budget, or want to start your journey in doing so, book with these carriers for domestic flights: Jetstar, Bonza, Scoot, Tiger Airways, and Virgin Australia. For international flights into Australia, of course, depending on where you are flying from, carriers will vary, but typically, you can count on these low-cost carriers to bring you to Australia at a reasonable rate: AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, Jetstar, EasyJet, IndiGo, and more. If you want the best rates, book your flights at least 2-6 months in advance, if you can. For a preview, expect to spend $230 on flight costs in the spring months of March, April, and May for domestic travel within Australia.
For domestic travel within Australia, one of the best airports to fly from is Sydney Airport, but it is also one of the busiest airports in Australia. Flying out of Sydney Airport with low-cost carriers like Jetstar, Bonza, or Scoot, especially during off-seasons of Spring and Fall, and when booked online at least 2 months in advance will bring you the cheapest flight options to go anywhere in
Australia, or out of it. Some of the cheapest cities to fly from Sydney Airport into are Gold Coast,
Ballina, Launceston, and Melbourne. So, if these cities are on your itinerary, try to fly from Sydney International Airport, and do so in the evening when possible, to save you the most money.
If you plan to drive to Sydney Airport and keep your car there whilst away, book budget-conscious Sydney Airport Parking. The key to saving money in doing so is booking with off-site providers, at Sydney Airport or any airport car park across Australia, either in your rental car or your own. Doing so will save you up to 50% of what you would pay by storing your car on airport grounds, and all you have to do is take a complimentary, short shuttle to the airport upon parking your car at the car park instead of walking to the terminal. Remember, the longer you book a spot, the cheaper the cost will be.
3. Public Transportation Hacks
If you want to save on public transportation, no matter where you are in Australia, there are a few tips you should absolutely take into consideration.
- Use Uber or Ola, not traditional taxis – you will save money, especially on longer distances
- Look for and obtain these travel discount cards when you can: Backpacker Card, YHA Card, utilize your Student & Senior Citizen IDs when purchasing bus tickets for discounts. Remember, on the East Coast busses are going to be a lot cheaper than bus tickets on the West Coast.
- Greyhound Australia will be your best friend on the East Coast if you book your bus passes in advance!
- If you are travelling around a particular city, say Sydney, use the ‘Hop-on, Hop-off’ bus to get to the main attractions for a cheap fee
- Search what transportation modes are free before going! In Melbourne, you will find the Melbourne City Circle Tram is free.
- Rent a car or caravan if you are with friends and want to travel to multiple cities/towns. It will save you a lot of money, especially if you are all splitting gas costs.
- Buy Travel Insurance – it will help you in avoiding cancellation fees in the case that you want to cancel trains/busses. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of all it applies to.
4. Experience Free Cultural Events
Believe it or not, there are various ways to experience cities and towns without having to break your bank account. All you have to do is partake in some of the suggestions below, or search accordingly given your destination!
- Vivid Sydney: Check out this annual festival of light, music, and ideas that takes place in Sydney during May and June. It features free light installations, live music performances, public talks, and art displays.
- Melbourne Moomba Festival: Held annually in March, this festival celebrates the city of Melbourne with a range of free activities including parades, water skiing competitions, live music, and fireworks – who doesn’t like live music AND activities?!
- Brisbane Festival: Taking place in September, the Brisbane Festival showcases a diverse program of music, theater, dance, circus, and visual arts. It offers a variety of free performances, exhibitions, and events.
- Adelaide Fringe Festival: This vibrant arts festival runs for a month from February to March in Adelaide. It features thousands of performances, including many free shows in various artistic disciplines.
- National Gallery of Australia: Located in Canberra, the National Gallery offers free entry to its permanent collection, which houses a significant collection of Australian and international artworks. This is a great way to experience the capital, its culture, and its history.
- Sydney Festival: Held in January, the Sydney Festival is a major cultural event featuring a range of free and ticketed performances, installations, and exhibitions across the city.
- National Museum of Australia: Situated in Canberra, the National Museum offers free entry to its permanent exhibitions, providing insights into Australia’s history, culture, and identity.
- Sculpture by the Sea: Held in both Sydney and Perth, Sculpture by the Sea is an outdoor sculpture exhibition that showcases works by local and international artists along scenic coastal walks. Entry is free.
- Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI): Located in Melbourne, ACMI is a museum dedicated to film, television, and digital culture. While some special exhibitions may require a fee, the museum’s main collection is free to explore.
- Royal Botanic Gardens: Many cities in Australia, such as Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, have beautiful botanical gardens that offer free entry. These gardens often host cultural events and outdoor concerts.
5. Partaking in Non-Touristic Activities
Partaking in non-touristic activities will not only allow you to spend incredibly less during your vacation but also give you the opportunity to experience unique, authentic experiences that a lot probably wouldn’t do (or know about to do). See below for some low-cost, highly reputable activities to pursue anywhere in Australia. Also, as a travel hack, simply google: “Unique activities to do in ____,” with the city you are in, in Australia (or anywhere in the world), and go do some of them, you will be amazed at the fun you have and the memories you will make.
Further, if you can, visit the Visitors Center at the city you are visiting upon arrival, and ask the guides for low-cost, unique experiences or, if they have any discounts running at the moment for activities in the city or town you are visiting. Some ideas for non-touristic activities you can find in almost every Australian city are:
- Local Markets
- Hiking in National Parks
- Visiting local Museums + galleries (many museums offer student discounts for those that bring their student ID)
- Visit local beaches & towns
- Partake in a conservation project like a beach cleanup or wildlife rescue center
Now you have about all of the tips in our book to not break your bank account whilst travelling in Australia. As a last piece of advice, but is completely underrated: book as much as you can in advance. It is often said but not often done because people want flexibility. And while it is great to have this if you have the funds to do so, it is not recommended for those who want to be more conscious of their budget! Happy Travelling!