Australia is one of the most compelling vacation destinations on the planet because of the diversity in climate and culture that make the world’s only country that is also its own continent the unique place it is.
Unfortunately, the strong performance of the Australian dollar has a significant effect on exchange rates for many foreign visitors, and many find a visit to the country prohibitively expensive through the most popular means.
However, a king’s ransom is not necessary for access to all the best that Australia has to offer. Some savvy traveling could save you a fortune on an Aussie getaway, and these top 5 tips will ensure you can have a first trip to Australia without a second mortgage.
How to see Australia on a Budget
1.) Fly Cheap
There are sights to see and experiences to encounter in every corner of the continent, and that means airfare can quickly add up during an extensive Australian excursion. You can save on airfare by using discount airlines such as Jetstar and Tiger Airways, which will get you where you want to go without all the added expense.
Some airlines also feature what is known as a backpacker’s pass, which is a type of ticket only available to international travelers which allows unlimited travel between selected destinations for a predetermined period of time.
2.) Travel as light as you can!
Checked baggage fees are another expense that can quickly add up, so be sure to pack only the essentials. You don’t really need that food processor/video game system during your travels, and traveling lighter on your trip to the country also gives you more opportunity to take pieces of Australia back home with you.
One thing you should pack is a prepaid local SIM card for your cell phone to avoid carrying outlandish roaming charges around. Virgin, Telstra and Three wireless are a few of the most popular options for travelers, and they each have their own benefits (better city coverage, more extensive rural coverage, data charges or the lack thereof) depending on the type of activities you are planning.
3.) Go with a group of friends!
Group travel is an excellent way to save money and enjoy an adventure with familiar faces. Also, taking a taxi from large airports such as Sydney and Brisbane can be much cheaper as compared to purchasing individual tickets for the airport train.
Going in a group is a great way to save on accomodations, and online deals for “mystery hotels” can deliver even more value for a flexible party. As an added bonus, a group will also discourage you from trotting out that awful faux-Aussie accent you’ve been working on in private for any reason.
4.) Discover free or cheap entertainment!
Thinking of spending money to have fun in Australia? Think twice. The permanent exhibit collections at Australia’s most important museums and galleries such as the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Queensland Art gallery are free to the public, with only special attractions requiring a charge.
Contrary to popular outside belief, there are precious few kangaroos and koalas prancing about the streets of major Australian cities, and so there are also a number of free wildlife experiences for nature enthusiasts to enjoy. Do you like camping in the great outdoors? Then check out the Bennett’s Ridge campground just outside Sydney or the Alligator Creek campground, which is thankfully famous for its wallabies instead.
5.) Eat cheap, eat locally!
Sure, you could head out and spend hundreds on a fine meal in one of Sydney’s most expensive restaurants for a new experience, but don’t you want to eat like the locals? Instead of blowing your trip money on expensive eats, seize the chance to experience fast food as the natives do.
A basket of takeaway fish and chips from Sydney institution Doyle’s on the Wharf or a few hours with the bar menu at Melbourne’s Cutler & Co is a lot tastier than a bland steak and passable fried onion from a chain steakhouse. Just be sure to view my tips for eating safely from street vendors before you put anything in your stomach! 😉
A visit to Australia can be a rich experience, but you don’t need to be rich to take one. The country is home to an array of experiences, and many of the most authentic are enjoyed by everyday people. Indeed, as in life, many of the best things in Australia are free.
What are your tips for traveling to Australia on a budget?