Thursday, February 28, 2013

How To Do Australia on the Cheap!

By Jonny Blair

Who told you Australia was expensive? Someone that didn't do it on the cheap like me...

I've heard from loads of people that have gone backpacking in the land down under that it is a dear or expensive place to travel. These people really must be living a luxury lifestyle if that's their impression of the land down under. Australia has to have been one of the cheapest places I have ever travelled and worked in, I earned tons of money when I was living there, enough to take four months off work. Young and inexperienced backpackers must be doing things wrong if they find it expensive. Maybe they are perhaps ill-informed, badly prepared or just spending their cash in the wrong way. I've concocted 12 sure fire reasons, all from personal experience on how to live cheaply in Australia.

1. Sleeping - Yes hostels are great but take a break away from them. Don't just spend your whole time in hostels getting pissed! Camping out is the best accomodation option for travelling cheap in Australia. A tent can be purchased for $15 - 20 and some nights you will end up camping out for free. Make a tent your home for a few months as you "backpack" your way round the land down under. Nearly all campsites have toilets and showers by the way, lots of them are also close to places where you can get part time and temporary jobs.

2. Eating - If you really want to eat out, head to pubs that have $10 steaks and similar offers. They often also give you a beer or a soft drink as part of the offer. A useful hint I used while in Australia is checking out pubs or bars that offer cheap big meals and monitor the times they apply. I noticed that most of them are around lunchtime - that's when they have the most specials. Come on it's hardly a big deal to transfer your biggest meal of the day from dinner to lunch. You can easily just eat cereals and toast for breakfast. And you're a backpacker so don't be afraid to head into Hungry Jacks or McDonalds for a cheap breakfast. Hungry Jacks also offer unlimited refills on drinks - so why not take your flask in and top it up? They're won't chase you out you're a paying customer. McDonalds also offers free wi-fi. You can always fall back on good old vegemite sandwiches! One of my favourites!

3. Transport - First things first - travel overland! I spent around 2 years living in Australia and I didn't once fly internally. Book Greyhound buses and book them early if you know your dates, or even better meet up with others, buy a car (or share the cost of buying a car) and make it your home - you can sleep in it and live in it - buy a gas cooker, a battery pack and a wireless internet pre paid USB stick and suddenly you have everything you need. You get a job more easily if you have a car, you can soon earn enough to cover what the car cost you and you can also share lifts to save money on petrol. Make sure if you are getting a long distance Greyhound bus get it at night as you'll save money on accommodation (simple obvious tips are the best). Use notice boards and online backpack websites and groups to arrange transport with others and broaden your options.

4. Get some kind of a Working Visa - I don't understand travellers that are able to get a working holiday visa for Australia but yet they don't buy it. The number of travellers I met in the land down under that say things like "we only plan to stay for a few months so we're not planning to work" and then they follow it with "this place is expensive", so why didn't you get some kind of a working visa then?! Do it - even by working for a week or two in Australia can earn you over 1000 Australian Dollars.

5. Entrance Fees - Again it sounds obvious but don't be paying entry into places - there are loads of FREE things to see and do in Australia. Hiking for one, some amazing landscapes to see, beaches (completely free), fancy dress parties (make your own costumes for free), museums are often also free entry (including the amazing War Memorial in Canberra), as is walking across Sydney Harbour Bridge. If you want to see Koalas and Kangaroos - these can all be done for free. Kennet River on the Great Ocean Road is a decent spot for Koala watching at sunrise. Kangaroos and wallabies are hard to miss.

6. Coupons, vouchers, tokens - The amount of travellers I met who never bother picking up those brochures, fliers etc. that lurk in bus stations, airports, pubs, hostels, tourist information centres etc. - I kept picking up these brochures and finding money off coupons, savings on tours etc. Bars often even give out a free beer to entice you in - go in, take your free beer and leave.

7. Buy Value Brands - Value brands such as those available in Woolworths and Coles are worth buying. The quality of the food and drink is really not that much worse than the top brands to be honest and yu can live a healthy and stable eating lifestyle by buying the cheap stuff.

8. Nightclubs after 10pm - did you really go to Australia just to attend expensive nightclubs? I certainly didn't! You'll notice that after 9 or 10 pm (especially on weekends) the prices of drinks go up. Seriously to all those backpackers in Australia - get yourself a carryout, a box of goon and some tinnies and sit with your new found friends.

9. Internet - I also met a couple of guys in Brisbane moaning about the price of the internet. I never once paid to use internet in Australia. Leave facebook alone until you really need it. What do you think travellers did 20 years ago before the likes of facebook? Exactly! Get to meet people in the hostels and campsites and hang out with them. I went 5 weeks without being online when I was in Tasmania. I had some experiences and travel tales in that time that I wouldn't have got sitting on facebook! If you really, really insist on using internet in Australia at least be clever about it - maximise your usage of it when you have it for free in a hostel while you have it. The next campsite or hostel may not have it or may charge for it. If all else fails, bring a small laptop with you and buy the cheapest coffee in McDonalds and sit and use their free wifi (free all over Australia and normally for about 20 minutes).

10. Hold back on booking things early. Plans in Australia always change so don't be booking tours or hostels in other towns or cities that you expect to be in in a few weeks time. You might change your plans and have already paid a deposit. Go with a free spirit and enjoy it!

11. Laundry - The obvious is to wear the same clothes over and over again, and hand wash them. Done that myself manys a time. If you really feel the need to use laundry - get 2-3 cotton buds on sticks and stick them in the coin slots in the machines to get free laundry. Most of you reading will know this trick. A well known travellers "secret".

12. Fake Being a student - Things suddenly become cheaper when you show a student card. Who cares if it's real or not? Aussies are so laid back, they'll be happy of your money (even at a discount rate) so don't fret and get a fake one done!

Honestly, folks this might sound like a bit of a rant and in many ways it is, BUT I just really want to let people know that Australia is a magnificent country and a great place to go. And it's cheap if you know what you're doing!! Those are just a few of my tips - there are tons more ways to save money.

Go to Australia, economise, live cheap and love it. You'll probably have better fun than those you don't and come away moaning about the price of the wonderful land down under.

About the Author:

Leave a Reply