A Thrifty Traveler’s Handbook for Exploring Australia on a Budget

A Thrifty Traveler's Handbook for Exploring Australia on a Budget

A Thrifty Traveler’s Handbook for Exploring Australia on a Budget

Australia, known for its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and vibrant cities, has long been a dream destination for backpackers seeking adventure. While Australia is often perceived as an expensive place to visit, with careful planning and budget-conscious choices, you can experience the beauty of this vast country without breaking the bank. 

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Australia is known for being an expensive destination, and I’ve heard many people say, “I’d love to travel to Australia, but it’s just too pricey.” Getting to Australia can be a hefty expense, especially if you’re flying in from Europe or the United States. However, once you arrive Down Under, there are intelligent and budget-friendly ways to explore this incredible country. In this guide, I’ll break down the costs of traveling in Australia and share some tips on how you can make the most of your budget.

Typical Costs of Backpacking in Australia

Accommodation: Hostels in Australia can be affordable, starting at around 15 AUD per night. On the well-trodden backpacker path of the East Coast, you might pay more, ranging from 20 to 30 AUD per night. It’s worth noting that most hostels in Australia don’t offer free WiFi or breakfast, so be prepared to shell out an additional 4 AUD for WiFi at times.

Food: Dining out in Australia can be expensive. A meal at a cheap restaurant typically costs 15-20 AUD, while a more excellent restaurant can set you back around 40 AUD. Even fast-food options like McDonald’s won’t leave you with much change from a 10 AUD note.

Transport: Australia boasts an extensive bus network, particularly along the East Coast. Consider getting a Greyhound Australia Bus Pass, which allows you to hop on and off at various stops along a specific route. For instance, the Sydney to Cairns hop-on, hop-off pass costs 469 AUD. Alternatively, you can rent a campervan starting at 35 AUD per day.

Activities: Australia’s outdoor culture offers plenty of free activities, like exploring national parks and beaches. However, you should budget for some paid activities. For example, a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef could set you back around 230 AUD, and a surf lesson in Byron Bay might cost roughly 69 AUD.

Accommodation in Australia

Hotels in Australia can be pretty pricey, and finding anything for less than 100 AUD per night is challenging. As a budget-conscious backpacker, you’ll likely opt for hostels, where a bed in a dorm room costs about 20-30 AUD per night.

Another economical option is camping. You can purchase affordable camping gear upon arrival and use it during your trip. Many national parks in Australia allow camping for as little as 5 AUD per night. Keep in mind that camping isn’t available in city centers. If you’re traveling with a group, consider renting a campervan, which combines transportation and accommodation.

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Food and Drink in Australia

Eating out can strain your budget, with an inexpensive restaurant meal costing 15-20 AUD and a mid-range restaurant bill of around 40 AUD. Even fast food is a costly option. To save money, utilize the communal kitchens in hostels and guesthouses. Supermarkets like Coles, Woolworths, and Aldi offer affordable grocery options. Additionally, you can find budget-friendly food stalls in Chinatowns in major cities.

Drinking in Australia can be expensive. A pint of beer costs around 9 AUD, and cocktails go for about 15 AUD. To save money, consider pre-drinking before going out, as drinks in bars and clubs are often costly. If you’re backpacking, you’ll likely become acquainted with “goon,” boxed, relatively inexpensive wine, even if it might lead to a rough morning. Remember to bring a disposable water bottle, as tap water is safe to drink.

Getting Around in Australia

Australia’s vast size can make travel between destinations time-consuming. Thankfully, the extensive bus network makes getting around relatively easy. If you plan to explore the East Coast, a Greyhound Australia Bus Pass is a cost-effective choice, priced at about 469 AUD for stops between Sydney and Cairns. If you prefer to venture off the beaten path, consider renting a campervan, which you can find for as little as 35 AUD per day, making it affordable when shared among travel companions.

Activities and Entertainment in Australia

Australia offers a wealth of incredible experiences, but they can be costly. To stick to your budget, select a few special activities to splurge on and focus on enjoying free experiences.

Australia’s outdoor culture provides opportunities for hiking and exploring national parks and beaches. Cities also offer beautiful parks and free walking tours, such as those provided by “I’m Free” in Sydney and Melbourne.

With a coastline stretching nearly 50,000 kilometers, Australia’s beaches are a must-visit, perfect for a day of swimming and picnicking. Coastal paths provide excellent hiking opportunities.

Australia Daily Budget Breakdown

Here’s a daily budget breakdown for your trip to Australia:

  • Accommodation: 20 AUD
  • Food: 20 AUD
  • Transport: 10-15 AUD
  • Activities: 15-20 AUD
  • Average Total: 60-65 AUD

Adjust your budget accordingly if you plan to indulge in expensive activities like diving in the Great Barrier Reef or sailing in the Whitsundays. Day trips can cost upwards of 120 AUD, while multi-day tours may exceed 400-500 AUD.

Traveling in Australia doesn’t have to break the bank. You can explore this stunning country without emptying your wallet by making savvy choices and focusing on budget-friendly options.


Q1: Is it safe to camp in Australia? A1: Camping is generally safe in designated areas, but following safety guidelines and being aware of wildlife is essential.

Q2: Are there any budget-friendly wildlife encounters? A2: Many national parks offer wildlife viewing opportunities without hefty fees. Look for parks like Kangaroo Island and Great Ocean Road.

Q3: Can I find affordable souvenirs? A3: Absolutely! Local markets often have unique and cheap souvenirs. Avoid airport shops for better deals.


Exploring Australia on a budget is not only possible but also incredibly rewarding. Following these tips lets you make the most of your trip without breaking the bank. From affordable accommodations to budget-friendly dining options, Australia’s beauty can be enjoyed without a hefty price tag. So, pack your bags, set your budget, and embark on the adventure of a lifetime in the land Down Under! Happy travels!

About Stephen Owen 15 Articles
Hello, I'm Stephen! I go by the name Stephen, and I'm a young adult who hails from Africa. Although I have a deep love for my city, my heart leans towards nature. I've made contents of hiking and wildlife-spotting integral parts of my travel experiences.

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