10 ways to save money whilst backpacking through Australia


Australia is probably one of the most expensive travel-destinations to choose from for a backpacker on a budget. But I urge you not to let this put you off from visiting this truly beautiful country. 
I have been living in Australia for 7 months now & would like to share some of my money-saving tips that I've picked up along the way. 





1. Water Bottles
It is currently November here and into Spring but is still a lot warmer than back home in the UK  (well, in Melbourne im freezing when its low-20s).
 Australia can get seriously hot especially in the upcoming summer months so its very important to stay hydrated. Continuously buying drinks throughout the day will quickly add up and eat away at your hard-earned savings. I recommend buying yourself either a decent sports bottle that you can attach to your backpack or fit in your handbag - OR just buy a big bottle from Coles / Woolies and use that to keep refilling. You can refill throughout the day for FREE from a number of public water fountains located in towns and cities throughout Australia. If you get stuck finding a fountain, just kindly ask a barman :)


2. Food Shop
If you're heading out to Australia to do some travelling you may soon realise that you can't afford to eat out every meal of the day because your bank balance will dry up pretty quickly. 
Sucks I know!!
If your hotel / hostel provides a free breakfast - HAVE IT! Even if you have to set an alarm to get up to eat and then go back to bed for a couple hours, make sure you take advantage of that free meal! I always took a small day bag down to breakfast with me and snuck in a few pieces of extra fruit & snacks to keep me going between meals throughout the day and to stop me from buying any unnecessary snacks out.
 For your other meals if you can't afford to eat out all the time you're going to need to do a food shop. And there's no better place than Coles or Woolworths. Plan some meals that you can cook in bulk at your hostel (make sure they have the equipment you'll need, i.e no point buying microwave meals if theres no microwave!) and then do some shopping. Tupperwear is God so stock up!  If you make friends at your hostel its a good idea to chip in and all cook a meal together, costs less and great way to bond over food!  

3. Find Free Wi-Fi
Roaming charges are a bitch lets be real & no one wants to be caught with a hefty bill from posting 1 picture on Instagram, no matter how many likes it gets, that bill will not be worth it. 
& pre-paid sim plans aren't the best. 4GB of data to last me 28 days? Don't think so.
 You'll find that you're having to top up your phone more frequently than you'd like if you're an instawhore like me. 
Locations-vary but I found Perth & Sydney to be very good with free wifi spots. In Perth the entire city-centre has a free wifi service so you can spend a couple hours sat in a coffee shop in the shopping centre and just update everyone over WhatsApp on your travels, post all your pictures or search online for jobs if you need to. 
Sydney has numerous wifi spots in Westfield & Myer shopping centres in the CBD.  If you're really struggling and desperate for some Wifi - go to McDonalds.  And if you're lucky and you are staying in a hostel / hotel that provides free wifi take advantage of that. But at the end of the day its really not the end of the world if you go a day or 2 without having access to the internet, just make sure you've got some calltime on your phone incase you need to get hold of family back home to let them know what you've been up to. 

4. Shared Dorms & AirBnB
One of the biggest things a backpackers budget will go on is accommodation. Like food, you can't avoid having somewhere to stay. Hostel prices vary from city to city in Australia but it all adds up. It is often cheaper to opt into a shared dorm (the more sharing the cheaper) at hostels. Its also a great and easy way to make friends if you're automatically thrown into a room with 7 other people! 
Australia is well set-up for travelers and those on a budgets so you can find pretty decent hostels for all budgets in all the major cities. 
Booking.com is my favourite website to book my accommodation and shows the best prices when comparing rooms. YHA hostels are becoming some of my favourites since being here and offer discount prices if you become a member (or do what i do and collect a stamp everytime you stay in a YHA to earn yourself a membership for FREE). 
OR you can go down the AirBnB route - this has saved me & my friends in Melbourne. During peak season or events (Melbourne Cup) prices go up like crazy! You're looking at 50-70$ a night in the CBD, so its often alot cheaper to look on airbnb for a place. We got an ENTIRE house for 6 of us for $100 each for a week - cheap as chips! 


5. Venture off the Beaten Track
It may seem pretty obvious but you will usually find that hotels, restaurants & bars that are located centrally or in a convenient place are going to have the highest prices. Before eating-out at every high street restaurant, do a little research before blowing all your dolla. 
I have found so many nice cafes or restaurants outside of the city centre & busy tourist areas for half the price. Also when booking your hotel, even if it is an extra 5-10 minute walk out of the way from everything you want to see, you'll thank yourself for those extra minutes exercise in the future.  
& this goes for where you visit in Australia too. Don't just be a tourist and visit Sydney & Melbourne and stay on the East Coast. Do some more travelling and visit smaller towns, go inland, visit more national parks and I dare you to spend time on the West Coast! If you're not convinced wait around for my posts on my West Coasts trips coming soon. I fell in love with that part of the country. 



6. Group On
So you've come all the way to Australia, you want to have some cool adventure stories to take home with you and you want to at least experience some sort of adrenaline rush but these can come with a big price tag $$$. 
I compared so many companies doing Skydive or dive trips or 2-3 day tours and some can be around $500 for one day! That could easily be a months worth of accommodation so is no doubt out of the question. 
But you've come so far & you don't want to miss out. 
I found using Group On (make sure register to Aus) so helpful as it constantly updates with great deals and discounts from day trips, experiences to meals out. 

7. Goon
Wtf is Goon you say. If you come to Australia chances are you will not leave without purchasing some Goon. Goon my friends is basically a sack of dirty "wine" and the soul ingredient to drinking on the cheap in Australia. You can get 5L boxes of this horrible stuff and works out much cheaper than drinking out & perfect for drinking at hostels before going out. But be warned though, goon hangovers are the worst! 
My tip is to drink with a splash of OJ or lemo - takes the edge off! 

8. Work for your bed
This is not uncommon in Australia. A lot of hostels will offer a bed for the night in exchange for a specified amount of hours work where you could be doing anything from cooking, cleaning or changing sheets. If you're low on money this is a great option to make sure you aren't spending money on accommodation while you look for a job. 

9. Bus-It
So as you may (or may not) know, Australia is pretty damn big. You may be wondering what the best way to travel around Australia is and really it all depends where you want to go and how much time you have to spare & how much patience you have.  Australia has a great Greyhound Bus Network which covers the East Coast down to Adelaide and through the Red Centre and up to Darwin. Please always take time to research which is the cheapest option for you to do. If you find that flying from A to B costs $400 but taking the bus costs $100 I urge you to BUS-IT! 
Yes the journey may take 24+ hours but Greyhound buses are great, free wifi, comfy seats, air-conditioned, toilet & bathroom facilities on board and even allocated rest stops to stock up on any food and drink along the way. You can sleep on the bus over-night which in turn saves you a nights pay at a hostel. 
I had this dilemma back in May. 
Do I a. Pay $450 to fly from Darwin to Alice Springs (takes 3 hours) , spend 4 days doing a Uluru Tour and then spend $1000!! on a flight from Alice Springs to Cairns. 
OR
Do i b. Pay $150 to bus-it from Darwin to Alice Springs (took 20 hours), spend 4 days doing a Uluru Tour and then spend $300 on a bus from Alice Springs to Cairns (34 hours).
I went with B. YOLO
It was the longest 34 hours of my life but totally worth it. 
I had free WiFi so could make my GoPro videos, contact friends & family, share my Uluru pictures and make every jealous. I read a whole book. A WHOLE BOOK!? I had charging ports all to myself so could charge all my devices, I had 2 seats to myself so could spread out and enjoy the ever-changing landscape outside. I got to see parts of Australia I never thought I'd see.
If you have all the time in the world why spend the extra money to get to your next destination quicker? You could spend a few (technically bit more than a few) hours on a bus and see places in Australia native Australians probably haven't visited. 
Buses are also pretty useful within cities too. In Perth the CAT buses which run through all the city-centre are FREE so if you don't feel like walking on certain days just hop on a bus and get off somewhere new to explore.

10. FREE Attractions
I know this might seem obvious but spend some time doing things that are FREE. If you've got some free days and want to avoid spending money research things that are free to do in that area. Parks, free walking-tours, beaches, harbours, museums, markets (you can browse for free) all fall into this and you could spend a whole day or afternoon soaking up the sun on the beach relaxing, or sat in a park with a good book. You don't have to do some exciting pricey activity every day or every week - you'll be poor very soon. Spread your costly activities out if you 100% want to do them and fill your time inbetween (when or if you're not working) with free attractions. 

I hope some of these tips are useful for you if you're heading to Australia or already here. 
Let me know any extras that you've found useful on your travels! 

I will be back more often with updates of my Australia travels & sharing what I've done so far in the last 7 months ... 


Thanks for reading :) 


♡ G

Join me on Instagram @gemwills 


& follow me on my Australian Adventure 




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