Coming from western country with wonderful GDP seems to be nothing to worry about hearing the cost of travelling in Australia. But if your country has average ones and see modern country as high rated vacation cost, this may be a problem. One of my friend prefer similar and even lower level of countries in GDP to travelling at.
Problem comes where your money in one country can be optimized to pay everything like accommodation and public transportation also entrance fee, while in Australia less thing can be obtained with similar amount of money. Thus, many said that it supposed to be converted the currency used before deciding to travel in Australia.
However, many other thing there is no problem travelling in Australia as long as we know our capacity and tricks how to deal with rising cost by the time. Easiest mindset that bring lots of money visiting Australia seems to be the best solution. Or, you can call relation so sharing accommodation and couchsurf is possible.
Sure, Australia is uniquely beautiful and a dream destination for many people, but it’s no secret that Australia also has premium destinations that comes with a price tag of being one of the most expensive places to visit. But you probably already know that because you tell us all the time.
Constantly we hear from you guys, other Australians and foreigners we meet traveling on the road, or friends complaining about the cost of travel in Australia. Whether it’s the cost of accommodation, food, tours, car rental, fuel, parking fees or our shitty internet that is expensive with crap coverage. I’m sick of hearing myself complain.
I’ve understood for years why many Australian families head to the pacific islands like Fiji, or to Bali and Thailand in Asia for their annual holidays.
We had several conversations with families in Perth who THINK about visiting Broome, or the wonders of Exmouth or Coral Bay, three of our favourite places in Australia to visit, but when they price it out, it’s just cheaper and easier for them to fly to Bali. It’s a shame because in Australia destinations are amazing. But you can only do what you can do financially.
Even with the cost of flights in Australia, you can get better value overseas
They say why pay $75 for a one hour massage in Australia when you can pay $8. Why pay $12 for a beer when you can pay $3. Why pay $120 to eat out as a family when you can pay $40. And why pay $400 per night for your resort accommodation when you can pay $150.
When you go away on holidays the last thing you want is to be counting every dollar. And you certainly don’t want to return home with a hefty credit card bill. You’ve saved up for a year to enjoy your dream trip, you don’t want to be paying for it for another year once you return home. As we continued our road trip around Australia, we saw on a daily basis the cost of travel in Australia and often go into a state of shock. If you’re coming from Southeast Asia, or even the States, then you might just faint.
What happened to our best accommodation option in Australia
Caravan Parks used to offer the best value in town, now I’m not so sure. We’ve been charged $60 per night to pitch our tent on a patch of grass. Part of that fee was $12 per night for our 2 year old. We were in Narooma on the NSW south coast. No offense Narooma, but you’re not the Gold Coast, or Byron Bay. As for cabins in caravan parks, a 2-bed-cabins can go for $350 per night, and 3-4 bed villas up to $600.
High accommodation prices in Australia are just the beginning
Accommodation in Australia will be one of your biggest expenses, but it doesn’t end there. When we first went out to a pub in Melbourne, I coughed my beer straight back up into my pint glass when I realized I’d been stung $12. The other day, I nearly fell over when I saw a paddle pop (a popsicle) for sale for $6 in the Daintree National Park. One paddle pop for 6 bucks. I don’t care if it was homemade, it’s just a popsicle… -_-
I nearly choked on my food when I found out a club sandwich cost $26 at a cafe we were at in Sorrento, Victoria. I get that it was in Sorrento, but I was sitting on a plastic chair on the footpath in the main street.
Enough of my ranting about the cost of travel in Australia
Ok, I’ve got that off my chest now and this post is not intended for me to just rant. But after promoting all the good points about Australia over the past 10 months on the road, make that the past four years since our travel blog has been up and running, I need to keep it real and bring some reality to the table and talk about one of the cons of Australia travel. Now if you keep reading below I hope you’ll get real some values out of this post and learn something, and maybe even save a few bucks on your next trip to Australia.
The Cost of Travel in Australia
So is it that bad?. The rest of this post I’m going to role play a little with you. I’m going to act like your travel agent and show you how I book travel in Australia, the websites we use, and current examples of prices. I’ve gone through almost every facet of travel and priced things out like I was planning a trip. I hope you find this useful and it helps you to get your head around thinking on Australian terms now, and not Asian, American or Eastern European prices.
I did the research for all of these flight deals two years ago so prices and availability will vary, use them as a guide only.
Cost of Flights in Australia
Resembles as other countries do, cost of flight to Australia is definitely depend time when you take it. It is normal to know that weekend cost you more than weekday, so as during major holiday. You know what it means. Avoiding book in weekend is preferably. Thus, itinerary should be rearrange or you can choose to fly in weekday and doing activities in another weekday.
For my first example, I researched one of the most popular flights on the network, the Sydney to Melbourne route :
- 1hr 30min flight
- Return ticket
- Booked 5 weeks in advance
- Depart Sat Aug 2nd, return Wed Aug 6th (3 days in Melbourne)
I ran this scenario through my favourite flight search engines. Best price I got at the time was :
- $88 return
- Flying with JetStar
- Via the JetStar website and on the “Expedia” search site.
The second example I used was another popular flight from Sydney to Cairns, you’ve gotta visit the Great Barrier Reef assumingly.
- 3 hour flight
- One way ticket
- Booked 5 weeks in advance
- Depart Aug 2nd
Best price I found was:
- $107 one way
- Flying with Tiger Air
- Via the Kayak search site
I advise you not to fly with Tiger Air due to their past history of maintenance and financial issues I’m not sure I ever will. Personally I prefer the Virgin Australia or Jetstar price.
When searching flights in Australia I always start with these sites:
My strategy is to check the above search engines first, then I cross-check the prices with the actual airline with who I found the best price. Sometimes the best deals can be from the airlines themselves.
The major carriers flying domestic in Australia are:
- Virgin Australia
- Skywest Airlines
- Tiger Airways
Cost of Accommodation in Australia
Other major travel cost in Australia will be accommodation. This will also vary greatly depending on whether you need 1 or 5 stars, your date of travel, the city, and number of persons your travelling with.
Finding on reference travelling sites, some people said that it is better to travel in small group so accommodation fare can be shared. But if go alone is your preference, selecting the lowest price of them is make sense. Make sure you are not people with such high demanded facility and accept any kind at least it is good just for sleeping and eating despite still in standard.
Cost of Hotels in Australia
Without kids, it is up to your choice. With them, you need to consider place with comfy stuff at least your spouse will be able to care them properly. Preferably in a short city stay and get a great deal in a good location. With breakfast and free wifi included, instead of hostel with self service and sharing accommodation with other travellers come in group of adult or backpacker.
For my research on a hotel stay I used the following criteria:
- 3 night stay
- Check in Monday Aug 4th
- 4 guests (2 adults / 2 kids)
With so many things to do in Sydney it deserves at least 3 nights and in the City Centre would be your best option. I started by using one of my favourite sites for hotel deals, Hotwire. This site doesn’t tell you the name of the hotel until you book, instead, it gives you a zone to choose from based on how many stars. Also consider to select location that you will be centered as travelling to one place and another, carrying kids will need more struggle.
For a 3-star hotel in the City Centre it quoted: 2 hotels at $257 total for 3 night stay.
For a 4-star hotel it quoted: 6 hotels at $407 total for 3 night stay.
My other hotel booking site is Hotels.com :
For a 3-star hotel in the City Centre prices ranged from $197 – $307.
And for a 4-star from $334 – $444.
Cost of Apartments in Australia
As a family of four we seek out apartment stays. Most hotel rooms were not built for families with young kids. We enjoy having more space, a kitchen, a washing machine, and separate bedrooms.
Using the same criteria as for the hotel stay I used these sites:
Stayz.com.au : this is a good holiday rental site in Australia for finding short or long-term deals in apartments, peoples homes, units, cabins and more.
Tripping.com : this is a site that compares all the other rental sites at once to get you the best deal. For the 3 night stay in Sydney I got 333 results.
AirBnB : they have a growing list of inventory in Australia whether you need an apartment for a night, or a home for a month.
If you are new to Airbnb, we have a $35 credit voucher. For the 3 night stay in Sydney I focused on the inner city neighbourhoods of Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and Woolloomooloo area. And for Bondi Beach I got 33 rentals.
Cost of Hostels in Australia
Hostels are a great budget option with various standards and facilities one and another around the country. For my Sydney search on the various hostel search sites I got 71 results for those same dates in August, and in an 8-bed dorm beds it is starting from $20.
We had a partnership with ‘YHA Australia’ as are our exclusive hostel provider. We’ve stayed in YHA properties for many years because as a family of 4. YHA is a provider that actually its properties are focusing on hostel as main accommodation especially for those travelling on budget.
Typical YHA hostel is like another hostel which give you self service, and in some area where agriculture is prevalent, products of it are widely served. Tenants are welcome to pick whatever they want and process as they wish. For those dates in Sydney I got $35 for an 8 bed dorm to $136 for a family room.
The Cost of Caravanning & Camping in Australia
For many people who live in Australia or conduct such long-term, the Australia road trip involving caravanning and camping is their preferred option. There’s a great network of facilities in most places, and they buy or rent their equipment. Again, depending on the time of year, location and number of persons camping prices will vary widely.
As we are currently traveling around Australia towing a camper trailer, prices for a powered site in a caravan park have ranged from $50 – $70 per night. For an un-powered site from $25 – $40.
Before we had our camper trailer we did some camping and prices within caravan parks for us as a family of 4 ranged greatly from $30 – $60.
- Big4 Caravan Parks is the major player. They can be the most expensive caravan parks in Australia, but typically have the best facilities, especially for our kids with things like playgrounds, pools, movie nights, kids clubs etc.
- Top Tourist Caravan Parks is the other major player with a similar concept to Big4 but not quite as many parks in their network.
- Free Camping in Australia is possible at designated camping sites in many locations. They just don’t have the facilities that paid parks have. Check out ExploreAustralia.net.au
- WikiCamps is a great app we’ve just discovered which has a user-generated database of caravan parks and campsites in Australia with user reviews on the features.
The Cost of Getting around Australia
Local transport varies from city to city but Melbourne probably has the best with an extensive network of rail, bus, tram and ferries.
A 10 minute taxi ride from the airport in any city to your hotel is will cost you about $40. Unless you’re just flying into Sydney or Melbourne for a few days and using public transport you’ll need your own wheels to get out and see the country.
The cost of Car Rental in Australia
RentalCars.com is where we start our rental search. This site compares all the major car rental sites at once and displays your best options for the dates and locations you desire then sends you to the particular car company to make the booking much like Kayak (flight search engine) for flights.
Buying a Car in Australia
If your planning on spending a long period of time in Australia and want to buy a car you can spend as much as you want. Pick a camp trailer so you get both vehicle and a place to sleep. It is useful especially if you are travelling a lot from one city to another. Spending night in caravan while driving is much better than motel option. Fortunately once you find a parking lot in remote area, they will charge you much lesser than spending for staying in particular room.
Hot Tip: if you buy a camper trailer like us or a campervan try and resell it in the north or west of the country as you’ll get a higher sales price. Sites belows are those you can search for camp trailer both for purchasing and selling :
The cost of fuel in Australia:
The average national cost of fuel is about $1.55 per litre. It is currently $1.60 per litre for diesel in North Queensland.
The Cost of Campervan Rental in Australia
Another option is to rent a campervan which becomes your wheels and your bed at the same time. This is another popular option that is seen a lot on the road and people staying in caravan parks.
For my example I used this criteria:
- 3 week rental
- Pick up Sydney, drop off Cairns
- 4 people (2 adults, 2 kids)
- From Nov 3rd
The best prices and the biggest inventory seemed to be from ApolloCamper.com.au which started at $115 per day for 4.
Other sites to check out include:
For the backpackers or couples, you can check following sites:
Jucy seemed to have the better daily rate starting from $60.
The Cost of Bus Travel in Australia
They both operate around the ‘hop-on-hop-off’ system and have different passes depending on length of trip and areas covered.
For example, I used the popular Melbourne to Cairns route :
- Greyhound have a mini traveller pass for $555. You can travel between Melbourne and Cairns, hop on and off as many times as you want between these two destinations.
- OzExperience has a skippy pass for $859 with four additional tour inclusions.
The Cost of Train Travel in Australia
There are a couple of famous train routes throughout the country. One is the Ghan which travels from Adelaide to Darwin, via Alice Springs which take 2 nights for almost 3000km. Price in November for adult starts from $499.
Another train journey is the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth via Adelaide and takes 3 nights with 4300km long journey. Prices in November for one adult in a single cabin started from $2,239.
These rail journeys are more scenic routes and won’t save you money, or get you to your destination in a hurry. For knowing the schedule completely check out RailAustralia.com.au
The Cost of Food and Drink in Australia
Cafes & Restaurants
Eating out too often on your travels in Australia can really take a out of your budget. Just small advice, to eat out as a family of four at breakfast in a cafe would normally cost us $50+. A mug of coffee is from $4 – $4.50. Drink soy milk and they will sting you an extra 50 cents.
Our order typically consist of:
- Eggs benedict ($15-$18)
- Smashed avocado on toast ($15-$18)
- One serve kids pancakes to share ($12)
- 2 x coffees ($4.50 each)
Lunch in a cafe in Australia would be a similar price. Meal prices on average would be:
- Hamburger $12 – $18
- Fish & Chips $15
- Lasagne $18
- Greek salad $18
- Kids meals $8 – $12
- Glass of wine/beer $6 – $8
Having meal in a restaurant would be more costly. As for dinner, I’m not even going there. Too many different types of restaurants and options. But typically dinner is the most expensive meal of the day and in a mid-range restaurant you’re looking at $25+ per main meal.
Supermarkets in Australia
Prices differs from region to region and season to season, but below are examples of some staple food costs:
- Loaf of bread: $2.50
- Litre of milk: $1.50
- Dozen eggs: $5.00
- BBQ chicken: $10
- Box of cereal: $4.50
- Can of Baked Beans: $1.20
- Rump steak $8+
- Atlantic salmon fillets $29 per kg
- Prawns: $25+ per kilo
- Litre bottle of water: $2.25
- Coke bottle 2 litres: $3
The cost of Alcohol in Australia
If you think eating out is expensive, start consuming too many alcoholic drinks and you’ll wake up the next morning with a much lighter wallet than the night before.
Example prices from a bottle shop (liquor store):
- Box of 24 domestic beers (375 ml): $45+
- Box of 24 Corona $60
- 6 pack of beers: $15 – $20
- Mid range bottle of wine $15 – $20
At the pub or a bar in one of the major cities you’ll be looking at:
- Pint: $10 – $12
- Schooner (425 ml): $6 – $8
- Glass of house wine: $6 – $8
The Cost of Tours & Activities in Australia
I’m not going to go too deep into this area as there are a million variables, and not everything costs money.
We do have some awesome FREE things to do in Sydney and we’ve got over 10,000 of some of the best beaches in the world which are free (besides the parking fees).
And you can find some cool free stuff to do in any location, but here are a few examples of some of the most famous activities and the costs involved:
- Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb costs $248. You can walk across for free.
- Dreamworld is Australia’s biggest theme park and costs $84.99 adult $59.99 child. We have a special 10% discount for our readers. Click here to get your Dreamworld ticket
- Great Barrier Reef – last week we did a one day tour from Cairns to Marine World with Reef Magic Cruises which cost our family of four $485. I paid an extra $125 for an introductory scuba dive.
- Australia Zoo – Home of Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter $59 adult $35 child
- National Parks – Australia has over 500 National Parks and vehicle entry fees typically cost from $7 – $12 per day. Click here to read our favourite 25 National Parks
Should You Visit Australia?
Of course, you should if it’s your dream destination.
Australia is expensive, yes, and you might have to save up more money than for other destinations, but if it’s the destination that appeals to you the most and you find value in what it has to offer regardless of the cost, come on down.
If you want to explore Australia, and there’s certainly a lot to see and do, then find a way to make it happen. It’s an amazing country to road trip and at the end of the day it’s all about accumulating lifelong memories!
Next week we’ll be sharing with you a post on How to Travel Australia on a Budget with some great tips for getting the most bang for your buck.