How to travel to Australia on a budget
Oz is on almost everyone’s bucket list - but as such a vast country, the cost of travelling in Australia can mount up.
In this guide we’ll help you answer all the big questions, like is Australia expensive? What’s the cheapest time to fly to Australia? Where are the most affordable places to stay?
Here’s how to get the very best out of your holiday money down under.
Getting to Australia on a budget
It’s possible to get to Australia from the UK for as little as £640 if you can be flexible with your flights and travel dates. There are various flight comparison sites you can use to find the cheapest options .
As you need to stopover on a lot of UK-Australia flights, you could also check some of the most common layover stops - Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok - and see if two separate flights might be cheaper than one.
So what’s the cheapest time to fly to Australia? Well, October is generally the cheapest month for flights, although February to June can also be good options. Midweek departures can sometimes be cheaper than weekend dates.
Although there are the occasional bargain prices - the average price is above £1,000.
How to save money on accommodation in Australia
There’s a lot of budget accommodation in Australia, although YHA youth hostels are disappearing because of competition from private organisations. The VIP Backpacker Card is worth exploring, as is Nomads, with both offering discounts on all kinds of goods and services .
Hostels are excellent value and good for meeting other travellers. You can choose from dormitories or double or family rooms.
Like anywhere in the world, hotel costs vary widely by star rating, luxury features and demand. You will always get more choice by booking ahead.
Airbnb can be cost effective for a couple or group. There are far more options in Australian cities than in more rural areas, and you’ll see there are a wide range of prices. Australia also has Stayz which is like Airbnb but features bigger properties, making it better for families.
National parks and reserves offer great camping grounds, often with toilets, showers and free drinking water. Others are set up for real bush camping where you need your own equipment.
Australian caravan parks can be a great option if you are travelling without a tent. Renting a ‘van’ is a cheap option with shared cooking facilities.
How to save money on transport in Australia
Travelling in Australia is easy and there are lots of modes of transport to choose from to suit your budget and personal preference.
The main challenge when deciding how to travel Australia on a budget is narrowing down where to go. It’s a vast country and it’s simply not possible to see everything on one trip.
Trains in Australia
Interstate railways link the whole east coast from Cairns to Sydney, and on to Melbourne and Adelaide. Each state has its own rail operator which will offer online route maps and prices3.
But if you want to travel further afield, it’s often as cheap to take an internal flight as a train. With various budget airlines competing for business, you can find some flights that don't cost a fortune.
You can buy tickets on the day from a rail office, but for cheaper prices and guaranteed seats it’s often better to book online with the relevant rail operator.
Buses in Australia
The bus network reaches much further than train routes, and gives you access to small towns between cities.
The buses are about as comfortable as they can be, with reclining seats, air conditioning, toilets, and DVDs - but they need to be luxurious, as travel times are long. Many buses depart and arrive late at night.
Greyhound Australia covers the entire country and offers some good passes for unlimited travel as well as adventure packages. Other popular operators are Premier Motor Service, Integrity Coach Lines and Firefly Express.
Discounts on bus fares are often available with a backpacker discount card such as YHA or VIP. A bus from Sydney to Adelaide takes 23 hours .
Renting a car
When you start to go outside of metropolitan areas there's limited stops on trainlines. Therefore, it can be easier to rent a car if you're heading to rural areas of Australia.
Is Australia expensive for food?
There is a great variety of food and drink to enjoy in Australia, but you will find that prices are very much in line with the UK - if not more.
You’ll certainly have plenty of opportunity to enjoy the great Aussie barbecue on your trip - plus there is wonderful seafood to savour on the coast. There’s also plenty of international cuisine on offer in the cities.
Australia is also famous for its nightlife, with cities boasting a multitude of bars and clubs. For wine lovers there are many vineyards in the southern half of the country to explore.
The best way to save money while travelling in Australia is to reduce how much you dine out. Instead, shop in supermarkets and use the kitchen in your hostel or campsite to prepare low-cost meals.
Our top 8 tips for travelling Australia on a budget
For more ideas on how to travel Australia on a budget, we’ve compiled some helpful tips:
- Route planning. Spend time deciding where to visit. That way you can find in advance the cheapest way to get from place to place.
- Use passes. If you’re planning a lot of travel, a bus or rail pass will save you considerable amounts.
- Go rural. Accommodation, travel and food are always more expensive in the big cities, while the beaches and national parks are beautiful and free.
- Eat in. Making your own meals can save a lot of money. In Australia, you’re never far from a barbecue to use.
- Stay in hostels. A good hostel can be surprisingly comfortable and offers exceptional value for money.
- Bring a bottle. Avoid spending money on bottled water - bring a refillable one with you at all times.
- Thrifty tipples. It is always much cheaper to buy alcohol at liquor stores than a bar - even at happy hour!
- Crafty currency. Buy Australian dollars ahead of your trip and use a Travelex money card to help track your spending.
For more ideas, see our guide to making the most of your holiday money.
Buy Australian Dollars ready for your trip - and read our Australian currency guide
Your Australian adventure will be a trip of a lifetime - but it always helps to be organised. Order your Australian Dollars now to get the best available rate.
You can also find out more about Australian currency and how it compares to pounds here.
- Skyscanner (2023) Flights to Australia. Available at: https://www.skyscanner.net/flights-to/au/cheap-flights-to-australia.html (Accessed: 28 July 2023)
- Cheap accommodation in Australia - backpackers guide (2023) Cheap accommodation in Australia - Backpackers Guide. Available at: https://www.australia-backpackersguide.com/cheap-accommodation-australia/ (Accessed: 22 August 2023).
- Introduction to Australian train travel (2023) Rail Maps. Available at: https://railmaps.com.au/introduction.htm (Accessed: 22 August 2023).
- Bus tickets, travel passes & packages (2023) Greyhound Australia. Available at: https://www.greyhound.com.au/ (Accessed: 22 August 2023).