10) Limit Alcohol: Alcohol is very expensive in Australia with bottles of beer in bars/restaurants easily $8 or more and cocktails up to $20. Like to party at home? A bottle of beer from the bottle shop is still going to cost you around $4 AUD. That adds up quickly! For this reason backpacker culture is often linked with goon, a cheap bladder filled with a few liters of some alcoholic matter resembling boxed wine. Pro-tip: Don’t ask what’s in it and don’t read the label!
9) Take the bus: This is a great option for Australia’s East Coast. There were two major companies that had Hop-On-Hop-Off Passes and the costs were within 10s of dollars of each other buying a pass between Cairns and Brisbane. I asked around with other travelers and had no difficulty finding a clear preference of customer satisfaction. I also checked the schedules and found one company had four buses each day and the other had two. Having more opportunities to catch a bus was very important to me
so that was integral to my decision. Traveler tip: The online system allows you to schedule each leg of your journey and make changes as you go. We were busy making a reservation when the system glitched and all of our travel arrangements disappeared. We were in the system so we re-booked each leg of the journey. It turns out some other travelers who had booked everything in advance with an agency were not so lucky and were not permitted on the bus despite having print-outs showing they had reservations (the drivers list was the law and the bus was booked). After that we would check the system daily to ensure we didn’t lose our reservations). I strongly suggest making sure you have the online log-in information for your account and check it often.
8) Take a tour (great for remote Australia): I never thought I’d take a tour the entire time I was in Australia because I’m a bit of a DYI person, but for the solo traveler tours are often less expensive then doing it yourself. In some cases after crunching the numbers taking only one other person with me would be sufficient to cover all costs and beat the asking price of the tour. In other cases you’d need at least three other people to make traveling on your own less expensive then the cost of traveling in a tour group. The benefit for tours is you effectively have staff who know where you are, where you’re going and everything is planned out. You don’t have to drive long distances, you see cool stuff that you may not have found otherwise, and you get to make some friends along the way.
7) Instant coffee: It’s safe to say I’m addicted to coffee and am not a very nice person without my morning coffee. It’s also safe to say I have no desire to change that! Lucky for me instant coffee is a thing in the rest of the world and you don’t have to look hard to find something that isn’t horrible (I even found a brand I thought was delicious). This kept my coffee budget at bay because it’s at least $3 AUD / cup if you go to a local shop (often more). That’s a minimum savings of $21 / week savings.
6) Carry your own laundry powder: It’s $4 for a kilogram of store brand laundry powder at Coles. Hostels will charge you somewhere between $1 – $4 per packet of laundry powder (usually only good for one load of laundry, but sometimes two). You can throw away half of the powder (or gift it, or find someone to buy the other half) and still be way ahead financially.
5) Don’t use the dryer: Every hostel I stayed in had a clothesline, though they didn’t always have clothespins so I carried my own. I really can’t think of a reason not to dry your clothes with solar power. When I was in the Outback I’d even wait until the sun was about to go down and then put up my laundry, and go cook dinner or watch a movie and then take them down. Pro-tip: take your washing down promptly as some of your fellow travelers steal other people’s stuff. I never had a problem with this, but I’ve heard others have.
4) Cook your own meals: I ate out a lot when traveling but I also took advantage of using the hostel facilities to eat in a lot. If I was planning to be out for a day I’d often pack a lunch to take with me.
3) Buy a local SIM: There’s a lot of truth to the saying you pay for what you get. I had Optus and their service was pretty good. Telstra is great if you’ll be in remote areas, but you’ll pay dearly for it. I never met anyone happy with Vodaphone. even though their prices are great. There are also a lot of off-brand carriers running off of Telstra or Optus networks, though I never tried them.
2) Shop at the farmer’s market: Shopping at the farmer’s market is generally the cheapest way to find your fruit and veggies. The experience is also fun and entertaining. We met some of the most unique and wonderful characters while shopping the markets, including one guy who grew his passion fruit to classical music and a baker who went through the merits of churning his own butter for the crust he made for his pies. If there isn’t a market on that day the supermarkets are a good option.
1) Buy a YHA Membership: My YHA membership was $27 AUD and I wish I had tracked how much that membership saved me! I was no longer a student when I decided to go to Australia, Many companies will give you a concession price if you have a YHA membership, and even if they don’t officially accept the YHA membership there were many times they’d give me the concession price anyway.The membership is great because you can save $10 % at every YHA affiliated hostel or hotel you stay at (I usually stayed in 4 or 6 share dorm rooms so that’s about $3 AUD / night savings).We decided to splurge at one place and that 10 % was more then the cost of the membership. If you’re still a student I’d still recommend the YHA membership, but you should also bring your student ID. A student ID will make you eligible for different concessions.