I've heard from loads of people that have gone backpacking in the land down under that it is a dear or expensive place to travel. These people really must be living a luxury lifestyle if that's their impression of the land down under. Australia has to have been one of the cheapest places I have ever travelled and worked in, I earned tons of money when I was living there, enough to take four months off work. Young and inexperienced backpackers must be doing things wrong if they find it expensive. Maybe they are perhaps ill-informed, badly prepared or just spending their cash in the wrong way. I've concocted 12 sure fire reasons, all from personal experience on how to live cheaply in Australia.
1. Sleeping - Yes hostels are great but take a break away from them. Don't just spend your whole time in hostels getting pissed! Camping out is the best accomodation option for travelling cheap in Australia. A tent can be purchased for $15 - 20 and some nights you will end up camping out for free. Make a tent your home for a few months as you "backpack" your way round the land down under. Nearly all campsites have toilets and showers by the way, lots of them are also close to places where you can get part time and temporary jobs.
2. Eating - If you really insist on eating out - then head to bars that do the promotions such as $10 steaks. These bars often throw in a free beer or a soft drink as well. A good tip is monitoring bars that do cheap big meals and keep your eyes on the times they apply. I discovered that most of them tend to be specials at lunchtime. In that case, it's no big deal to change your main meal of the day from your dinner to your lunch. To save for breakfast eat cereals and toast. And don't be afraid to frequent Hungry Jacks or McDonalds for a budget breakfast either. Hungry Jacks also have unlimited drink refills - take your flask in and fill it up. They're not going to chase you away if you're a paying customer. Also McDonalds has free wi-fi as an advantage. And of course you can go wrong with vegemite sandwiches! Love them!
3. Transport - Don't be flying round Australia! I spent almost 2 years living there and didn't once use an internal flight. Use Greyhound and book early, or better still - meet up with others, buy a car and off you go - you've got your own vehicle now which you can sleep in and drive to campsites with. Share the petrol costs and even get a job and share lifts to work. And if getting a Greyhound, of course get it at night to save money on accommodation (simple obvious things by the way). Gumtree, hostel notice boards and travel websites also offer carshare options.
4. Get a Working Visa (of some kind) - I can't understand how those that are eligible for a working holiday visa in Australia don't use it. The amount of travellers I met in Australia that said "we're only here for 3 months so we're not working" then followed it up by "this place is dear", well why didn't you just get a working visa then? Even working for just a week or two in Australia can earn you over a thousand Australian Dollars.
5. Again it might sound blatantly obvious but why pay entrance fees? There are so many FREE things to see and do in Australia. Beaches are free. Hiking is free. Some museums are free. Walking round a city centre is free. Walking along Sydney Harbour Bridge is even free so why bother paying for stuff. Also if you want to view wildlife - don;t pay ridiculous fees for zoos or animal parks - you can see kangaroos and wallabies everywhere in the outback and outside the major cities - there are more of them than people for Goodness sake. And Koalas can be viewed in some parts too - I'd recommend Kennet River on the Great Ocean Road for free koala viewing.
6. Coupons, vouchers, tokens - The amount of travellers I met who never bother picking up those brochures, fliers etc. that lurk in bus stations, airports, pubs, hostels, tourist information centres etc. - I kept picking up these brochures and finding money off coupons, savings on tours etc. Bars often even give out a free beer to entice you in - go in, take your free beer and leave.
7. Buy Value Brands - Value brands such as those available in Woolworths and Coles are worth buying. The quality of the food and drink is really not that much worse than the top brands to be honest and yu can live a healthy and stable eating lifestyle by buying the cheap stuff.
8. Avoid Nightclubs after 10pm - Ask yourself the question - did you go to Australia just to get drunk in nightclubs? No you didn't - you went to see the wonderful country and culture within. By all means visit some night clubs now and then but try and do it on a weeknight or a night with special offers. Most bars and clubs put their prices up after 10 pm (for entry and for drinks). The beer you had a 6pm on Happy Hour could have doubled in price by midnight. Do yourself a favour and have an early night or get a takeaway and have a cheap party at the hostel or campsite!
9. Cut Back On Using the Internet - I met a few people in Australia moaning about the price of the internet there. Well I have a lot of tips for this - main one is to maximise your use of free internet when you have it - if you're staying in a hostel that has free internet, take advantage of it (update blogs, upload photos etc.). Don't ever pay to use the internet. Some internet cafes have free wi-fi so try and travel with a laptop and take advantage of this - at least for the price you pay you will have a coffee. And don;t forget about McDonalds - yes as big a company as they are - they are cheap to eat at and they have free wi-fi. Another option is to pay for the USB wireless internet stick and top it up as you go - this way you can have internet ANY time you want and from anywhere in Australia - use it wisely.
10. Don't book things in advance. Why pay a deposit online for a hostel that you will stay in next week? Scared it will sell out? In the event of that type of thing ever happening, you'll have your tent and can offer to sleep in the garden for a $5, most hostels will take pity on you and let you sleep on their sofas anyway. Book as you go, and if its hostels go into the cheapest dorm.
11. Washing Clothes - Wear the same clothes again and again and hand wash them in sinks. I did this often in Australia. If you desperately need to use a washing machine - get a few cotton buds on sticks and place them into the coin slots in the laundry machines to get free laundry. Most of you reading will probably know this trick. A well known "secret" of travellers.
12. Fake Being a student - Things suddenly become cheaper when you show a student card. Who cares if it's real or not? Aussies are so laid back, they'll be happy of your money (even at a discount rate) so don't fret and get a fake one done!
So basically - get yourself over to Australia and enjoy it - but do it cheaply. Take my tips and have an amazing time in the crazy land down under!
Get out there and see Australia - what are you waiting for?
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