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Ways To Get Across Australia With Little To No Money

“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia”.

                                                                                            Charles M. Schulz

A house with Australian flag

On my travels, I have come across digital nomads who spent a year or two travelling in Australia. When sharing their stories with me, they always pointed out how beautiful, challenging and friendly this country was and how unforgettable their experiences were. To me, a budget traveller, travelling in Australia for a year sounds… EXPENSIVE. I asked some of them if I would be ever able to survive there for less than $25 a day and they were like “Yeah! Sure! Everything is doable”.

rhino in Australia

As transportation seems to be one of the most expensive things here, I did some research to find out how to get across the country with a very tight budget and I would like to share my findings with you in today’s post. Here are top ways to travel across Australia with little to no money:

Get on a bike

Random bikes in Melbourne

Random bikes in Melbourne

 

Australia is vast and diverse and it has a lot to offer for bike lovers. The country will warmly welcome you with its alpine road rides, muddy mountains and laid-back beachside trundles. One of the most challenging and stunning places to cycle would be Stromlo Forest ParkByron Bay and Hinterland, Blue Mountains as well as Mt Coot-tha Forest and Gap Creek Trails.

Once you get on your bike and start cycling, you will find that Australia’s rides are among the best on the planet. The good news is that there’s no such thing as a beaten track here – just a sprawling network of fresh trails ready for the pedal! Do you remember our epic cycling adventure across Vietnam? We have completed the challenge in less than two months cycling from 30 to 160 km a day. We did it on the cheap experiencing a local hospitality and admiring an incredible landscape on the way. I would love to do the same in Australia!

Do hitchhiking

A girl hitchhiking in New Zealand

Jade hitchhiking across New Zealand

 

Some time ago, we have accepted a guest post from a fellow travel blogger – Jade of OurOyster in which she has shared her hitchhiking experience in New Zealand. That makes me think of doing the same in Australia. It seems that hitchhiking has been an accepted part of travel here for a long time. A lot of people from different countries hitchhike or have hitchhiked in Australia. I have also found that that most drivers are fairly open to picking up hitchhikers, and in busy areas you will have a fair amount of competition when it comes to catching a ride! In this way you can save a lot of money, time and meet some interesting people on the road.

Top hitchhiking tips for beginners:

  • Hitchhiking is illegal in Queensland and Victoria.
  • Try not to hitchhike on motorways and stick to the entrance ramps and service areas.
  • Use a sign indicating the name of the road you want to travel on.
  • Look neat and respectable.
  • Try and look smart and clean.
  • Never smoke without permission.
  • Travel light.
  • Take an international drivers licence if you have one  as some drivers might want to share the driving.
  • Solo female travelers should hitchhike with someone else, preferably a guy.
  • Travel with a mobile phone in case of any emergency situations.
  • Don’t let the driver put your backpack in the car boot.
  • Always keep your stuff with you.

sailboats

Campervan holiday? Why not!

caravan

Getting across Australia in a campervan is getting more popular. There are over 180 locations across the country where you can stop and rent a caravan – from major cities, seaside areas and countrysides. Many of the campervan rental companies allow picking up a campervan from one spot and leaving it at another for an extra charge. Since they’re already paid for the way back, they came up with an idea of transferring it back to the original location by discounting, or even paying for the fuel, for those who are willing to this for them (instead of employing people for this purpose). There are few websites who help find such deals, one of which is DriveNow campervan relocation. It’s cheap and you can experience the country like a local.

Hit the road by car (don’t hit a kangaroo)!

Australian sign road

Many people claim that there is nothing like exploring Australia on a road trip with your best friends. Since the country has a generally well-maintained system of roads and highways, cars are a commonly used method of transport. It is definitely one of the most comfortable ways to travel wherever you want and stay in certain places as long as you want to. If you take your friends with you, you can share the cost of petrol and food between each other which will save you a lot of money. Besides, a car is a great place to sleep! You can even buy a van together and then sell it when it’s time to move on.

Australia

Have you ever cycled, hitchhiked or travelled across Australia by car or in a campervan?

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Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"

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{ 48 comments… add one }
  • Jen March 19, 2014, 10:09 am

    If you plan on staying for a year its a worthy investment to buy a cheap car, van or a wagon type vehicle that we Aussies call a panelbeater. You can then advertise on hostel notice boards for other travellers going your way share a ride and the cost of petrol. As for hitchhiking, have the seen the movie Wolf Creek? Its probably best you don’t if thats what you plan to do someday. Just joking, we are all pretty friendly over here and you are unlikely to get into any trouble hitchhiking. Hope to see you guys down under soon.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder March 20, 2014, 2:16 am

      That’s a great idea Jen. Thank you for sharing!! I’m glad to hear locals are friendly and hitchhiking is safe!

      Reply
  • Tim | UrbanDuniya March 19, 2014, 11:53 am

    Good tips! And to these, I might add “Don’t be afraid to book a flight somewhere”. While it will definitely break the $25/day budget, it might still end up being cheaper than covering long distances by car (especially if you’re crossing the country – it’s 4000kms from Sydney to Perth). Once you touch down in the new city, you can make cheap trips through that region.

    That said, anything is possible if you’re really determined!! And I still count my trans-Australia road trip as one of the best trips of my life – something couldn’t have achieved by plane!

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder March 19, 2014, 12:03 pm

      Thanks great! Thanks Tim for adding this info. I never thought of booking flights when in Australia as I thought it would be way too expensive.

      Reply
  • Franca March 19, 2014, 2:11 pm

    I’d love to travel around Australia with a camper-van, that would be awesome. I know people that did it and said it was the best way they could have possibly travelled around the country. One day!

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder March 20, 2014, 2:14 am

      Me too Franca, me too!

      Reply
  • santafetraveler March 19, 2014, 4:12 pm

    Love the quote on the top. Interesting info- didn’t know people still hitched. Not done here too much anymore. Most people won’t pick you up.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder March 20, 2014, 2:14 am

      They do, a lot!! Especially in Australia, Canada and Europe!

      Reply
  • Charli | Wanderlusters March 19, 2014, 8:33 pm

    Great tips here Agness! We spent 12 months road tripping around the country in 2012 and actually found it much more cost effective to buy a camper outright than rent. We did some basic upgrades to it and sold it on for $6,000 profit 12 months later which paid for all our fuel for the trip!

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder March 20, 2014, 2:13 am

      Wow, you did it on the cheap!!!

      Reply
  • Charlie March 19, 2014, 9:40 pm

    Great tips! How does the price of travelling in Australia compare with New Zealand, I imagine it’s pretty similar?

    Reply
  • Sam @ Travelling King March 19, 2014, 10:29 pm

    hey Angess.
    Great tips!
    Although im not sure I would recommend hitch-hiking in Australia – have you heard of wolf creek…. :)
    I would say your tips are good for getting around but not sure how far you would get, Australia is very big, it has a lot of wide open places with not much to see.

    You can get fairly cheap flights especially if you are happy to go a short distance (eg: melb to adel) you can get flights for $40 (on special) with Tiger air or most of the time its around $99.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder March 20, 2014, 2:11 am

      WOLF CREEK? Haven’t heard of that :P!! Wow, the flights seem so cheap, indeed! Thank for the info!

      Reply
  • Dan @ A Cruising Couple March 19, 2014, 10:30 pm

    Great tips! Having spent a semester in Australia I can definitely attest that it is expensive. Though compared to Sweden, it seems super cheap right now! Haha i love the photo of the rhino though… can’t say I saw any of those in Australia. Is it a sad rhino because he thinks Australia is too expensive so he’s sad he can’t visit it? Anyway, it’s a sweet photo and it made me smile :D

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder March 20, 2014, 2:10 am

      Is it much cheaper than Sweden? I thought Australia was way more expensive.

      Reply
      • Dan @ A Cruising Couple March 20, 2014, 2:20 pm

        You are probably right- I think it might depend upon the sector. Mostly restaurants are what seem to be ridiculously expensive in Sweden. And since I was a student in Austalia, I paid for study abroad and didn’t have to worry about rent, etc.

  • Mike March 19, 2014, 11:52 pm

    I would be mortified to accidentally hit a kangaroo. The campervan holiday sounds great and I’m glad you mentioned that there are rentals, Agness.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder March 20, 2014, 2:09 am

      Thanks Mike!

      Reply
  • Agness Walewinder March 20, 2014, 2:15 am

    I’m glad you liked it!

    Reply
  • Jessica March 20, 2014, 4:11 am

    Great tips! I have to admit, I’ve always crossed Australia off the list without doing a lot of research because I’ve heard it’s so expensive. Maybe it is doable, though, and it definitely looks worth the effort. That reddish sand in the last photo is stunning!

    Reply
    • Cez Krol March 20, 2014, 9:18 am

      Jess, it’s definitely doable!! Don’t cross it off your list!

      Reply
  • Stef March 20, 2014, 9:02 am

    Great post! If you travel as a group or a couple, I think the relocation option is the best to explore Australia if you are flexible. Another good thing Australia offers are bus passes if you travel solo. You can follow a certain route (for example the coastal road from Cairns to Melbourne) for 90 days and hop on and off as often and as long as you want. It gives you a lot of flexibility along the way and it’s cheaper than booking single tickets to every place you’re going.

    Reply
    • Cez Krol March 20, 2014, 9:19 am

      Thanks Stef. That’s true. In my opinion Australia would be explored in the best way when travelling as a group! I can’t wait for the road trip with my friends!

      Reply
  • Jo March 20, 2014, 9:27 am

    If you’re young (I’m not sure of the exact age) you can get a 12momth working holiday visa and actually get paid to travel here:)

    Reply
  • Jess @UsedYorkCity March 20, 2014, 1:03 pm

    Oh the bike riding would be a real treat! Plus with gorgeous weather, it would feel like one long summertime vacation!:-)

    Reply
  • Becky Padmore March 20, 2014, 2:52 pm

    Great advice, we took the coach when we travelled across Australia but we met lots of people who were travelling around by camper van. It looked like a lot of fun :-)

    Reply
  • Rebecca March 21, 2014, 2:47 am

    a bit of research and anything doable. Australia is not big on the budget airlines but I would like to hope that we get there some day. Not so sure if I would ever be fit enough to cycle around a lot of Australia, but its a nice idea

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder March 22, 2014, 3:46 am

      Agree!

      Reply
  • budget jan March 21, 2014, 3:19 am

    I loved your hitchhiking rules Agness. The two top ones have to be girls travel with a guy and keep your backpack with you.
    I met some guys at Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast who were traveling in a station wagon with a small tent and were having a great time. Two slept in the tent and one in the vehicle and they rotated. They had a surfboard which they shared as well.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder March 22, 2014, 3:46 am

      Wow, nice!!

      Reply
  • Stacey March 21, 2014, 6:02 am

    I wasn’t aware that hitchhiking was illegal in Victoria and Queensland. Have seen it in both places… guess it’s just a bad idea to try and hitch with police cars, eh!?

    Reply
  • Laura March 22, 2014, 9:13 am

    Some good tips here, bit I wouldn’t recommend hitchhiking. While we’re mostly a friendly bunch there have been more than a few hitchhikers murdered – and not just solo women. Google Ivan Milat for more info.

    Also, sleeping in your car is illegal in Aus, so best to rent a room for the night.

    Reply
  • [email protected] March 23, 2014, 3:33 pm

    Wow, this is an interesting read. Having traveled to Australia and knowing how expensive it can be, I’d never thought it’s possible to travel that cheaply. The biking sounds like a very fun option.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder March 25, 2014, 12:48 am

      I was also so surprised to find out Australia can be really affordable…

      Reply
  • Escape Hunter March 25, 2014, 4:33 pm

    Upon seeing your photo with the “Auckland” sign, I thought you wanted to hitchhike from Australia to New Zealand :)))

    OK, so suppose you are somewhere in the desert and waiting, waiting, waiting by the side of the road… it gets dark… and dingos, venomous snakes start showing up? :)))

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder March 26, 2014, 8:08 am

      Nope, lol! I used this photo from a previous blog post :)!

      Reply
  • Mark April 4, 2014, 1:03 pm

    Love the quote. It’s already tomorrow in Australia. It has a nice ring to it. I never really considered Australia on my bucket list. Not because it is expensive. The cost of travel is relative to the traveler’s budget.

    That said, I look forward to hearing about how you get around Australia. It is similar to the USA in terms of size and having traveled all over the USA, I can say that I would not be surprised if it takes you more than 3 months to view all of Australia.

    Do you have a top 5 designation in Australia you want to see?

    Reply
  • [email protected] April 7, 2014, 3:20 am

    You are great ! Travel for few bucks ! Love this blog

    Reply
  • Hamish Healys April 9, 2014, 6:04 am

    Bicyling to get around Australia. Why didn’t I think of that? Of course, it’s going to save you bus, boat and train fares! Thanks Agness and Cez from Poland. You guys are darn so creative to be seeing a lot of places at under $25 a day! I’m taking my cues from you.

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder April 10, 2014, 8:48 am

      It’s actually a great idea!

      Reply
  • tinne @ elsewhere blog April 9, 2014, 3:10 pm

    I hitchhiked through new zealand as well! It was a great experience and met great people because of it but felt like I missed out on a lot. After hitchhiking in the north, rented a car for the south and was actually able to go to places where no one ever comes, national parks where maybe 2 people pass every day,… Also, while renting a car we were able to do some wild camping (and saving money on accommodation) while with the hitchhiking we always ended up paying a lot of money for hostels and campgrounds (could have gone couch surfing but with the hitchhiking you never know when you arrive…) Well I guess it’s just 2 complete different experiences…

    Didn’t try the hitchhiking in Australia, these super long distances kind of scare me :-)

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder April 10, 2014, 8:44 am

      Hi Tinne,

      I’m glad you enjoyed your hitch-hiking experience. I also hope to do it in Australia. This place has fascinated me for years! :)

      Reply
  • Christine | GRRRLTRAVELER April 12, 2014, 9:26 pm

    I’ve never thought of hitchhiking but I think I’d be too afraid to do it alone. I guess it’s biking for me. But Australia is a huge country! ha ha…

    Reply
  • Olga April 30, 2014, 7:01 am

    I loved the quote in the beginning of your post and the rest of the post too. I didn’t know it is illegal to hitchhike in Victoria, that’s why I’ve never seen it here. Anyways it never was my type, I was always afraid to do this. Now with a child this option is completely off the table.
    I am not quite sure though that travelling with caravan or a camper can make travel cheaper. Even if you don’t rent it, the campsite for 2 adults usually costs 20-40 dollars. Of course, there are free campings, and sometimes you can hide here and there along the road. With a car it is more problematic because of lack of shower and the stinky toilets (if any).
    That’s the life though, there is not too many free things, but definitely there are ways to travel cheaper. I think you did a great job here. I enjoyed visiting your blog, happy travels :)

    Reply
    • Agness Walewinder May 2, 2014, 3:26 am

      Hey Olga! Many thanks for stopping by. I hope we can keep in touch and maybe travel across Australia one day, who knows… :-)

      Reply
  • Md Golam Sarwar Bhuiyan July 4, 2015, 9:15 pm Reply
  • Jasna October 17, 2015, 10:19 pm

    Great article, but you forgot to mention the main means of transportation on the East Coast.
    Boats!
    There is always plenty of boats looking for crew sailing between Sydney and Cairns, you can find their notices in the marinas, sailing clubs, on findacrew or in the boat-hichhiking group of Couchsurfing. I even went on a 6 day diving trip on the Great Barrier Reef for free!

    Reply
  • Shannon Ullman December 1, 2015, 7:26 am

    I’m really trying to decide if I should hitchhike in Australia when I go there this month! I really want to try it and I also REALLY need to save some cash! Thanks for the tips!

    -Shannon

    Reply

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