Australia: Expensive? You're kidding, right!!

By Jonny Blair

Australia expensive? Think again - do it on the cheap like me!!

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 want to eat out, head to pubs that have $10 steaks and similar offers. They often also give you a beer or a soft drink as part of the offer. A useful hint I used while in Australia is checking out pubs or bars that offer cheap big meals and monitor the times they apply. I noticed that most of them are around lunchtime - that's when they have the most specials. Come on it's hardly a big deal to transfer your biggest meal of the day from dinner to lunch. You can easily just eat cereals and toast for breakfast. And you're a backpacker so don't be afraid to head into Hungry Jacks or McDonalds for a cheap breakfast. Hungry Jacks also offer unlimited refills on drinks - so why not take your flask in and top it up? They're won't chase you out you're a paying customer. McDonalds also offers free wi-fi. You can always fall back on good old vegemite sandwiches! One of my favourites!

3. Transport - Don't be getting flights around Australia! I lived there for a couple of years and I never used an internal flight. Use the bus company Greyhound and book them early, even better idea is to hook up with others, get a car and off you go on a road trip - you have a car now which you should equip for sleeping in and stay on or near campsites with it. Cut your costs by sharing petrol and sharing lifts to work. Also if you are getting a Greyhound bus get it at night so that you save money on accommodation. These are simple and obvious things by the way but often neglected by travellers. Other good places to look are hostel notice boards and local travel websites. Gumtree and Facebook can also be useful.

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. Entrance Fees - Again it sounds obvious but don't be paying entry into places - there are loads of FREE things to see and do in Australia. Hiking for one, some amazing landscapes to see, beaches (completely free), fancy dress parties (make your own costumes for free), museums are often also free entry (including the amazing War Memorial in Canberra), as is walking across Sydney Harbour Bridge. If you want to see Koalas and Kangaroos - these can all be done for free. Kennet River on the Great Ocean Road is a decent spot for Koala watching at sunrise. Kangaroos and wallabies are hard to miss.

6. Coupons, vouchers and tokens - These are lying around everywhere and they are FREE to pick up. You see them in hostels, bars, bus stops, travel agents, airports etc. Next time you see a magazine or a leaflet - pick it up - they normally have vouchers inside them and often with discount off entry into places, cheap lunch or just general savings or tips which come in handy.

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. Don't Go To Nightclubs after 10pm - At weekends and after 9 or 10 pm most bars and nightclubs tend to charge entrance fees and put the price of drinks up. Why bother paying more for your drink. If you really must go to a club, go on a weeknight and head in before 9pm. But honestly the best option is to head to the Bottle Shop (Liquor Store/Off Licence) and get a takeaway (carryout) and drink at the hostel or campsite with your new mates. These nights are often the best!

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. Laundry - The obvious is to wear the same clothes over and over again, and hand wash them. Done that myself manys a time. If you really feel the need to use laundry - get 2-3 cotton buds on sticks and stick them in the coin slots in the machines to get free laundry. Most of you reading will know this trick. A well known travellers "secret".

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 all in all - get yourself to Australia and do it on the cheap. It really is a wonderful country to explore your way around. You will just love it.

Don't hold back if you have thought about it - go to Australia and do it cheaply!

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