Make the most of an Australian holiday with these tips to help maximize a budget.
Unlike many developed countries, Australia has plenty of wide open spaces, wilderness full of wildlife and long beaches with room to roam. In cities, find gardens, museums and attractions. Luckily, there are plenty of free activities across the country and it's possible to eat well on a small budget.
Travel within Australia
After arriving in Australia, your customer will likely want to visit more than one place. Australia’s budget airlines, Tigerair and Jetstar, often offer cheap fares if watched closely. Prices tend to be lower if travelling in the early morning or late evening. Sites like Wotif and Last Minute can be helpful for booking last-minute flights or car rentals.
Passes on Australia’s only national bus company, Greyhound Pioneer, represent great value, especially as some of them include tours. If travelling in a reclining seat and not a sleeping berth, train fares cost about the same as bus fares.
One of the best ways to reach Australia's incredible remote destinations is on the open road. Organise a rental car, camper or 4WD vehicle from providers like JUCY and Britz for a reasonable price and an epic road trip adventure.
Within major cities, check for free or nearly-free bike rental programs to enjoy the fresh air. Some cities, like Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide, offer free public transport if travelling within the city centre.
Whatever their travel preference is, be sure to plan an itinerary that minimises any backtracking, which can waste time and money.
Australia boasts many luxurious lodges and glamping getaways, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find quality accommodation for customers on a budget. There are many affordable family-owned guesthouses and bed and breakfast providers in city and rural areas and numerous country pubs have affordable rooms to stay in above the bar. Airbnb, couch surfing and home swapping sites offer terrific affordable options.
Camping is an excellent choice in rural and coastal areas and Australia has some of the world's finest beachside tourist parks, many with self-contained cabins. BIG4 and Discovery Parks offer affordable holiday park accommodation for families, friends, couples and solo travellers.
If wanting to stretch their dollar and meet other travellers, suggest joining the Australian Youth Hostel Association (YHA), which welcomes adults of all ages (some welcome families, too). They have kitchens, terrific tour desks and many have private rooms with ensuite bathrooms. Some hostels, like the Sydney Harbour Youth Hostel, have fabulous views to enjoy with a rooftop barbecue.
The YWCA also offers budget hotel accommodation in Sydney and Darwin.
Food and drink
Australia has fabulous permanent food markets in major cities, like Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market and the Adelaide Central Market, as well as many farmer's markets in urban and country areas. Vendors offer great bargains if visiting just before closing time. And find coin-operated barbecue facilities in city, beach and country parks to cook up a meal and soak in the Aussie outdoor lifestyle.
Also, while there are several fine dining options in Australia, there's plenty of cheap eats to enjoy too. They'll discover a range of cuisines, like Thai, Vietnamese, Indian and Italian, in very affordable restaurants across the country. They can check with the restaurant to find out if they offer BYO (or bring your own bottle), which allows diners to bring their own wine or beer into restaurants for a small corkage fee. Many city bars and pubs also have happy hour, often between 4pm and 6pm, with deals on drinks.
All of Australia’s beautiful beaches are free to visit, and many have professional lifeguards patrolling the area during the summer months (December to February). Swimming should be between the red and yellow flags, which indicate the safest area for swimmers. In Sydney, find stunning (and free) ocean pools near popular beaches, and in Brisbane there's Streets Beach, Australia’s only inner-city, man-made beach lagoon.
They can soak in a bit of nature in Botanic Gardens in capital cities, which offer green spaces within bustling business areas. Or embark on one of many free walking and coastal trails, like Sydney’s Bondi to Coogee walk or Manly to Spit Bridge walk as well as wilderness walks. The Great Ocean Walk in Victoria is a favourite for locals and visitors alike. If staying in Sydney or Melbourne, they take advantage of free walking tours. Bookings aren’t typically required and they'll get a taste of the city’s highlights.
Experiencing art is also incredibly affordable in Australia. The permanent exhibitions of all of Australia’s major art galleries are free to view.
From kangaroos and koalas to dolphins and whales, Australia has so much wildlife to encounter. There are plenty of zoos and aquariums, like the popular Taronga Zoo Sydney and Victoria’s Healesville Sanctuary, that have animals from Australia and around the world. While it’s not guaranteed, they can also spot Australia’s wildlife in the wild.
Dolphins are visible swimming off many beaches and whales are often sighted from headlands between May and November. Also they'll view kangaroos and koalas if driving along the Great Ocean Road or around Kangaroo Island. There are more wombats than people on Tasmania’s Maria Island, and kangaroos regularly congregate at beaches on the south coast of New South Wales such as Pebbly Beach. On Rottnest Island in Western Australia, find quokkas – cute, small marsupials that seem to smile for selfies.
No matter the budget, there's great deals on food, drinks and attractions all over Australia. Online publications like Broadsheet, Time Out and The Urban List not only share news on the latest events and venues in urban areas, but also have useful information about happy hours and cheap eats.
If on the way to Melbourne, recommend they check out Melbourne Cheapskate - a terrific online directory that locates food and drink specials. The Happiest Hour offers a similar service in Australia’s capital cities. In Sydney, Liven is an app to claim a certain percentage off meals at some great venues.
Visitors can find free wi-fi in some business centres of Australia’s capital cities, as well as in public spaces such as libraries, museums, galleries and train stations. Some cafes and restaurants also pass on free wi-fi to customers. Check with accommodation providers to see if they offer guests free Wi-Fi.
Tipping is not considered obligatory in Australia, and hotels and restaurants do not add service charges to the bill. In upmarket restaurants, it is common to tip waiters between 10 and 15 per cent of the bill for good service.