Flights and Travel
When booking Australia I wasn’t very sensible – I booked the flights less than two months in advance and chose to go over the Christmas and New Year period, which also happens to be their summer. This is why I spent £1300 on return flights to Brisbane. However, you can do it a LOT cheaper than that, saving yourself around £500. Sky scanner is a great place to start, you can check the cheapest cities to land and the cheapest dates to travel. Generally, their flight prices are pretty awesome as well.
Around Australia, public transport is pretty great. In Brisbane you can get a GoCard. It costs $10 but you get that money back when you return it. You can top up however much you’d like and you can just tap on and off when you’re on the busses, ferries, trains – everything! They’re super easy and it’s cheaper to pay for a trip with that than to buy single or return tickets.
Sydney has a similar system called an Opal Card. You don’t need to pay to get this but there is a minimum top-up amount of $10 the first time you get it. After this, you can put on how much or how little as you want and again, use it for any public transport.
I found hiring a car was a pretty cheap and convenient way to get around. Especially in Brisbane, there is not a lot to do right there but if you travel an hour north to the Sunshine coast or an hour south to the Gold coast, there’s loads to do! I’m not sure how well public transport runs to these places but hiring a car worked really well so worth have a look at.
I know plenty of people doing the entire coast get a Greyhound Bus pass. This is a bus that takes you up or down or along the entirety of Australia, it’s quite expensive but you can decide at any time to get on and continue your journey or get off and stay for however long you want when you stop. Worth having a look into.
No matter where in the world, hostels are always the cheapest way. In Cairns,
we stayed in the lovely YHA Cairns Central hostel and got it for around £20 a night. It was a 10-minute walk to the beach and about 15 minutes to walk to the harbour that the boats leave from to get to The Great Barrier Reef. They organise all tours and activities so you can book a trip to the rainforest or cape tribulation and be picked up and dropped off at the reception.
In Sydney we managed a hostel for a similar price. This one was Nate’s Place and wasn’t as nice – honestly, I probably wouldn’t stay again. However the location was amazing, especially considering the cost. We were a 15 minute walk to Darling harbour, Sydney Opera House, The Tower Bridge, Sydney’s royal botanic gardens…all the good stuff. We got the bus straight to Coogee beach and straight back from Bondi beach. So if you’re going to be out the hostel all day and don’t mind where you sleep at night, this is a great option.
On the last night in Sydney we chose to book a hotel. We got one on Lastminute.com a couple nights beforehand and paid £50 each for a double room in a 5* hotel. Hyatt Regency Sydney was right next to Darling Harbour, the zoo and the aquarium. If you have some spending money left over on your final night then go ahead and treat yourself!
Food and drink
Sydney has been rated the 2nd most expensive city in the world. I certainly didn’t find it to be expensive as I was buying food in Grocery shops and cooking it in hostel kitchens. Things like fruit vegetables and nuts all come cheaply and can be beaten with most meals. Both our hostels came with breakfast which is a great way to save money as well. As well as this we bought things like eggs and breakfast biscuits as well as wraps and fillings and managed to make a wide variety of cheap meals. Also taking advantage of the free food shelves in hostels is a great place to start! If you’re booking a day tour then make sure they provide lunch – most do but some at an extra cost. If it costs more then you can weigh up the price. Is it cheaper to bring your own things in your bag or would you rather their hot meal for a little more money?
It’s all about planning in advance, if there’s a famous restaurant you want to try, the budget in for that days before. Go to the shops with a list so you know exactly what you’re making in the hostel so you don’t but things that will end up in the bin.
There are various websites online where you can get discounts from the RRP on trips all over the world. Groupon got us 50% off of the Brisbane Wheel and Experience Oz and NZ got us a fair whack deducted from shark diving. It’s all about looking around.
There are also lots of free or cheap things you can do which are just as good as expensive experiences. Brisbane has Eat Street Northshore where you pay $2.50 entry and can see live music, open-air films and eat street food to your heart’s content. Sydney has some great coastal walks like Coogee to Bondi, Manly to Spit or even just going to see the Opera house and Tower Bridge is free. Cairns has a lovely esplanade that you can hire bikes and cycle along and around or you can chill at their chlorinated beach pool and take in the great views.
Head over to my first post to learn a little more about the blog or leave comments with ideas about where you want me to write about next…Or have you got any cheap travel tips for Australia or else where? Leave them in the comments!