Cape Tribulation, Tropical North Queensland, Queensland © Tourism Australia
Australian Budget Guide
Manage your budget and get the most out of your trip to Australia with a bit of clever planning. Read on to learn how to calculate the cost of a trip Down Under.
Understanding how much money you need to holiday in Australia depends on a number of factors. While you can certainly live life to the luxe here, you can also enjoy a budget-friendly holiday. From finding bargain flights to making the most of free attractions, here’s everything you need to know about how much it costs to eat, sleep and stay here. And how to save a bit of money along the way!
When to book your flight
So, you’ve decided to visit Australia? Great choice! Your next decision will be picking the right time of year to book your flights. Keep in mind, Australia is on the opposite side of the world to the Northern Hemisphere, so our travel periods are the opposite as well.
Flights are going to be most expensive if you’re visiting in summer (December to February) – when the sun is shining and the summer school holidays are in full swing. If you’re travelling at this time, it’s best to book flights 10 to 12 months ahead – before planes fill up and prices climb.
If you’re planning to visit Australia outside peak periods, you’ll still want to book seven to 10 months in advance. You’ll still find plenty of sunny days in shoulder seasons and off-peak periods, and the flights can be a few hundred (Australian) dollars cheaper.
Generally, the best flight deals are offered well in advance, so the earlier the better. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but if you’re risk-averse, then it pays to have plans in place so you’re not disappointed.
How to save money on your flights:
- Use a flight comparison site to find the best price – many have a ‘price alert’ function that will notify you when the price of flights drops.
- Visit a few different airfare search engines and input your itinerary to see which site finds the cheapest flight options.
- Speak to a travel agent who is an Aussie Specialist. They’re experts on travelling Australia and have the knowledge to help you plan and book the best options for you.
- If you’ve decided to book everything yourself, book directly through airlines. Comparison sites and search engines are great research tools, but often you get even better deals when you book through your airline of choice. Many also offer price-matching promises.
Just like flights, booking your accommodation will partly depend on the time of year you’re visiting. There are a lot of different hotels and accommodation on offer in Australia, from free campsites to AUD$1,000+ per night luxury resorts, so availability will depend on where you’d like to stay.
If you’ve got your heart set on checking into a boutique hotel, you can expect to pay around AUD$250 per night. It’s best to book your stay well in advance – around six months for peak travel periods.
If you’re not fussed where you sleep, you can use last-minute hotel booking sites to lock in great deals just a day or two before you arrive – between around AUD$100 to AUD$200 per night. Accommodation providers don’t want empty rooms, and many offer unbeatable deals to fill them. Some sites let you set alerts, sending notifications when prices drop.
If you’re on a tight budget, there are affordable hostels all over Australia, starting from as low as AUD$20 for a dormitory bed and up to around AUD$85 per person for a private room. Most hostels have an incredible price to quality ratio – not to mention it’s a great way to make some new friends!
How to save money on your accommodation
- Avoid peak travel periods, such as summer and school holidays.
- If you have a favourite hotel chain, sign up for its newsletters to be alerted about deals and offers.
- Look for accommodation where kids stay and/or eat free. It's often a perk offered at big resorts and hotels.
- Consider sacrificing location for price. You can find great hotels with lower nightly rates just a bit further from the city centre or a few blocks back from the beach.
Activities in Australia
Booking organised tours and travelling with guides is the perfect way to get a complete and immersive experience Down Under – you’ll be able to learn from locals, get up close to the wonders of nature and won’t need to worry about managing your own schedule. Popular day tours, like whale watching and guided walks, cost around AUD$100 to AUD$200. If you’re booking high-demand activities – such as the Field of Light or swimming with whale sharks – secure your spot at least a month in advance to avoid disappointment. However, most activities, such as surf lessons (about AUD$120) and some sporting events (from around AUD$65), can be booked closer to the day.
If you’re a frugal traveller, you needn’t miss out on anything. From internationally acclaimed museums and galleries to world-class hiking, there are free activities aplenty in Australia. With just a little bit of research, you can self-guide to exquisite beaches and secluded lookouts by taking public transport (less than AUD$10 for the day) or renting a vehicle (from around AUD$50 per day). There are even free historical walking tours in major cities (although a donation of at least a few dollars is expected).
How to save money on your activities
- Walk! With leafy streets, water views and colourful neighbourhoods to enjoy, walking is the best way to take the pulse of Australia.
- Make the most of Mother Nature. Many of Australia’s greatest wilderness areas are free to visit (though a vehicle entry fee is charged in selected national parks in most states). From trekking through the rainforest to cooling off in waterfalls, getting outdoors is the ultimate way to see the country – for next to nothing.
- Visit museums and galleries without spending a cent. Many galleries offer free entry on certain days or times. Most also have year-round free entry to permanent collections.
- Check out multi-attraction tickets and family deals. Search online or check with reception staff at your accommodation for bundle packages that offer lower rates on group and family activities.
More money saving tips
- Take public transport. Australian public transport is used by practically all Aussies. It’s clean, convenient and safe to use, only costing around AUD$2 per trip compared to AUD$20–AUD$30 for a taxi or rideshare for a comparable journey. Daily caps on public transport fares apply in most major cities: you won’t spend more than around AUD$17 on a weekday in Sydney or around AUD$9 on a weekday in Melbourne. Weekend fare caps are lower still. Better yet, some public transport (such as the Melbourne city circle tram) is completely free.
- Save when eating out. Restaurant meals can cost from around AUD$20, but you can get discounts of up to 50% with sites and apps that offer deals at restaurants across the city. You can also keep an eye out for daily specials, happy hours and weeknight deals.
- Make your own meals. If you have access to a kitchen at your accommodation, try your hand at preparing some classic Aussie foods. You can shop at local markets for fresh, seasonal produce, including Australian native ingredients.
- Refuel at the cheapest petrol stations. If you’re driving around Australia, keep in mind that not all petrol stations offer the same price. The cost of filling a tank can vary from one outlet to another nearby outlet by more than AUD$10.
- Access the internet using free WiFi. You’ll find it in most restaurants, cafés, hotels, fast-food outlets, libraries and even shopping centres. There are also free public WiFi hotspots in major tourist precincts.
Disclaimer: Costs outlined in this article are a guide only. Please check with the provider for actual prices.