Most people need to know how much it is going to cost them when planning a trip around or within
Some people travel long distances almost every day and at speeds that will burn fuel faster than just ambling along. Others may travel on average only a few hundred kilometres a week, spending time at nice locations such as alongside a lake or beach.
You can take expensive cruises and flights, or just select a few of the lower costs options.
When camping, you have your accommodation with you, but camp site fees can vary from nothing for bush camping to over $50 per night in if you choose caravan parks in popular areas at peak season. If you have a canvas camper or tent that does not make life easy in the rain, you may choose a cabin when the weather is wet.
Food and drinks will depend on your choices and whether you eat out a lot, or always cook for yourself, and the price of the foods and drinks you choose.
If your rig is your sole home, you will be probably be in front on living costs, whereas for those who are maintaining a home and a rig will have additional costs at home.
See also keeping it simple for ideas on setting up a rig without spending a fortune.
Fuel is probably the biggest budget item, and prices increase when you go into rural and outback areas. If towing, watch the revs and find the optimum economical speed for your car. Probably around 85 - 90 kilometres per hour would be a good speed, and this gives everyone a chance to look at things as you pass them. If you are travelling with young children and want to get them spotting wildlife, it would be hard at 110 kilometres per hour but easy at 85 kilometres per hour. Carrying a lot of extra fuel to save buying in the most expensive places can be counter productive as extra weight will add to your fuel consumption, and doesn't help the business working with low customer numbers make a living to be able to provide fuel for those in need. When costing a long trip around Australia, the price of fuel at a few outback places will not make a huge difference in the end.
Plan a shorter overall trip and travel less in a day rather than driving and covering long distances in your given space of time. This will be more enjoyable and relaxing as well as saving on running costs. The saving will be around twice the fuel saving when you consider maintenance, including tyres and wear and tear. Keep maintenance up to date and check rig over, especially after corrugated roads.
Travel as light as you can; extra weight means more fuel used. See here for weight reduction tips.
You should always have enough money set aside for emergency repairs in case of a major breakdown, such as a motor or gearbox, and bear mind that costs away from cities may be much higher than you expect.
Sometimes boats or kayaks can be hired at gorges where boat tours operate. Considering the cost, we have found that taking the cruise, which may have refreshments or a meal included, can work out better value than hiring and going alone, aside from the information given and special spots pointed out by the tour operator.
We do not visit every museum, gallery or cave, but see a selection
of different ones. We have not taken overnight or longer cruises, but have taken short boat trips along various gorges and rivers
or to go fishing. We have not taken long flights, but a short helicopter flight adds a whole new dimension to the place you
have just walked (eg
We bush or free camp as often as we can. This is a holiday choice. If we wanted to stay in towns, it would be cheaper to go to motels than to have purchased our rig. You get a feel for finding good spots, and bookssuch as Camps Australia Wide, or websites and Apps such as listed helps if you are stuck for somewhere to stop overnight, or if you want a nice place to stay for a while.
you are looking for a quiet place to spend the night, watch for disused gravel pits and road works dumps. These are usually
tucked away in the bush, flat and clean, but in
When not in a rush, we start looking for a nice spot soon
after lunch, or even stay at our lunch spot if it is too nice to leave so soon, which can be a feeling as much as a good view. We get less selective as the afternoon goes on. If it gets dark and we haven’t found a spot, when it becomes impossible to see
opportunities such as tracks leading in to the bush in time, we pull off and stay alongside the road. We do not travel at night
in much of
When bush camping, even if you don't have a bathroom in your caravan, everyone can get fresh and clean each day with a tub of water and a flannel. If you have a shower and HWS, you can save by not showering every night. A wash with water warmed from a boiling kettle will save water and gas. When you are visiting towns or major attractions, it is usually false economy to drive many kilometres out to a free camp each day rather than staying right there on the spot.
I you want a mix of bush and caravan park camping to save money, try and camp overnight around 20-50 kilometres from the town you want to tour. This will minimise time spent in the caravan park in town, eg get four almost full days sightseeing out of two nights in a caravan park.
Look for showers and laundromats in towns and at some larger service stations, particularly those that cater for truckies. It will usually cost a few dollars, but less than an overnight fee at a caravan park, where you usually still pay the same for the laundry. See our developing lists of places with showers and coin laundries.
If weather is fine, don’t use the laundromat dryers. Hang your washing out discreetly when you stop. A lot of washing can fit on a fold-up clothes airer, and this can be moved around to follow the sun, without looking unsightly like a line of clothes strung out amongst the trees. See simple clothes drying. We were caught with a huge load of wet washing when it started to rain. We were in a Caravan Park with power and I had a small electric fan heater. With all the washing piled onto the clothes airer, I squeezed it into the shower recess and propped the door open a little with the heater. It proved a very effective drying cabinet. Not only was it cheaper than using the dryers as we had already paid for a powered site, but it saved trips across to the laundry in the rain.
Save money by staying a while in places where camping is free or very low cost rather than spending that amount of time in an expensive resort caravan park. Some towns provide serviced camp grounds free or low cost to encourage visitors to their towns which may be in rural areas where the economy has suffered. Reward these towns by doing your shopping there, and talk to the locals to gain a whole new dimension about life in that region.
There are many towns and regions where free or low costs options are available. Some
of these can be found at Free and low cost camping with the best of the ones we have visited at Free camping and low cost
camping places we have enjoyed , and there are numerous publications such as Camps Australia Wide with free and low cost camp sites. Check out the CMCA (Campervan and Motorhome Club of
Of course always leave your campsite clean, as some people doing the wrong things are
causing some Shires to close down free camping opportunities. I have not used this iPhone and iPad app SnapSendSolve for reporting
those doing the wrong thing, but by reporting them to the relevent authority be any means you will be helping to keep the great Australian
dream of responsible free camping.
Prepare and take your own food and drinks if you want to cut costs. We eat basic simple meals when touring, and take lunch with
us in the car most days. Food costs a bit more than at home, in part because of prices in outback areas, and partly because at home
we can buy in bulk and store or freeze food. Often when at a venue, you will be tempted to buy lunch from the alluring aromas
coming from the cafeteria. Prices may be quite high in such places so it pays to be selective. Alcoholic drinks can
be costly and other travellers will share where the costs the best buys are found. We choose to save the money for fuel in the
tank to see more of
If budget is tight, send only the most efficient and frugal shopper into the shop. Without the children (or husband) asking for extras such as lollies, biscuits and soft drinks ‘because we are on holidays’ or any other reason, the shopping bill may well be smaller. Most of us eat similar meals when travelling to what we eat at home, so your shopping patterns will be the same as when at home, but making further economies by purchasing best value rather than what you had planned for the menu means more money for fuel or entrance fees to attractions. In areas where fruit and vegetables are grown, roadside fruit and vegetable stalls and weekend markets can also be good buying opportunities for fresh produce.
Do you need to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables all the time? When in some remote areas, vegetables have come quite some distance, and may be at a very high price for something that doesn’t look very fresh at all. For times like these, dried, frozen (if you have freezer space) or canned fruit and vegetables can be the best value option. When potatoes are in short supply, meals can be made using pasta or rice instead, or you can resort to canned or powdered potato. Remember when you will be crossing state and exclusion zone borders so you do not have to discard produce recently purchased (although you can cook and freeze produce before entering the exclusion zone).
When travelling in the outback, bread can be expensive, and it is usually frozen and some days away from when it was baked. In 2008 we were paying $5.50 for a loaf of sliced bread in some remote locations, when it was available. For 50c worth of flour, a few cents worth of yeast, and a bit of time and gas, I can make a small loaf or six to eight fresh bread rolls (enough for lunch for two days for the two of us). If you don’t have the time to wait for the dough to rise, a damper loaf made from self raising flour is acceptable for a change. Wraps, mountain bread and similar have a long shelf life until opened.
Fresh milk can also be very expensive in remote locations. We use UHT milk for our tea, coffee and breakfast cereal, and I use low fat milk powder in cooking such as in white sauce or custard.
If you have room in your fridge and freezer, meat can be vacuum sealed for a longer refrigerator shelf life. This can be done by many butcher’s shops or you can purchase a vacuum sealer such as Sunbeam, which seems to have a better record for longevity than the cheap brands. You can then take advantage of supermarket specials. If you have a good freezer, vacuum sealing is not necessary.
Entrance fees, cruises etc can be high. However considering what it has cost you to get there, a shame not to spend a few more dollars to see or do what ever it is. Be selective. Check out the alternatives. Someone may be charging a fee to see something such as a wildlife event and you are paying for their talk and information. What is happening may well be able to be seen free nearby. Assess the value of the information to you and your family before deciding whether to pay or not.