Australia is one of my favourite places in the world as I’ve visited four times, travelled all around and through the country and even lived in Sydney for two years, working as a hostel receptionist and travel agent. Over the years though, I’ve seen the country change a lot and especially when it comes to estimating your Australia backpacking budget, the prices have changed SO MUCH since I first visited in 2006.
One of the most often asked questions that still land in my inbox are: How much money do I need for Australia? And I find this perhaps the most difficult to answer!
Besides the fact that we haven’t been living in Australia since 2013, our general knowledge about living, working and travelling here is getting a bit outdated as well. On top of that, there are so many different ways in which you can travel Australia, the amount of money you need will depend on a lot of factors.
But, I’ve taken a bit of time to update this entire post with tips on backpacking Australia budgets for you, and I hope it helps you prepare for your next trip!
LAST UPDATED: APRIL 2018
How much to allocate to your backpack Australia budget? Keep reading!
What we'll cover in this article
- Australia Backpacking Budget Per Month for Backpackers
- Australia Budget Break-Down
- Total Travelling in Australia Budget for 3 Months
Australia Backpacking Budget Per Month for Backpackers
As you can see from what I just wrote, whatever way you choose to travel, Australia is a country where you really want to set yourself a budget. It’s very expensive to travel here, so you really don’t want to overspend too much if you can prevent it!
Below, I’ve created a bit of a budget planning for you, based on the way I travelled myself in 2006: 3 months of backpacking Australia alone and 2008 (with my brother for 2 months). Both times I stayed in (not always the best) hostels in Australia and used public transport and a couple of organized tours in the more remote areas. I tried to cook myself where possible (easier when you’re travelling with others than when alone) and went for budget Australia ‘backpacker meals’ where available.
Of course, I’ve tried my best to give you the updated prices (2018), but always check the linked websites to find a more accurate estimate. I hope you enjoy this extensive backpacking Australia guide!
Backpacking Australia Route: Itinerary Suggestion
I’ll add up the costs from my trip in 2006 at the bottom of this post, because that was for the most part a ‘typical’ backpacking route Australia:
10 days SYDNEY (Bit long, most people would stay around 3-5 days)
5 days TAMWORTH (I did a Jackaroo/Jillaroo Cowboy course, it was AMAZING)
2 days BRISBANE (Some people love it here, I didn’t see it)
5 days BYRON BAY (Loved it here! Hippies & Surfers everywhere.)
5 days SURFERS PARADISE (Bit long, but we had a good group, 2-3 days should be plenty)
2 days BRISBANE (In transit)
4 days NOOSA (If you surf, you probably want to stay longer, it’s your last chance on the East Coast really nice place!)
5 days FRASER ISLAND (3 Day tour + 1 day before and 1 day after)
6 days AIRLIE BEACH (Including 3 day Whitsunday Sailing)
4 days MAGNETIC ISLAND (Some people go to Mission Beach to skydive, I liked Magnetic for the quiet time and hiking!)
7 days CAIRNS / BARRIER REEF / CAPE TRIBULATION (Perfect time for all of this)
6 days DARWIN (Including 3 Day tour to Kakadu and Litchfield National Park, unmissable!)
13 days ALICE SPRINGS + ULURU + GREAT OCEAN ROAD TO MELBOURNE (11 Day Tour + 2 days in Alice Springs)
3 days MELBOURNE TO SYDNEY (Organised tour)
4 days SYDNEY (bonus!)
For your Australia travel budget, think about all the Unique once-in-a-lifetime Experiences you want to have!
Total Australian Budget Planner (Estimate)
Back then, I spend around AUS $ 6800 for almost three months of travel (that is around GBP £ 3726, EUR € 4276 or USD $ 5295) in current conversion, but I know that prices went up a LOT for accommodation, transport and activities, so I would take that as the absolute mini-minimum if you’re planning to do a similar trip. If you can round your savings up with 1000-1500 AUS Dollar on top of this, then you should be ‘safe’, but again, it’s just a (very rough) estimate.
If you compare 1 Australian Dollar to exchange rates of other currencies the years I visited (2006, 2008, 2011-2013, 2017), this is what they did over time:
- GBP £ 0.42 > £ 0.47 > £ 0.65 – £ 0.67 > £ 0.60 and now £ 0.55
- EUR € 0.60 > € 0.59 > € 0.74 -€ 0.79 > € 0.71 and now € 0.63
- USD $ 0.74 > $ 0.93 > $ 1.05 – $ 1.03 > $ 0.76 and now $ 0.78
Interesting to see, right? No wonder we got such few visitors when we lived there, but budget travel Australia is possible, don’t worry! Below I’ll try to give you a further break-down of what that money I spend went to exactly. Again, it’s just an estimate and really depends on where you go to and what your travel style is!
Backpacking Tips Australia: Hug a Koala! It’s 100% Worth the Money!
Australia Budget Break-Down
Cost of Travel in Australia: Accommodation
In Australia, there is a big choice in types of accommodation: you can go from budget hostels to luxury hotels, spend time on (free) camp sites or even spend some days or even your entire road trip sleeping in a car or camper van. What’s your preference?
The average price for a budget backpackers hostel Australia is AUS $ 30-35 per night in a 6-8 shared dorm (a bit less in low season, around AUS $ 20-25 perhaps). Bigger (luxury) hostels can go up to about AUS $ 40-50 a night. Also, the further away from the big cities you get, the cheaper a dorm room will be. In the North and West, it shouldn’t be too hard to find beds for about AUS $ 20-25 per night.
Also note that the smaller your room is, the more expensive it will be. On average, Australia hostels offer rooms for 10(+) people, 8, 6, 4, 3 and private rooms (doubles, twins or singles). For a private room, calculate about AUS $ 60–120 per night. Of course when you’re looking for private rooms, also check hotel and Airbnb prices, as they even might be cheaper.
[AUS $ 30 x about 50 days (the rest of my nights were included in tours) = AUS $ 1500 for 3 months travel]
Budget travel to Australia – Staying in a Hostel – Are you ready for this?
Cost to Travel around Australia with Public Transport
I often get asked ‘how much does it cost to travel around Australia?’ Well, depending on how long you’re travelling for, you have to choose between self-drive, taking an organized tour or travel by bus.
Backpacking Australia East Coast is easiest when it comes to using public transport, as they have regular services with bus companies like Greyhound & Premier, but the other parts of the country your best option is probably to either rent a car/van or go on a group tour. Of course you can do this as well on the East coast, bus the bus is cheapest.
I went backpacking the East Coast of Australia with the Greyhound Bus, on a “Mini Traveller Pass” from Sydney to Cairns. This costs around AUS $ 450 and is valid for 90 days. This was super convenient, as you can get off and on when you want, total freedom!
[AUS $ 450 for 90 days = AUS $ 450 / AUS $ 150 per month in australia]
How much money to travel Australia you need mostly depends on your own personal travel style…
Australia on a Budget: Renting a Car
If you are looking into renting a car to go driving around Australia on a budget, we had a great experience with a company called “Spaceships”. Especially in low season, there should still be some cheap deals with them, but in general they have a great price/quality. The cars have a bed in them, so they work out cheaper than renting a car + staying in a hostel/hotel. A similar company is Jucy.
We didn’t have such a good experience with Britz, so won’t recommend them. And we heard bad things about Wicked Campervans as well, just for your information, but here are the links anyways:
Other options are:
- Apollo Campers – www.apollocamper.com
- Mighty Campers – www.mightycampers.com.au
- Hippie Campers – www.hippiecamper.com
- Travellers Autobarn – www.travellers-autobarn.com.au
Car rental in Australia is not cheap, think around $50 per day as an absolute minimum for a small car (not the Spaceships/Jucy vans!) and then you still have to pay for fuel, which is also very pricey. If you can travel with others and share the costs, that would make a huge difference.
For backpacking Western Australia, you don’t really need a 4-wheel drive, only if you’re planning to go onto the beach (tip: DON’T – you will get stuck and you won’t be happy, like us, haha), the Pinnacles dessert is fine with a normal car as are national parks like Karijini and Kalbarri. Usally you park in the front and go further on foot.
You do need a 4-wheel drive for the part between The Kimberly’s and Darwin, but I would personally recommend to do a tag-along 4-wheel drive tour for that, as this road is very, very rough and known to make backpackers cry. For backpacking East Coast Australia, the only 4-wheel drive you would need is on Fraser Island and for anything north of Cape Tribulation, but this last one is a bit off the normal tourist track, so you probably won’t go there. For Fraser, I recommend going on a tour, they are more fun anyways!
- Fraser’s on Rainbow Beach – www.frasersonrainbow.com/…/frasers-on-rainbow-3-day-tag-along-tour
- Fraser Dingo 4WD Hire – www.fraserdingo4wdhire.com.au/tag-along-tours-fraser-island
- Nomads Fraser Island Tours – www.nomadsfraserisland.com/tours
Backpacking Australia Tips to Buying a Car
Buying a car in Australia would only really be a good idea if you’re looking to travel longer than 2-3 months with it. First of all, it takes a while to find a good car, as there are a LOT of bad ones around (we can tell you all about that!), which you’ll only really know if you have the time to take it to a proper mechanic for a check, a test drive…and then you still have to be lucky. Most hostels will have these boards or folders where backpackers leave a copy of their advert for selling their cars, but don’t expect the best car of the world to be in there, they have been handed down from traveller to traveller, so any serious work hasn’t been done on them.
If anything goes wrong while you’re on the road (we broke down every other day, but we were VERY unlucky I guess), you have to spend extra time in a place to get it fixed, which can be quite costly and is really quite stressful, especially if you’re short on time (1,5 months sounds long, in Australia it isn’t, trust me). If you rent a car, the company will always have their mechanics and even spare cars to help you out and you can drop them off pretty much anywhere. If it’s your own car, you wait and you pay, simple as that.
When you’ve finished you’re trip, returning the car to the rental place is easy (just a quick car wash works like a miracle), but when you’re trying to sell a car, this can take days to (probably more realistic) weeks. We actually didn’t manage to sell our car at all in the end and sold it back to Travellers Autobarn (where we bought it) for not even half the price we bought it. This place is literally the worst place to buy a car if you ask us now, but unfortunately there just aren’t that many options and you never have that much time to do thorough research, and they know it.
When you travel around June-August, realize that this is Winter time in Australia, so low season and there will be a lot less tourists around to buy the car from you in the end. That time waiting anxiously to sell your time can be much better spend, I’m sure!
Whitsunday Islands – A Must See When Backpacking Around Australia!
Organized Backpacking Tours Australia
How much money do you need to travel to Australia when you want to do organized tours? There are a couple of 3-day tours that you probably definitely want to do in Australia, such as: Fraser Island 4WD Safari, Whitsunday Island Sailing Trip, Kakadu National Park Visit and the Uluru/Kata Tjuta Tour. The average cost to travel to Australia with these kind of tours are around AUS $ 400-500 in average for the 3 days.
Booking multiple tours can give a discount in most cases and you can count on wanting to do them all (I did, for sure!)
[AUS $ 400 x 3 (one of these tours was part of a bigger tour for me, which I’ll include below) = AUS $ 1200]
Overland Tours: a good place to spend your travel money Australia
Between the sections Darwin to Alice Springs, Alice Springs to Adelaide, Adelaide to Melbourne and Melbourne to Sydney, I travelled with a company called ‘Adventure Tours’ over the different years that I visited. These tours are quite pricey (a bit more than above tours), as they include everything from accommodation to food, a tour guide, national park fees and most activities.
In 2006, the trip that I’m using to calculate this budget for you, I did a tour from Alice Springs to Melbourne and then another from Melbourne back to Sydney. Back then, these tours were a LOT cheaper than now, I think I paid around AUS $ 1150 for the 11-day first part and then AUS $ 400 for the 3-day second part, so about AUS $ 1550 for the whole trip of 14 days (AUS $ 111/day).
When I check their website now, I see a 10-day trip from Alice Springs to Melbourne for AUS $ 1470 and no more trips from Melbourne to Sydney (but price-wise, their 3-day trip from Adelaide to Melbourne is around AUS $ 680, so in total you would pay AUS $ 2150 for a similar trip I did in terms of travel days now), yeah, prices sure have gone up!
[14-day trip around AUS $ 2150]
We had great experiences with group tours in Australia, the country is really well set up for that with tours suited for all types of travellers. You get a knowledgeable guide, groups are small and usually they also sort out your food and accommodation, especially in the more remote places. You get to see all the highlights without any hassle, so perfect if you’re short on time or just want to cover as much ground as you can.
Check out the following tour companies for itineraries and prices:
- Adventure Tours – www.adventuretours.com.au
- Gadventures – www.gadventures.com/destinations/oceania
- Intrepid Travel – www.intrepidtravel.com/uk/australia
- OZ Experience –www.ozexperience.com
- Groovy Grape Tours – www.groovygrape.com.au
- Topdeck Travel – www.topdeck.travel/destinations/australia-new-zealand
- LOKA Travel (part of Stray) – www.loka.travel
All these companies usually also have smaller 1-3 day tours if you just want to use them to visit Kakadu National Park or take an Outback tour or something like that.
A cowboy course was high on my list of things I didn’t mind to spend money on from my travel Australia budget
Backpacking Australia: Leconfield Jackaroo/Jillaroo School
As I mentioned briefly above, I did a 5-day ‘cowboy course’ when I was in Australia and loved it! I definitely always include this experience in my backpacking in Australia tips to friends and family, because not many people have heard of this!
In the course of a week (or 11 days if you’re hardcore), you get to learn everything that comes with working on a farm, from herding and shearing sheep to mustering cows and fixing fences. It included accommodation and food for the week. I can’t remember what I paid back then, but if I check their website they ask AUS $ 695 now. They also have a 11-day course that’s AUS $ 900.
[5-day course AUS $ 695]
Tips for Backpacking Australia: Learn how to Sheer a Sheep :D
Travel in Australia: Domestic Flights
Domestic flights may sound expensive, but Australia is HUGE (it’s a whole continent!) and so you should really consider getting domestic flights with Australia budget airlines to some destinations and do a shorter tour around them instead of going for the more expensive overland tours. Check prizes on budget airlines Australia such as: Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin or TigerAir.
For any flight booking, I suggest to check out Skyscanner first, they are a comparison website that searches thousands of flights and finds the best deal for you. Then you can go back to the original airline website and book through them if you want.
You can roughly count (for one way flights with Jetstar) on:
Sydney – Melbourne = AUS $ 50 – 100
Sydney – Brisbane = AUS $ 75 – 125
Sydney – Adelaide = AUS $ 90 – 140
Sydney – Cairns = AUS $ 130 – 185
Cairns – Darwin = AUS $ 200 – 400
Sydney – Darwin = AUS $ 175 – 220
Alice Springs – Adelaide (Qantas) = AUS $ 250- 450
Sydney – Alice Springs (Qantas) = AUS $ 350 – 550
[about AUS $ 500 for 2 flights I used = AUS $ 500]
What’s at the top of your list of experiences to have while backpacking in Australia?
Budget Meals Australia: Food & Drinks
How much money do you need to travel Australia? That also depends on your daily spending habits! Some people go out dining and clubbing every night, others cook themselves and read a book at night. What is your favourite way to travel?
You will spend around AUS $ 15-25 per day on food (B/L/D) in a basic restaurant. Whether you go out or cook yourself when you travel alone, I found that usually you’ll spend about the same, because you can’t really buy anything in bulk or keep things cooled when you’re not staying in the same place longer than 3 days.
Some hostels have free breakfasts, but often they aren’t that great, so don’t get your hopes up. But if you’re really going for the cheap wins, then they are great of course.
A good tip to save money on food is to have a bigger lunch and a smaller dinner, as there are many places offering AUS $ 5-10 lunches! Cooking with multiple people in the hostel in Australia can also bring down the cost on food and of course if you’re in one place longer, you can also save money here for sure.
The real way to save money on things you consume in Australia are however (sorry)… your alcoholic drinks. Don’t be mistaken: alcohol in Australia is a LOT more expensive than in Europe or the US. Beers start at AUS $ 7 a pint (but can go as far as AUS $12 or more!), a glass of wine is often AUS $ 6-8, and a cocktail will often cost more than AUS $15. We found that even alcohol in the liquor store is super expensive, so there really isn’t much ‘drinking in’ happening before you go out, like we often do in The Netherlands with friends.
[AUS $ 20 x about 50 days (on tours, food is included) = AUS $ 1000]
Supermarkets / Places to get Groceries in Australia are:
- Woolworths – www.woolworths.com.au
- Coles – www.coles.com.au
- IGA – www.iga.com.au
- Foodworks – www.foodworks.com.au
- Harris Farm – www.harrisfarm.com.au
Budget Travel in Australia: There are a lot of Activities you can do for Free!
Travelling Australia on a Budget: Activities
Count on AUS $ 40-70 for ‘simple activities’, such as visiting the aquarium or a wildlife park, going on a day trip to the Blue Mountains, take surf lessons or go on a snorkel trip, etc. I did about 10 of these activities in the 3 months of travel. The only activities really that I didn’t do was skydiving (did that later in New Zealand) and deep sea diving (can’t do it with my asthma), but other than that, I did pretty much all the activities backpackers do on the East Coast.
[average of AUS $ 55 x 10 = AUS $ 550]
Of course, if you really want to travel Australia on a budget, choose activities that are free! In all major cities there are gorgeous parks to have a picnic, there are beaches everywhere along Australia’s coast, often with BBQ facilities for you to use, you can do coastal walks, hikes in one of the hundreds of National Parks, or simply stroll over one of the local markets. Also, many museums and galleries have free entry on certain days of the week, so make sure to check their websites out and save big!
Book your tours here:
- PeterPans Adventure Travel Australia – www.peterpans.com
- STA Travel Australia – www.statravel.com.au/australasia-tours
- Also check all the tour companies that I mentioned under ‘organized tours’!
Check GetYourGuide for fun activities to add to your travelling Australia budget:
Travel in Australia on a budget: Save on Transport & Accommodation, Spend it on Experiences!
Total Travelling in Australia Budget for 3 Months
Here is the total Australian budget breakdown for you, so you have a pretty good guess of how much would it cost to travel to Australia as a backpacker for 3 months (and shorter can be found below):
AUS $ 30 x 50 days = AUS $ 1500
AUS $ 450 for 90 days = AUS $ 450
AUS $ 400 x 3 times = AUS $ 1200
14-Day Organised Tour
AUS $ 2150 x 1 time = AUS $ 2150
Leconfield Jackaroo/Jillaroo School
AUS $ 695 x 1 time = AUS $ 695
AUS $ 500 x 2 times = AUS $ 500
Food & Drinks
AUS $ 20 x 50 days = AUS $ 1000
AUS $ 55 x 10 = AUS $ 550
TOTAL = AUS $ 8045 (that is around GBP £ 4409, EUR € 5059 or USD $ 6264)
This comes for about 80 days to around AUS $ 100 of Australia spending money per day (that is around GBP £ 55, EUR € 63 or USD $ 78)
Don’t forget to add any additional costs you make, such as the cost of traveling to Australia with an international flight, gear you might have to buy (backpack, shoes, clothing), insurance, souvenirs you buy, any alcohol you might consume, getting a SIM card for your phone, etc.
Travel Cost Calculator Australia:
How much spending money for Australia 2 weeks?
For a 2 weeks in Australia budget, I would set aside a minimum of AUS $ 1400.
How much spending money for Australia for 3 weeks?
For a 3 weeks in Australia budget, I would set aside a minimum of AUS $ 2100.
Total Cost to travel Australia for a month?
For a 4 weeks in Australia budget, I would set aside a minimum of AUS $ 2800.
How much does it Cost to Travel to Australia? Ask the Experts!
Here are a few other travel blogs with tips on budgets for Australia, perhaps that’s helpful for you as well:
- yTravel Blog – www.ytravelblog.com/travel-australia-budget
- Backpacker Banter – www.backpackerbanter.com/blog/budget-for-a-month-in-Australia
- Nomadic Matt – www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/the-cost-of-traveling-oz
- Rocky Travel – www.rockytravel.net/blog/the-cost-of-travelling-australia
- Where’s Mollie –www.wheresmollie.com/…/budgeting-backpacking-australia
- A Globe Well Travelled – www.aglobewelltravelled.com/…/backpacking-australia-much-cost
- Pommie’s Travels – www.pommietravels.com/how-much-do-i-need-to-budget-for-backpacking-in-australia
- Phenomenal Globe –www.phenomenalglobe.com/australia-travel-budget
- Drink Tea, Travel – www.drinkteatravel.com/travel-australia-on-a-budget
All and all, I hope that this little budget planner Australia can help you a bit further in making your Australia adventure dream come true. If you’re still not sure on what to do, I can tell you not to worry and just travel to Australia, talk to people in the hostel when you arrive and ask what they recommend in terms of transport and accommodation.
Also make sure talk to the people at the travel desk that most hostels have around the country, they know the best deals around at the moment and can get you a sweet deal. Or perhaps you’ll meet people right away who already have a car that you can travel with, or go on a tour together, you never know! Be open to change and I’m sure you’ll have a great time.
As you can see, travel to Australia on a budget is going to be hard, as things are expensive, but with this Australia travel guide and budget overview you should be able to make conscious choices on what you want to spend your money on! Any questions? Let me know below.