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Australia Road Trip Budget: A Detailed Cost Breakdown

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In this post you can read about our Australia road trip budget, I hope this will give you an idea about the cost to travel to Australia.

Australia is the 6th biggest country in the world, so big in fact that it counts as a continental landmass!

With more than 823,000 kilometers of road available to be explored, it is an amazing road trip destination (read more Australia Trivia here).

We love love love love road trips, in fact, it’s our favorite way to travel. We’ve gone on lots of road trips in countries such as New Zealand, Japan, Portugal, Oman, Canada, and the U.S.A.

I can say from experience that road-tripping is one of the best and cheapest options to travel!

Australia road trip budget: how much does it cost to travel to Australia?

Inskip Peninsula and the Carlo Sandblow

Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). I’m very grateful when you use my links to make a purchase:-).

How much does it cost to go to Australia?

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Australia is infamous for being a rather expensive destination, however, we managed to travel Australia on a very reasonable budget.

For everyone wondering: Is Australia expensive to visit? It doesn’t have to be! We spent less than €100 a day (for us as a couple) during our 6-week road trip from Cairns to Melbourne.

Check the infographic below for our Australian budget breakdown and read along for tips to save money in Australia.

How to travel Australia on a budget! A trip to Australia doesn't have to be expensive, we spent less than €100/150 AUD per day during our 6-week road trip along the East Coast. Detailed budget breakdown and information about the costs of renting a camper van, campsites, petrol, food & activities. #australia #roadtrip

Australia travel budget: important facts and figures

  • I traveled around Australia with my husband, and all expenses mentioned are for the two of us together.
  • I quote prices in and Australian Dollar (AUD). The exchange rate usually is around €1 = 1,50 AUD. Of course, the exchange rate varies, check the most recent rates here.
  • We spent 6 weeks in Australia, on an average day we spent €98 / 146 AUD.
  • Our average daily travel budget includes all our travel costs in Australia, it does not include the costs for our tickets to Australia. Also, as a travel blogger, I was fortunate enough to work with Travellers Autobarn campervan rental and several tour companies which decreased our expenses.
  • My trip started in Cairns and ended in Melbourne. You can find our East Coast road trip itinerary here.

Cost to travel Australia:  our average daily expenses

  1. Campervan: 65% of daily costs
  2. Accommodation: 4% of daily costs
  3. Food and drinks: 19% of daily costs
  4. Activities and miscellaneous expenses: 12% of daily costs
The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains

1. Renting a campervan in Australia: how much does it cost?

I’m 100% convinced the cheapest way to travel to Australia is with a camper van (or a car and a tent).

We rented a Kuga campervan from Travellers Autobarn and drove from Cairns to Melbourne in a little less than 6 weeks.

The Kuga van was great and very comfortable! The kitchen had a sink, a microwave, and a small fridge. The 35-liter water tank usually lasted us around 3 days.

Campervanning Australia - beautiful freedom campspot

The large bed could easily be converted to a seating area, but since we traveled in November and December we spent most of our time outside.

The curtains let in very little light, which was nice because the sun came up quite early in the South. During our trip we never had any issues with the car, it was well-maintained and clean.

In the infographic, you can see that the daily rental costs for the campervan were €63 / 93 AUD. These costs are divided into 2 categories:

  • Rent of the campervan
  • Costs for petrol

Rent of the campervan

Campervan at a lake by sunset
Daily rental costs

I was fortunate to work with Travellers Autobarn and received a discount on the daily rental price of our Kuga. With this discount, the costs per day for the camper van were €47 / 70 AUD.

Insurance

The only insurance we added was a 75 AUD payment to insure any damage to the windshield.

We didn’t take out any additional insurance to reduce our bond liability (in case of an accident we would have had to pay up to 2500 AUD).

It’s always a gamble whether or not insurance will be worth it or not. During our New Zealand road trip I bumped into another car and I was very happy we had taken out additional insurance.

During our Portugal road trip we paid for extra insurance as well but didn’t need it, so we kind of wasted that money.

In the end you won’t know what’s smart until you hand the vehicle back in, damaged or not. It’s up to you if you want to risk it;-).

Check prices online

Depending on the season, the type of campervan you want to rent and the additional items you choose you can pay as little as 35 AUD per day.

You can see the different types of vans and get a quote on the Travellers Autobarn website.

View from the back of a campervan in Australia

Costs for petrol

Fuel isn’t cheap in Australia and distances are big, so fuel made up a significant portion of our daily expenses (17%).

On average we paid €16 / 23 AUD per day. We fueled up on either Unleaded 91 or Unleaded 95. Not all gas stations sell 91, but at the ones that do this is usually the most economical option.

What really helped us to find the cheapest fuel option available was the Motormouth website (also available as an app).

The website shows the current price level of petrol stations all around Australia, there can be quite a big difference between them.

Checking the Motormouth website or app before fueling up can definitely help to save some money!

The Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Australia

2. How to find budget accommodation and free campsites in Australia

In the infographic, you can see that the total daily costs for accommodation were €4 / 6 AUD. These costs are divided into 2 categories:

  • Paid campsites
  • Airbnb accommodation

We slept in our campervan pretty much all the time and were pleasantly surprised by how many free campsites we found during our road trip.

We found these campsites via Campermate, a great free app where you can find information about the site and read comments from recent visitors.

Some of these free campsites even had free hot showers! During our six-week road trip we only paid for 2 campsites, the rest of the sites were free.

Free campsite on a budget campervan trip Australia

Airbnb

We stayed at an Airbnb in Brisbane (2 nights) and Melbourne (1 night). In Yamba and Sydney, we stayed with friends (3 nights), which was great and also saved us a lot of money.

3. Cost of food in Australia

The easiest and most effective way to save money in Australia is by cooking your own food. A cheap dinner will set you back at least €10/ 15 AUD per person.

Cooking your own meal will only cost about €10/ 15 AUD for a couple, so you’ll already save 50% each day by making your own dinner!

We paid 19 / 28 AUD for food and drinks on an average day. We made our own breakfast, coffee, lunch and dinner on 95% of the days. Every once in a while we bought a fresh fruit juice, pizza or steaming bowl of ramen.

4. Activities and miscellaneous Australia vacation cost

The average daily costs in this category were €12/ 19 AUD. These costs can be split between:

  • Activities
  • Miscellaneous costs

Activities

Hill Inlet Lookout the most beautiful view in the Whitsunday Islands Australia

Most days we went bush-walking, explored a beautiful beach or did some sightseeing in a village or city, these activities were free. However, we also did some pretty cool excursions in Australia.

We went scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, flew over the treetops with the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and sailed around the marvelous Whitsunday Islands.

I worked with these companies and received a discount or complimentary trip, which saved us a lot of money.

Miscellaneous costs

This category is a little bit of everything, ranging from public transport in Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra to costs for laundry, a local SIM, postcards home, etc.

Plan your trip like a pro with these tools:
✈️ Find the best flight deals on Kiwi.com.
🚗 Get the best car rental deal for your road trip on Rentalcars.com.
🛏️ Find your dream accommodation on Booking.com or Agoda.
😎 Book the best tours via Get Your Guide, Viator or Klook.
📖 Plan your journey with the Lonely Planet.
🗺️ Travel safely and get reliable travel insurance from Safety Wing.

Australia trip budget: in conclusion

That’s all our Australia expenses! I hope this post has shown it’s possible to travel to Australia on a budget and has inspired you to visit this beautiful continent! 

Feel free to ask any questions you may have and enjoy planning your trip to Australia!

Also check this post about work and travel in Australia in case you’re interested in getting an Australian work and holiday visa.

Also read about the best things to do in Sydney with kids and about places to visit in Daylesford.

This post was updated in October 2020.

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Beatriz

Wednesday 4th of March 2020

Hi Lotte

Thanks a lot for this information. I wanted to know, we are doing a road trip from Cairns to Sydney on a campervan. The payment for the campervan has already been made so that’s counted. My question is, if we want to go diving on the Great Barrier Reef and to Whitsundays (basically that’s all we want to do as “paid” activities), do you think we, as a couple, can manage to spend an average of 60 eur per day? (This would be excluding the campervan as I mentioned above).

Do you have any details of your trips to Whitsunday and the great barrier?

Thanks so much!

Lotte

Monday 16th of March 2020

Hi Beatriz,

That sounds like a wonderful trip! Regarding your question, well, it will be a bit of a tight budget as these two activities unfortunately don't come cheap... Sailing the Whitsundays is around 200AUD per person and diving is 300AUD for 2 dives and 320AUD for 3 dives. Without these activities, 60euro for a couple is definitely possible but if you really want to do these two activities I'd try and save another 1000AUD for your road trip (if possible).

You can find more information here: https://cruisewhitsundays.com/experiences/camira-sailing-adventure/ http://www.tusadive.com/prices/

Have a great trip! Lotte

Veronica Ricalde

Sunday 21st of October 2018

How safe is to stay in free Camping sites? we would like to go with two small Kids (6 months and 6 years) and my husband Freak out when i said that we can camp for free. do they have toiletts and showers? thank u and lovely regards

Lotte

Thursday 25th of October 2018

Hi Veronica,

We never had any issues at the free campsites and I always felt safe. Free campsites usually do have toilets but no showers (though some do, but you may have to pay for the shower). In the Campermate app (https://www.campermate.com.au/welcome/index) you can find information about free (and paid) campsites. Keep in mind that some free sites are located along busy roads, which may not be ideal for you and your family. Enjoy your road trip!

Lotte

Charlotte

Sunday 1st of April 2018

Hi Lotte! We are planning an East coast Australia road trip (4-5 weeks) in October and then on to New Zealand for 2 months. We will be using a campervan in both countries. How long in advance do we need to book the campervan to get the best deals? Can you still get a good deal a few weeks in advance or do they become really expensive by then? Thanks for your interesting blog!!

Lotte

Monday 2nd of April 2018

Hi Charlotte,

Wow, your trip sounds awesome! Regarding your question, for Australia you'll be a bit ahead of the high season so I reckon you could get good deals there even if you don't book very early. For New Zealand however, you'll be traveling in peak season and I recommend to book as early as possible. While November may be easy to book, December is summer holiday for the Kiwis as well. Hope this helps! Have a wonderful time in Aussie and New Zealand!

Lotte

Katie Farrant

Wednesday 17th of January 2018

Hey, I'm just wondering whether you will be uploading your Australia itinerary soon?! My partner and I are off there on the 31st Jan starting in Adelaide and going up to Cairns (by tours and greyhound) for 7 weeks. Would be great to read any recommendations you have for free/cheap activities. We have booked up a few tours- but the cost is adding up! We are off to NZ after Aus for 5 weeks and your blog made me decide to book a camper with car rental village! I can't wait!

Lotte

Wednesday 17th of January 2018

Hi Katie,

Thanks for your comment and your trip(s) sounds great! Which tours will you be doing along the way? Yes, costs definitely add up but luckily many hikes and sightseeing in cities/villages is free. I'm working on the itinerary post, it's going to be very long (5000+ words;-). My goal is to publish the post this week because I start a new job on Monday. Perhaps you can subscribe via RSS feed so you'll receive an update when the article goes life?

So cool you'll be going to NZ as well, it's still my favorite country in the world... Have a great trip and let me know if you have questions about the itinerary once it's published.

Lotte