If you’ve made the decision to go for the big trip around Australia, or take an extended trip to explore some of the amazing places to see around Australia, then welcome, let’s take a look at some starting points for planning your big lap! That decision is the very start of an exciting journey. One of the most difficult parts of your trip is the budgeting, which starts long before you head off. We’re going to run you through a guide of the things you need to consider for your big trip. Like everything else when it comes to travelling Australia, the real expenses of your big lap will be highly variable and depend very much on your vehicle, accommodation and level of self sufficiency, so to start with, lets look at some of those decisions you’ll need to make.
Time Frame to Travel Australia:
The first thing to decide about your trip around Australia is just how long you want to spend on the road. This will determine a whole lot of further decisions you’ll make about your holiday. Common time frames range from anywhere between a couple of weeks to a few years, and chances are, your trip will fall somewhere in there. Short Trips: Not only do shorter trips restrict the amount of travel you’ll be able to do, if you’re planning to see as much as you possibly can during your time on the road, you need to keep in mind that cramming lots of driving, attractions and accommodation into your trip will mean an increased short term budget.
For longer term trips, itineraries can be planned to make the most of cheaper off peak pricing, self sufficient stays, and a fuel bill that is spread out over a longer period. So, a short trip that covers a lot of ground requires a larger up front budget, vs a longer trip covering the same ground. Longer trips offer pricing advantages, but this shouldn’t put you off.
- Write down your dream amount of time for your holiday, then write down the minimum time you know you have, work between these time frames to help with planning.
- Pencil in the time of year you’re planning to travel too, this will help with researching different regions and routes you can travel too (e.g- visiting the Northern Territory in January is extremely hot and right in the middle of the wet season).
Where to Travel in Australia?:
Deciding where to go on your Australian holiday is an exciting and important part of your planning process. With such a large, sparse country it can be a week of driving to get between destinations. For shorter trips, it’s a great idea to choose a general region or single route that you’re wanting to cover during your holiday.
For instance, our first great Aussie roadtrip was the Stuart Highway, reaching from Darwin to Adelaide. Would you believe we covered the entire centre strip of Australia, as well as Kakadu in just 3 weeks! It’s true that by flying through a journey like that, you do miss some things, but if you’ve dreamed of doing something, do it anyway! You can always go back later (just like we are doing). For short trips, stick to a dedicated route, pre-plan which attractions you’d like to visit as well as accommodation if you can, this will help you budget ahead of time. Allow yourself some kind of slush fund though, because you’re bound to find fun and interesting things to do that aren’t on the original list.
Remember, shorter trips over longer distances are often more expensive. Longer road trips will, of course, require a more expensive fuel bill if travelling over long distances, and depending on the car you’re driving or your choice of accommodation (more on those later) it may be restrictive. The best guide of longer travel is to have a rough idea of the regions you’re planning to visit, the best time to visit those places, and your expected accommodation expense. These things may change, and for long road trips, it’s often best not to overplan. Have a general guide to follow, but planning each day for a 12 month or even 3 month holiday is not only a drain, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed and disappointed.
- List your preferred travel regions and note down any climate issues, special events or offers that may be on at that time of year. Plot these regions/towns into approximate dates you might arrive/leave there and work within your expected time frame. Resist the urge to plot exact arrival and departure dates for the entire trip as some spontaneity is great for road trips. If you do need to book accommodation for busier regions, then do so, and adjust your itinerary between your destinations to still allow flexibility.
Choosing a Vehicle to Travel Australia:
Your fuel bill is going to be one of the largest components of your travel budget, this is a consideration when choosing which car to take with you on your roadtrip. While fuel costs are one consideration, they are not the only one. Accessibility to remote places, reliability, packing space and safety are amongst many other considerations you will need to keep in mind for long term car travel. There are many, many amazing places in Australia that you an visit in a small family car, for those looking to get into more adventurous territory, a four wheel drive of some sort is definitely recommended. Perhaps the most important information you will need about your vehicle if you’re going to be towing a camper or caravan are it’s tow limits. Thousands of holiday makers are towing illegally on Australian roads, and it’s not just about the law, it’s about safety too!
- If you’re planning to buy a new car, or upgrade your car for the trip, then head over to our previous post on how to choose a car to travel Australia. This will take you through all the considerations you need to make. If you’re heading off in the car you currently have, plan your trip accordingly to the abilities of your car.
Accommodation Choices for Travelling Australia.
Wow, this is a huge subject to cover, and there’s so many possibilities for how you might choose to travel, and where you might stay. Your accommodation choices really come down to the following: Tent, camper, caravan, motorhome, or hotels/motels. That’s all the most popular ways to travel. So, now, the choice comes down to you. Here’s some pros and cons of these types of accommodation:
- Tents: Pro: Portable, cheap – Con: Comfort & Set up time.
- Campers: Pro: Portable, offroad options available – Con: Set up time vs full caravan, offroad version needed for some access spots.
- Caravans: Pro: Comfort, some offroad availalbe – Con: restricts access to some areas, cost can be prohibitive
- Motorhome: Pro: Comfort and no towing involved – Con: expensive to buy (although hire may be an option)
- Hotels/Motels: Pro: No towing – Con: Expensive and reliant on availability
- Decide what your budget it is, what types of destinations you’d like to cover on your trip (e.g- how remote you’d like to be), the VERY important consideration of the tow limitations of your vehicle if you’ll be towing and decide on a compromise. You may be able to purchase a second hand van for example to get the kind you need if you’re not able to afford a new one, you might decide to go with a tent because you’ll be doing lots of hard 4wd tracks. The choice is up to you, it’s just important to know why you’re making that choice and what to expect.
Budgeting When Travelling Australia.
Just like all the points before this one, your trip is going to be personal, suited to your family, and therefore your budget is going to be different to ours for example. If you’re looking for a guide of sorts, then the most common number that gets thrown around is $100 a day.
There are so many variables to consider when figuring out a budget, that it’s almost impossible to know exactly what your budget will be before you leave. With that being said however, there’s lots of ways to work out your approximate costs, by following some simple points:
- Figure out the number of nights you’ll be on the road for (for those travelling long term, you may want to just budget for a month. For those on a shorter trip, perhaps the entire trip budget might be what you want to know.)
- Taking into consideration the type of accommodation you’ve decided to go with, pre-plan as much as you can, approximately how many nights you’ll be staying in paid accommodation, and, to the best of your knowledge what the price of that accommodation will be. For example, we try to free camp as much as possible as a family, and if you’re self sufficient with your set up, this is a great way to save money. You may do the same, OR you might prefer caravan parks etc. For us, I would pre-plan for the month, take a look at the regions we’re going to and figure out how many nights we’ll have access to free camping, state forest or national park camping, and how many nights we might have to pay for a caravan park. Based on those estimations I can figure out the cost of the month for accommodation.
- For food, the only real change to your budget will be eating out vs cooking yourself. When you’re situated in an area with great facilities, food costs are likely lower, the more remote you are, the more expensive food often becomes. Sticking to staples and cooking yourself can help keep the budget lower. Eating out will drive the costs of food higher. Definitely go out and enjoy local eateries, just allocate yourself a budget to do so.
- To figure out your approximate fuel costs for your trip, a little bit of research goes a long way. Work out how much fuel your car uses per kilometre when it’s fully loaded. To do this, fill the tank and do a trip noting the amount of km’s you’ve travelled. Then fill the tank back up, noting the amount of litres it takes to fill the tank, these figures will allow you to work out the amount of litres of fuel you’ll be roughly using per kilometre of travel. This will allow you to budget approximate expenses between towns etc. It’s a good idea to tow your van or load up the car with extra weight to get as close to realistic as possible. Keep in mind that driving a little slower and having great tyres with correct tyre pressure will save you plenty of money in fuel!
So there you have it, your guide to getting started with the planning of your Aussie holiday. There’s so much to consider, but these points will give you a great start with figuring things out. Let us know if you have any questions or other ideas to add, we’d love to hear from you.