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.
Today, I am the proudest mum, a heartbroken mum, and an inspired mum.
As we sort through our belongings, our “stuff” and sell it or donate it, and get closer to our journey of living on the road and exploring Australia, I question so much about my dreams and my goals for our little family. I question the validity of our desire to work our way around the country without a bricks and mortar home to return to, and how this amazing journey will affect, or is affecting our children.
Our dream, is to give our children a spectacular life. A life that showers them with the beauty of the amazing country in which we live. A life that inspires them to truly believe that anything is possible, and that they can achieve it. A life that sees them blossom into amazing teens and adults who have an appreciation and respect for mankind and the amazing earth and it’s creatures that sustain us.
Making dreams come true requires sacrifice, and our dream is no different.
As with anything in life, a big change requires big decisions and a certain degree of sacrifice. So as our process of decision making and sacrifice shapes our lives over the next few months, it’s the new task of selling all of our belongings that really brings the gravity of our decision to life.
Parting with the things that have shaped, and still do shape our lives forces a type of self analysis that may ever be undertaken otherwise.
Even the most mundane, boring item brings with it a sense of past memories. Letting go of our house full of mementos, serves of a stark reminder of the reality of our decision and how it is and will shape the lives of our children. I truly believe that our children will have an amazing experience travelling and exploring, living on the road, and they are so excited about the journey that lays ahead. As a mother, watching them make decisions about leaving behind their “things” and put trust into our judgement that this radical change will be worth it is just inspiring!
One of the things we’ve had to begin parting with, are our pets. Our dog will be travelling with us, but we’ve also had reptiles since the kids were tiny. Rehoming them is not too difficult, most of our snakes were Matt’s, so the kids had no real emotional attachment to them, but their bearded dragons, and Jackson’s python were different all together.
Jackson was very happy his carpet python went to a new home with kids to enjoy him, and he’s looking for the right child to pass his bearded dragon on to. I watched as he readied the cage so I could take some photos to email, and held his pet with such pride so he could show it to the prospective buyer.
I watched with pride, and realised just how mature he was being over this entire process . “You’re being very brave about having to sell your pets mate, are you ok?” I asked him. “Yes mum, I just have to trust that it will all be worth it” was his reply.
Well at that moment, the gravity of what this journey means to our children really hit me. I’m sure we’ll give them memories of this amazing country that will be the envy of many others. I’m proud because they “get” the dream and understand the possibilities, I’m heartbroken because of the unknown and seeing them having to be so brave, and I’m inspired that they do, truly understand the magical possibilities that lay before us!
I hope however, with all my heart, that they do truly believe that leaving this life, and all our things is worth it!
As you explore your way around Australia, it’s nice to think that it will be a trouble free journey, and hopefully it is.
However, one essential form of preparation for all families hitting the road (or even just at home) is to be adequately insured to protect yourselves from mishaps.
There are many kinds of insurance that are pretty essential for families, so let’s take a look:
Family Travel Insurance:
· Consider your type of holiday and ensure you covered – some insurance policies won’t cover certain holidays e.g. winter sports you will sometimes have to pay extra to be covered. Make sure you check this before you pay for you travel insurance. Equally make sure you’re not paying for something you don’t need, if you’re only going on a beach holiday with no special activities make sure your policy reflects this.
· Check you-re not already covered – some paid-for bank accounts and credit cards include travel insurance as part of their deal so make sure you’re not paying for a policy when you’re already covered.
· Check what’s covered – make sure you read the small print to see exactly what’s covered, is your policy going to cover you if you miss your flight or lose your luggage? Not all policies do so make sure you know exactly what you’re being covered for.
· Your holiday company isn’t always best – it might seem easy to just add travel insurance when booking your holiday through the same company but be aware they are not always going to be giving you the best deal – make sure you shop around as you could get a much better deal.
Family Health Insurance:
– This is a big one, family health insurance wasn’t something we’d taken out until just recently. The best way to go about health insurance we found, is to think about the following things and find the one that best suits your family:
- What treatments (if any) that your family need on a regular basis.
- How likely you are to use certain health services.
- What rebate you get back at each visit
- The availability of services within your area or areas you are likely to visit
- The expense.
Finding the best prices
Without a doubt finding affordable insurance is important for any family. There are a few ways that you can do this. One way is to speak to your current insurer for car or home insurance, they often have reduced pricing for multiple insurance policies and will offer a wide range of insurance types. Another way is to use a service such as Choosi to find the best pricing in one place, it will save you shopping around.
One thing is for certain, when you take the time to insure your family for travels, be sure to choose the right amount of cover that will be required should anything go wrong, as being under-insured can be worse than being fully insured.
So you want to travel Australia, but you’re not really sure you can afford it? Wondering how to make money on the road? How to finance a travel lifestyle?
As scary as it may sound to leave the security of a job behind, (is any job really secure though?) The reality is with a bit of flexibility and willingness to try new things, almost anyone can find work while travelling Australia.
While there’s always options to try and learn new skills when living on the road, the first option is to use what you know to gain employment.
Use Your Current Skills to Find Work While Travelling:
Almost everyone has skills that they can use to earn income while travelling Australia. Whether it’s life skills, business skills, a trade, or in demand qualifications, finding work is just a matter of being entrepreneurial or knowing where to look.
For workers such as electricians, plumbers, builders, painters, mechanics and similar industries, establishing yourself with a business ABN, suitable insurance cover, business or trade licenses that are recognised in the state you’re travelling, and the necessary tools to carry out work as you travel are essential preparations.
Other industries that allow you to take your skills on the road include things such as hairdressing and beauty services, food and hospitality services, office and administration, teaching, nursing and health services, farming skills and much more.
How to Find Work While on the Road?
Advertise: One of the easiest ways to find work when travelling, if you have a skillset that allows you to work indepenently for yourself is to advertise that you’re available. Have professional signage made for your vehicle, or even caravan so that people know what you do when they see you. This works especially well for industries such as mechanical trades, but also for hairdressers and beautcians who might be able to service other travellers. If you’ll be in town for a while, consider noticeboards or even the local paper to get your name out.
Act professionally: Have a business card, professional resume or portfolio. At least one of these will be useful no matter what industry you work in.
Ask: You might be surprised just what work is around that you can find out about simply by asking. If you have skills in hospitality speak to pubs, clubs, restauarants, motels, caravan parks, or any other business your skills may be useful to. Many places do not advertise, but are often on the lookout for casual staff. Always have a resume or portfolio ready if necessary, and let the business know how long you’ll be staying in their region for.
Use Employment Agencies: While many travellers prefer not to use agencies, they can be a great starting point for getting some idea about the types of work that are readily available within a region. It never hurts to ask, and even if they don’t have anything that currently suits you they may have leads for you to follow in your pursuit for work.
Word of Mouth: Don’t forget to ask other travellers you meet where they’ve been able to find work while travelling. This works well with industries such as farming, fruit picking and hospitality. Always try to get a contact name if possibly and write down the details ready for when you arrive in the same area.
Newspapers & Internet: Don’t forget to check out local newspapers, or online job sites ahead of your arrival and while you’re enjoying your stay in an area.
Turn Your Hobby Into an Income:
If you have a hobby or income it’s often possible to turn your passion into a money maker. While it may not lead to extreme riches, many travellers find that by creating and selling goods or services it allows them to travel for longer and further than might have otherwise been possible.
If you enjoy sewing clothes, knitting and crochet, writing, toy making, painting or any other large number or hobbies, it’s easy to get started selling your creations. There are websites such as etsy and madeit making it easier than ever to share your creations with the world, and local markets are for the most part inexpensive to set up at, and can open you to meeting new people and making a little extra cash at the same time.
The reality is, that while you may not always land in your dream job while travelling, being willing to be creative and flexible with how you work and in what industry or position, can allow you to live a dream lifestyle travelling Australia with experiences so few ever get to enjoy.
As you may or may not know we’ve been given the amazing opportunity to try our hand at shooting a documentary for Nat Geo TV as Nissan X-trail Adventurers. On top of getting the chance to experience this, we also get to decide our destination, Where would we like to take our next family adventure?
For us, this decision was actually made over 3 years ago.
When we travelled the Stuart Highway in 2008 from Darwin to Adelaide, we really had no idea what we’d discover. I mean, we’d seen images of Uluru on TV, we knew we’d take a detour into Kakadu, and we had to visit Coober Pedy for sure, I mean people seriously live underground there! Little did we know that the true spirit of Australia would capture our souls. We not only experienced things beyond our wildest dreams, but we discovered there were so many more hidden treasures out there we just knew we had to hit the road again to explore.
It’s taken3 years for the opportunity to discover a new region of Australia to appear. We’ve done plenty of short trips and camping trips, but nothing that isn’t easily accessible from home.
So, given this amazing chance to not only show other Aussie families the fun and adventure you can experience together on a road trip, but also choose our destination, we knew before we entered just where we’d go….
Adelaide Coast Line
Kangaroo Island was the place on the top of our list, followed Closely by returning to Melbourne (we fell in love with Melbourne the first time we visited) and driving the Great Ocean Road…. How blessed are we that we get to do BOTH those things while capturing the adventure for other families to watch on Nat Geo TV!
Our obsession with Kangaroo Island was almost instant from the moment we read about it. I remember arriving in Adelaide and reading the local paper (we always like to read local papers on our travels to get a feel for a place) and in that paper was an advertisement for a Wildlife Park for sale on Kangaroo Island. We read all we could about Kangaroo Island, and discovered that Australia had our very own “Aussie Galapagos” Island, full of amazing animals, untouched and gorgeous nature. We’re Wildlife lovers, so we dreamt about what it would be like to own a Wildlife park in such an amazing place. We knew that one day we’d return to explore this amazing paradise ourselves.
As for the Great Ocean Road, well that’s just a MUST DO for any Australian. It’s such a long way from our home base, we just weren’t sure when we would ever get the opportunity to do this stretch. Well, now we know I guess! At the end of February, flying into Melbourne and hitting the road in our Nat Geo Nissan X-trail to capture the amazing, amazing places and spaces all along the Great Ocean Road and beyond!
So there you have it, at the end of February, just a couple of weeks away, we’ll be flying into Melbourne, taking a road trip down the Great Ocean Road right through to Kangaroo Island, to show you all how amazing this part of the country is.
Do you have a dream destination? Do you have anything you’d like us to stop and see on the way? Let us know!
Travel can be a crazy experience, even the most well laid out plans don’t go as expected, especially at times where Mother Nature plays havoc! We know our way around Australia with kids pretty well. Both ourselves and the kids are used to driving long distances, and we know the average travel time to our most common travel spots which helps us plan a little more easily. Until…….
A flood happens.
We learnt these things:
- Don’t trust Google Maps.
- Don’t trust Google Maps.
Mid 2011, I was booked in to attend a photography workshop, a wonderful international photographer was holding a workshop in QLD and I was so excited. To make the most of the trip interstate, we’d booked family accommodation, had tickets to The Australian Outback Spectacular, and were looking forward to some relaxation in the sunshine. We knew what time Matt finished work so we could leave, and what time we’d arrive. All sorted right? Wrong. There was a week long flood just days before my workshop started. The Pacific Highway was blocked right where we needed to drive through, and not in just one place, but several places, The Oxley Highway was our only chance to get there via the inland route, things weren’t looking good with that under water as well. It was very lucky for me that the Oxley Highway cleared the day before we were due to leave, so I dodged an expensive plane flight and we decided we wouldn’t let natural disaster defeat us, we’d just go anyway, even if the inland route was a little longer.
Our Biggest Mistake with Planning an Alternate Travel Route.
As I’ve said, we generally know how long it takes to drive from home, to most places around NSW and QLD, so we had a “rough” idea of what we were facing. We had some idea of which way we needed to travel and the towns we needed to go through, but trying to do our research, we decided to hit Google Maps to see if we were travelling efficiently or if there was a shorter way. BIG MISTAKE! We trusted what we found. Google maps appeared to show us a shorter way that appeared to save at least an hour, we printed out the details and didn’t think much more about it. Little did we know (and we didn’t realise until we were smack bang in the middle of nowhere) that Google had sent us up a very “unique” selection of roadways!
We knew about the “correct way” to go. I’ve marked it out here in red, but we honestly thought there might be a better alternative, so perhaps naively consulted Google Maps to advise us of other possible options. Thinking it was a major road that Google was leading us on, once we hit Tenterfield we kept following Google’s advised path….
The Turn off Gave it Away…
You know you’re not about to travel up a major road, when you drive past your turn, having just mistaken it for a road into a farm, without there even being a signpost. That’s what happened. We were driving along, expecting to hit some sort of town, when we drove through a few houses, some paddocks and then my “little blue dot” on my iphone Google Map told me we’d gone past the turn. It was at that point I laughed, I mean, what else was I supposed to do!
All I can say about that road is, that it’s probably a good thing we were in a 4wd!
It Must have been a Miracle
After an extra couple of hours of driving we were running late not only to check in, but also to our dinner booking for Australian Outback Spectacular! There were some wild, crazy roads on that journey, but it was somewhat compensated for by the amazing rainforest we drove through…..
We were severely running out of time, a quick toilet stop in a rest area gave the opportunity to change into “nicer” clothes for dinner, nothing like a family of 5 rummaging through luggage in the back of a car and getting changed in the dark in the bush somewhere! We had no other choice, we’d called our accommodation and organised an alternative access to our room, and drove straight to dinner.
It truly must have been a miracle that we made it to dinner. We’d pre-paid around $300 so it wasn’t something we wanted to miss, although we did end up missing all of the pre-dinner entertainment!
Don’t Trust Google Maps
Now, of course, it may sound a bit silly that we planned our entire route just on what Google told us. Truth be told when we reached Tenterfield I had said to Matt “I’m not sure if we should trust this or if we should just go the longer way”. The longer way would have been much quicker as their would have been proper roads and not goat tracks, but we couldn’t have predicted what a wild ride Google would send us on!
So just a notice to those who do as we did and plan out their travel route relying on Google, DON’T take it for granted that it will be anywhere close to correct!