The easiest way to explore a country as big as Australia is with your own set of wheels. The best part is you don’t need a budget as big as a huntsman spider to travel Australia in a hire car. Follow our budget travel tips to help put together a dream road trip that doesn’t hurt your wallet.

1. Accommodation

Take advantage of Australia’s beautiful camping spots to save your dollars; camp sites are your cheapest option for accommodation. You can pitch a tent in many of Australia’s lush national parks either for free or for a small fee. Most campsites will have basic amenities, including water and toilets, although paid parks typically have better facilities than free ones.

Hostels are another cheap option for when you get sick of sleeping in a tent. There is a wide network of hostels throughout Australia, offering wallet-friendly dorms and private rooms. A huge benefit of hostels is that they tend to have well-equipped kitchens, saving you from spending your money on dining out.

Camping is the cheapest way to get a room with a view.
Camping is the cheapest way to get a room with a view.

2. Food

Get in touch with your inner chef – cooking your own meals is the best way to save on food costs. Shop at supermarkets and make the most of all the great places to stop along the roads. Picnics are budget-friendly and a great way to enjoy Australia’s outdoors.

Australia has bountiful fresh produce and seafood which means wonderful cuisine, however, so splurge on a meal out every now and then. It doesn’t have to be a pricey restaurant – even something as simple as fish and chips can give you a taste of the local catch.

3. Petrol costs

One of the biggest expenses you may face while driving around Australia is petrol. Here are some tips to help save on fuel costs.

  • Don’t overfill your car. It’s always tempting to pack every item you own (just in case!) but carrying around excess baggage hurts your fuel economy. Pack minimally and try to avoid excess weight.
  • Map out your route ahead of time, or use GPS navigation to find the fastest way to your destination. Exploring is good; getting lost is just a waste of petrol.
  • Roll down the windows if it gets hot. Air conditioning uses up to 10 per cent of petrol, according to the Department of the Environment. When going faster than 80 kilometres per hour, it’s better to use air conditioning though – an open window at higher speeds can create drag and cause you to burn more fuel.
  • Buy groceries in bulk to take advantage of petrol discounts at Coles and Woolworths. You can get a few cents off per litre, depending on how much you spend.
  • Hire a larger car and bring along more people – the more road trip buddies you have, the more ways you can split fuel costs.

4. Tickets and fines 

Fines for parking, speeding, and other traffic infringements can be high in Australia. Most people don’t budget for hefty fines when planning a road trip, so instead of feeling the sting of a ticket, pay careful attention to speed limits and road rules.

Some of Australia's greatest attractions are free to visit.
Some of Australia’s greatest attractions are free to visit.

5. Activities

Do a little research to find out the free activities in the area you’ll be travelling to. In many national parks, you can hike for free. Australia’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world and are don’t cost a cent to visit. You can also enter many museums, galleries and exhibitions free of charge, plus take advantage of community events such as holiday parades and markets. A little sleuthing goes a long way towards finding free things to do!

Good car rental prices also help keep costs down. We pride ourselves on offering competitive car hire rates, while still providing a wide range of excellent vehicles. For a road trip that won’t break the bank, East Coast Car Rentals should be your first stop.