How to tour Australia on $35 a day

$35 a day per person will cover your accommodation and transport if you’re traveling in a group of four. Cheap, right?

Photo: Trakka Australia

The secret? Hire a campervan. I’ve included camping fees (I’m talking resort style swimming pools, here), generous portions of fuel to allow for plenty of side-trips, and campervan hire with full insurance, 24 hour roadside assistance, additional drivers, road tolls, unlimited mileage, towels, sheets and kitchenware in my equation. You add food and activity costs.

Compare this to the cost of car hire and youth hostels, or organized tours, and the same four friends would be paying many times this much each day.

Photo: Lewil Thomas
  1. Pick a Road Trip

Australia is as big as the United States (excluding Alaska) and fits the whole of Europe within its perimeter. Use an online Australia road trip planner to help you decide on the road trip for you. For the purposes of this budget I have selected the Melbourne — Sydney — Gold Coast road trip along the east coast.

2. Take your sweet time

Once you start exploring Australia, your one complaint will be that you didn’t allow enough time to see everything you wanted to. Campervan adventures make spontaneity possible. Factor that into your schedule — spontaneity! It often provides your most memorable experiences. For the purposes of this budget, I have selected 6 weeks. But taking less time will not alter the daily budget.

Photo: J. Bonde

3. Hire a campervan

To fit within this budget, you’ll want something for around $70 — $90 a day that sleeps four. Also look for;

  • A price that’s all inclusive. That mean full insurance with a low excess of around $500, one way fees, additional drivers, 24 hour roadside assistance, road tolls, sheets, towels and kitchenware should be included in the price.
  • A reasonable deposit. Some campervan hire companies will whack thousands on your credit card. $500 is reasonable.
  • A company with a drop-off depot in your desired destination.
  • A reliable fleet. The Toyota Hiace is one of the most reliable campervans around.

For the purposes of this equation I selected the Camperman Paradise Family campervan. It’s a Toyota Hiace. Their rates start from $70 per day but rise during times of high demand.

Photo: emreunal_ via Instagram

4. Factor in the cost of fuel

Fuel costs vary a little from state to state. You can get the latest prices at Australian Automobile Association (AAA). 2017 prices averaged 135 cents per liter. Fuel consumption of the Toyota Hiace is 14 liters per 100 kilometers. This equates to Au $18.90 every 100 kilometers.

Van Life. Photo: Hilvee via Instagram.

5. Sleep in style

There are free camping areas. There is low priced camping in National Parks which might not have showers but will give you the sound of crashing waves at night under a canopy of stars. And there are resort style facilities in major tourist destinations with hot showers, swimming pools, camp kitchens, pizza ovens and a laundry. They will range in price according to the season and facilities. I have taken a reasonable average. This means, if you are on a tight budget, you can reduce your daily costs by staying in free and cheap places in low season (winter).

A Gold Coast caravan park.

Here are the Figures

I’ve based it on the Melbourne to Gold Coast road trip.

Distance: 2,250 km (including side trips)
Duration: 6 weeks
Group size: 4
Campervan Hire: $70/day over 6 weeks = AU $2,940
Fuel: Cost is 135 cents per liter. Consumption of 14 liters per 100 km. That’s $18.90 every 100 km. Over a distance of 2,250 km that’s AU $425.25 
Camping Fees: Average $55/day for 6 weeks = AU$ 2,310
Total for 4 people: AU$ 5,675
Total per person: AU $1,419
Per day: AU $33.78 (I rounded up)

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For more information on travel in Australia — free camping, best camping and holiday parks, destination highlights, great hikes, secret swimming holes and more — head over to the