Travel Guide | Australia

5 Ways to Save Money While Traveling in Australia

Hacks and Tips to Help Keep Your Bank Account Intact Down Under

Australians are by far the most internationally well-traveled people I have ever come across through my own travels. This is because it’s literally cheaper for them to travel overseas for holiday than in their own country. Studying abroad for a semester in Gold Coast was by far the best four months of my life – I beached daily, went to new places every weekend, and I loved hanging out with the locals. However, all of this fun came at a price, and it was a hefty one – even the Aussies hate this. Here is a list of key methods to get more bang for your buck, and to save a little money while traveling in Australia as a college student.

1) Activities

Take a stab at surfing: if you want to live like a local, you must try surfing at least once on your trip to Australia, as it is practically a religion. It can cost between $15-30 AUD for a board depending on how long you’re renting it for. However, if you’re going surfing with one or two other friends, rent one board, and just take turns using it in the water. You’re going to want to take a break on the beach anyways, and this way you can take pictures of your friend who’s attempting to surf in the water! A group of my friends and I did this once and got 2 boards and divided up the money, and taking turns worked perfectly once we got to the beach.

Other activities: if you’re traveling by the coast, the beach is always free. They’re so beautiful that you can really kill tons of time just exploring one beach. Most of the time, there are great hiking trails around the beaches, and you can spend half of a day up to a full day just at the beach and hiking in the surrounding area. Just don’t forget to bring snacks and water! In Gold Coast, my friends and I would often take a bus down to Burleigh Heads for the day. The beach is stunning, and there is a national park right on the coast for a beautiful hike. We went there quite often, as well as Currumbin and Coolangatta. In Byron Bay, the beautiful hike up to the lighthouse, the most easterly point in Australia, is a must-see and you can beach hop along the coast for days. In Sydney, the hiking trail from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach is also stunning – and free!

Also take advantage of local activities taking place in the area. Doing a quick online search of what’s taking place that upcoming weekend will be worth it. The Quicksilver and RoxyPro surf competition takes place every year in Gold Coast, featuring some of the best surfers in the world. The competition was free for the public to watch, accompanied by a concert right there on the beach. We would have never known about this if it weren’t for looking online and by hearing through word of mouth.

For more Australian bucket list ideas click here.

The walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee in Sydney.

The walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee in Sydney.

2) Renting a Car

Getting a rental car for a day or two on the weekend is a great way to explore sites that are inaccessible through public transportation. Again, this is another investment that you will want to split with a group of friends because the fees and gas money add up. Being strategic about how long you have the car and where you go with it is key. When my friends and I rented a car for 24 hours, we hit a couple national parks that we couldn’t access by bus or train, and this made it worth it. We got the car on a Saturday morning, drove an hour to Mount Tamborine and explored a national park, and then the quaint town for the entire day. We drove home that night, got a few hours of sleep, then set our alarms for 1AM that morning to drive to Mount Warning in New South Wales, the first place to see the sun rise in all of Australia. After the 4 hour hike up and down the mountain for the sunrise, it was time to return the car and our timing was spot on. Again, being strategic about your timing and the activities you choose when you rent a car is important to get the most out of your money.

Morning hike to Mount Warning for the sunrise - accessed by rental car.

Morning hike to Mount Warning for the sunrise – accessed by rental car.

Mount Tamborine National Park - accessed by rental car.

Mount Tamborine National Park – accessed by rental car.

3) Local Markets

Gold Coast featured amazing local markets that we would go to a couple times per week. Again, we did a quick search of the days and times that each market was held as well as its location, then just made a list so we always knew where to buy fresh produce and shop. Some of the markets take place only twice a month, some are twice a week, so we would just plan around that. The markets would sometimes have food stands, so we would eat a cheap meal local to that area, and it was also a great way to meet the locals too. Other times, the markets would have inexpensive clothing, a great way to skip the malls and shopping centers and buy something more authentic. Our favorite market was in Miami, a small town outside of Gold Coast. They had inexpensive and delicious food, drinks, and live music every other week. Such a great place for free entertainment and meeting people.

Sunday morning market in Burleigh Heads.

Sunday morning market in Burleigh Heads.

4) Going Out to Eat

This absolutely killed me in terms of attempting to save money. Meals at local restaurants can cost around $15-25 AUD for an entrée and drink, and more upscale restaurants can be upwards of $40 AUD. I have a bad habit of eating out quite often, so I had to search for deals – I found this in lunch specials. They’re everywhere! You just have to know the correct time to go. There are usually signs outside of restaurants with days and times of the specials, usually on Sundays. In Broadbeach, a city in Gold Coast, I found a delicious Indian restaurant with a $9.95 deal for lunch one Sunday afternoon. I lived close to the campus that I studied at in a quiet neighborhood, and the surrounding restaurants all had dinner deals as well. One night we went to an Italian restaurant and for $15 AUD we got a glass of wine, an appetizer, and an entrée. Brunch is also very popular in Australia, and there are lots of deals too!

Your average Australian brekky: poached eggs and tons of avocado.

Your average Australian brekky: poached eggs and tons of avocado.

5) Nightlife

Spending money on drinks can seriously suck all of your savings and it’s by far the easiest expense to avoid. Nightlife isn’t cheap in Australia – beer and cocktails can be $8-12 AUD , and there is sometimes a cover charge to get into some places. For girls, drinking can be much cheaper because of Ladies’ Nights found all over the country. On Thursday nights, Club East in Broadbeach for example has free champagne for girls all night – I’m not making this up, take advantage of the deal! There are a couple other clubs in Surfer’s Paradise and Broadbeach that do ladies’ night deals on Tuesdays as well. If nightclubs aren’t your thing, there are always drink specials available at bars and pubs. Waxy’s in Surfer’s Paradise had $3 beers on Sunday nights, Jupiter’s Casino in Broadbeach had $3 you-call-it on Tuesday nights, and Melba’s in Surfer’s Paradise had $3 Corona’s on Thursdays. Just hearing about and finding the deal is the hard part, but once you know where you can save money, those places will be the usual spots for you and your friends!

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Nicole Darian

University of Iowa | 7 stories

I'm a recent grad of the University of Iowa with a degree in Communications and Entrepreneurial Management. Along with my travel addiction, I love Chicago sports, I'm a workaholic, a gym rat, and you'll always find me exploring new restaurants. I'm currently on a backpacking trip around the world. Where should I go next?

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