It’s official, after 6 months on the road we HAVE MADE MORE MONEY THAN WE HAVE SPENT!!! Not bad at all…. From the 16 July 2015 – 16 January 2016 we have covered over 6,000kms of the Australian east coast (and parts of the central highlands), we have camped in 9 caravan parks, 9 national parks, 1 free council campsite and 1 hostel. We have undertaken two housesits and lived in a motel room for 8 weeks. We have worked both inland and on the coast.
Over 6 months we spend $7,777 and earned $8,167. We spent 71 days/nights camping, 60 days working in the outback, 14 days working for accommodation and 38 days housesitting. We have seen some amazing things, spent weeks at a time just lazing on the beach and enjoying not having a winter.
Do you want to travel Australia for 6 months and actually make money? The good news is that you can! There isn’t anything special about us and we’ve done it. What’s more is that we still feel relaxed. At no point did we feel like we had gone back to a routine of work, eat, sleep. We are very much on a working holiday.
These costs cover all our travel expenses and include everything that we ate, all the accommodation and fuel expenses, every bottle of gas we purchased to cook with and every peg, rope and liter of washing detergent that we used to keep our clothes smelling like roses. For the serious budget traveller, there is a premium content option below. Here you can gain access to every dollar we spent and how we saved money along the way. You can learn how we managed to spend an average of $4 per person per night on accommodation and how we made an income of over $8,000 by working on the road.
if you’ve made it this far into the article, then you’re clearly serious about budget travel, that’s good to know because we are too. The following monthly reports will detail for you exactly how much we spent, where we spent it and why we spent it. You will be able to see what expenses are unavoidable and which can be reduced. Read on and start planning your own Aussie adventure today.
We set out on our epic Australian road on the 16 July after a one day delay due to some car troubles. So this first month’s expenses report is only for our time on the road which was 2 weeks. We did start off our trip in style at Noosa, and we knew we were spending more than we wanted to on accommodation there, however it was the first week of our trip and what we liked to call ‘our holiday’ after a pretty full on few months. We needed a bit of rest and relaxation before we even attempted this trip, so Noosa was a bit of a splash out for us.
After Noosa we headed to Burrum Heads then Agnes Water, all of our camping site fees are included here for these places. We tried to buy food from local butchers, grocers and markets where possible and in Noosa we stocked up in Aldi before taking off also. Neither Burrum Heads or Agnes Water has local butchers, however Agnes Water did have a market and a great ‘direct from the farm’ greengrocer.
In total, we spent $207.50 in supermarkets, $90 eating out (this includes roadside treats, ice-creams, fresh juices, coffees etc), $34 on fresh produce from markets, butchers and greengrocers, $20 on alcohol and $13.50 on ice for the cooler, which has been grouped in with food as that is what we directly use it for.
This was our first couple of weeks on the road where we are still learning, buying equipment and making sure we have the right tools to cheapen up life in the future. Income for July was also low, as is to be expected, with the only income being from Monique’s writing on WeekendNotes of $55, click here to learn more about this.
July 2015 expenses
|TOTAL||$1,065||Average of $36 per person per day|
|Accommodation||$426||This was a little higher than what we expect to be the average due to us spending our first week on the road in relative luxury at Noosa River Camping Grounds.|
|Food||$365||Breakdown in text above.|
|Equipment||$44||This included a lemon juicer, gas for the cooker, a brush and pan, batteries and sunscreen.|
|Entertainment||$37||Books. Just books. We plan to swap books from here on out.|
|Laundry and access to hot showers||$8||Using washing machines in caravan parks|
August was our first full month on the road. We moved started the month in Agnes Water and ended it in Townsville. We covered well over 1,000km this month, embarked on our first housesit, saw more animals than we can remember (luckily we wrote them all down!) and have seen so many sunrises and sunsets. Overall, we feel very lucky and better yet, have manged to keep this month quite cheap.
Accommodation was a primary expense for us in August. In total we spent $205.50 on National Park camping (13 nights) and $124 on caravan parks (4 nights). Thee was some hangover from the pre-payment of one week in Agnes Waters, which was made in July so is not accounted for here (4 nights) and we spent the last 10 days of August housesitting with no accommodation costs besids a replacement leash for the dog we are looking after when she chewed through her own on a walk one day.
Food will always be our other primary expense. In August we spend a little more on eating out than we might have done if we were in a more rural environment. The pull of organic dry-goods, ice creameries and burger trucks in Townsville was just too great for us to deny. We spent $159.40 on eating out of the house/tent in August, $99.50 on fresh fruit, veg and meat from markets, grocers and butchers and $352.50 at the supermarket. On top of this is the $78 we spent on alcohol (it was Monique’s 30th this month, hence the splash out!) and $17 on ice for the cooler.
We also had a small amount of income in August, to the grand total of $124. This was from Monique selling her old iPhone for $99 and a BCF store credit of $25 when we complained about a faulty shower that we purchased.
August 2015 expenses
|TOTAL||$1,507||Average of $24 per person per day|
|Accommodation||$345||Breakdown is given in text above. We are very happy with this number!|
|Food||$706||As above also.|
|Car||$432||Mostly this was fuel however there was also a $157 speeding fine (whoops!) and $8 for the car wash.|
|Equipment||$136||Sunscreen, bugspray and mozzie coils account for much of this, except for the following:
- $48 on a new lantern torch and batteries
-$12 which we spent on some rubber mats for the awning area of the tent.
-$18 on the first camp shower we purchased (which was faulty and afterwards refunded)
|Laundry and access to hot showers||$22||Access to the public pool so we could have a hot shower, plus payment for hot showers in caravan parks.|
September was Spectacular! We spent most of the month housesitting in sunny Townsville, then had an old friend come and join us on the road for 2 weeks (which rolled into October). It was GREAT to have another travelling partner for those 2 weeks and we sure did pack a lot into 14 days. I think we sent home our mate much more tired and in need of a holiday than she was before joining us – sorry Max! Whilst there were three of us on the road, I still took count of all the expenses we had, and as you will see in the table below, I was able to work backwards and figure out approximately how much we would have spent if it were only the two of us on the road. This is for those of you playing along at home who are interested to know just how much a life of travel costs for a couple.
We were housesitting until the 22 September, then camping with our mate until the end of the month, accommodation costs cover 3 people. We stayed for one week in National Parks (Murray Falls and Big Crystal Creek), then in commercial caravan parks where National Park camping was not available. This hiked the costs up quite a bit, especially in Mission Beach and Cairns. We did however manage to spend one night in free camping in Babinda, so that was great! We fully recommend a trip to Babinda, not only is the camping free but the swimming is great and local bakery a treat!
Supermarket shopping accounted for most of our food expenses in September, tallying $526. We did spend a fair amount of money eating out ($164.20), however this was lower than in August so lets call it progress. I think we showerd a great deal of restraint, considering that the food in Townsville was so good, and the market stalls suckered us into eating hamburgers for breakfast and churros for dessert! We spent $42 on alcohol in September (probably a bit higher die to having a mate on the road) and only $5 on ice for the cooler when we were staying in National Parks.
We spent just over $35 on bugspray, mozzie coils and sunscreen and another $30 on cooking gas (we still have some gas remaining at the time of writing in mid-october so that is not bad at all). We still have some sunscreen and mozzie coils too, so these expenses really covered us for 2 months. We did have to buy more bugspray though – thanks Far North Queensland!
We did a bit of touristy sightseeing and went to Billabong Santuary in Townsville as well as taking the ferry to Magnetic Island for the day. Both were costly but great days, we don’t regret spending that money at all.
September 2015 expenses
|TOTAL||$1,526||Average of $25 per person per day|
|Accommodation||$237||We were housesitting until the 22 September, then camping with a friend until the end of the month, so costs for paid accommodation cover 3 people.||Approx amount we would have spent on accommodation just for us, without the third person $145|
|Food||$815||See breakdown in text for details.||Approx amount we would have spent on food just for us, without the third person $719
|Car||$423||Mostly this was fuel, plus a service on the breaks in Townsville which cost $275.|
|Equipment||$109||Sunscreen, bugspray, cooking gas and mozzie coils account for most of this, with the exception of $20 on a new tent pole and some batteries and $21 spent on a new chopping board after our old one fell apart after a trip through the dishwasher!|
|Entertainment||$67||Entry into Billabong Sanctuary, as well as the purchase of a pair of goggles for swimming.|
|Transport other than car||$63||Ferry to and bus pass on Magnetic Island.|
We started October with Max, a friend from Melbourne joining us as our guest on the road (continued from September). Max left us on the 6th Oct and another mate, Loz, flew in and joined us in the guest tent for a week from the 7th Oct. Loz was much more of a solo spender than Max was. With Max we cooked all meals together and split all costs three ways, so all the costs for the first 6 days of October have been split like this in the table below. Because Loz paid mostly for her own food, I have only split accommodation and fuel costs three ways for the period of 7-12 October, while she was our travel companion.
October was a big month for us, after travelling with our guests from Mission Beach to Cairns, Cape Tribultion and Kuranda, we based ourselves in Trinity Park for 10 days on a housesitting assignment where we made friends with 2 cheeky and very lovable puppies and relaxed in the pool and the sunshine. We also spent the time with access to electricity and good internet to tee-up a Work For Accommodation arrangement back in Mission Beach. We decided to give ourselves 3 weeks in Mission Beach to see if we could land a job for the summer. If work was available we would ride out the summer there, and if not, we would move on down to the south.
This Work For Accommodation (WFA) deal lightened our expenses a lot and allowed us to really get to know Mission Beach for a few weeks over October and November.
We spend the entire month of October in the Cairns and FNQ region. There are not many National Parks which allow camping up here so we were forced into commercial caravan parks for about half the month, and were lucky enough to pick up a houseistitng gig for 10 days in the northern beaches of Cairns also. The summary is that we spent $35.70 on National Park camping at Cape Tribultion (this was for 3 ppl) and the remaining $364 was spent at commercial caravan parks. The majority of these nights were for three people to camp, so it was a little higher than it would have been for just the two is us to camp for this length of time. In all, we spent 11 nights in commercial caravan parks, 3 nights in National Parks, 10 nights houseitting, one night in a free camping spot in Babinda Boulders and 7 nights of WFA at Jackaroo Treehouse Hostel in Mission Beach.
In October we paid for the coming 12 months rego for Bestia Peluda. This was $719.90 and made up for the large car expenditure in October. Apart from this, we spent $3 on parking in Cairn CBD and the remaining $215 was pent on fuel. In total we spent $173.10 ‘eating out’ in October. We had a few days, especially in Kuranda where we went a little crazy and ate every meal away from the caravan park. However when we were housesitting we did not eat out at all, with the exception of maybe one slice of cake from the bakery and a hot dog while shopping one day. We also spent $74 on alcohol, also a higher than usual because we had guests on the road with us (party time!) however we only spent $4.80 on ice for the cooler this month as most places we stayed had fridges. The remainder of the food budget was spent at supermarkets or lock fruit shops and butchers in Cairns. Also to be factored in is the fact that while were were staying at Mission Beach, we worked for accommodation and were provided with a free breakfast daily also, which helped to lower costs slightly too.
|TOTAL||$2014 for the whole month for 2 of us.
Average of $32 per day per person
|1-6th Oct with Max||1-6th Oct with Loz||13th Oct onwards||Item notes||Average spend per week if is had been 2 people only|
|Accommodation||$158||$144||$98||As per breakdown in text above||$75|
|Food||$96.5||$706||As per breakdown in text above||$193|
|Car||$68||$70||$799.90||As per breakdown in text above||$223|
|Equipment||$16.5||After seeing our old camping mugs disintegrate over the past few weeks, we splashed out and bought some new cups, as well as some new tent pegs and a puncture kit for the airbed that sprung a leak.||$4|
|Personal||$8||The costs of using the washing machines in Ellis Beach caravan park.||$2|
|Transport other than car||$25||Return trip on the ferry to access Cape Tribulation with car.||$6|
November started in Mission Beach and ended a 7 hour drive away at Belyando Crossing. We spent the first week in Mission Beach working for accommodation and attempting to find full time work in the area for summer. We were only able to pick up a few casual hours of work and it was not enough to sustain us over the summer and justify camping in the wet season, so we scoured around online for jobs for couples in the Queensland and NSW for the summer season. We applied for work at Belyando Crossing and after a short chat with owner Mandy, we took the job and drive out a few days later. The job pays a wage as well as covers our board and food, so expenses are low and we’re saving money for next year also. This made November a very cheap month accommodation wise ($0 infact!) which as a welcome treat!
We eared a total of $1,908 in November also. Monique made $308 from her casual work hours at a cafe in Mission Beach and together Monique and Chili eared a wage of $1,600 at Belyando Crossing.
|TOTAL||$1,025||Average of $17 per person per day|
|Food||$718||Before heading out to Belyando, we did a big supermarket shop and spent $90 on food to take out to the roadhouse. Just snacks, coconut milk and tinned goods that we may want in the middle of nowhere. After two weeks at the roadhouse we headed out to Charters Towers to make some phone calls and do another big supermarket shop. We spent $185 on groceries with the plan that the buy will last us until the end of December, or very close to. Besides those big buys, we spent another $186 at the supermarket, $63.5 on alcohol in November and $50.5 on food purchased away from the campsite or roadhouse|
|Car||$235||Only fuel costs in November|
|Equipment||$64||New air bed and pump after our very expensive Aero bed sprung a leak. That reminds me that I still need to call the manufacturer and see if they will send us a replacement. Grrr…..|
|Entertainment||$8||Pool table at Belyando Crossing - very important pool shark training for us both so that we can keep our dignity whilst at Belyando. Proud to say that we're both improving quickly. We're still getting our arses handed to us daily, but no longer is it such an embarrassing spectacle|
The entirety of December was spent working at Belyando Crossing. Week one of December was our third week of Belyando and we were in full swing of the place by then. We had our big supermarket shop supplies from late November to see us through the first part of the month and as food and accommodation was part of our package at Belyando, we could keep our outgoings very low. We made one big supermarket shop in December to see us through a month or so, and when we were in town we grabbed a few Christmas items also. The only other expenses in December were a couple of bits and pieces that we purchased at the roadhouse, chocolate and treats mainly. Our total expenses in December were $251. This was more than offset by an income of $3,200 for both of our wages at Belyando Crossing.
|TOTAL||$251||Average of $4 per day per person|
|Food||$191||Big shop and a few bits and pieces at Belyando Crossing, plus Xmas and NYE booze!|
January expenses (1 – 16 Jan)
Form the 1 – 16 January we earned $2,600 and spent $255. The full two weeks were spent at Belyando Crossing with our departure from Belyando actually falling (completely by coincidence) on the 17 January, the day that we started our second set of 6 months travelling Aus!
|TOTAL||$255||Average of $8 per person per day|
|Food||$190.5||Big shop and a few bits and pieces at Belyando Crossing|
How can you do the same?
Our tips can be summarised in three simple steps:
Be prepared to work for what you want
Our travel costs for the 6 months were actually $7,777, however we made an income of $8,167 during the timeframe so that left us $391 AHEAD! Like I said before, we are not super-special individuals. We are hospitality workers who are trying our hand at writing and online content creation also. The majority of our income came from our time at the Belyando Roadhouse (8 weeks in total) however other small amounts were from freelance writing.
Money might make the world go round, but there are a lot of other ways to pay for your travel costs besides cold had cash. Working for accommodation and food is a great way to save some dosh, plus you get to make a bunch of new mates and feel like you belong somewhere, even if it’s just for a while. We also spent a lot of time housesitting, this is a great way to stay in larger and more expensive cities (that have a of of free things to do!) as well as have access to things like free hot water, a kettle, electricity and if in most cases a pet to look after and love. We also made use of programs such as FlyBys where you can convert points earned into shopping dollars. See the stunning display here showing where we spent the nights over the first 6 months of our journey.
Plan your trip
If you do the preparation beforehand you will be rewarded. By knowing where the cheap or free campsites are, free activities and work for accommodation opportunities are, you can save yourself a lot of ‘panic’ money. By panic money, we mean freaking out as the sun sets or a storm rolls in and ending up staying in a hotel or motel for the night. Of course, if you do not feel safe driving then you should stop and book into the nearest place (we have certainly done it ourselves), however making a habit of it will blow your budget very quickly. As you can see by the star pictograms below, we stayed more nights in National Parks, yet caravan parks took up more of our budget than National Parks. They are pricey buggers!
Where we slept over the 6 months
Cost of each style of accomm over 6 months
Be sure to know where to find the info you need easily, like where to find info about cheap campsites, and know where the next major town is with a supermarket to stock up on cheap food! Running out of staples like rice, pasta, milk or coffee in a small town can send you broke pretty quickly too.
We purchased most of what we needed on the road before we left Melbourne (see our pre-departure purchases for all the info about our gear) and only had to buy small pieces of camping equipment along the way. Some were planned costs such as cooking gas and a picnic blanket. However others were upgrades to existing equipment or replacing broken items. These included a new air-bed after we woke up on the floor two nights in a row, new cups and a new chopping board (after we put ours through the dishwasher during a housesit and they were never the same again) and a larger lantern torch. Others were simply adding creature comforts to our set up, such as a solar showers, rubber mats for outside the tent and a tub for washing up.
So, how much does it cost to travel in Australia? We are doing it for only $25 per person per day!
Be willing to go with the flow
When an opportunity rears its head, you need to be flexible enough to jump on it. This might seem like the opposite to tip 2 about planning, but they do compliment each other nicely. Your plans need to be flexible, especially if you’re looking for work or bargain deals along the way. After we reached Cairns we had no idea what we were going to do next. We jumped online and saw that there was a WFA offer at Mission Beach. Live for free at Mission Beach? Yes please! So we called up and a few days later were headed out to paradise. That deal saw us land three weeks of free accommodation and breakfast. Days outside of work hours were spent at the beach wandering aimlessly, laying in a hammock reading a book or splashing about in the pool. All for free!!! The hostel even had a free shuttle bus so we did not use Bestia Peluda (our car) that much over the three weeks, saving money on gas.
We also had no real plans of heading inland in Queensland, but when we saw the job at Belyando Crossing it was too good to pass up – plus a new experience for us and we love that!
So in short, we willing to reroute yourself at a moment’s notice and just roll with what comes your way. Sometimes a campsite will be full and you need to move on. Such is life. Other times you will have the place to yourself. Just be thankful for every opportunity and grab life by the balls.
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