Our family of four have been travelling Australia since March 2017. This is on a $26 per week accommodation budget!
If you’re wondering how’s that even possible, it’s all about planning ahead. If you know what to look out for on the road when you travel Australia, you can get the most out of free facilities.
Have you tried travelling around and the budget has been the problem? Here are 10 tips we can share if you want to be budget travellers too!
Basic Preparations When Travelling in Australia
Most of our tips here have designs for the caravanning and camping family. This is not our first lap of Australia and nor are we unaccustomed to being budget travellers either. Through all the travels that we have done from 20 years of both in Australia and overseas, we learned a few things on the way.
1. Opt for Free Camping When You Can
Free camping is awesome! Don’t knock free camping until you try it.
Caravanning around Australia has taught us how to utilise these free camping spots to the fullest. That means making sure we have a very low footprint and clearing the area as we use it.
To find free caravan spots, we suggest using an app called Wikicamps Australia. This is not only because they’re friends of the site but because almost every Australian traveller needs them! Their app provides useful guides to the location of many free camping areas in Australia.
Security has never been an issue for us, but we understand your concerns. The best way to go about it is to find campgrounds with people in it.
If using Wikicamps, grounds with toilets tend to be better populated. The more facilities, the bigger the chances of having more people around.
We have met some of the nicest fellow travellers and families in free camps. Lifelong friends even! Australia is so lucky to have so much freedom camping, so use them and leave them cleaner and better than you found it.
2. Get as Much Mileage As Possible from Your Camps
Maximise your stay in free and low cost camps. Here’s the thing: free camps exist for a reason.
Most of the time, it’s to act as pitstops for travellers in Australia. Outback roads tend to be rolling and long, so combatting sleep and fatigue is common. These free camps tend to be lifesavers.
In addition, free and low cost camps encourage the use of the local business or even exploration of the land. When we do find ourselves caravanning in free camps, we will stay as long as we can.
Our goal is to catch up on washing, chores, blogging and homeschool projects. There is no way you want to spend a day re-packing the van or cleaning out the car if you’re paying top budget dollar for it.
Temporary camps give us enough time to do everything that we need. If you’re going to stay in free camps, you may find yourself lacking in facilities so be ready.
At most, you need to have the following before camping in Australia:
- Strong, solid quality tents as the minimum
- Cozy sleeping bags
- Water storage tanks/bladders
- Gas camping stove
- Cooking equipment
- Firestarting kit
If you can, find ways to make yourself comfortable in the car. Travel pillows are a game changer, especially if you’re not carrying a caravan with you! Get some ways to entertain yourselves as well. Card games tend to be easy ways to pass the time.
3. Invest in a Solar Setup
A solar set up is an important step to saving money and having power on the road. Whether you like it or not, you can’t survive the road without having any sort of power use.
A caravan solar setup gives you the freedom to not use expensive power that tends to be a premium in many caravans. The better it is, the longer you can last without power.
Our longest stint without power is 44 days, where our set up was used for many things like the washing machine, kids’ gadgets and even a coffee machine. It’s a good thing Australia’s sunny most of the time!
4. Prep Enough Water to Last a While
Water is essential to any family travelling Australia. When you can, draw as much water that you will be using for various purposes. You can use the Wikicamps app to look for drinking water as part of the facilities.
Have enough water so you don’t need to move on before you’re ready too! There’s been a few too many stories we’ve heard of families not drawing enough water, only to discover that the next few camps won’t have water facilities.
If you can find a more effective way to retrieve water with just your car, the better. Leaving the van behind can make you less encumbered.
Read More: Camping Tips: Water Storage
5. Wash Your Clothes Yourself
Use your own washing method so you don’t need to use caravan parks. Washing facilities tend to be charged premium in alot of caravan parks. We have a super easy portable twin tub that operates fully off our solar. All we need then is access to the tap and we’re golden.
Handwashing tends to be a preferred method by other families as well. Small but frequent batches tend to be easier to manage and quicker to dry.
6. Make the Best Use of National Parks in Australia
Choose National Parks – often! Where else can you get some of the best views of Australia, then in a National Park?
They also lean on cheap and easy to access, even some with facilities available that can rival mid-tier camping grounds.
Some camps we’ve recently stayed at in the Northern Territory are only $7.70 for a family per night! Why would you live in a house?! We recommend some places like Gregory Downs in Gregory River, QLD and the Babinda Rotary Park in Babinda, QLD.
Read More: Boodjamulla Lawn Hill National Park
7. Use Camping Ground Discounts
When you do need to go to a caravan park, be prepared by rolling in on time and use discounts for your stay. Travel Australia With Kids have a “Kids stay 2 nights free” program with their participating caravan parks.
You can get your easy to use Digital E-Card Membership, by using this affiliate link here. The membership only costs $20 and includes 2 nights of free stay in participating caravan parks (over 100 so far!) for your kids. They also offer 15% discount on attractions and up to 15% discount on goods and services.
8. Camping Information Apps and Books are Your Friend
As we’ve said before, make sure to use apps that provide useful camp information. Apps like WikiCamps and CamperMate are some of the best ways to find the best peer reviewed camps in your area. Their subscription should only cost a few dollars at most for the most valuable info.
We also have a printed version of Camps Australia Wide as our non-digital back up, in case we don’t get power or service when caravanning in Australia. Information is important to help you protect yourselves and pre-plan your destination.
It won’t hurt to have extra knowledge in your tool kit.
9. Ask Around and Check with Locals
When going around Australia, your top motto should always be “ask around”. Locals tend to have the best route information apart from the ones that you get from dedicated camping apps. We’ve added a number of great listings on to WikiCamps just by asking around where the locals prefer their free camping.
Their info gave us assurance that we’re going to the right place. When you travel Australia, you’ll most likely find free camps and low cost camps that are few and far in between.
Whilst the Outback tends to be safe, you can’t be too lax. You also need to make sure you get the camp grounds with the better facilities. Asking around helps and locals tend to be friendly to travellers. Locals really do know best!
10. Keep a Stock of Food and Dinner Meals Ready
Keep back up dinner meals, so you don’t have to move on before you need too. I have my families’ favourite meals that are also budget and health conscious, frozen and ready to use whenever we need.
That’s another of the sort of “disadvantages” of having wide lands of rural or even uninhabited locales. Stores can be scarce on the road. Making sure there’s food stocks, and healthy ones at that, assure you that you can survive driving on the road without much trouble.
Hunger can make people terrible, and nobody wants that. When you can, cook on your own campfire. We even made campfire cooking tips that you will surely love!
If You Want to Travel Australia…
Nothing beats being prepared when you travel Australia. Whether it’s your first time or one of the veteran camping families out there, making sure all the basics are sufficient should be a priority.
Food, water, a way to generate electricity and hygiene products are among the essentials. Make sure to prepare ways to gather information for your next destination. Have camping gear and cooking gear ready.
Do you have tips of your own about caravanning around Australia? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Also, Be sure to check out our Best Free and Low Cost Camps in Australia. You’ll love it for sure and even get extra mileage out of it!