Money Matters: How to Save Dollars While Traveling to Australia Alone
I won’t beat around the bush. Coming from the Philippines, I find Australia incredibly expensive. From the airfare and visa fees to the hotel room rates, everything seems to make a hole in your wallet even before your flight. How much more when you’re already there? Planning for a vacation in Australia can be truly intimidating. But I can say that spending a decent amount of money in this country is still possible. And just like in my previous posts, I’m going to share with you some tips on how to save dollars while traveling to Australia alone.
1. Fly with budget airlines
Honestly, I wouldn't even think about traveling to Australia, especially alone, if it weren’t for Cebu Pacific Air’s seal sale. I mean, I’m not affiliated with the company at all but let’s be real— a roundtrip ticket worth PHP 11,000 or AUD 286 and some change is cheap! And guess what, it already included 20 kilograms worth of check-in baggage both ways. That’s quite a steal!
Although I had to travel for around eight hours straight in sitting position, I was still lucky because the Manila- Sydney trip was late in the evening. So, I arrived in Sydney the morning after! Meaning, it was just as if I slept and woke up in Sydney! And another plus is that on my way back to Manila, I had three seats all to myself. No snoring seatmate or disturbance for bathroom breaks in the middle of the journey! Perfect!
Traveling with budget airlines is a debate among travelers especially in long-haul flights. So, it's your call if you're going to trust the same airline I did when I traveled from Manila to Sydney to save at least PHP 20,000 or AUD 522 at the time of booking, okay?
2. Pre-book your necessities
Australia is one of the places where you want to book your accommodation and activities in advance. Although I visited Sydney and Melbourne in winter, the hotel rates were still high for my liking. How much more if I didn’t pre-book, right?
You may book directly or with third-party booking sites like Agoda. But never forget to check which site indeed gives you the better rate. Sometimes, third-party booking sites like Agoda encounter glitches (like the one we experienced while booking for our villa in Seminyak, Bali) and that's what we want. But sometimes, free breakfast and higher discounts are only available on the company websites.
Some hostels in Australia offer private bedrooms, too. So, if you're not particular about staying in high-end hotels, then you might consider staying in a strategically located hostel instead. Who knows, it might not just save you money for accommodation but transportation expenses as well!
Although I’m keener on the DIY style of traveling, there are places and activities where I opt to go through travel agencies like KKdayPH. This platform doesn’t just allow you to secure your tickets and tour bookings at discounted prices. It also gives you an idea about other activities that you might have missed during your itinerary making! But really, KKdayPH had me at their discounted prices. After all, each dollar counts when you’re traveling to Australia!
3. Plan your itinerary
Planning for an itinerary when traveling alone won’t just keep your loved ones back home on track of your journey. It’s also a great way to estimate and keep track of your possible expenses. Ultimately, this will help you save your dollars. After all, you’ll be able to check which activities will need pre-booking and which ones are okay to settle on site.
In Sydney, planning your trips needing a ferry or a long train ride is also essential to save money. When using Opal cards on Sundays, traveling all day via train, bus, or boat will only cost AUD 2.70 for adults! Imagine the savings from the usual daily cap of AUD 15.80? Traveling during off-peak hours with an Opal card also gives an automatic 30% discount to cardholders daily.
4. Take a free walking tour
Whenever I’m visiting a new country alone, I make it a point to check if there’s a free walking tour that I can join before I explore with my itinerary. While it’s technically not free because your tips or donations are highly appreciated, I always think that it’s worth my time considering its difference to paid walking tours.
Both in Sydney and Melbourne, tourists and even locals can join I’M FREE Walking tours to kickstart their vacations in Australia. It doesn’t just help travelers save money but also helps us filter our itinerary. If the free walking tours cover some parts of your plan already, it'll be easier for you to decide if you’re still going to revisit it after.
Sometimes, it also allows you to discover places that you didn’t even know about before your arrived. They can be an addition to your must-dos or become an alternative to your original plan. You’ll be talking to the locals who know the ins and outs of the city. This activity helps a lot with your budget because you’re free to ask them about the cheap eats, which tourist traps to avoid and which hole in the wall places are must-visits even for locals.
5. Take advantage of free attractions
Believe it or not, Australia is an abundance of free attractions. They have stunning public libraries, the iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Royal Botanical Gardens and hundreds of museums nationwide. Australia is expensive, yes. But traveling through the continent will also surprise you with many a free attraction that you can enjoy alone or with friends.
Sometimes, even shows are free. Checking websites like What’s on Sydney or What’s on Melbourne is a great way to know about fairs and festivals that may draw your interest. More often than not, you’ll find exhibitions as well as free (or paid) shows during your visit.
6. Drop by Woolworth’s
I learned from reading through threads on Facebook that bringing food from home to your destination helps you save a lot of money during your travels. Fearing for my bank account, I tried to do the same. I remember bringing some noodles, crackers and even a sandwich spread for my trip to Australia! And it may just be me, but I thought that it was not my best decision.
From my experience, I would instead recommend shopping in Woolworth’s or Cole's for your groceries and snacks. It's a one-stop shop to satisfy your hunger whether you're planning to cook for yourself or make a simple sandwich. At least, you're saving by avoiding eating out while still enjoying what the locals usually eat.
You can even buy your souvenirs at Woolworth's! To save more, watch out for items on sale which gives you up to 70% off or maybe even more. My best friend and I have this inside joke at Woolies that if the products are not on sale, then they are not going in the cart.
7. Kmart your way to emergency items
Kmart is probably your best friend when traveling through Australia. Did you forget to bring a belt for your pants? They have it. Need some Australia inspired souvenirs? They have them, too. I found Kmart Australia convenient during my stay since I forgot a few items back home. The products are generally cheap so don’t expect quality items. But if you’re lucky, you may stumble upon cute things that are worth the price.
8. Drink outside the pub or better yet— stay sober
I don’t drink alcohol, but I’ve noticed how the price of these drinks vary between supermarkets and restaurants or pubs. If you don’t plan on staying sober during your trip to Australia, then you may consider drinking to your heart's content before partying unless you're trying to get rid of your dollars fast.
At first, traveling to Australia alone may be overwhelming. But the more you research about it, the more you realize that it’s not as bad as it may seem. Although it’s always a necessity to be ready for emergencies, traveling through Australia on a budget is doable.
There are a lot of free attractions where you can genuinely enjoy the Southern Hemisphere vibe. And regarding other expenses, it’s honestly just a matter of preparing early and saying no to impulsive purchases. Just remember, no matter how hard you’re trying to save dollars when traveling alone in Australia or any other country— don’t ever deprive yourself of a healthy meal!