road trips, how expensive?

All the travelling I’ve done around Australia has involved some kind of road trip, so it’s fair to say I’ve got a pretty good idea of the costs involved. Like most travellers there’s always a budget to consider, and saving money on transport, food and accommodation is important, because that gives you more money for the important things, like beer, ridiculous souvenirs… and more beer!

When we initially set off on our seven week trip round various states I did start to keep a bit of a record of what we’d spent, so I would know much I’d need to save the next time we did something similar. I’ve used that and the notes I made about our flights and hostel costs before we left to give a pretty good idea of how much you’d need to save to scrimp your way through, get by without too many compromises and also live the high life whilst you’re road trippin’.

South Australia.

We must have driven around 2000km in a week in south australia, pretty impressive I reckon! We saw everything we wanted to see in the state and more, all for relatively cheap as well. We flew into Adelaide, rented our car, drove round for five days, then spent two days in the city, we cooked bbq’s, drank cider at our campsites, went out for coffee and bought a few other odd treats here and there, all of which ended up costing us not that much. All these costs are in total rather than each, as we had put all our money together in one bank account, so don’t forget you’d probably be splitting these costs in two or even more depending how many people join you! Our car rental came to approximately $300 for five days, this included unlimited km and a reduced excess which we would later learn is a necessity! On top of that was around $290 on fuel, $110 on food for the week, $60 on campsites, $70 on a hostel for two nights and our initial flight into Adelaide which was $170 for two people, one way. In total we spent about a thousand dollars for one week of brilliant experiences, we travelled right to the south of the state, all along the coast and then all the way up to Flinders Ranges, plus everywhere in between, so we did pretty well! Coming in at about $500 per person for a week, it’s safe to say a week in SA is definitely not going to break the bank.

Western Australia.

The next stop on our trip was WA, we spent a bit of time in Perth staying with family so we took a bit of a different tactic to the road trip side of things here, going on two separate trips rather than one big one. Our flight into Perth cost us around $200 I think, not bad per person. The first trip we took was just two days up to Kalbarri National Park, the car rental was only $150, fuel around $90, $40 on food and the campsite was $20. So $320 for two days may seem a lot, but again shared between friends and considering the sights you see on the way, so worth it! On the way to Kalbarri we checked out all the beaches and the pinnacles as well which I would definitely recommend.

The second trip we did was four days car rental at $240, this was over Anzac Day which is a public holiday in WA so notably more expensive. We covered thousands of km’s again, heading down south this time, then back up along the west coast to Perth. We spent about $150 on fuel, about $60 on food, no campsites for us this time, we slept in the car as our tent had broken on the last trip, so we did save money there although not through choice! Campsites in WA tend to be between $15 and $25 per night, so slightly more than SA but they all have great facilities so it’s worth it. We spent a bit shopping at more expensive local supermarkets the first day or so as there was no coles in sight! We also went out for drinks in Margaret River which had to be done, especially after the drama of hitting a roo earlier in the trip! But those luxuries made for a great few days which you need to give yourself sometimes, even as a budget traveller! In total we spent about $500 on the four days, not bad considering that yet again we saw some beautiful places and had a fantastic time.


After a quick break in Bali, as you do, we flew back to Australia and headed to Tasmania, it’s extremely cheap to fly there from Melbourne so try and fit it in with your visit to the big city or before you leave there, it’s so worth it. It’s also very cheap to rent cars and campervans in Tasmania, I’m not sure why, but a high category car, which then got upgraded to a 4×4 for us, for six days, only cost us a tiny $190, which is just crazy! Fuel is around the same price as WA so we spent more on that than some other states, but because the island is so small you can see the whole place and still not have done as many km as you would on the mainland! I could say with confidence that we saw all of Tasmania bar the small west coast, which just didn’t appeal to me like the east coast did, in one week. It’s an incredibly beautiful place and the people there are so friendly, their customer service is great, a nice change from so much of the mainland. With around $150 on fuel, $190 on the car, a couple of nights in a private hostel room at $140, food at $100 for the week, then a splash out last night on drinks and food at the hostel, a whole week in Tasmania cost around a tiny $600. Oh and how could I forget, we had to make a dash for Target to get some winter woolies as it was so cold, so there was an extra cost there too!

New South Wales

The most expensive part of our trip, mainly because there were more cities involved and we rented the car for seven days. Our initial quote was over $600, looking again for the same dates on the same site, I found exactly the same dates, category of car etc. for $400, so we saved ourselves $200 there which was a great start. We stayed in the car the whole time instead of campsites again due to our lack of tent and it seemed silly to buy another one just for a week. I’m not sure how much we spent on fuel but our trip was from Melbourne to Sydney via Canberra and a lot of other places along the way so we covered some serious km, I’d estimate around $180-$200 on fuel, $120 on food, plus we went out for coffee, food, drinks etc. so we definitely spent some cash on that part of the trip. I’d estimate around $800 for that week which still isn’t bank breaking.

So with your cheap flights to each place, all the car rental, hostels, food, fuel etc. I’d say around you can scrimp the same trip as us for around $3k, but that is serious budgeting, no coffee shop stops in a morning for example! To enjoy a bit more freedom I’d go for $4.5k, it’s amazing how quickly dinner and drinks add up, plus staying in a campsite with good facilities each night. If you really wanted to go wild then rent a camper van, stay on powered sites and eat out now and then, I’d recommend around $6k, don’t forget that’s for two people, so if you divide the costs between two then that still isn’t a lot of money in the grand scheme of your travels, plus for all the beautiful, incredible sights you’ll see and the memories you’ll make, it’s nothing!

our first car packed up and ready to go in SA.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 1.17.35 pmone of the many beautiful, long roads we drove down, wilpena pound, sa.

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wilson the wombat, one of our two cuddly mascots.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 1.21.15 pmincredible drive in tasmania.

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not a bad view to wake up too, manly beach, nsw.

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