Let us bust the myth that Australia is not an affordable holiday destination. With gorgeous stretches of coastline, stunning natural landscapes, unique animals and a fascinating blend of cultures, it’s a country filled with amazing sights and activities for the entire family to enjoy on a budget.
If you do the research, plan well and spend smart, you could soon be enjoying everything Australia has to offer – with the kids in tow – without blowing the budget!
Time it right
The first big cash saving tip is all about timing. Australia’s summer falls between December and February so airfares tend to be more expensive because it is their most popular time for tourism. During the off-season, such as the shoulder months during autumn and spring, fares will be lower. This is also the time that you are more likely to find specials with regards to accommodation, restaurants, and recreational activities, especially for group options.
Everyone’s first option when travelling is usually a hotel or hostel but this can become extremely costly for families as you often have to pay per person sharing. So consider something a little different when travelling down under. For the adventure-seeking, outdoor-loving families, Australia has a range of National Parks which travellers can camp in for free or for a small fee. This will help to reduce accommodation costs for a few days, and allow families to enjoy the best part of Australia – the wildlife. The popular camping spots have facilities that you would need like power, water and lavatories.
A growing popular trend worldwide is renting serviced apartments. You are quoted per apartment and not per person so it is much more affordable than a hostel or a hotel, especially for families. It’s a chance for you as a family to have your own space, cook your meals in your own kitchen (saving you on eating out costs!). Prices are generally cheaper just outside of main cities, midweek and during off peak seasons. Try Booking.com and Airbnb for the best deals on serviced apartments.
Take advantage of local public transport! A number of Australian cities have made select public transportation routes free to the public. Brisbane has a free service on several bus routes in the city centre, Perth offers free transit on buses and trains within a certain city zone, Melbourne and Adelaide offer free tram services for tourists which circulate around the inner cities and Sydney’s Route 555, the free CBD shuttle, runs every ten minutes from the Central Station to Circular Quay with stops in between. Adelaide is also ideal to explore by bicycle and BikeSA offers locals and tourists a chance to rent bikes for free at depots around the city; all you need is your passport or driver’s license. In Sydney consider getting an Opal card which allows unlimited travel on trains, buses, ferries and light rail in Greater Sydney for just $2.50 per person.
If you would prefer to drive, Rentalcars.com enables you to compare the major car rental companies’ deals for you. Plus MotorMouth advises that the cheapest days to top up on fuel in Australia tend to be Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
For longer journeys, the Great Southern Rail which rides between the Ghan and the Indian Pacific offers specials and cheaper backpacker fares during low season. The bus service, Greyhound Australia also offers specials for local travel and long distances. And if you’re looking to discover several cities consider visiting Qantas.com (Australia’s national carrier) for their multi-stop fares from South Africa
The cheapest option for meals will always be to make your own – to cook or pack a picnic. Look out for grocery specials at local shops. If it is Asian food you are craving for, shopping centre food courts are your best bet as they have a variety of fresh and cheap meals available. Most cities also have affordable street food vans that offer a range of different meals.
If you would like to dine out though, breakfast and lunch meals are usually cheaper than dinner, with many restaurants offering midweek lunch specials. Almost every town in Australia has bowling, surf or memorial clubs which are known for their affordable meals. The back of supermarket receipts also has deals and specials for restaurants nearby. Alternatively if you just want a hot tasty meal delivered download the app MenuLog which gives you great takeaway deals. It will tell you what restaurants are nearby, the price ranges, and who delivers. The app is available on iOS and Android.
Out and About
Because of its natural beauty, Australia has a range of free or cheap activities that will keep the whole family entertained.
In Sydney and Melbourne there are “I’m Free Walking Tours” which are free guided tours that take place twice daily. The 3-hour long walks introduce you to the city, and help you find your way around and the knowledgeable guide will teach you about the history and culture of the city. For families looking for some art and culture, Australia has a wealth of museums and attractions that don't charge admission fees - like Brisbane's Botanic Gardens. If you are in Perth, visit the city’s cultural centre in Northbridge, or in Sydney take the free art tour the last Friday of every month hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA). Check the museums websites to see what days they have free entry. You can also purchase an iVenture Card for popular tourist destinations like Sydney and Melbourne, which includes free entry to many attractions, as well as special offers and discounts, for a single price. These cards may save you money if you're doing a lot of sightseeing.
For those that love the water, Australia has many stunning beaches along the coast including surfing beaches where you can learn to surf for a minimal fee. Pack your swimsuits; make use of the free BBQ facilities and enjoy some family fun in the sun. You can also go snorkelling in Sydney’s rock pools and witness the array of beautiful fish that are native to Australia
Wildlife parks and zoos can become pricey but don’t leave Australia without at least getting a glimpse of the indigenous animals. To spot kangaroos in their natural habitat, visit Pebbly Beach on the NSW South Coast where they run wild on the beach and koalas can be seen on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria or on Magnetic Island in Queensland.
With some pre-planning and some clever savings, a family vacation to the land of kangaroos and didgeridoos can be affordable for the whole family. With Qantas, you can make your trip to Australia even more affordable with their multi-stop competitive airfares from South Africa. Make your booking today!