Whether you’re just taking a trip up the Pacific Coast or planning the Big Lap, taking a road trip in Australia can get pricey. But with good planning, budgeting, and a little bit of luck, your vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. Take a look at these tips for planning and taking that extended vacation on the road around Queensland or the whole country.

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Budgeting is going to be key to save money on a road trip. Set out a limit on meals beforehand, along with another limit on whatever random souvenirs or such you’ll buy. Driving cross-country doesn’t have to put you into debt, and establishing parameters of what you’re willing to spend to get there is key. The most important part of budgeting is sticking to it, even when you desperately want to break it. Disciplining yourself around budgeting your road trip will leave you with a better experience and more money to take future road trips. Plot out how much you like to spend on food for a while before the trip, and try to project for the journey to estimate that element of your budget. Do the same with your gas consumption to make the budget as accurate as possible.

Keeping things light on the gas tank and light on the wallet starts with having a good plan for your trip. Know exactly how far you can get on one tank comfortably before you even set out, so you don’t find yourself panicking on the open road looking for a station to fill up. Plan each stop in advance. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a spontaneous diversion on whatever catches your eye, it just means you need to be able to get back on the road with the same purpose you did when you set out. Make your stops close enough together that if you do have a diversion, you aren’t aching to stop for gas or rest immediately after hitting the road again. Keep the journey lighthearted and food off your mind with road trip games. Go the extra bit and research the areas you’re going to be passing through for what you might want to do or where you might want to eat, so you don’t wind up sticking with the same chains you’re used to and missing out on the trip aspect.

On the topic of food, remember you don’t always have to eat out, even far from home.  While packing for the trip, put together a cooler with you and your passenger’s favorite drinks and some reusable ice packs. Also, pack some ready-to-eat snacks in the car. Keep both stored near the front in an easily accessible range so the passengers won’t struggle to access them while on the road. These aren’t substitutes for full meals, but can prevent you from spending money on gas station food and prolonging the trip waiting in lines at them.

Packing for the trip should be just as thorough as your budget. Make a list of everything you need for where you’re going. Hitting the beach in Sydney? Make sure all the sunscreen, towels, et cetera are already accounted for, or you’re going to be paying premium for them when you get there. The last thing you need is to be paying twice the norm for something you know is just sitting back at home. Tourist prices at the big city centers are going to clean out even a generous budget. Double check you’ve packed chargers and batteries for your phone, tablets, and other devices, because replacing those tends to rack up the expenditures quicker than anything else.

Keep an eye out for deals, specials, coupons, or any other sort of bargains. They can greatly extend your budget, depending on the size and extent of the discounts. Be thrifty about it, however, as some supposed deals aren’t nearly as big of bargains as they let on. Do a little research on it and shop around for hotels, food, and entertainment before you really settle.

Most importantly, keep yourself prepared for the worst. Be certain you’ve got a spare tire up in ship-shape for that unfortunately timed flat. Have a jack ready and tire replacement kit no matter where you are. Make sure you or someone you’re traveling with is handy for repairs in the event something worse than a flat happens, because you don’t want to be stuck out in the bush hours from help. Even though your homemade repairs probably won’t stick it in the long run, it can save you money and time on towing, and the stress of a delayed trip.

With proper planning and a good attitude, your road trip is sure to be an exciting journey. Just be mindful of your limits, both monetarily and in distance. As exciting as the open road and vacation can be, don’t throw caution to the wind. A good trip is one that you can fondly remember afterward—and plan to go again.


Author BioJayson is a strong believer that you don’t have to be wealthy to live a rich and full life and wants to share tips on how to do exactly this.  Whether it’s saving money tips, smart everyday hacks, or budget travel, he hopes to inspire others to do more with less. LinkedIn & Instagram