CamperMate

How to Save Money on your Australia Camping Road Trip

Australia is one of the most beautiful destinations on Earth, but it comes with a price tag: it is also one of the most expensive places to travel. Seeing the country via campervan is the ultimate way to experience Australia on a budget. Here are some easy ways to cut costs while not skimping on big experiences.

Petrol

Fueling your campervan is the biggest expense when traversing the country, so plan your stops carefully. GasBuddy is a useful app to check the cheapest fuel prices around you. CamperMate users also tend to leave a comment with current petrol price under petrol station listings. We saved up to 30 cents per litre just by driving a kilometer off the main road, which can buy a few meals when guzzling 60 litres every few days.

Another way to save money on petrol and astronomical parking fees (not to mention stress) is to take public transportation in big cities. The trams in Melbourne’s CBD are free and Sydney’s Opal card allows unlimited rides on Sundays for $2.50. There are excellent deals to save money on public transport in each city.

If you have space for an extra body or two, offering a ride can help split the petrol bill in addition to having a new friend for the journey. You can find travel buddies on websites or Facebook groups such as Australia RideShare.

Finally, keeping your vehicle in tiptop shape and the tyres optimally pumped can keep you safe and improve fuel efficiency.

Tolls

Tolls are the gateways near major cities. Plan ahead because some places prefer pre-payment if you don’t have an electronic tag. Better yet, use Google Maps when planning the route and select the “avoid tolls” option if you aren’t in a rush to drive on freeways.

Food

Cooking is the best way to save money on food. Picnic tables and BBQ facilities are readily available at rest areas and parks, which are easy to find on CamperMate. Stock up on bulk goods before travelling in the outback, where food prices are considerably higher. Rice, pasta, tinned beans/tuna, nuts, dried fruit, oats, and peanut butter are some good staples to always have. If you go to the shops in the evening before closing, you are likely to find heavily discounted -- but perfectly good -- bread and produce.

When possible, search for farmer’s markets to get the best-priced produce. Not only is it fun to roam around the bustling markets, you get to taste some of the freshest produce from that region. I snagged a massive bag of sweet potatoes for $2 at the Saturday Yandina Market and 50-cent avocados at the Sunday Kingsbury Drive Community Market in Melbourne.

Buying bottled water may be convenient, but why pay (and contribute to plastic waste) when perfectly drinkable water is available for free? Most free camping spots do not have potable water, but the CamperMate app can help you find public drinking water fountains where you can fill up reusable bottles.

Dining Out

Lunchtime meals are often cheaper than dinners. When in cities, many pubs have happy hour specials on different days of the week, so a few minutes of research can help you save bundles while still enjoying local cuisine (check out The Happiest Hour). You can also snag some deals on Groupon.

Accommodation

You got a campervan for a reason! It is possible to legally sleep in your vehicle throughout the country for free or inexpensively. Most free spots are safe and have basic facilities like toilets and picnic tables. The CamperMate app is your best friend for finding such spots and also for saving money while purchasing last minute in-app Deals for Holiday Parks. If you want a break from your small living quarters, browse through AirBnB or consider a homestay or farmstay for an authentic experience.

Shopping & Supplies

Before buying new, rummage through second-hand treasures in op shops. Short for “opportunity shops”, op shops raise money for charitable organisations to do good for the community. You can save money, provide financial assistance for those in need, and help reduce waste in the landfill: a win-win-win! I bought cooking equipment, a mosquito net, and warm clothes at a fraction of the cost as new. Plus, it’s just fun to dig around the hodge podge of goods. Salvation Army (Salvos) and Vinnies are two popular chains.