This is the second post in a series about the cost of traveling in Australia, this time focusing on accommodation. Keep reading next week for the budget guide to food and drinks in Australia.
Another important aspect of keeping the cost of traveling in Australia low is in regards to accommodation, which quickly eats away at your budget. But you’ve got to sleep somewhere, so here are my tips for budgeting for accommodation in Australia.
Booking Accommodation in Australia
If you’re traveling in the low season or are flexible in your travel plans, save money by just calling your preferred hostel rather than booking through a website. That booking fee is the same price as a happy hour beer. Some hostels also offer to book your next hostel for free, typically if it’s part of the same chain. Also, if you book a tour at one of the many travel agencies, they will often throw in a free night’s stay at a hostel.
Costs of Accommodations
Australian hostels average at $30 AUD per night, depending on the size of the room and whether or not it is a chain or independently run. Chains can keep their prices lower, but you may get better amenities and sense of community at family run hostels. If you want to stay in hostels, membership cards for chains like YHA and Nomads offer discounts after a certain number of bookings, keeping prices lower. Hotels vary depending on brand, but can cost between $100-200 AUD for a basic hotel room.
What to Expect
Hostels in more remote locations may cost more, like the YHA Bungalow Bay Koala Village on Magnetic Island or PK’s Jungle Village in Cape Tribulation. Chains include Nomads, YHA and Base, which each offer different amenities and prices. YHA is your bare-bones Hostelling International chain, with a handful of unique locations. You can expect clean rooms, a large communal kitchen and plenty of activities. Nomads are the preferred choice for many tour operators and most use the Global Gossip Internet system, which allows you to top-up your card with money. Base is the flashpacker’s party hostel and offers lots of amenities.
Most hostels, at bare minimum, should include free linens, free WiFi or computer access, cheap meal options, a welcoming common area, lockers and convenient location. If you are interested in free accommodation, see if your hostel will allow you to work for a few hours per day in exchange for your room.
Alternative Forms of Accommodation
I’ve heard from a handful of travel bloggers that housesitting is the way to go if you want to live like a local without the price tag. Trusted Housesitters, Housecarers.com and Caretaker.org have small fees to sign up, but allow you to search for houses and responsibilities (animal care, manual labor).
Stay with locals through websites like CouchSurfing and Tripping. Big cities like Sydney have a large CS community, but be aware of what is expected of you as a guest before you sign up. Or you can ask family and friends if they know anyone in Australia who wouldn’t mind hosting you.
If you’re renting a campervan or driving your own car, you can camp for free nearly anywhere that isn’t marked. Popular campervan companies include Jucy, Wicked and Traveller’s Auto Barn. Many hostels offer free or cheap camping and the Camps Australia Wide book is a solid investment if you plan to travel in this way. It lists campgrounds throughout the country, their costs and other important information.
- The Cost of Traveling Australia, Nomadic Matt
- Is Australia Expensive?, Leave Your Daily Hell
- Can You Travel Australia on a Budget?, Go Backpacking
- “Thrifty Travel in Sydney and Beyond,” my post featured in Thrifty and Resourceful Travelers Doing What They Do Best e-book