... to the fact that currently, the Australian Dollar is running pretty neck-to-neck with the USD, with 1 AUD equaling USD 0.90. Which basically means that an Australian sojourn won't necessarily come cheap.
So, what's to be done? Well, if you have the means to go all out on an Australian vacation, just go ahead and splurge. But for the penny pinchers, the following tips may come handy.
» When you're looking to save a few bucks, nothing beats the convenience of budgeted planning. Irrespective of the destination, booking flights and rooms early does give you an advantage. Also, going off-season may make sense budget-wise, but really think again if you want to visit a faraway place like Australia when it is at its unattractive best.
» Keep in mind―Australia is positively huge, and rightly qualifies to be a continent. It would be advisable to treat it like one. So, unless you're looking at a long holiday of a month or beyond, do not cram in everything into one short trip. Opt for packaged deals, if you can't avoid doing that, but remember that you're throwing flexibility out of the window. Qantas Vacations has some cheap travel packages on offer you may want to peruse.
» Most tourists to Australia want to tick the triangle trip off their list―we're referring to the Sydney-Great Barrier Reef-Uluru sojourn. There certainly isn't anything wrong with that, of course. But remember that there is a huge distance separating the three, which means that you'll have to get on three inter-country flights to get it done. You don't need me to tell you how expensive that can be. Whether you can afford it or not is something you need to decide. Besides, Australia, just like other destinations, does have a lot of other delights which are not as touristy. For instance, nothing in the world can match up to the majestic Great Ocean Road, but believe me when I mention the Captain Cook Highway in the same breath. This short highway in Queensland starts in Cairns and ends in Mossman, lining the gorgeous Pacific. If you can take this as an alternative instead of a replacement, you can actually achieve a dual goal of exploring the country for way less than it would cost you otherwise.
Stay for less, eat for lesser.
» Forget hotels, even hostels don't come cheap in Australia. Your best bet then, would be to do as the Aussies do, since you are in Australia. Which is to rent a camper van that doubles up as your accommodation, besides being a fabulous mode of internal transport. To say that Australia is a camper-van-friendly nation is an understatement―you'll find caravan parks all over the country. These are sites where you can park your trailer, stay within it, or rent available rooms in the park, or even pitch a tent on their camping site. The charges are affordable, and what's more, you get to cook your meals, and save money further. Check out a complete list of caravan parks here.
» Couchsurfing is an organization that lets you get in touch with like-minded travelers who open their homes to visiting members. This is an excellent way to get in touch with the locals, and lower your accommodation costs to nothingness. This may also give you access to a kitchen, thereby reducing your food bills, assuming you will be cooking.
» For larger groups or families, it makes more sense to rent an apartment or condo, since hotels can make your budget go awry. Camper vans, as mentioned above, are also an excellent choice.
» As you go into the interiors, you'll come across several pubs that also have a few basic rooms to let out. These rooms may not always be advertized; but ask around, and you will find them. The facilities here are very basic, and you may have rooms with or without an ensuite bathroom. You will also find pubs that combine these stays with meal options. Overall, it works out to be a good deal.
» Speaking of food, Australian cuisine is a class apart, and you do have to set aside some time to try to local delicacies. These include the quirky-cum-interesting kangaroo meat, emu meat, as well as crocodile meat; maybe not meant for the faint of heart. Groupon will give you some awesome restaurant deals, so don't forget to check them out.
» Coming back to the money saving options, it would definitely be prudent to cook as many meals as you can, instead of eating out. Not that you won't find cheap restaurants, but nothing saves more money than cooking yourself, no matter if you're on a holiday or at home.
» If you opt for cooking (and you should), pick up groceries at any of the chain stores, Woolworths or Coles, and you'll be saving money like you never imagined.
» Alcohol, and beer in particular, can be surprisingly expensive here. However, buying a slab (of 24 cans) from any of the supermarkets will surely be cheaper than a bar. But an Aussie bar experience is a must, so when you're here, buy beer on tap, it's heaps cheaper―certainly less than $5 in most places.
Go stingy on internal travel and sightseeing.
» It's easy when you're traveling in the big cities of Melbourne and Sydney, as the public transport system is top-notch. When you are in Melbourne, you may choose to buy the myki Visitor Pack, which will let you travel on trams, buses, and trains within Melbourne and regional Victoria. Plus, the City Circle Tram service runs free of cost around the Melbourne city center, and is particularly aimed at tourists.
» Similarly, Sydney too has a MyMulti DayPass which enables travelers for unlimited travel all day on city and intercity trains, local and regional buses including Newcastle, Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hunter, and Illawarra services, along with some private buses that connect with intercity train services, Sydney Ferries, the Stockton ferry in Newcastle, and light rail in Sydney.
» Most of Australia's best museums are free for all, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of NSW, and the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.
» For the wildlife enthusiasts, the best place to watch kangaroos would be the Bennetts Ridge campground, Euroka, Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales, which happens to be just an hour from downtown Sydney. The only fee you'll pay is a tiny amount for parking. And at the cost of repeating myself, campervanning is the most economical way of getting around Australia.
Try as we might, there will never be an end to the list of money-saving holiday tips. But we stop here, because it isn't Uncle Scrooge's trip to Australia, after all.