How We Funded Our 12 Month Trip Around Australia
We completed a 12-month trip around Australia in 2017 and by far the most common question we get is ‘How much did it cost?’. I really want to be open and honest about this and take away the stigma of talking about money because it is really important and in most cases the one factor that will stop people from doing a big trip like we have.
I just want to start off saying that every circumstance is different, some people are happy to free camp the whole time and not do many paid activities whereas others might like to stay at caravan parks (with all the facilities) every night and do expensive activities often. We are somewhere in the middle of this. Also a lot of people choose to work along the way (which would be an awesome experience also) but we didn’t.
A bit about us first, both of us were in our 30’s with no kids and travelling around Australia has been a dream of mine since I was about 17. It only took me 13 years to act on it!!! I am an Environmental Advisor and had been working on Barrow Island FIFO (fly in fly out) for more than 3 years on a 26 days on 9 days off roster. For anyone that has ever worked there you will know this is a bloody long time to work a roster like that. This meant that we could easily save up money because there is not much to spend it on whilst we were on site.
How Much We Saved & Our Weekly Allowance
We decided that if we could both save up $25K each (Aussie dollars for any of our international followers) then that would give us a weekly ‘income’ of $400 a week each with money left over for expensive activities and emergency money. We set up an automatic transfer with our banks so that every Monday $400 would get transferred from our savings account into our ‘living’ account which was connected to our debit cards. It is free and easy to open another bank account, if you haven’t done this I would highly recommend doing it. It was kind of like having a job and we looked forward to Monday’s when we would get ‘paid’. If we stuck to our budget of $400 each per week then we could easily travel for 12 months without working.
Some weeks we spent all of the $400 and some weeks we spent less, so that meant we could use it in later weeks. For example, we knew we wanted to swim with the Whale Sharks in Exmouth which costs $400 per person (yep!) so we knew that in the weeks leading up to it we had to be really smart and not spend our whole weekly allocation so we could afford this. We were camped at Ningaloo Station for most of the week before which was incredibly cheap and so remote you can’t spend your money even if you wanted to, so we had heaps of left over money to pay for the Whale Sharks. We knew before we even left on our trip that we wouldn’t let money stop us from doing once in a lifetime opportunities because we might never get the chance again.
It wasn’t too difficult for us to save the 25K each because of our FIFO life and also because we both sold our cars and bought Trev our 1998 Troop for $18,000. If you want to do a trip like this I definitely recommend starting to save a little bit each week right now, this will build up.
Before We Left
In addition to saving $25K each we also started to prepay a lot of our bills. We both did this whilst we were still working over a number of months. The things we paid a year in advance were our Telstra phone bills, car insurance, RAC roadside assistance, mail redirection and my strata fees. We both rented out our houses and luckily the rent covered the mortgages in both cases, so that was a massive benefit to us. The only bill we paid on the road was our monthly health insurance. If you are in the position to do something like this, it really helps when you are on the road.
If it is Impossible to Save that Much Money
If you decide you want (or need) to work along the way I think you could easily do it with only about $10-15K in the bank and then make sure you find work before it gets below about $5K (it is really important to have emergency funds in case something happens to your vehicle, you have to fly home or something similar). Also you can live off less than $200 per week if you free camp as much as possible and only really do activities that are free (there are so many free activities, the best things we do is go on amazing walks and they are free!!). You can do it on any budget really as long as you know your limitations and are smart about it.
Our Breakdown of Weekly Expenses
Don’t let the amount of money we saved deter you, you could DEFINITELY do this trip on half of that or even less if you follow a few of the tips. Below is a rough breakdown of our expenses:
Fuel: At least $100 – $150 a week if you have a diesel guzzling vehicle like ours. This is for us specifically, and we drive a lot. It will be very different if you are staying in one place (heaps less) or towing a van (quite a bit more!).
Accommodation: around $100 – $200 a week if you stay in caravan parks, cheap camping and national parks. But remember if you are free camping it is FREE for as long as you want it to be.
Food: we spent about $150 a week on food from the shops. It all depends really, it can be $50 a week if we eat a lot of canned food or $200 a week if we splurge on red meats and deli stuff.
Going out for meals and drinks: this is something you can cut out all together and have a budget of $0 but we love to go out when we have money left over. We spend about $100 a week between us. You only live once right!
Tours and Activities: depending where we are this will change massively. On average about $100 a week.
Our remaining $$ goes on fixing things with the car, buying camping gear if we need it and the occasional hotel or hostel room if we are spoiling ourselves.
If you would like to know more about how we saved money whilst on the road you can download the free eBook ‘11 Simple Tips for Saving Money on the Road’ by clicking here.
If you have any tips from your own experiences we would love to know them! Please comment below.
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