Thursday, March 10, 2011

How to Travel on a Tight Budget

A quick trip to Australia is within reach for many New Zealander's but can seem daunting when you don't know how much to spend. I've published my break down so that you can see it's not so hard. Skip to the bottom if you're just keen for the tips and tricks!

Melbourne really was a test run for Europe in terms of sticking to a budget. I spent $AUD151.10 over 2 and a bit days. I could have got it down to $128.10 if I hadn't had to spend my last $10 at the airport, had laid off the Wifi (but we were sharing) and skipped the bandanna's I bought at Soundwave.

FYI - $AUD151.10 is equal to $US109.76 and $NZ198.16. I paid $NZ210ish at a Foreign Exchange at the airport - rookie mistake.

So this is what I spent -

  • $52 on 2 nights accommodation at King Street Backpackers. Not the cheapest hostel but well located and clean. Showers were hot although they were so high pressure that you couldn't stand directly in front of them. Kitchen was really well equipped.
  • $26 on a return SkyBus ticket between the airport and Southern Cross Station, 5 minutes walk from our hostel.
  • $6.80 on a return train ticket to Soundwave

  • $10 at Queen Victoria Market on a plum, a nectarine, 1/2 kg grapes, a Ciabatta roll, some ham and a quarter share of a tub of Garlic Gold.
  • $12.30 on dinner at Pancake Palace. Mini and I split a 2-for-1 coupon for 2 short stacks, and Squish and I split a plate of wedges.
  • $8 at Soundwave. Mini and I split a cup of hot chips and I had a mini-sized chicken burger.
  • $8 on a foot-long sub after Soundwave. I ate half and kept half for the plane the next day.
  • $10 on a small Eggs Benedict and a huge fruit salad at the airport on the way home. I didn't really need this food but I had to spend the last of my Australian currency.

  • $8 on 4 hours of wifi
  • $10 on two bandannas at the Soundwave Marketplace
So if we add that all up we have totals of -

Day One - $66.30
Accommodation $26
Transport $13
Food $22.30
Other $5

Day Two - $57.80
Accommodation $26
Transport $6.80
Food $12
Other $13

Day Three - $27
Transport $13
Food $14

On average, I spent $NZ81.38 per full day, slightly over what we have budgeted for Europe. I was well under our $NZ30 per day per person food budget and nowhere near our comparative transport budget (although we'll be paying for petrol not trains). Where I went over was accommodation, because we were in a hostel, whereas Courts and I will be camping most of the time.

I don't feel like I missed out on anything. Squish and crew planned a particular dinner out for the night after I left, as they did with a trip to the aquarium. I had done both activities previously in Melbourne so I didn't mind. Had I wanted to go to the Aquarium, I could have used the $10 I had left as well as the money I spent on bandannas. The only time I couldn't afford to do something we wanted to, was when an exhibition on Disney artistry had a higher admission fee than we thought. I didn't mind missing that though.

I saved money by drinking water instead of alcohol or soft-drinks, which I have been doing anyway in my sugar-free journey, and by asking myself if I really needed the items I instinctively wanted at Queen Victoria Market and Soundwave. The truth is, I don't need cute wall decals, new dresses and new band t-shirts. For some of you, the priority may be different but for me, I have found clearing out my belongings in preparation for Europe to be very therapeutic. I feel more free with less attachments to this one home I have. I felt good about coming home near-empty handed. The hostel saved me money too - you may want a hotel bed, but shared accommodation really doesn't phase me. I'm a low-fuss kinda girl!

So, my tips for cutting costs when you jump the ditch - 

  • Lower your accommodation expectations. If you don't want to share a room, a private room in a hostel is still cheaper than a hotel, and often has more accessible tourist-friendly services.
  • Find a hostel with free breakfast - even if it is just toast and cereal, fill up for free. 
  • Carry a water bottle. Fill it up at your accommodation. Thirst can often be mistaken for hunger. Stay hydrated and you won't feel hungry so quickly, therefore saving money not only on buying drinks but on food too.
  • Find a hostel with free Internet access. Our hostel had two computers you could use for free, I only bought wifi for convenience. Even if you aren't connected at the hip to Facebook, use the web to get online-purchase admission discounts, surf coupon websites for places you're going, and check restaurant websites for website-only deals.
  • If you do want to drink alcohol, take a bottle with you to BYO restaurants, or use the old one-of-water, one-of-alcohol trick to limit your expenditure while still enjoying yourself.
  • Buy fresh and cook for yourself rather than buying everything ready-made.
  • Walk! Aussie is mostly flat. It's easy!
  • Most people enjoy a good splurge. If you want to go to shop, budget for it. Otherwise, remind yourself you are there to enjoy the location and company - do you really need it?


Jack and Jill Travel The World said...

Aussie can be such an expensive country to travel in :( Good tip on filling up on free breakfast. Sometimes I'd even sneak out a bagel or two for snacks on the road :)

Penny said...

Good thinking! I'll have to master my sneaking techniques :)

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