Being cheap in Australia

Coming from a third world country, where things are dirt cheap, checking price tags in Australia can be quite shocking (not the good kind of shock you get when you look at Indonesian prices). At first the prices look cheap, but once you convert it to peso… ay caramba!

That is why they say that when you travel, you shouldn’t convert prices anymore, else you won’t buy anything. However, I do believe that it’s still important to convert — mainly to check if the same product sold in your own country is sold cheaper as compared to where you currently are.

The cost of traveling in Australia is definitely not cheap. Excluding airfare, you can expect to be shelling out around between AU$50-80 (US$40-70) a day, and that’s already being cheap (4-6 person hostel dorm room, 3 cheap meals a day, full day’s transport, maybe a little extra for beer or admission tickets). Also, if you want to visit the top tourist attractions, you would have to spend a couple more bucks for admission (AU$10 upwards). Some attractions are also situated outside the city, and not as easily accessible by public transport, leaving you with no choice but to drive there using your rented car (or bombs, as they call it) or join a *shudder* tour group.

Here are some cheap thrills I found and enjoyed in Australia:

  • Their parks, gardens and beaches – Australia has lots of beautifully landscaped gardens and gorgeous beaches. The best part: they don’t charge for admission. On a lovely day, walk under a canopy of trees or work on your tan, have a picnic lunch with the food you picked up at your favorite take-away or supermarket deli.
  • Supermarkets – Cole’s, Woolsworth and other supermarkets have their own deli section where you can pick up ready to eat goodies such as sausages, hams, salads, even barbeque chicken. The cheapest meal I had in Australia was a half barbeque chicken and a 1.5 liter bottle of spring water for only around AU$2.50. (I love Cole’s! They sell their own brand of spring water for only AU$0.69 for a 1.5 liter!)
  • Melbourne’s Sunday Saver – Melbourne’s public transport has a special off-peak ticket for Sunday travel. For only AU$2.50 per person, per ticket, you can travel on the trains, buses and trams on all zones the whole day.
  • Saver’s and other opportunity shops – I adore second hand/thrift shops. The way thrift shops work in Australia, all the things they sell are donations and all proceeds (or maybe a portion) goes to charity. You get a great bargain and help out at the same time.
  • Sydney’s Travel Pass – Though I only stayed in Sydney for 3 days, I still availed of the weekly Green travel pass. For AU$54, I already get a return trip to and from the city to the airport, and unlimited travel on trains, busses and ferries (with zone restrictions). Riding the ferries through the Sydney harbor makes it all worth it. The best thing about the green travel pass is that it is valid for the Manly ferry.
  • Free admission – Surprisingly, a number of touristy places in Australia don’t charge for admission, while some just charge a small amount (AU$6 – $10). The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Maritime Museum in Sydney offers free admission.
  • BYO – In all the places I’ve been to, only a handful prohibits you from bringing in food. Because of this, Australian would go toting their picnic kits (Australians are so keen on picnics it’s practically an art form). So, to avoid paying for the overwhelmingly overpriced food at the in-house cafes, chomp on the sausages and devour the salad you bought from the supermarket.
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Got any cheap thrills to share?

Article by Nina Fuentes

Nina doesn't aim to travel to every country in the world -- she just wants to travel to the places that means the most to her. She started traveling in 2006, and hopes to travel for as long as she can. Her travel blog, Just Wandering won the Best Travel Blog in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

This Article Has 2 Comments
  1. Jewellery says:

    What you have to keep in mind, is that yes, it may cost to travel and daily stuff down here, but the price of the goods are less than you would expect. It evens out more than in other places. I traveled in the USA last year. I spent about 2 weeks in New York City and I was BROKE in no time. I had set money back for just leisure time. At least I thought I did. The cost of food, hotel, and travel fare wiped me out in no time. I had no money left from what I thought I had set back for souvenirs. When I got back, all my friends asked me “What did you bring me?” I felt horrible when I had to tell them I got nothing for them from the USA. But, hey, all I got was the towels from my hotel. Hehe .

  2. That’s right. I can still remember my last few days in college when I was sent as an exchange student to some countries. I’ve been to Japan then to Singapore and the last one was to Australia. I thought my trip to Singapore was the most expensive but I was wrong. Even if you compare shopping costs you’ll find out that Australia will surely cost you a lot. But don’t get me wrong. Sometimes it pays if you pay more.

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