What Are The Big Lap Costs to Travel Australia?
Since writing this article pre-covid, prices have fluctuated. The cost of food has increased and the cost of accommodation in caravan parks have increased slightly. This is not everywhere which is why I have left the costs for accommodation as is and haven’t made any changes.
Fuel has dropped back to $1.70 a litre on a high price day which was what we were paying when we were travelling. Food prices have increased and I have made changes below by adding an extra $50 to the monthly bill.
If you are thinking of travelling Australia, either full time or part time then this article is a must read first to find out the costs to travel Australia.
To be honest everyone spends their money differently and everyone values different things. To give an exact figure on the costs to travel Australia would be impossible, with so many variables each family has.
Below is a list of weekly expenditures that come with travelling Australia. So what are the must have costs for travelling full time or even just taking the year off and doing the lap? Before you leave it’s good to have a figure to work on and then when you are on the road you can work to get under your budget so you can either extend your travels or splurge on some really cool tours.
Table of Contents
How Much Do I Need For Accommodation Costs?
Accommodation can either make you or break you. It’s a must have on everyones list, I mean lets be honest everyone has to sleep somewhere….right??? and it’s illegal to just park up anywhere and sleep the night.
Depending on your set up, whether you are towing a fully self contained caravan or tenting it, will depend on the cost of your accommodation. Plus having children ups the price a lot as well. We try to avoid caravan parks like the plague!!! They don’t suit us and our style of living.
We would prefer to camp among the bush lands and watch kangaroos bounce around or park up along the coast and watch the dolphins say hi. Plus we are not a fan of the hefty price tag that comes with caravan parks. We average and try to spend $100-$170 per week on accommodation.
TOTAL- $680 per month
Caravan Park Accommodation
Staying in caravan parks every night can get pricey and add $$$ to your trip very fast. They usually offer comfortable living and lots to do for the kids like swimming pools and jumping pillows.
Our children are all under the age of 9 and each child cost an extra $5 or $15 per night on top of the nightly base rate. So you can see where caravan parks get expensive.
The cheapest caravan park we have found was $30 per night including the kids. The average rate is $50-$60 off peak including kids and $70-$80 peak including kids.
-paying weekly rates will get you a cheaper deal
-Having the caravan discount cards will get you 10% off
–TAWK discount cards will get you a night or two where kids stay free plus many other great discounts on travelling products and services.
Low Cost Camping Options
Choosing low cost places to stay will save you heaps when doing the lap. These low cost options usually include National Parks, showgrounds and council locations like the beaches etc. These can vary in price from as little as $10-$40 per night. In most cases these places offer water and power depending where you choose. If it is $10 then you will not get power and water, but for $25 at a showgrounds then you will.
We have stayed at plenty of showgrounds and have had toilets, water, power plus a dump point for less than $30 a night.
National Parks are very similar in what they offer, always check as some do not offer any of this and you are paying for the location.
What these places do offer are great locations. We have camped at some amazing spots. From on the beaches in Shark Bay, to having kangaroos sleep at our caravan in National Parks.
With the right set up you can free camp right the way around Australia. We know of many travellers who are living out of their van and pay no site fees. They use public showers and toilets regularly.
So travelling can be done on the cheap if you are willing to choose that lifestyle. But with COVID hitting a lot of the free campsites are know charging a price so I wonder how long it will take before all the free campsites are no longer free.
While this is not our style of living and we do love a good free camp as the next person. Nine times out of ten there will be no toilets but you do sometimes get lucky. This is why having your own toilet and shower onboard pays off. We have a shower and toilet and we wouldn’t travel without one.
Road side pull over bays (truck stops) are popular free camp spots. Although they are loud and on the side of the road. But for an overnight stay it’s perfect.
The best free camp we found was in Western Australia at Freshwater Point South (see pic below)
TIPS- Download the wiki-camp app. This usually has 90% of campsites inside the app. The cost is $10.99 but well worth the small price to pay.
Food- The next must have expense is food. Everyone’s gotta eat! If you are travelling with children get prepared for a continuous bottomless stomach. If your children are anything like ours, which is super active and hardly ever sit still then be prepared for lots of “I’m hungry’ moments.
We don’t scrimp on food.
We know that good food is keeping our family healthy so we always have two shelves in our fridge filled with ample fruit and vege. We also have a cooked dinner every night.
We often cook breakfast or if the kids get hungry before we wake they will make their own greek yoghurt muesli bowl. I also usually cook up a batch of pancakes and leave them in the fridge so they can put them under the grill when they wake up to fill their bellies.
Lunch is usually salad wraps, ham and cheese rolls, snack platters, home made pizzas, dumplings etc. Depending if we are at the van or out exploring. Every week we can usually keep the food shop to under $350 per week.
TIP- Whatever your shopping bill is at home will roughly be the same on the road. Although when remote you will find it will increase by $30-$40.
TOTAL- $1400 per month
Fuel- This is a bloody killer!! Fuel/diesel- whichever one, it still hurts. We drive a V8 Landcruiser petrol 100 series and tow a three tonne van. Depending on how many kilometres we travel to between each destination depends on our fuel consumption for the week.
We are slow travelers, which means we are not in a rush to get anywhere so some weeks we may only drive 100 kilometres to our next destination and other weeks it might be faster travel and we clock up 500 kilometres.
Once we drove from Exmouth to Perth in a week. That hurt! We use an average of 30 litres per 100 kilometres, the cost will depend on the $$ amount at the service station.
Work out your car’s fuel expenditure and see how thirsty she is. Then you can predict how much fuel your car will guzzle while doing the lap.
TOTAL- $600 per month. If you are doing the lap this will be more.
Health Insurance. This is a non- negotiable. Get insurance and don’t be a stooge with your health. The people that say ‘it will never happen to me’ are always the ones that regret not forking out for insurance. AHM is our private health insurance. We pay $83 per month.
TOTAL- $83 per month
Gas- Again depending on your set up will also alter how much gas you will need. We carry two 9 kilo gas bottles and average one every three weeks. Keeping in mind our fridge runs off gas quiet often. Gas gets pricey when heading to more remote places. From $29.00 to $89.00….ouch
When we are able to, we run the fridge straight from the electricity to save on gas.
TOTAL- $30 per month
Phone/Internet- We each have a mobile phone. We have a Telstra 180GB for $65 per month set up and the kids and Dan can personal hot spot from the phone.
We have never run out of data before and we stream Netflix from it and use it everyday for personal hot spotting to the laptop. The good thing with Telstras plan is that when you go over your 150GB of data your connection just gets slower and doesn’t automatically charge you extra for more data.
Dan also has a plan which is $50 per month for 180GB. We never use all our data every month.
TIP- When you have free wi-fi at a restaurant download as many videos as you can onto the kids tablets etc. This will save chewing through your own data.
TOTAL- $105 per month
Western Australia Car Registration and Car Insurance
Work out your car registration and add it to the list. It is another expense that you cannot escape. We pay ours upfront for the year so we can get rid of all the bills straight away it costs us $960 per year. Our car insurance is with budget direct and costs us $78 per month.
TOTAL- $118 per month
Western Australia Caravan Registration and Caravan Insurance
Our caravan insurance with CIL, we pay $60 per month. The caravan registration is $135 per year
TOTAL- $71 per month
Maintenance funds will be up to you to decide how much you will need. If you are saving to do the lap, having some savings put aside for back up funds is well worth the extra months of saving. We blew two tyres in two weeks….. a very expensive month that was.
TOTAL- We save some money every week. We like to have a saving of no less than $5000 in the bank for back-ups.
House bills/rates/water- This is going to change for everyone. We have a house that we rent out, so we still have the bills for the house which is shire rates and the water bills. These are not cheap and our rates and water for the year are around $3200.
Another one I will add in here is storage, if you are only going for the year and are coming back to your house then you will most probably have your items in storage. We decided to sell everything we own and only keep the memorable’s which all fit in three storage boxes and my Mum has them stored away for us.
TOTAL- $266 per month
Splurge- So once you have worked out how much you will need for the week of living on the road then work out how much you have left to splurge on tours and attractions etc. You may think you will do all the free stuff but there are costs everywhere.
Keeping in mind you do want some back up money for anything that may and could go wrong. If you are way out with your income vs expenses on the road. Don’t wipe the idea of travel just yet! Head back to the drawing board and see where you can save some more.
Keeping in mind that you may need new clothes. Thongs will break, water bottles will get lost. It really is the little stuff that you will never think of. It all adds up. I don’t know exactly what our splurge account or budget is but I am going to guess we spend roughly between $100 a week on extra stuff.
Some weeks we don’t spend anything.
TOTAL AVERAGE- $400 per month
The Optionals for Travelling Funds
The Optionals- I have put these expenses down as the optionals. As they are not the essentials of travelling on the road. The costs to travel Australia do vary.
Alcohol is a high expense of ours- spending up to $100 a week on it (and that’s just Dan). I would also say that it would go in our essential list. There is no way Dan would travel dry.
TOTAL- $400 per month
Subscriptions- Our subscriptions have decreased and we tend to use the free options where we can.
We purchased Netflix six months on the road. We never used to have this at home but since being on the road Dan and I have found it very relaxing to sit and watch a movie a together.
Or if it’s stinking hot outside the kids watch a movie inside in the air conditioned van. It has been a nice addition.
TOTAL- $16.95 per month
Medication- I have put this in the optional box as not everyone will need this. I have epilepsy so I spend about $150 every two months on my regular medication. So for us it is a necessity.
Also keep in mind if the kids get sick to have some back up funds for antibiotics etc. I can’t remember the last time our kids had antibiotics UNTIL we hit the road.
Mr J got serious impetigo that took over his body and we spent $100 on antibiotics and ointments etc. Then the other two got it two weeks later which was another $100.
The doctor recommended we keep the children out of the dirt for one-two weeks. That was the hardest two weeks of our travels. My children live in the dirt playing! I think we lost our sanity that week!
TOTAL- $75 per month
Schooling- $90 a year per child
Schooling- Depending on which route you decide to take for your choice of educating your children will depend on the cost. For the first year we home schooled the kids, so the cost was practically nothing.
In the second year we decided to give distance education a crack. The cost of this was $210 a year for all three children. Including all resources and everything is postage paid included.
TOTAL- $17.50 per month
Accommodation $580 P/M
This includes 1 night- caravan park, 5 nights low cost camp, 1 night free camp.
Health Insurance $83P/M
Car Rego/Insurance/Maintenance $189P/M
TOTAL PER MONTH $4152.45P/M
I hope this is gives you an idea of what it costs a family of five to travel Australia and how there are some costs that simply do not disappear when you hit the road.
As you can see there are ways in which you can save a lot. You may even have a lot of those expenses that do apply to you which would be a massive saver in itself.
If you find you have worked out all your expenses and still can’t afford to hit the road, don’t wipe it off yet!!! There are always ways in which you can make your families dream come alive, finding out how to make money while travelling Australia is definitely something to look into.