Budget backpacking in Australia

Costs of backpacking in Australia | Budget for a 3,5 week trip

How much does it cost to go backpacking in Australia? What do you need to budget for travel, food, and a place to stay? These were my expenses for a 3,5-week trip.

Money in Australia

The currency in Australia is the Australian dollar. Right now (March 2020) 1 Australian dollar is worth €0,55. I use the app XE Currency Converter for the most recent exchange rate.

There are plenty of ATMs in Australia to get cash from but do make sure your bank card is accepted in Australia. You can also pay with a credit card in many places, mainly VISA or Mastercard. Not a lot of places accept American Express.

Plane tickets

If you’re traveling to Australia from Europe, it’s a very long trip and you have to buy a plane ticket. Within Australia, you also might need to travel by plane. Here’s a breakdown of the costs of plane tickets.

How much is a plane ticket to Australia?

When you travel to Australia from Europe, the plane ticket to Australia will probably be your largest expense. If you travel from The Netherlands (like me), you’ll probably spend somewhere between €750 and €1500 for a return flight.

To find the cheapest plane tickets to Australia, you have to look far in advance and be flexible. Make sure to check out open-jaw tickets as well, this means you arrive at airport A and depart from airport B.

I bought an open-jaw ticket myself. I flew from Amsterdam to Cairns and back to Amsterdam from Denpasar (Bali, Indonesia). I booked a one-way ticket from Melbourne to get to Denpasar. In total, I spent €1136,87 on those flights.

Domestic flights

Australia is huge, so if you’re short on time and want to see a lot of places, you might need to book some domestic flights. I booked three domestic flights, I flew from the Whitsundays to Brisbane, from Brisbane to Sydney, and from Sydney to Melbourne. The sum of those flights was €283,83, so about €95 each. I flew with Virgin Australia and luggage was included.

Costs of transportation in Australia

Greyhound Australia
Greyhound bus in Australia.

Long distance

If you don’t like flying, you can also travel long distances by bus in Australia. There are multiple companies, like Greyhound. These buses are pretty comfortable and ideal if you have a lot of time. You can buy a hop on hop off pass or a single ticket. I wouldn’t recommend buying a single bus ticket, because they’re quite expensive. A 12-hour bus ride costs about the same amount as a 1,5-hour flight.

Public transport in cities

Within the larger cities, public transport is well organized. Usually, you can pay with cash in buses (like in Cairns and Brisbane). Sydney has some sort of chip card, which is called the Opal Card. You can top this card up and use it for buses, metro, trains, and ferries in New South Wales.

During my trip in Australia, I also used a couple of shuttles buses. Mostly to get from the airport to my accommodation. Not all airports are reachable by public transport.

Total costs for transportation in Australia

I spent €138,75 on transportation in Australia and traveled by bus, train, metro, ferry and shuttle bus.

Costs of accommodation in Australia

Travellers Oasis in Cairns
Hostel Travellers Oasis in Cairns

One of the categories, where you can actually save money during a trip in Australia, is accommodation. A night in a hotel will cost you quickly €100-€150 a night, while a bed in a hostel will cost you about €15-€30 a night.

There is also a big difference between the costs of accommodation in the northern or the southern part of the country. I paid €17 for a bed in a hostel in Cairns and a whopping €30 for a bed in a hostel in Melbourne. And the hostel in Cairns was so much more fun! There are cheaper beds for sure, but as a 30-something backpacker, I have some demands. I won’t stay in a dorm with more than six beds, and the reviews have to be really good.

I chose to start my trip in a luxurious apartment near Cairns. This was for sure more expensive, but well worth it after a 30+-hour journey. In total, I spent €609,15 on accommodation for a 3,5 week trip in Australia.


While I was in Australia, I saw many backpackers eating noodle soup, because it was the cheapest food. Since I only had 3,5 weeks and didn’t feel like eating noodle soup every day, I went for ‘luxury’ food. I ate in restaurants or got take out. Costs for food are quite similar compared to Western Europe. I usually got bread for breakfast in the grocery store. I spent €723,40 on food in Australia.

Tours in Australia

Sailing Whitsundays
Sailing in the Whitsundays.

Impossible to miss: there are many awesome tours in Australia. They are quite expensive though, day-trips cost about €90 (for example a trip to Cape Tribulation from Cairns or the Great Ocean Road in Melbourne).

The most amazing tour I went on was a multi-day sailing trip in the Whitsundays. This was also the most expensive tour: €275 for three days. Within the price, food, snorkel gear, and a bed to sleep on were included. In total, I spent €551,45 on tours.


Besides costs for food, transportation, accommodation, and tours, there are several miscellaneous costs. Like a sim card (wifi in Australia is really bad, so buying a sim card to keep in touch with family and friends is highly recommended), costs to do laundry, and shopping for souvenirs. I spent €111,47 on miscellaneous.

Total costs of a 3,5-week backpacking trip in Australia

Australia is an expensive destination, but if you pay attention, it can be quite affordable. For 3,5 weeks, I spent €3551,09. At first, my budget was €4900, so not bad at all!

A summary of my costs:
Plane tickets: €1420,70
Transportation: €138,75
Accommodation: €609,15
Food: €723,40
Tours: €551,45
Miscellaneous: €111,47

Summary costs backpacking in Australia
Summary costs backpacking in Australia.

How to reduce costs of a backpacking trip in Australia?

Naturally, you can make your trip to Australia as expensive as you like. Are you on a budget? These are some ways to cut the costs:

– Stay in hostels (dorms) or go camping. Hotels are really expensive and not as much fun.
– Buy food in grocery stores and make your own meals. Going out for dinner three times a day is really expensive.
– Limit the number of tours. Only choose the ones you really want to do.

This is my breakdown of costs from a 3,5-week backpacking trip in Australia. What do you think?

Would you like to read more about backpacking in Australia?

Get one of these travelguides:

DK Eyewitness Australia

Lonely Planet Australia

Check out these articles:
Itinerary Australia: the highlights of the East Coast in 3,5 weeks
Top 5 things to do in Sydney
Top 5 things to do in Melbourne


As a girl from a small town in the Netherlands, I always dreamed of traveling. I thought it would always be a dream, but nowadays, I travel 6 to 8 months a year and I hike thousands of miles on the most beautiful hiking trails. On this website you can read all about my favorite destinations.

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