Travel Accommodation Costs

Guide to Travel Accommodation Costs in Australia. FREE accommodation, cheap accommodation, and how to save money on your accommodation costs as you travel Australia.

When we travel, accommodation costs are our third highest item of expenditure, after food and fuel. Therefore it goes without saying, that finding cheap accommodation will dramatically reduce our overall travel budget.

Here is a summary of our travel accommodation costs for road trips taken in 2006 and 2008.

Travel Accommodation Costs for our 5 person family.
Year 2006 2008
Duration 69 nights 242 nights
Total Cost $2,048 $4,964
Average Cost Per Night $29.68 $20.51
Average Cost Per Week $208 $144
Number of Free Nights 5 56


Factors Affecting our Travel Accommodation Costs

These factors may be of interest, and assist you in planning for and reducing your own accommodation costs.

2006

  • This 69 night trip was our first long road trip with 3 children, aged 2, 4 and 6 years.
  • We had little knowledge of free camping when we set off, and when we truly discovered its wonders, were disappointed in our inability to truly take advantage of it!

    This was because we were travelling with an old caravan, which had no battery, and only a 60L water tank. These factors severely limited our ability to free camp with 5 people for any length of time.

  • We managed only 5 free nights, and averaged travel accommodation costs of $29.68/night (even with the 2yr old sometimes being free of charge in caravan parks).

    We actively sought the cheapest camp grounds and caravan parks, and our most expensive night cost $43.20. (With the exception of 4 nights in a budget air conditioned cabin in Port Lincoln during a heat wave. Note: This is the only time we have ever felt the necessity to use a cabin during our travels! It cost $70/night, and the air conditioner was on full cold the entire time!!)



2008

Once we discovered the beauty and advantages of free camping, we set ourselves up with an Off-road Jayco Expanda caravan. The set-up included a 120 amp hour deep cycle battery and two 90 litre water tanks under the caravan chassis. Information on the features of off-road caravans.

  • Free camping as often as possible (56 free nights), while still travelling at a good pace, we managed to reduce our accommodation costs by 1/3rd from our 2006 trip (where we had mostly used cheap campgrounds and caravan parks.
  • If we were to slow our travels down even further, and avoid the cities, we are convinced that we could fairly easily halve these costs - and average travel accommodation costs of about $10/day for our 5 person family (if we were on a really tight budget).
  • Our most expensive night was at a caravan park in Ballarat, $53.10, with the next most expensive being $44.00 at Tom Price.

    (We got caught out a little in Ballarat after being at Sovereign Hill all day, and deciding at the last minute to attend the sound and light show "Blood on the Southern Cross" there that evening - there was a discount on the show price if you went on the same day as your Sovereign Hill visit. This meant a last-minute decision to spend the night at Ballarat because the show finished at around 10pm, and lead to our most expensive night at a caravan park ever.)

    The decision to spend the night for $44 at Tom Price involved a television! It was state of origin (football) night, and we were desperate to see the game (after having free-camped and missed the 1st state of origin game!)

  • We found the following camping guides essential for locating the best free and cheap campgrounds - an outlay of less than $100 for both guides (or around $50/guide) literally saved us $1,000's of dollars. We can't recommend them highly enough to anyone camping or caravanning in Australia.
  • Camps-8
    camping-around-australia
    Camps 8

    Camping Around Australia



    Tips for Saving Travel Accommodation Costs by Free/Cheap Camping

  • Plan Ahead. Plan where you will stay, and for how long, based on the location of great free/cheap camping sites. Stay for longer in free camp sites, and move on from more expensive sites more quickly.

    Our most expensive nights have always been due to a last minute change of plans or a failure to plan ahead.

  • Use Camps 8 or Camping Around Australia to give you the greatest selection of free camping sites. A greater selection will mean being able to more regularly locate a free site closer to the town/attraction you are visiting.

    Almost as good as saving you money, these camping guides will enable you to find, access and enjoy so much of Australia that you might otherwise miss. Staying in town, in a caravan park, rarely compares.

  • Talk to other Travellers. Especially those who have come from the direction in which you are heading. Get their tips on the best campsites they have stayed at. We mark symbols on our map and free camp guide books to indicate those sites recommended by fellow travellers so that we remember to seek them out as we approach (days, weeks or months later).
  • Realise that camping in cities is generally more expensive than other places. If you are on a tight budget, avoid or minimise time spent in cities.

    We recommend some reasonably priced (but not free) options for camping in many cities in Australia. Go to Free/cheap camping in Australia.

  • If you wish to visit a town that has no free camping, consider free camping as near to the town as possible. From there you have the option to:
    • Leave your camp set up and do a day trip to town, or
    • Pack up and take your things with you, spend the day in town, and leave that afternoon in time to arrive at your next free campsite.

    We have used both of these options on many occasions.

    See our recommendations on the Best Free Camping and Cheap Campsites in Australia. (Campsites are listed state by state.)




    Tips for Saving Travel Accommodation Costs - Caravan Parks

    The general rule for finding the most economical park is to look for a park that has facilities which don't exceed your needs. Obviously features such as pools, jumping pillows, gamesrooms, playgrounds, elaborate camp kitchens, and so on, have to be paid for, and are reflected in nightly rates. This is not always true, but it is generally so.

    Some people, especially families and people who only holiday for short periods each year, use these facilities and are very happy to pay for them. But if you are on a budget, seeking cheap accommodation, travelling for a long period, and especially if you don't need or want these features, then these are the parks to avoid.

    We generally seek a 'no frills' caravan park when it is time to have a good shower, power up the battery, do some washing and re-fill the water tanks. Our children are used to making their own fun, and don't miss what is not there. These types of caravan parks often have the added bonus of being less crowded and less noisy, as well as being kind to the budget!

    The Big4 caravan parks appear to be seeking the family and short-term holiday maker type of clientiele, and so are usually quite expensive. However, they do offer an annual 'free camping night', usually in November each year. In 2010, it was held on 5th November, and the date for each year is announced on their website about the middle of each year: Big4 ComeCamp. This free night is only offered at selected parks across Australia, which are also shown on their website.

    Caravan Parks Australia Wide

    If you plan to use caravan parks regularly, it will pay for you to buy a copy of Caravan Parks Australia Wide. It is a comprehensive, easy-to-read caravan park guide, which includes 2,300 caravan and tourist parks. It has colour symbols indicating what facilities are available at each park. Included are caravan parks from all price ranges, and there is also a symbol for onsite cabins, and the latest Hema Road Atlas marked with park locations.

    Another consideration if you will be a regular caravan park user, is whether to sign up for membership with a particular chain of caravan parks. There are several caravan park chains, such as Top Tourist, Big 4, Family Parks Australia, and so on, which offer membership for a fee, of say, $30 for 2 years. This then entitles you to, for example, a 10% discount each time you book into a caravan park linked to that chain. You will need to weigh up for yourself whether this type of deal will save you money, (it doesn't for us).

    We trust that this travel accommodation costs information and tips will assist you in planning and embarking on your own Australia trip.


    Best Free Camping and Cheap Campsites in Australia.


    Our Favourite Caravan Parks in Australia.





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  • Camping Guides:

    Camps 8

    Camps 8


    Australia's Best Camping

    Australia's Best Camping


    Caravan Parks Australia Wide

    Caravan Parks Australia



    Camping Around Australia

    Camping Around Australia



    Camps 8

    Camps 8


    Australia's Best Camping

    Australia's Best Camping


    Caravan Parks Australia Wide

    Caravan Parks Australia


    Camping Around Australia

    Camping Around Australia