7 steps to planning a trip to Australia & New Zealand

Using Google Maps to plan my route through Australia & New Zealand (not a live map)

How to plan a travel journey to Australia and New Zealand?

I asked should I go to Australia or New Zealand last year.

As of today, no confirmation. But, I have taken the next step, and begun researching the journey a little, just in case.

As such, I thought it interesting to write out how I research or plan a trip like this, given the following criteria.

  • I’ve not been there before
  • It seems to fit many of the criteria I’m looking for on my journey

First steps of planning a trip to Australia / New Zealand

Visas – I qualify as a tourist. But not for a working visa nor the holiday working visa. I am over 30, so Australia seems to think I am not worth it. Big bummer here. If I was to work, I would need a sponsor, or do it illegally. A sponsor would need to be frothing at the mouth to go through those loop holes. I don’t like illegal work, as it’s not going to get me very far in the long run.

Yes, there is Woofing e.t.c., but I look at these as later options should I like the place and need every type of opportunity to stay. At this stage, it’s better to do something I like, than something just to stay longer.

That just leaves me as a humble tourist, on a humble budget. Keeping in mind my journey is a little different, I will initially be looking to see if Australia / New Zealand could be places for me to live. But, first things first, we gotta get to a place I like first!

Second step of planning a trip to Australia or New Zealand

My big tourist map! What do I want to see/do, first and foremost. And, what I don’t want to see/do.

Things I’d like to see and do when traveling in Australia & New Zealand

  • OZ – I’d like to see, and experience the desert. Something I like, and miss very much.  This leads me to Pinnacles, Alice Springs along with the journey there.
  • NZ – Glaciers please, again much missed.
  • OZ – Wildlife, a Kangaroo in the wild, a Koala bear, Dingoes, and a few lizards.
  • NZ – Kiwi’s! Whales … maybe ,and some birds.
  • Oz – Landscapes … opps back to the desert again.
  • NZ – Those mountains …
  • OZ – Aborigines in todays world. I’d like to see for myself. And, of course, document.
  • NZ – Maori people in todays world, same as above.
  • OZ/NZ – A few cities/towns to see what life / culture is like there.
  • Yep, that’s pretty much it.

Things I don’t want to see in Australia or New Zealand

  • OZ/NZ – A bunch of drunk party going backpackers
  • OZ – Surf / Diving and beaches

    The Sahara desert with camel shadows
    The desert is one place I would really like to go back to ...
  • NZ – Swim with dolphins (okay I do) diving, bungy jumping etc.
  • OZ/NZ Cafe’s / Bars / Clubs and fine dining (ok, yes to some but budget says no).
  • OZ/NZ Humidity, I’ve had enough. So no Northern Australia it looks like.

Yep, I sound very boring. Tough. The things I like are what I like, and this is my list. I could be persuaded to go and see the great barrier reef, but, it would take a lot. Am I missing something awesome from my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Where to get information for planning a journey to Australia and New Zealand? – step 3

Sadly The Philippines has no good bookstore outside of Manila. And, even there, it’s ridiculously expensive. So online it is.

Lonely Planet destinations, TravellersPoint Guides, and WikiTravel. What I want here, is to find out what I am missing from my above lists. When to go. etc

Lonely Planet wins here not for content, but for the very basics of their intro. How much, when, what to see (photo slide show). It then drops off for anything else, as they want you to buy the guidebook, fair enough.

Closer to my time of arrival, I jump into forums. Travellerspoint is often where I start, as the community there is a lot nicer than the Thorntree (LP).

WikiTravel I prefer for a rough idea of how to get around, and a quick overview of accommodation, if I’m lucky, sometimes it’s all I need.

Traveling into Australia or New Zealand – aka which one first? – step 4

A direct flight from Manila is not going to happen due to cost. So it means either a flight from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok. A flight to Perth is my first choice, at a glance. I can travel across the south and then hop on another plane to New Zealand. A direct flight to New Zealand would be my preferred choice, but it’s not going to happen at the air fare prices I am seeing.

Mapping my way across Australia using google maps, and google docs – step 5

I open google maps, and docs. I mark out all the main places I want to see and travel. I write them down in google docs. I then open up google books (which shows an old guide book), kayak and an accommodation booking site. And, begin figuring out what to see and where to stay in each of these places. This is also where I add in the costs for my budget later on.

This is tiring, and very slow. But, the end results are worth it. My phone syncs to google maps, gps, and I know where I am going.

I read reviews of places, costs, and what they offer. I also work out how to get from point A to point B.

This method saves me a lot of time and money once in country. Sure nothing is a set rule, but at a glance I know what’s where and how to travel there.

What I’ve learned at this stage of my plan to travel Australia – step 6

Travel in Australia is expensive. Not just compared to Asia, but compared to Europe and other developed countries. And, so be it. But, my main concern is value for money. This is where I find Australia failing in many regards.

Dorm rooms in Hostels cost on average AUS$23.  Single rooms $60. That’s a huge jump in terms of no middle ground! And, somethings not sitting right with me there. Not only that, but the majority of the reviews are not that good for hostels there. Dirty bathrooms, grouchy staff and expensive internet (it seems Australia does not include free wifi in its hospitality industry).

Australian Tourism

Soap Bubble Party
Party Party Party ... sorry but been there done that; no thanks not looking for it this time

Australian tourism boards seem to hint strongly that traveling Australia is best done by car or package tour, (or by being a guest on the Oprah show goes to Australia). I’ve checked out rentals, it’s not going to happen. Buying is cheaper, and I’ve still no interest as it’s a lot of $$ for one person.

This leaves travel via train, plane and bus. A great train trip interests me. Three days to Alice Springs through the desert sounds good. But, I have a feeling I will not be able to open a window to photograph, no stops in the desert nor hanging out a door either.

Tours are cheaper than independent travel here it seems. Book a tour from a hostel to see a place, and, it works out cheaper. Perth to Pinnacles for example.  I’d love to overnight there, but local accommodation and the trip there seems more expensive than two one day trips via a tour company. And, there seems to be no local transport directly to pinnacles. At least from what I can see online.

Likewise Uluru (Ayers Rock) Where there’s no public transport or accommodation available so a tour is the only option to get there with prices starting at $250, with hidden extras.

Now lets reassess travel to Australia – step 7

Starting in Perth is making less sense. Pinnacles looks really nice, but it’s only one place. There are a few towns further south. But, the cost to value of these sites / travel is quite high. A lot of back-warding and forwarding. Then a long journey to Adelaide and onto Alice Springs.

There are cheap direct flights to Melbourne from Malaysia. It would mean traveling to Adelaide and then up to Alice Springs and back down again, or a flight back (train seems to work out cheaper). Then go and see more of the east coast. Fly from the Gold coast to Auckland New Zealand, travel back down to Queenstown, and fly back to Gold Coast.

If there were super cheap flights to Darwin from Asia, I would start there and just travel on a train down the middle of Australia. But, it seems there are no cheap flights to Darwin that match the costs of flights to Melbourne.

Australia vs New Zealand as a tourist

From my initial look at both countries online, travel in New Zealand comes across as being more appealing. Reviews of accommodation seem better, there’s more variety. And,  I like the idea of some cold weather.

I don’t know if it’s easier to get around New Zealand compared to Australia in terms of what’s available. But, in terms of access to online information, New Zealand trumps Australia here too.

Observations, mistakes, advice …

I’ve left a lot out. Especially about places in New Zealand. I’m not writing a full on guide here. I know things are different on the ground. And, I know that I could meet a great person on my first day, joint buy a car and travel around Australia for 3 months etc. This is not what I am writing this for.

A) This is how I plan travel to many places. I thought it interesting to write the 2010 version down. Please feel free to comment on it, or regale on it.

B) I am open to suggestions on other places I’ve not mentioned above. Or on tips e.g. the discounted nationwide 6 month train ticket.

C) Many people say no to Australia / New Zealand in regards to my journey. Others say yes, it’s a “cool” place to go. Let’s not forget the main objective in all this. And, I still have not met many Australian or New Zealanders in terms of contacts. Everyone says hi, but everyone seems located in either Melbourne of Sydney. Or, simply only interested in having beers.

New Zealand seems like a wasteland of online communication. Which is strange considering there seems to be more about New Zealand travel online than Australia. But who knows, maybe I just haven’t found the right group of contacts yet.

Yes, I know twitter or facebook is a game of chance in sending out messages etc. But, you have to start somewhere.

So C) is –  Worth the risk or not?

Tips, suggestions, observations e.t.c., are all welcome in the comments!

Please note, this is no indication that I am actually going to Australia or New Zealand next, I am nearly planning it out. Who knows, any more pickpockets / bad business / dentists and I might forget the rest of this region and just grab a plane to …

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58 Replies to “7 steps to planning a trip to Australia & New Zealand”

  1. I think JetStar operates flights between Singapore and Darwin. On their site if you search for the flight nothing comes available. However if you check on their Flight Schedule page, it advises that there’s daily flights. Not sure what’s going on there.

    As an Australian I feel a bit bad that I can’t offer you more thoughts. that you haven’t covered already. One thing that may interest you is the state of Tasmania, it has beautiful forests, hiking trails and landscapes, all with a low population for the state. However it is a little out of the way from your proposed travel route, and getting there may be expensive.

    For your points on seeing Aboriginal Australia, most aboriginal populations are centred in central and northern Australia. Alice Springs would be a good spot, as would super-isolated towns like Fitzroy Crossing or Katherine. You’ll have a very hard time finding Australian aboriginal people in Melbourne or Sydney as there aren’t many people when compared with the populations of these cities.

    1. Thanks for all that info Andy, every little helps! Yes, I see the Jetstar flights, looks like it may be my starting point.

      I would love to see Tasmania, I really would. But, again like you say the cost if v high. From Melbourne via ferry, but after that it’s all tours, at seriously high prices. At least at this stage of my research. Hopefully I can find something.

      Again, thanks for the info on Aboriginal Australia, it’s good to know about it being centered in Central and Northern parts. This is the type of info I am looking for!

  2. I’m excited to read of your upcoming adventures in Oz/NZ. These are places I’ve never been but am longing to visit. I have no tips to offer, sadly, save one highly recommended book about travels in Oz. Not much of a practical guide, but still one of my absolute favorites: Bill Bryson’s “In a Sunburned Country”.

    Maybe you’ll visit caves while there and post breathtaking pictures again? I can only hope!

    Safe travels!

  3. Lived in the region for 6 years. Don’t lump NZ and Australia together. Culturally, you will find them very different. In terms of travel, the logistics are vastly different. Don’t neglect the North Island of NZ. Make sure to walk the Togariro Circuit. Stewart Island, while touristy is worth the trip. If you walk the large (approx 9 day) circuit you can escape the crowds.

    Oh and most importantly, check the AUS (they differ somewhat by state) and NZL school holiday schedules beforehand and avoid popular sites during those periods.

  4. One more thing. On a tourist visa, you will almost certainly need an air ticket out of Australia in order to board a flight into Australia (no, they don’t care how many credit cards you have or how much money you have in a bank somewhere!). You will find this to be the case in regard to entry into New Zealand as well.

    1. THanks for those tips. Yep, checking school holidays is a good one. I often forget!

      With an article like this it’s hard to not write about Australia and NZ together. As, geographically they are. However, rest assured I will write about them as I see them.

      Most countries these days require an onward ticket, so no worries there.

      Thanks again

  5. I can attest to the value (and fun) of the 6 month train pass in Australia. The distances are long, but I love long-distance train trips so it’s just my cup of tea. But no – you won’t get to stick your head out the window (or even hang out between cars to any avail) at all during the trip. Sorry!

    1. Good info Nora, thank you. It’s not what I want to hear, but it’s important to know about the train. I feared this. But, no choice. I enjoy train travel, and it’s working into the budget.

      Sadly this 6 month pass thing seems to be hard to get if you are located in the Philippines, as they want to post it out via regular mail. AKA chances are slim it will get here.

      Again, thanks, this information helps me plan a lot better!

      1. Can you not pick the pass up when you arrive in Australia? You really should be able to….I’d look into it if you haven’t already – that seems ludicrous. (Having said that, I’ve had similar silliness in other parts of the world, so I guess it comes with the travel territory).

          1. Not spammy at all. I recommend anyone wanting to know what train travel is like in Australia to have a look at Nora’s series! I’m reading it too, and looking forward to the next one! :)

  6. I never thought of visiting Australia, but have been here for over 2 years on my husbands sponsored visa. I have fallen in love with the country. The landscape and open space is like none other I have seen, and I adore the outback. We are based in Adelaide which is really nice, but spend a lot of time in Perth. The pinnacle are great, but there are lots of other great places in the area (Western Australia is a huge state)
    When we arrived we were shocked by the prices of accommodations and we picked up a cheap tent ($30) and it has kept us warm and dry for over a year. We find camping at a caravan park in small towns and cities an inexpensive option. Most are clean, have great hot water, and have a place to cook. You can also pick up a cheap butane portable stove for about $20.
    Some of the campervan companies look for people to drive their vehicles for them between towns. If you are flexible you may want to check in to this.
    If you head our way give me a shout. My blog also focuses on Australia, for the most part, so you may want to check it out.

    1. Hi Maya,

      Interesting option about driving campervans back to destinations.

      I’ve looked at the rentals and buying options, but for a solo traveler it’s a lot of cash. Especially sine I don’t know if I will like OZ or not. Time will tell!

      Thanks for the tips

  7. Um. Is this really how you plan?
    I mean, it seems to me that you have a very wrong idea of what Australia and NZ are.
    Yeh there are drunk backpackers, but just avoid the hostels on the east coast and you’ll never meet any.
    In terms of landscape, nature, wildlife, hiking and road trips, there isn’t much in the world that comes close to OZ/NZ.
    But you can still plan according to reputation, rumour and other mind imagination.
    PS: indigeneous australians aren’t animals to observe. If you aren’t an ethnologist, please don’t do what white western people have done for so long, which is fantasizing on them and treating them like they are a matter to analyse.

    1. I do not think you read the post very well. Dave said he was on a budget. So he will probably have to stay in hostels. Where he WILL run into drunk backpackers!

      If you’ve followed his journey you would also know he’s been nothing but respectful of other cultures. In fact, it is one of the best things about this blog!

      1. Actually, renting or buying car and camping is cheaper than the bus/train + hostels solution.
        Renting a campervan saves you accomodation and the food is cheap if you cook it in your van.
        Otherwise, buying an old second hand car for $2000 and selling it after the trip for $1000 might be a solution.
        Some places allow you to park wherever and sleep in your campervan, some don’t, you just have to find a way, and it saves you a lot of money.
        Also, there are lots of free camping spots, but they are the priviledge of the locals and you’d need to know where to go.
        All I’m saying is that even on a budget, it is possible to avoid the drunk-backpacker way of travelling Australia.
        And once you get off the beaten track, it is simply the best experience. Long roads to drive with not much encounters, empty and endless landscapes, nice and friendly locals.
        Australia hosts some of the best landscapes, deserts, variety, wildlife. Just go to the west coast, the red center, the kimberley, the eyre, do some of the long hikes. You’ll see, it’s very very far from the image it was given in the article.
        New Zealand is smaller and therefore it isn’t as easy to escape the packs of tourists. But it’s possible. I have done one of the most memorable trip of my life there, renting a van with some friends and visiting both islands, wild camping (always respectful of nature).

    2. @just

      Do please read the article where I have mentions I have no access to a guidebook or anything else. Yes, this is how I plan this part of the journey. It’s worked so far.

      Thanks for your tips. I know all too that I will run into way too many drunk party going backpacker in both countries. On my budget it’s inevitable.

      If I get the perception about a place before visiting from others, and from websites etc about the place. Then that’s just the way it is. Hence I am visiting it to find out for myself. The same with any country.

      RE: Observing Aboriginal people. But like that it does sound like observing animals. Again, please note what I actually wrote that it would come off sounding bad. Unless I write a whole politically correct background every time I pen an article, it’s impossible to get a message across. I observe, write, and integrate will all cultures on my journey. And, I write honestly about my findings. If someone does not like that, then tune out.

      Take the West Africa articles, I could write a lot more about life there. But, unless you lived there, most people would take offense.

      Take my articles from The Philippines, I tell it like I see it. Some/most people have agreed with me. And I’ve been noted as uncovering and understanding the real Pinoy culture here better than most foreigners, even by people who don’t like what they are reading. To be, your can’t get a better compliment than that!

      I’ve really researched the option of buying transport in Australia. But, am coming up with huge numbers. Buying is one thing, then there’s fuel, insurance, parking fees etc. It mounts up.

      Again, time will tell. If Australia or New Zealand become a long term thing, then yes I will most certainly have to buy. But in the meantime, it’s looking doubtful unless I meet someone who wants to share the costs!

      Thanks, for all your input!

  8. I was in Aus. a year ago, and I too am a lover of desert. The Outback is incredible, but you’ll miss so much of the spirit of the place if you can’t go by car. We stayed in small, rundown hotels and even those were all around $100 to $120 AUS, so very expensive. Many people go by caravan or campervan and stay at caravan parks throughout the Outback. If there’s any way you can swing that, it would be a great way to see lots of desert and to meet all of the interesting characters at all the little outposts in the desert, while cutting down on the cost of accomodation. Absolute must-sees for desert people are Uluru (we stayed at the road house at Curtain Springs, about 20 miles from Uluru and much cheaper) and Coober Pedy, the opal mining town. If you go to Coober Pedy, take the half day tour of the area offered by “Jimmy the Runner.” I don’t remember the name of his company, but anyone in town will know who you’re talking about.

    1. Hi Barbara,

      Yep, that’s expensive alright. The only way I can swing a campervan is if I meet someone that wants to share the expense. Hence I wrote this article and will post on some forums.

      I know you can see a lot more with your own vehicle, but I also know the problems that come with it!

      Thanks for mentioning some of the places and people near Uluru, I’ll start to look them up now :)

      1. Just to add to this – my parents recently did a trek through Northern Australia via caravan and realised quickly that caravan parks were a complete waste of money – there are plenty of rest stops along the way where you would often find several vans stopped for free accommodation!

        Sure there were no showers and you may not have power, but if it’s just for a place to sleep the night then you can’t go wrong!

        1. Thank Kieron, that’s good information about the Caravan parks. I came across this in Spain myself. Most seemed like a place to fill up with water, and charge batteries. So a truck stop just to sleep sounds better alright :)

  9. BUT DAVE!! I thought TOP on your list surely would be :
    OZ/NZ party,party, party meeting like minded backpackers.. and Surf and Diving and beaches and MORE drunken partyyyy! :P


    But seriously folks. where does Malaysia fit into the scheme of things.. AHEM.

  10. Like many others, I am so curious about how you will find Australia! Usually I just pick up a guidebook and read on the plane. Great to see you put so much effort into research first!

    But the big question is: What country is next?

  11. I loved traveling through Australia (2 months) and NZ (1 month). We rented a campervan in NZ and a car in Australia. Are you sure a train is cheaper than renting a car and camping? The benefit of renting, in addition to being independent and getting to choose exactly where you want to stop, is that you can camp instead of staying in expensive hostels or hotels. If you do visit Australia, I would strongly recommend driving through the Outback. It’s a surreal landscape and shouldn’t be missed!

    1. I certainly agree with your about having your own transport and seeing places than you otherwise will not.

      But, yes, trains do seem to be working out cheaper. Let me put it this way. I get to see more from the ground. I don’t get wacked by luggage fees. And rides to the Airport. Quite frankly I hate airport security!

      A train from Melbourne to Sydney is a lot more expensive than a flight. But from Alice to Adelaide it works out cheaper. And, if I buy an OZ $699 six month ticket, it’s all I need to pay for as many train trips as I want.

      I’m also not the biggest fan of camping to be honest. Ive done a lot of that already, and it just doesn’t do it for me anymore. But who knows!

  12. we found a cheap flight to Darwin from Singapore on Tiger Airways, budget special, and then maybe Virgin to Sydney. I think I would choose train for the long trips.

    1. Tiger are not longer running that route unfortunately. They’ve changed a lot of their flight destinations, and are adding new ones for March 2011.

      But yes, I prefer the train too :)

  13. Hey Dave!

    Tiger Airways, Jetstar and AirAsia are budget airlines that have services between Asia and Australia. Maybe you can look at those if you haven’t yet done so.

    As alot of people have already mentioned, buying a secondhand campervan/car and going on a roadtrip is a good way to travel around Australia, but fuel prices are another thing especially if you are alone and no one’s sharing. Then if you don’t have camping gear, you would have to buy them which is another expense albeit affordable.

    For train travel you could look here http://www.australianexplorer.com/train_travel_services.htm
    As for buses, maybe look up the Greyhound services?

    You are quite right with that many cheaper accomodation options in Australia don’t come with free wi-fi. Some don’t even have internet services. Getting a prepaid mobile broadband account is a better alternative, but once again, expensive.

    With what you have mentioned about wanting to see in Australia, you might want to look more into the NT and WA regions. I do believe that the whale-watching season in Australia just ended. The outback is something not the be missed. National parks and the coastal islands are good to visit too.

    Humidity isn’t a big problem in Australia, except during the Summer season which is around Dec-Mar.

    Maybe you can go around Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore before deciding whether you want to head to Aus/NZ?

    Oh, and eating out in Australia can use up of most your budget, especially seeing that you have come from Phillipines where food is cheap. An average meal, fast food aside, would be around AUD$10-20.

    That’s all I can think of now~
    Good Luck!

    1. Hi there,

      Lot’s of great information here!

      I am looking at the mobile broadband option. I’ve found a few providers with flat fees. I certainly won’t be able to upload massive photos or backups. Such a shame a country like this cannot get this sorted out.

      Again, WA and NT regions are back on the cards with many people saying they are the best to see.

      Excellent news about the humidity! Thank you for that! Just what I wanted to hear.

      I too am thinking of somewhere else before OZ/NZ if anything just to remove the Philippines lifestyle from my bones before moving into a country like those down under!

      Thanks again for all that great information!

  14. Honestly you can’t even compare the two, NZ and Australia are nothing alike!

    As a photographyer New Zealand has to win hands down, just make sure you see the south island as well, my 2 cents it’s New Zeland all the way especially if you want to come back with some great photos.

    1. Thanks Giovanna, always good to hear your opinion. I’ve not gone stage 2 of my New Zealand research yet.

      But as I mentioned about, it looks a lot more inspiring than Australia, north and central aside.

      It’s just a shame NZ seems to be a wasteland of non communication. As you can see even from this article there are very few people talking about it?!

      1. I am sad no one is talking about NZ! So much better and different then Australia, at least from an American (and Californian at that!) point of view. Australia is full of Europeans because it is soo different from Europe, while I felt like I was coming “home” when I got to Australia. Big, loud, hot and crowded is how I would sum it up.

        NZ, on the other hand, small, quiet, cold and empty! I drove around the South Island during peak holiday time (between Christmas and New Years) on a main highway and we wouldn’t see anyone for like 10kms. Just so easy to travel around by car or bus. People are there because they want to be and are so welcoming of tourists, so happy that you have chosen to travel in their little piece of paradise! I highly recommend Nov-March as a time to travel as while that is “peak” travel time, “crowded” is a relative term. Everything is open, less rain and not scorching hot by any means.

        Everywhere is fantastic and just to throw in a hidden tip, my favorite town is Akaroa on the South Island. The drive in and out is just so beautiful

        1. I am actually very disappointed in the lack of feedback about New Zealand too! Quite amazing. Probably means I will like it a lot more than Australia! And, so if I do go, I’ll be thinking more of extending in NZ than in OZ. But am taking precautions for both, just in case.

          Many thanks for you information on NZ. It’s good to know it’s rarely “crowded” there. And, I will certainly do some reading on Akaroa!

  15. a suggestion that you probably skip gold coast since its spells “tourist” but go further up north to cairns, yes its humid and summer like but find the right tour that takes you out to the great barrier reef for a good price and its beautiful.

    if u r travelling alone, taking a packaged tour or two wouldnt be a too bad of a idea, you can meet similar people out there who you can then rent a car which will work out much cheaper if divided by 3 or 4 and drive around.

    local transport around the cities have a cheap flat rate during the weekends, so leave city travelling for the weekends to take advantage of the prices.

    if u go down adelaide, theres the wineries, the mount lofty, the glenelg beaches to go.

    1. Some really good tips there!

      Yes, the gold coast does very little for me. So unless, as you say, I meet some people I doubt very much I will go there.

      I know the great barrier reef is a big thing to many people, but I’ve lived on a tropical island. That whole scene just is not for me. I still could go, will the right people, but most likely not.

      Thanks for taking the time to write that info.

  16. Hi,

    Just wanna say first off I love your blog!

    As for campervans in Aus I don’t know if it’s been mentioned before but you can get relocation campervans for as low as $1 a day. These are one way only rentals subject to availability and constrained by distance and time. Usually they give you enough plus a little extra to get from point A to B. But its definitely the cheapest option.

    I’m going on a trip in one of these next week, I can give you more of an idea afterwards what its like. But it’s definitely cheap!

    Here are the sites:



    1. Hi Li,

      Thanks for your kind words! “relocation campervans” I think that’s the same as those companies trying to get their campervans back from other locations around the country? Still, at $1 a day it looks interesting. I will look into it, thanks for sharing!

  17. I’ve lived in Melbourne for almost 2 years now on an employer sponsored working vsia and love it – unfortunately it is difficult and expensive to travel around, but there are usually sales on flights, ferries, and the train if you aren’t worried about travelling on exact dates. Also there is a huge couch surfing community here and people often get together and rent cars to share the expense of getting so some of these out of the way places – just join the city group for each city you will be in or might want to go to and sign-up for the e-mail notifications. I did the Great Ocean Road this way with three other couch surfers – we picniced the whole weekend and couch surfed for one night it ended up being ~$30-35 per person for the whole weekend including the car and food (tours are usually $100+ for one day). There are always people driving between cities as well. Finally I think you will pay a lot for internet everywhere in Australia – there are a few places with free wifi but it is so slow it is useless – you can get pretty good deals on prepaid wireless plans – I think Virgin Moble and Vodafone offer some of the best deals now, but every post office has a large selection of rpepaid internet options.

    1. Thanks for the information in the comment. I am seeing this “internet” problem creeping up everywhere. Such a shame a country like this is so far behind.

      I’ll certainly be open to group travel to cut costs, but, at this stage I am airing on the side of just seeing if Australia is right for me. The headline name would suggest yes, but the content is in practicality is saying no. Who knows what the raw reality will be!

    1. Hi Ivy, as a tourist yes. To work, not without sponsorship. And, as I mentioned, the sponsor would need to bend over backwards as I am over 30. Australia seems be a tale of different countries!

  18. This is the first of your blog posts I’ve stumbled across, so excuse me if I say something wrong. Am just reading Running with the Moon and love it (will review it on my blog once finished).

    Anyway – what I wanted to say is that there is so much to see and do in Australia that isn’t on any tourist site. A cheap way to travel here is to buy a cheap bike (assuming you have a motorbike licence) and using that as transport. Fuel for a bike is cheaper than a car. You can get from Melbourne to Tasmania for about $200 (Australian) with a motorbike on a day ticket (or at least you could in January 2010 when I did it).

    Second hand bikes aren’t expensive here. Just go to http://www.bikesales.com.au for an idea.

    I only recommend a bike because that’s how I’ve travelled Oz. I like in Brisbane so am a biased Aussie myself ;)

    I recommend travelling through outback Qld and Victoria. They are not traditional sand desert but are deserted none-theless.

    1. Hi Herby,

      Welcome on board, don’t worry it’s hard to say something wrong here :)

      You actually stumbled onto something I was thinking of. And that is renting a bike. Though, to be honest it would only be to link some cities, or in a group. I’ve done this before and really don’t feel like criss crossing OZ on a motorbike for my journey. I interviewed Jonny Bealby. Motorcycle adventures would be great travel, but I’m looking for something else first :)

      Melbourne to Tasmania for $200 is over my budget for a day trip. Hence my self argument about Australia and it’s “value for money” vs tourism vs a place to live. We shall see. But yes, the outback will be an exception I hope to accomplish!

      1. Oh, I didn’t realise you were hoping to do Tasmania as a day trip. You would need at least a month to have any chance of seeing it properly because, despite it’s small size there is a lot there. And life’s slower down there too so you wouldn’t really be able to rush.

        Whether you want to live here or not depends on what you are looking for. It’s a strange country in some ways. For example, I live 40km outside one of the three biggest cities (Brisbane) and live in a setting surrounded by horses, wallabies and bushland.

        You can live in very isolated places here where you need to drive for hours to buy food and the climate is too harsh to grow your own. Or you can live in lush areas where living is easy.

        It’s not a cheap country to live in but you can earn a good income to pay for the cost of living.

        If you do decide to give Oz a try, you are most welcome to stop by and I’ll show you the nice local spots in and around Brisbane that do not involve bars or beaches. I love your blog :)

  19. I’m thinking about heading to Oz and New Zealand as well. However, as I’m still under 30, I will be looking into obtaining the working visa. The cut-off is 30, correct? I’ll let you know if I come across any information that may help you.

  20. As I probably mentioned in your last post on NZ, I highly highly recommend a trip there. Having lived in Auckland for over a year and traveled a majority of the islands both inexpensively and more lavishly, I can tell you that there are few countries as beautiful and diverse as this wonderland. I say this after much travel abroad and recently having spent a month recently in Tibet, whose mountains and landscape absolutely blew my mind.

    Email for more information if interested!

  21. I would do NZ first! It is logistically much easier, much cheaper, many more lodging options. You will want to buy/rent a car if you intend to see a number of regions. You should have no problem finding a beater from someone doing what you are doing and moving on to the next country on their itinerary. You will meet many Aussies (and vagabonds from elsewhere) in NZ which may lead to “connections” when it comes to AUS. Do as many of the NZ “Great Walks” as possible. Tramping in Australia is much more difficult in terms of logistics (starting with water!).

  22. Dave … I see that you’ll probably not going to either now (via your newsletter update). Simply they can both wait … nice, sure, but just another slice of the modern Western world. However, there are places that I suspect, you may well find worth calling “home” (especially in NZ).

    MRP | the candy trail … a nomad across the planet, since 1988

    PS: I am a New Zealander (so, I guess I know what I’m talking about …)

  23. Thank you for providing such a good information. I am really planning to visit Australia and this is really going to help me a lot while planning the trip.

  24. Main thing to remember with Oz is that it’s goddamn huge. Traveling Oz without your own transport is going to severely restrict your options. A possible entry option for you is Cairns, as this has a serious amount of backpackers entering and exiting the country so you can pick up cars with full camping gear for next to nothing. Also if you want to split the costs just put up notices in BP’s and you’ll always get some-one to share a ride with you.

    The traditional route is from Cairns down the east coast, then across to Adelaide and up the center or on to Perth etc. However if you travel from Cairns to Darwin you will see a huge variation just by doing the far north east to far mid-north. You have places such as Atheton Tablelands, Kakadu etc. Then cruise down to Alice Springs and that will cover most of the stuff you want to see with the additional bonus of the Great Barrier Reef (Cairns)which is a must do of Oz, same as Uluru. This route pretty much avoids all of the main touristy backpacking areas, but make sure your car can handle the outback and you have plenty of supplies as any travel into the middle of nowhere can turn into a nightmare if you break down.

    Oh and last word give yourself plenty of time, because like I said its a big goddamn country, LOL!

  25. Hi,

    I hope you’ll get around to come down here to New Zealand. It’s a very quiet country which goes dead after twilight (unless you’re in a big city like Auckland) but I dunno, it doesn’t feel strange…

    I’m a student from Malaysia and I’ve been travelling round New Zealand for much of the holidays (yess, travelling during uni holidays means crowdss, so do try to avoid us uni kids). So far, getting around is easy, there’s buses, trains, or you can do some tramping (walking).

    There’s the Tongariro National Park for breathtaking mountains… Mt Cook in the South Island, the Fox and Franz Josef Glacier… the Milford Track for a week or more of walking towards Milford Sound and other Great Walks (I’ve worn out my shoe’s soles for a lot of the shorter walks). Weird land formations, lush Ice Age style native forests that’s uniquely NZ. Caves with glowworms living in it or at night, glowworms in trees in certain wooded areas. and maybe you’ll see a weta or two… they’re weird, huge insects.

    If you like sand…there are huge sand dunes up north in the North Island. It looks like a piece of a desert was left up there…but it’s actually beach sand. Go figure. lol…I’m waxing lyrical about a country that’s not even mine…but yeah, New Zealand is just absolutely beautiful.

    A tip, if you get a working visa in New Zealand, you might want to come round during summer (December-February are peak times) and work in the orchards. Lucrative but kinda tiring… but you’ll get enough money to travel the whole of South Island.

    Anyway…I’ll stop here. Cheers.

    1. Thanks for all that information. Indeed there’s lots to see in NZ. And I do think I’d prefer it to Australia in many respects. Unfortunately for a longer term stay I don’t qualify for a working visa due to being over the minimum age. I think that’s 30 now.

  26. This is a question that also came to my mind recently.
    While NZ is high on my list, OZ is just somewhere on my list.

    Agree on the things I want and don’t want, but at the moment the long distance still puts me off somehow.

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