Tight budget touring
There are various ways and means to travel around ‘My Country’ without burning a hole in your pocket!
By Peter QuiltyI love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains. Well, so says Dorothea Mackellar - and indeed most aspiring adventurers!
For many fervent caravanners and campers, it’s a great Australian dream to circumnavigate this Great Southern Land - whether contained to the bitumen and holiday parks or heading to free-camping far horizons.
But the sheer reality is that it’s not a ‘land of milk and honey’ when it comes to the cost of ticking off the proverbial ‘Big Lap’ bucket list!
Most avid travellers are dictated by budget. Yes, money speaks all languages!
So here are some handy tips to avoid blowing the bank balance while enjoying the majestic scenery of our wide brown land.
But first are a few questions to ask yourself: how long do you want to travel around Australia? Where do you want to visit?; and what time of year do you want to travel?
TOW-TUG TORMENTBig is not always better when it comes to choosing your vehicle. More importantly, purchase a rig that fits your requirements - you’ll also save on fuel costs. And it doesn’t have to be a behemoth and brand new!
Additionally, you’ll save money in the long run if you service your car when it is due. It’s also worth checking and maintaining oil levels, batteries and tyre pressures (also lower according to driving conditions).
And pack a comprehensive toolkit, ensuring you take spare parts applicable to your vehicle and caravan or camper trailer.
DO YOUR HOMEWORKBefore starting a journey, you need to make sure that you have all the RV insurance documents. So it will help you, if you need any emergency service of RV insurance company.
Invest in camping books such as Camps Australia Wide. Someone else has done all the hard work for you by tracking down the cheap and free sites.
Remember that each state has a different system regarding entry fees to national parks. In most cases it’s more cost efficient to purchase a multiple parks pass instead of paying individual entry fees.
It can also work out cheaper in the long run to become a caravan park member.
SELF-SUFFICIENCYHands down, one of the best ways to slash the cost of camping is to be totally self-sufficient. Having the ability to bush camp means you can avoid the more expensive campsites and save a few bucks on fuel by having more campsite options closer to where you need to be. And limit the number of powered appliances you take.
Let’s face it, the cost of a solar system and a camp shower will pay itself back in no time at all and totally revolutionise the way you camp in the process!
Bush camps don’t break the budget and the experience is a little closer to the real deal.
UNDERSTANDING USAGEMost of us fill up our water tanks at home or only in more densely populated areas to avoid dodgy water. But by adding a good quality water filter to your caravan or camper trailer, you can fill the tank up with water at a location closer to your destination, which saves you dragging 100-200L of water half way across the country and reduces your fuel bill.
In reality, you should be taking only what you need for each particular trip.
Efficient packing saves space, weight, vehicle wear and tear, and fuel.
SHARE THE LOVEHave a think about sharing a vehicle and the running costs if the opportunity arises. A little trick to split the costs evenly is to each put an even amount of money in the glove box at the start of the trip, and use these funds for anything group-related like fuel, food, camp fees and so on.
And try to travel light. If you’re sharing vehicles, try not to double up on your camping equipment. You won’t need two camp ovens; one will do. If you are travelling in a group, make a plan about who brings what to spread the load across several vehicles.
COMMUNICATION LOWDOWNGood communication and clarifying expectations can yield savings when you’re touring with a crew
Have a think about the financial capacity of those you are travelling with. The last thing you need on a big trip is the more financial friends adding in costly exercises like helicopter rides, splurging on local restaurants or pubs and spending up on chartered fishing trips, when others in the group prefer (or can only afford) to camp out every night and steer clear of luxuries.
FOOD FOR THOUGHTCook your first few nights’ meals before you leave home, or cook double if you’re on the road long-term. Then freeze the appropriate number of portions, and pop them in the fridge the day of departure. Stews, casseroles, satays and stir-fry work well, as these can be reheated in one pot.
Even ‘go vego’ - swap your tasty T-bone a few times a week for some juicy tomatoes, corn on the cob and meaty mushrooms, and your hip pocket will thank you in the long run.
And the truth is stocking the car with healthy, low GI snacks means you and the family will stay fuller for longer, saving you money on expensive junk food from the servo.
BEATING THE BUDGETYes, it is actually possible to travel this amazing country without breaking the budget. And you don’t have to be a millionaire; not even close!
The funny thing is, in most cases, it costs less than most people think. And the more money you can save along the way, the further you can go in the long run!
Adventuring isn’t always cheap, and it’s the fear of the unknown costs involved that usually keep those travel dreams at the bottom of the too-hard basket.
So, if you’ve been dreaming of an epic adventure on the cheap, hopefully some of these proven tips and tricks will help save you a few bob.