This is from our 6 day sprint from SA to Cairns at the beginning of our trip. In the middle of outback Queensland with nothing else around for miles, how could we not stop at this quirkly little piano!?!
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Contrary to popular belief budget living while on the road isn’t always about spending as little as you can. It’s about doing some research and spending money in the right places, which can potentially save you hundreds or thousands of dollars over the length of your trip. We have complied a list of the various things; from cooking, to activities and even looking after the car; we do to keep us travelling on the road for longer.
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1. Keep a track of your spending.
Use an app or spreadsheet that can put your expenses into different categories so you can see exactly where your money is going. We use AndroMoney, an app on Android because its free, customisable and even develops helpful graphs. This helps you to see if you are spending too much in one area that you may want to reduce.
2. Seeking out free and low cost camps.
Depending on your location there will be different options. We try to free camp where ever possible. However often a free camp may be a fair distance from the town, place or area you want to explore and experience. It’s important to weigh up fuel costs and travel time in comparison to paying for some accommodation. Often there are great low cost camps around that offer a more enjoyable experience than a caravan park for less expense.
3. Choose tours and attractions carefully.
You cannot do everything at every place you visit and you may not want to, that is ok! Ignore that fear of missing out. Some of the best places in Australia are free and you don’t need to spend a great deal of money to experience them.
4. Use a fuel app.
We use Petrolspy to work out ahead of time where we should fill up and pick the cheaper fuel outlet. However don’t cut it too fine and run out! Remember if you are travelling remote, there is a possibility a particular fuel outlet you decide to rely on may be out of fuel.
5. Wash clothes by hand.
We bought a scrubba wash bag which cost us over $50 but has well and truly covered its cost. It’s saving us money and is a free workout! It also means we aren’t reliant on being in a caravan park or a town with a laundromat. Caravan parks can charge anywhere from $3 to $7 to do just one load of washing. This can seriously impact your budget, so it is definitely worth picking the slightly harder option and putting in some elbow grease to keep those spare dollars for a meal out or an activity. We know of a few people who use a bucket with a screw on lid as another option.
6. Cooking and boiling water on the fire to save on gas.
We enjoy cooking on the fire anyway, its a nice challenge to get the right heat and the fire can give your meat or veggies such a good smokey flavor.
7. Looking after your vehicle.🛠
Fuel is likely going to be your biggest expense while travelling. But we all know that if anything goes wrong with your car it can instantly cost you hundreds of dollars even to find out what the problem is. Let alone any recovery costs if you are travelling remote. So it’s important that your car gets the tender loving care it deserves for taking you to such amazing places.
– Invest in gaining a bit of basic mechanical knowledge if you don’t have any. Ask your mechanic if you can tag along and learn something when you have your service done next.
– Check your vehicle regularly, particularly when driving dirt roads. Including under bonnet fluid levels, signs of oil leaks and cracks or loose bolts throughout engine bay and under carriage. Other common checks we do are suspension bushes, wheel bearings, wheel nuts, uni joints, drive belts and coolant hoses.
Looking for loose bolts have saved us plenty of heart ache. Due to rough roads we have had bolts rattle loose on our high lift jack mounts, suspension components, spotlights and battery cables. If we hadn’t checked and found these, we would have been crying as we opened our wallets on major repairs and recoveries.
– Before a big trip or going bush consider replacing some parts, it’s better to spend a little before it breaks rather than having to pay recovery costs if you breakdown out bush. Before hitting the road fulltime we upgraded our clutch, wheel bearings, timing belt, radiator hoses, drive belt, water pump and front breaks along with all new oils. Our gear box also failed not long before we left so this was reconditioned for our trip. Your car won’t require the same parts to be replaced as ours did, what we’re trying to say is a bit of preventative maintenance can save you thousands of dollars! If you’re not sure what things to look at replacing, your local mechanic should be able to offer you some advice. It may also pay to get a second opinion if you aren’t familiar with and trust your mechanic.
– Keep up to date with regular services. Prevention is better than cure, plus recovery costs are not worth taking the risk.
– Tyres. Ensure you have a good set of quality rubber on your rims. Tyres are something you dont want to fail and can’t do without. They are the one thing keeping your vehicle in contact with the road and therefore must deal with the harsh punishment of every sort of terrain you drive over. Have plenty of tread depth for safety and to reduce the chance of a flat. Rotate them on occasions to make them last longer. We rotate our tyres every 5 to 10 thousand km’s.
8. Reduce your food bill.
– Keeping snacks healthy and cheap. 🍌🍐🍪🍉🥕One of our favourite snacks for on the road is popcorn. A packet of popcorn kernals is under $2 and depending on how much you eat can last for weeks. Cooked with only a little bit of oil and some added salt once popped, its quick and simple; sometimes we change it up and add a butterscotch or a garlic & paprika flavoring. We also make sure we have dried fruit and nuts avaliable because they are great source of energy and you don’t need much for a boost.
– Cook from scratch. Making your own food is by far cheaper than eating out and often it’s quicker and easier than ordering out. Take it to the next level and don’t use the packet flavorings or sauces, spend the extra little bit of time and you have a cheaper and tasty meal with less preservatives. Don’t get me wrong though, there are some great pre-packaged flavourings out there, we love using curry pastes for a quick, tasty meal with plenty of veggies. The Maesri tins of curry paste are amazing!
– If your a sweet tooth, baking your own cakes is a great option. We have started buying the packet cake mixes when they are on special, add a few eggs and some milk and whack it in the camp oven with some good coals and you’re sweet. We know a few people that bake cakes or biscuits in their Weber Q whilst on the road too.
– Bread! We love it and there is nothing better than a fresh loaf, so it has killed us to buy a cheap, airy and expensive frozen loaf when travelling remote. Yet a box of bread mix, where all you do is add is water, makes a massive loaf of bread for $2.50 and it tastes amazing. I can’t imagine going back now, it only takes a little bit of kneading and a camp oven at the right temperature on the coals.
– Prepare lunches in advance. When you have a busy day out exploring one of the biggest temptations is to buy your lunch while you are on the go. So by preparing it in advance it helps you to say no to any delicious smells that may waft over to you from a café. We often like to eat leftovers or make sure we have an easy fresh wrap planned for lunch.
– Grow your own mung bean sprouts for fresh veg. I simply use a container with a lid and soak the beans for a few hours then drain, then each day rinse them in a small amount of fresh water. They take 3-7days to grow and can be eaten at any stage of sprouting.
– Chop up a value roast for meals. It’s so much cheaper to buy a big roast and spend a little bit of time cubing, slicing and making small steaks out of your meat than it is to buy it already done.
– Reducing meat portion sizes for meals and having vegetarian meals.
– Using long life milk rather than fresh when remote.🥛
9. Treat yourself!
Treating yourself in some areas will mean that you can resist the urge to splurge in other areas and overall it can save you money and guilt.
– Buying good coffee beans/grounds and using a plunger or stove top espresso to make your own.☕ We hardly go out for coffee and each time we don’t go out it’s saving us at least $8.
– Buying treats when they are on special and save them for a rainy day. For example we buy shapes, chocolate and cheese for platters.🍫🍬
– DIY spa days. Facials, scrubs etc all this helps a woman feel extra human and might help you last longer out bush without rushing off to the next caravan park.💅
We would love to hear from you!
What ways have you found to keep your expenses down? Comment below.
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This month was one of absolute divine waterfalls, swimming holes, jaw dropping rock formations and sweaty hiking. It is the month where I, Amy, have gone from being unfit and sluggish to being able to conquer 19km hikes in high 30 degree weather; something of which I never comprehended that I could achieve. We have stayed in amazing campsites where we have had a slice of paradise all to ourselves and dodgy rest stops with no toilet (so gross). It has all been worth it and we wouldn’t want to be doing it any other way.
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