How to budget for a trip around Australia

Want to escape the daily grind to travel around Australia but not sure if you can afford it?

Check out the process Drew and I followed to work out a budget before we set off on our lap of Australia.

Pre-budget preparation

Before you can build your budget, you need to think about your costs: fuel, food, accommodation and leisure activities.

The aim of our trip was to travel for as long as possible, therefore we planned to limit eating out at restaurants and other expensive leisure activities, which can quickly add up. We also planned to use free and cheap camp sites where possible.

Before you start budgeting, make sure you consider the following:


  • What distance do you plan on travelling?
  • What vehicle will you travel in? Do you need to upgrade to a 4WD, or is your current car suitable?
Our tow rig and caravan for the big lap around Australia

We expect to clock up close to 35,000km at the end of our big lap and the Toyota Prado has proven to be a comfortable and capable ride….

Our Toyato Prado chosen to take us around Australia

it also doesn’t struggle to get us where we need to go – especially through the Australian outback.


  • Do you already have access to a caravan or do you need to purchase one?
  • Will you need a tent for off-road adventures? If you’re heading off-road without a caravan, will you need to pay for caravan storage?
  • Where will you stay during your trip? Do you prefer free, powered or unpowered sites? Will you stay in a motel for a few nights? How many nights would you plan on staying?
Australian outback campsite

We stayed three nights for free in this dust bowl to recoup some costs while exploring Uluru, NT – would you plan on staying somewhere like this?


  • What – and where – do you want to eat on your trip? There is a big cost difference between eating out each day and eating canned tuna and beans.
  • Will you need to buy a fridge and/or freezer to store food?
  • Are you planning to buy any other kitchen accessories for your trip?
Waiko car fridge

Our Waeko fridge was a great investment as we cook our own tucker every night. Give me a camp oven over a restaurant any day.

Lifestyle and leisure

  • What type of experiences do you want to have? Consider costs for activities such as surfing, boating, fishing, snorkelling and so on, especially if you need to purchase new gear.
  • Do you plan to work along the way to finance your trip?
Turtle on the Ningaloo Reef

We already had wetsuits and snorkel gear but an underwater camera did set us back $300. It’s an expense that’s worth it if you want to capture the world under the sea.


Don’t forget to include expenses such as vehicle and caravan maintenance, insurance, roadside assistance, camping items and off-road equipment.

Also remember that little odds and ends add up, so always add in a buffer. Check out our list for what we packed for our big lap for an idea of what you might need.

Car problems while on the road travelling Australia

Drew is constantly looking under the hood and fixing car problems – so be prepared!

How to build a budget

A spreadsheet that calculates a personalised budget is a great way to know how much money you will need to turn your big dream into a reality. We used a spreadsheet created by Expedition Australia, which helped us to calculate the amount of money required for our trip and the maximum amount of time we could holiday on our savings.

Budgeting while you’re on the road

It’s important to remember that although setting a budget is great way to figure out how much you need for your trip, you need to be able to stick to it while you are on the road. To keep track of our day-to-day spending, we document each purchase in a little receipt book that’s stored in the glove box.

Budgeting for travel around Australia

Budgeting may be tricky (and time consuming) – but it is the first step to turn your dream trip into a reality – so get planning I say!

This post was originally written and published for Without a Hitch where I’m building experience as a Freelance Writer.  If you haven’t already followed our caravan and towing journey you can subscribe here.

P.S – If you know anyone looking for a wordsmith to create engaging content, please send them my way. 

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