Australia may have boundless plains to share, but travelling throughout this sunburnt country is not so cheap, especially during the holiday season.
However, you can achieve affordably travel across the vast expanses if you know where to find the discounts, are happy to give up a few creature comforts and if you plan ahead and book early.
Drive it yourself
Car rental companies need drivers to relocate their vehicles to principal points of hire. In order that the cars are not stranded, the companies will often let you drive them back to the right branch for free or at little cost, compared with standard hire charges.
According to website transfercar.com.au, rental companies often throw in some free petrol and car insurance. Plus, so long as the car is delivered by the agreed time, the driver can take whichever route they like.
Transfercar.com.au also matches drivers with campervans that need relocating. This is a great way for the more intrepid travellers who like to explore out of the way places and don’t require traditional accommodation.
At the time of writing, the website was offering 59 campervans, mostly across two days, for just $1. They have to be driven between a number of cities along the east coast and be delivered by a certain date. Another comprehensive list of campervan relocations which offers generous terms and pays for petrol is imoova.com. Depending on how many berths in the motor home, the cost is just $1 to $5 a day. Read the terms and conditions carefully before you drive away, however, and be prepared to shell out a sizeable, refundable deposit.
If unfettered camper-vanning is more your thing, wickedcampers.com.au have some great deals for longer haul travelling that will save you thousands of dollars in accommodation. And if you turn up naked to pick up your campervan, they will throw in a free day. Although they will extend the one-day free deal to drivers aged over 50 if they stay frocked up but mention the offer. Plus they do not charge for minor dings and scratches.
Catch a coach
Luckily for the east coast states and South Australia, there is healthy competition between bus companies that should help you find bargain tickets.
Among the best value coach holidays are the ones offered by AAT Kings, which also has several ‘fly free’ to a departure point for many of its guided holiday tours.
Greyhound Australia has saver fares that are less expensive than standard fares but also less flexible. Among the coach company’s deals are the ‘hop on, hop off’ pass, which allows passengers to alight and board wherever they like and is valid for three months. At $350 for this one-way fare, it is among the most popular of Greyhound’s offers.
For even deeper discounts, look out for coupons and promotional codes on sites such as ozbargains.com.au. At the time of writing, you could buy a $3 coupon to save 40 per cent on Greyhound’s advertised rates for travel booked this year and to be taken by December 2018.
On the rails
For many there is no more delightful way to keep a holiday on track than by travelling first class on a train.
Fares for luxurious railway carriage commutes are a fraction of the cost of their airline ticket counterparts.
Check out fares for travelling all around Australia on railmaps.com.au. A first-class berth on an XPT train from Sydney to Melbourne will set you back just $271. For just $350, a NSW TrainLink one-month, premium pass will take you across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. You can ride out as far west as Broken Hill, as far north as the Gold Coast, and as far south as Melbourne.
Railmaps.com.au details train trips, fares and connecting services across the nation and is a must-read if you want to plan a rail-based holiday.
Reach for the sky
For those who prefer to fly, there are still some savings to be found. Ozbargain.com.au regularly advertises discounted airline tickets, such as a one-way Melbourne-to-Sydney Qantas ticket for $115. That is more than $50 cheaper than the special deal offered by Qantas, and much more inexpensive than a standard full fare.
Comparison website skyscanner.com.au will help you choose between the best deals being offered by a range of airlines. If you sign up, you will receive an alert each time information relevant to your preferences is published. Other sites to check out for special prices are:
Ozbargain.com.au is also a good marketplace for earning sizeable quantities of frequent flyer points to put towards a discount on your next fare.
You never need to pay full price for a fare to travel our Great Southern Land.
Do you book your fares in advance? What is the biggest discount you have ever received during your travels.