road-trippin on a shoestring


Many consider a road trip to be a ‘cheap’ holiday, but from petrol to parking, food and accommodat­ion, there are plenty of expenses that can add up fast. If you’re keen to keep financial outlay to a minimum, you might like to ponder the following.

Weigh up lodging options There are loads of options for places to rest your head, but when it comes to pricing, not all are created equal. Caravan parks and campsites are often the kindest on the hip pocket. In fact, some campsites and roadside stops – usually in or around national parks – are completely free to use. Do some digging on national park websites or apps like Wikicamps and Campermate (and remember, you can be fined if you spend the night in an undesignat­ed public space). If hotels, motels or hostels are more your speed, consider finding a good deal online and booking in advance. It might take away some spontaneit­y, but it will probably save you some dosh.

Use your wheels wisely Aside from getting your car serviced ahead of time to make sure it’s running as efficientl­y as possible, there are a few ways to drive with economics in mind. Stick to speed limits and try not to accelerate too hard (fuel efficiency decreases as your speed increases). Where possible, avoid driving during peak times like public holidays and weekends, when traffic jams can mean extra petrol-guzzling. You can also download an app like Fuel Map Australia which, with the help of other travellers, pinpoints the cheapest petrol sellers (hint: they’re not usually on main highways).

Get smart with your grub Pulling into a random café in the middle of Woop Woop for a jaw-busting salad roll is part of the road trip fun, but if you’re paying for every bite as you go, your wallet will empty out fast. Instead, prepare food ahead of time and store it in your cooler bag. Fresh fruit and veg, deli meats, bread and boiled eggs all travel well, as do snacks like popcorn, homemade slices, nuts, muesli bars and cheese. Bring along a thermos of coffee and seek out accommodat­ion with kitchen facilities. And since there’s an app for everything, Meat in a Park will locate free public barbeques near you.

Drive less, do more You don’t have to cross the entire country. Sometimes working your way around your state is more than enough. Instead of racking up miles, focus on finding free fun like ocean-swimming, meadow-romping and hiking or bushwalkin­g, if you’re so inclined. There are so many rad activities that won’t cost you a cent, but will create memories that last a lifetime.

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