There’s a reason people care so deeply about travel: research shows that just having a holiday planned makes you happier.
Roy Morgan Research has released a report revealing that Australians who have a holiday on the horizon feel more positive about life than those who don’t. While this all makes sense, it’s important for us to keep it in perspective. There are other factors that make Australians feel happy about holidays, and it’s not just basking in Instagram likes or getting away from work for a bit.[related_articles]62494,49372[/related_articles]
It’s worth noting that those who travel generally tend to have more financial stability than those who don’t, whether it’s through a higher-paid or full-time job or a familial safety net to fall back on. But for the many people without these privileges, taking a holiday can mean a lot of financial stress, especially when it means juggling rent with fewer working hours. But it is possible to take a break from the everyday without sacrificing too much time or money; planning a weekend away can provide the benefits of travel without placing too much strain on your hip pocket.
Taking a cheap weekend break requires a little more planning and strategic thinking, so here are six suggestions for how to limit your spending – from camping, to group trips, to travelling in the off-season.
#1 Seek Out A Housesit
With planning – and perhaps a little dusting – the affordable trip away could be closer than you think. If you have at least one friend whose family has a holiday house, mention that you’re keen for a break and ask if you could borrow it for mates rates, or even for free. Perhaps offer to do a bit of upkeep in exchange for a weekend in the country. You never know, it could mean your holiday could stretch from a weekend to a week, or even two.[related_articles]8759,9516[/related_articles]
If you do stay at a mate’s place, you’ll want to take extra care to look after it. You want to leave a good impression and maintain that friendship, too.
#2 BYO House
Having skills in tent-assembly pays off. Camping gives you freedom to set up where you want to and wipes hundreds off your prospective accommodation bill.
Paid sites often give you access to everything and the kitchen sink, while free campsites require campers to be a little more self-sufficient. Still, renting a campsite and buying a tent, a camping stove and some snags and bread will still generally cost you less than a night in a hotel.
Most state tourism bodies will have a page on official campsites; here are some coastal NSW campgrounds to get started.
#3 Travel In The Off-Season
Going for a weekend away in the off-season is completely underrated. Hitting the alpine region outside of winter or the beach outside of summer often means a cheaper stay, less competition in the shower block and assisting an industry through a slow period.
Falls Creek, a popular Victorian skiing destination, also comes to life in summer, with hikes, relaxed fishing and mountain biking galore. Similarly, Fraser Island is cheaper to visit in winter, when it rarely rains and the temperature generally stays between a pleasant 15°C and 25°C.
Avoid school holiday breaks and keep an eye out for great off-peak deals to snag a bargain.
#4 Take Public Transport
If you don’t have a car, public transport is there for you. While it may take you a little longer in travel time, it can save you a bunch in the cost of a hire car or petrol.
For example, public transport operates on the whole of Victoria’s popular Great Ocean Road. For real – you can catch the train to Geelong then hop on a bus that stops right out the front of the Twelve Apostles. Up north in Queensland, you can catch a bus or train from Brisbane and go practically anywhere. Go down to the Gold Coast, or up to the Sunshine Coast, Hervey Bay and even and all the way up to Cairns.[related_articles]47170,55910[/related_articles]
Additionally, when you’re at your destination, public transport is a great way to see the place and get an insight into everyday life. It will require more planning, but it’s worth it for the dollars saved.
#5 Leg It
Spending the weekend on a rail trail – abandoned train lines turned into mixed-use paths – is a great idea. You can see parts of the country you otherwise wouldn’t, it gives you independence from transport restrictions and, to top it off, Australia is rail-trail heaven, with so many quality routes.
South Australia’s wine industry is world-renowned, and not just because of the grapes. It’s an absolutely breathtaking part of the country. You can ride through the rolling hills of the Clare Valley on the Riesling Trail, a scenic 33km path. Accommodation is an easy find, with the trail passing through all major Clare Valley towns, or load up some panniers with camping equipment and find a cheap site along the way.
If you don’t have a bike, ask around to borrow one. Alternatively, renting one is a whole lot cheaper than renting a car.
#6 Go For Group Discounts
The benefits of group holidays and car pooling go beyond the chance to rack up some serious #FBF pics; they also divide the cost of travel. While the logistics may take a little more time to organise, the payoff is that you might be able to stretch your getaway into a bigger adventure than you’d hoped, and you’ll probably make some great memories while you’re at it.[related_articles]54325,59116,30958[/related_articles]
Western Australia is notoriously difficult to get around if you don’t have the right transport. If you have access to a car, there’s an endless list of things to see and do – from the touristy Esperance, to the remote Kalgoorlie, and all the way up the pristine coastline – and it’s good to have the option to swap drivers often in a group.
Get the maps out and start planning, you’ve a lot of Ks to cover.
#7 Don’t Dine Out
Eating out at restaurants isn’t the only way to get to know the food profile of a place. Bypass the expensive café brekkies and pub meals in favour of local markets or food stalls. Darwin’s Mindil Beach Sunset Market is where you can get delicious international street food for cheap, with a lively atmosphere to boot, or buy your own food straight from the source to cook with – plenty of regional farms, fishermen and fruit fields sell cheap produce on-site.
Keep an eye out for road-side bargains, or head to the spot where the goods come in, like a town’s wharf for the freshest (and often cheapest) fish.
Cara Gillespie is Melbourne-based writer and editor, and is completing her degree at RMIT. While planning her next big trip around Australia and beyond, she’s enjoying all the secret pockets Melbourne has up its sleeve.