Everyone is looking to save a buck, and it’s even more of a priority when you go on a family holiday. Whether it is a weekend away, a month-long road trip, or a massive journey around Australia, there are many ways to save money when travelling without comprising on luxuries and fun. This blog post will share what worked for our family when looking for the best ways to save money on an Australian road trip (with kids!)
Take Advantage of Fuel Discounts
Fuel for your car will no doubt consume a large chunk of your road trip budget. Although the cost of fuel tends to be high in smaller towns, there are discounts to be had. Aside from the usual fuel discounts offered with purchases over $30 at many grocery stores, there are also additional savings to be found. Motoring associations, such as RACQ, usually offer 4 cents a litre off at selected service stations, as do My NRMA, Linkt toll account and G’Day Rewards. Some of these do require an account or registration, so read the terms and conditions carefully.
TIP: Don’t forget to download a fuel finder app such as Motor Mouth or Petrol Spy, so you can look ahead at fuel prices and fill up where it is cheapest.
Join Membership Programs
Membership programs are another great way of optimising savings on your family road trip. There are many programs out there, with new additions popping up every year. Most memberships are usually free or low cost too, which is a bonus. Some of our favourite programs which offer amazing discounts throughout Australia include:
- Entertainment Book – Many may be familiar with the chunky Entertainment Book of coupons that used to grace many houses. But now it fits in your pocket in with a convenient Digital membership. Filled with discounts and buy one, get on free offers, the Entertainment Book can save families lots of money, either at home or when travelling. Examples of deals include 2 for 1 at restaurants and takeaway outlets, shopping discounts and big discounts on activities such as movies, bowling, play centres and gyms. Local services, accommodation and car rental discounts are also included with your 3, 12 or 24 month membership, which is valid across all states in Australia and New Zealand.
- G’Day Rewards – Signing up to G’Day Rewards will give you access to many benefits on the road. Perhaps the most impressive discount is the 10% saving you will make (up to $50) on a range of G’Day parks, of which there is more than 300. The easy-to-use app allows you to see the standard price and price after discount, as well as additional in-park benefits for members. Each booking accumulates helping you to move up tiers, from Mate, to Great Mate and finally Best Mate. Each tier comes with its own benefits to use during your stay. And if all that isn’t enough, you can earn FlyBuys or Velocity points, receive fuel discounts and have access to Good Guys Commercial once enrolled in G’Day rewards. G’Day Rewards membership costs $50 for two years, though discounts and specials can often be found reducing this cost considerably.
- BIG4 Membership – There is no doubt families love staying at BIG4 properties around Australia, so it makes sense to join their membership program to take advantage of their perks. Discounts include savings of 10% off (up to $50) at BIG4 properties, exclusive in-park perks, member-only deals and partner offers including rental cars and Spirit of Tasmania discounts. You can easily make back your joining fee after just a stay or two. Membership is usually $50 for two years.
- NRMA Blue – Savings on accommodation, fuel, dining, insurance and more can be enjoyed when becoming a NRMA Blue member. Popular savings include 10% off stays at NRMA Parks and Resorts throughout Australia, discounted movie vouchers and up to 5c a litre off fuel at participating Ampol locations. Membership is valid for 12 months, and costs about $30, but there is often a free trial for six months.
- Hotels.com/Booking.com – Signing up to websites such as Booking.com and Hotels.com can provide instant savings on a range of accommodation, including resorts, hotels/motels, backpackers and caravan parks. Programs like Hotels.com also reward members with one FREE reward night for every ten nights you stay, which accumulates quickly when you are road-tripping.
- Accommodation loyalty programs – A quick internet search on the accommodation you are intending to stay at will tell you whether they have a membership or loyalty program. Most programs are free to join and often offer benefits such as discounts, free internet, or complimentary room upgrades.
TOP TIP – Many membership programs have easy to use apps which you can install on your phones to make bookings and discounts readily available at your fingertips when travelling.
Pack Your Lunch
One of the easiest ways to save money when you are travelling is by reducing the number of times you eat out. If you are planning on heading out for the day, pack your own lunch, including snacks and drinks, so you are not scrambling for a take-away venue when the kids are hungry.
If your children are used to their school lunch boxes and water bottles, why not take them with you on your road-trip and pack their lunch just like you would at school (with some special treats of course).
Buying hot drinks every day, at more than $5 a cup, can add up quickly. Save money by packing the thermos and grab yourself some keep cups so you can still enjoy your hot drinks when you are on the road.
Take a fridge
While the initial outlay for a portable fridge may be costly, it can save you money on the road. In addition to financial savings having a portable fridge also offers convenience. It gives you the ability to buy a few items when at big supermarkets or if there are specials, and you can store leftovers for later use to avoid food wastage.
TOP TIP – Make sure you understand how your fridge works when your car is turned off. The last thing you need is a flat battery or a fridge that has been turned off for 3 hours while you are hiking. A portable battery is a handy addition to avoid such problems.
Provide a Souvenir Allowance
It is very easy to get carried away with spending when you are carefree and only holidays, but we all know a teddy here, and a toy there can be expensive. To avoid extra baggage, unnecessary arguments and rising costs, consider giving each child a set amount of money to spend on souvenirs. Not only will this give them an appreciation for money and force them to really consider what they want to buy, it will save you money in the long run (as long as you don’t keep topping up their allowance!)
Visit Free Attractions
You don’t need to spend large amounts of money to see the best attractions. Many, especially nature-type attractions are actually free. If you know where to look, finding free activities to do on your road trip is a breeze.
Start with an internet search using a phrase such as ‘free things to do in Melbourne’ to get suggestions on activities. Alternatively, pop into the local Visitor Information Centre and ask them what low-cost or free activities are on offer in the area. Playgrounds, walks, picnics, bike rides and beaches are some popular activities to enjoy for free, but many museums, galleries and libraries are also free, with many even offering family-friendly activities.
For a fun and free activity, grab a self-guided walking map of the town you are staying in and give each family member a turn at playing tour guide – I wonder how many times you will get lost?!
Other easy ways to Save Money on an Australian Road Trip
- Look at FB marketplace and Gumtree for preloved camping and travelling equipment.
- Buy in-season fruit and vegetables (especially look for roadside farms as you travel). Local markets are another way to tap into farm pricing.
- Book in advance if you can and you can often make a saving on the upfront costs. This applies to everything from accommodation to activities.
- If you plan on camping then download wiki camp (it’s an app), before you go to locate free camping and low-cost camping spots.
- If you want to eat out every so often, look for bowling clubs for cheaper pub meals.
- Look for local deal websites if you plan to visit attractions like theme parks and aquariums.
Travelling as a family is a wonderful opportunity to see the great outdoors, experience new places and create lasting memories. It doesn’t have to be an expensive adventure to be a worthwhile holiday and if you spend some time preparing and planning for your trip, you are sure to save money without comprising on fun and luxuries. This helpful list of recommendations of ways to save Money on an Australian Road Trip was devised prior to our family taking a trip along the East Coast of Australia.