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Hop Around Australia On a Student Budget

May 1, 2008

Australia is heaps big. (If you’re headed there, get used to saying “heaps” instead of “really” or “very”. It’s heaps fun.) If you want to see more than just Sydney, you’ll have to have reliable transportation that won’t eat into your whole budget. You don’t want to spend so much getting from the Outback to the Reef that you can’t afford to scuba or sail once you arrive.

Luckily, Aussie tourism is heavily dependent on backpackers and there are a few good options for student travelers who want to see it all and have enough money left at the end of the day for a quick bungee or skydive or bush trek.

Have a look at what these operators have to offer:

Oz ExperienceOz Experience: Don’t just get from point A to point B; stop and see the dozens of sights in between. The Oz Bus has several passes and routes to choose from at very reasonable prices, and they can take you around New Zealand too.

Wayward Bus: Same idea as the Oz bus, but with different paths and stopovers. You may want to compare routes and prices to see which one is going to be right for you.

Countrylink: If you’re short on time, and want to be able to eat at a snack bar, the train may be a better travel option. Countrylink operates in New South Wales, with extensions into Melbourne and Brisbane. Single tickets can get pricey, but they’re 40% off if you have an International Student Identity Card(ISIC); perfect if you need a one-way to Canberra, or just want to do a weekend in Byron Bay.

For longer trips, look into their Backtracker Rail Passes. You can get a three-month pass, good for unlimited travel anywhere on the network, for AUD$298. Six-month, one-month, and 14-day passes are also available. Another option is the East Coast Discovery Pass, which covers travel in NSW and connecting service along the coast of Queensland, as far north as Cairns. Prices range from AUD$130 to $500, depending on how far you plan to travel. It’s good for unlimited stopovers, but only going in one direction.

Sydney Opera HouseIf you’re backpacking with friends, other options include buying a used car once you arrive (you can sell it before you go and make some of your money back), or renting a car. Getting your own car means taking care of the car though, and that can be more stress than it’s worth. It also means that if you and your friends all wake up hung over or sunburned or otherwise too exhausted to drive, you’re stuck. 

It could be the ultimate road trip, giving you more freedom with your itinerary and destinations, but it could also be a colassal headache, leaving you with more responsibility and no professional driver to rely on. Think hard about who you’re traveling with and decide which style of travel will work best for your group.  

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