If you're backpacking around Australia, one of your greatest expenses will be the cost of transportation.
With over 7 million square kilometers, Australia is a simply massive country that takes some time to get around. For those on a budget, this can present a dilemma.
However, there are a number of different options to choose from. By comparing these carefully, you can see what the most convenient form of transport would be that fits within your time frame and budget.
Low Cost Flights
The easiest way to get from one side of the country to the other is by flying, but this can also take a serious bite out of your budget.
Unlike Europe, there isn't a wealth of low-cost carriers just yet, so you'll probably be using a big name like Virgin or Qantas.
Sign up for low-cost flight alerts far in advance and be ready to move when a low fare comes up, because these go quickly.
Virgin often offers package deals which can save you money, so keep an eye out for low prices on hotels along with your flights.
Long Distance Busses
The bus network in Australia is pretty detailed, and it's far less expensive than taking the train.
Backpacker busses like Oz Experience or Easyrider Tours offer activities along popular backpacker routes, and decent value for money.
You will probably find a cheaper deal by using a public bus company like Greyhound, however, but you'll need to factor in the cost of activities on your own.
Like flights, you'll find the best deals if you book them in advance.
Car Rental or Purchase
If you're traveling in a group of friends or are able to connect with other backpackers via ride sharing websites, pitching in to cover the cost of a car is usually the cheapest way to travel.
You can either rent a car for the duration of your journey, or think about purchasing a used vehicle from a local listings site like Carsales.com.au. This gives you access to 4×4 vehicles that could get you into the outback safely.
When you buy a car, you have the option of reselling it at the end of the trip, thus making back some if not all of your money. In any case, driving allows you to share costs, travel to remote locations without hassle, and be more spontaneous.
One of the most classic options for backpackers, hitchhiking is also a possibility in Australia.
However, it can be difficult to find a ride in remote areas like the outback, and each state has different laws so you'll want to brush up on those before you give it a try.
It's illegal in most areas to ask a vehicle to stop in a non-stopping zone, such as bridges or intersections. Most freeways also have limited access available for pedestrians.
It is generally safer to try arranging a ride share over the internet rather than wing it as a hitchhiker in Australia.
Most backpackers will want to try some combination of these different techniques. Flights can be ideal for spanning long distances if you don't have much time, but when you have more time on your hands having a car will allow you to get out into the countryside at your leisure.
This post was brought to you by Carsales.com.au.