Boroka Lookout sunrise

How much does it cost to travel Australia? Three months in.

Just how much does it cost to travel Australia? That was a question we asked many times before setting off on our trip. Well, at the time of writing this we have been on the road for 109 days – about three and a half months – and we’ve spent approximately $10,400. This total accounts for every dollar that’s left our possession since departing home and includes all the usual costs (food, diesel, site fees etc) as well as our various insurances (health, caravan, car, pet) and even what we’ve spent on gifts.

At a glance
Total spent after 3 months: $10,368
Biggest expense: Bernie (our car)

We estimated that we’d spend $2,000-$2,500 a month, so we’ve clearly blown the budget. However, it stands to reason that the first part of the trip would cost more as we settled into our groove. We’ve also had more than our fair share of unexpected disasters (the recent 12 volt problem, for example, cost us over $1,000). And it’s worth noting that our car rego, green slip and comprehensive insurance have all been due in the past couple of months, so these costs are (yearly) one-offs.

If we deduct the aforementioned caravan repair and car registration costs from our total, we’ve spent approximately $7,800, which seems more reasonable, and a lot closer to our estimate.

We use a mobile app to track our spending. One of its benefits is that we are able to get a really accurate breakdown of how and where we’ve spent our money. Our top five expenses since leaving have been as follows:

Bernie 27.82% (includes all costs such as CTP, diesel, maintenance, parking, rego, tolls)
Claude: 18.7% (includes all miscellaneous caravan-related purchases, maintenance and repairs, gas)
Food and Drink: 18.56% (includes all alcohol, groceries, eating out)
Accommodation: 11.78% (site fees)
Insurance: 9.68% (caravan, comprehensive car insurance, health, pet, roadside assistance)

Further analysis shows our top five top spending sub-categories as:

Diesel: 14.4% (category: Bernie)
Maintenance and repairs: 12.98% (category: Claude)
Groceries: 13.87% (category: Food and Drink)
Site fees 11.78% (category: Accommodation)
CTP green slip: 7.79% (category: Bernie)
Health insurance: 4.52% (category: Insurance)
Miscellaneous van items: 4.05% (category: Claude)

We’ll disregard the caravan repairs and CTP costs for the moment (highlighted in red) because these were unexpected and yearly costs respectively. So that brings Health Insurance and Miscellaneous Van Items into the top five sub-categories.

If you are planning a similar trip: do keep in mind that you’ll need to budget for unexpected costs because these are part and parcel of a life on the road. We’re lucky (depending on how you look at it) that we don’t have property maintenance costs to think about, but it would be a big consideration if we had to ensure a mortgage was being paid off.

Biggest surprise: Insurance. Since we’ve been properly tracking our spending we’ve been shocked at just how much we spend on insurance. As indicated above we pay for caravan, pet, health and comprehensive car insurance, as well as roadside assistance … it really adds up.

For those thinking about travelling with a dog: Neddy’s expenses (food, worming etc) come to 1.65% of our costs (or 3.8% when we include his pet insurance). Practically nothing!