Are you considering doing a lap around our most beautiful country and want to know how much money you need to do it?
Well some people say to budget $1 per klm and others have said $1000 per week should be plenty. These are good initial guides to go off but one thing I’ve learnt on the road is everyones trip is so different. Therefore, there really isn’t one answer to this question but more of what to consider as you work through your lap budget.
I will say though, if there is a will there’s a way. If this is something you really want to do then there are cheaper ways and there are more expensive ways to lap Oz. There are costs that are a choice but there are costs that everyone pretty much has to pay.
Here are the 3 must pay costs
- Fuel: This is a non-negotiable and everyone needs this to get around Oz. How much you go through depends on the car and what or if you’re towing something. This is one of our biggest costs and it seems like we’re always pulling up to a servo to fill up again. We’re towing a 22ft / 3tonne van which can burn through the fuel pretty quick especially if we’re fully loaded or have a stiff headwind. Our car is a 2012 VW Amarok and is averaging around 18L per 100klms. Cost of diesel is averaging out @ $1.60 /litre. Sometimes you pay more and sometimes you pay less. Approx klms for the whole trip will be close to 40,000klms. This then works out that the total fuel cost will be $11 520. Tip: download “Fuelmap Australia” app which is an awesome way to track how much fuel you’re going through but it also gives you all the fuel prices in the area. This has been a huge saving for us as we can now find where the cheapest fuel is in the area.
- Groceries: This is also up there for one of the biggest costs for the trip and some people say to budget the same as you would at home. I don’t think that is entirely a great gauge to go off as you don’t have the same grocery stores down the road. Nor do you have the same kitchen/storage space you do at home. The reality is you’re going to shop more often, buy in smaller quantities and not go out or order takeaway as much as you do at home. Couple this with paying above premium prices when you’re in remote places like Kalbarri or Coral Bay. We’ve found that a family of 2 adults and 3 kids, we’re spending 20-30% more on our grocery bill. Tip: highlight your intended route around the country and flag every town where there is an Aldi. The money you save shopping there will need to be used for the towns where you will need to pay a premium for groceries. Aldi pretty much doesn’t exist in the northern parts of WA and Northern Territory so be prepared to pay a premium.
- Car and van running costs: These include rego, servicing, insurance, roadside assistance & tyres. Tip: Plan ahead and book all your servicing when your in big towns. Parts will be easy to source and more than likely servicing will be cheaper as well.
These are by far the main costs that all families have to pay no matter how they’re doing the lap. So when you look to start working on your budget I’d suggest starting here
Other costs that need to be included but depending on how you want to do the lap can possibly kept to a minimum or could really blow the budget out.
- Caravan Park fees: If you were to stay in caravan parks the entire trip then expect to allocate over $15,000 towards this. For us, we mainly look to stay at free/low cost camps or National Parks as our first option and then stay at a caravan park for a couple of nights every couple of weeks. This allows us to keep our costs down but then catch up on food, washing, cleaning etc when plugged up to power and water. Don’t be discouraged by free/low cost camps as we’ve found some of our best stays have been here. Tip: Get yourself the travelling Australia with kids (TAWK) membership as participating caravan parks will give you two nights where the kids are free. It costs $25 and will pay for itself after the first park stay.
- Experience and attractions: Now this could be something you could really go to town on as most towns/cities have their own very unique experiences which could come at a hefty cost. Activities like swimming with the whale sharks in Ningaloo which could set you back over $400 each. To ensure we don’t hammer the budget too hard, we try and look for more cost effective activities that doesn’t cost too much but is still just as mind blowing. Hiking up an amazing mountain like the Pinnacle in the Grampians National park is a great example of this. Tip: research and decide before the trip the must do experience and budget for it. Put the funds away in another account and withdraw it out when it’s time. Better still see if you can prepay and maybe you might get a discount off the regular price.
- Alcohol: You don’t want to see how much this is costing us as we both enjoy sitting down in the afternoon and having a few drinks whilst watching the sunset. This lifestyle is also very social as you’re always meeting new people and having a chat over a beer or two (or three). The main things to consider here is when and where you buy your alcohol as some remote places are charger like a wounded bull for the basic of beer. Weight is also something you need to consider when buying a case or a few bottles of wine. We were quite the premium brand drinkers before our big lap but now we look to cans of beer and cask wine for our alcohol. This is by far the best weight solution as glass is very heavy and could push you over you’re registered payload. Tip: buy the 30 pack of cans as you’re pretty much getting 6 additional beers for the same cost as a 24pk premium beer case.
- Takeaway or eating out: This has by far been the hardest to manage as back home we would always treat ourselves to a sneaky Sunday night takeaway or breakfast at cafe. Now we try to limit this to only a few per month and normally when we’re in bigger cities. Margaret River was tough to manage this with the endless wineries and breweries on offer. Tip: budget for takeaway and cafes etc but you can also go and share some smaller meals or a bowl of chips and eat when you get back to the campsite.
- Car & van cost: There is no real exact answer to this one as the options vary so much. We’ve met families that have dropped huge money on a new van and car but on the other scale there are families doing the lap in tents and swags. We’ve also met families that are hiring caravans to do their lap. For us, we looked into all options and decided to buy new and finance it. The main reason is because we wanted the piece of mind with the warranty but also we could buy and design the caravan we wanted. Tip: Look for caravans, camper trailers etc that are completely setup for free camping as this will limited the amount of money you need to pay for camp park fees. Also get as much water storage as your payload allows as this is the main and first thing we run out when free camping.
- Miscellaneous: We higher recommend you allocate atleast $2-$3k in the budget for miscellaneous costs like gas bottle refills, laundry, bait etc. Tip: When you’re needing to refill your gas bottle look up www.gasbottlerefills.com. this website provides you with the cheapest gas bottle refills and swaps in Australia. You’ll be surprised by the difference in costs across different gas suppliers.
- Emergency stash: The amount of things that could go wrong on the road is huge and can be quite expensive. We’ve met families that have blown 3-4 tyres in one journey or had to pay huge unexpected costs to fix the car which can be a huge hit to the weekly/monthly budget. To ensure you enjoy the adventure as much as you possible can, we’re of the opinion you need an emergency stash saved somewhere out of easy reach. The last thing you want to happen is for your once in a lifetime lap of Oz to be cut short because you need to drop a packet load on fixing the car.
So there you have it…. all the costs you need to consider when planning a trip around oz. Remember you don’t need to do it in 12months, some families we’ve met are doing it in a couple of months or prioritising certain states/areas only. Again, if this is something you want to do and the funds won’t stretch for a 12mth+ trip then there are many more cost effective ways to do it.
If you have any questions or want to know more about how we’re doing the lap then drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on our social pages (@outofofficeaus on Facebook and Instagram). We’d be more than happy to help you out.
Happy planning and never look back. Doing the lap is one of the best decisions you will make and never regret.
Daz & Kel.