6 tips for seeing Queensland on a budget if you like backyard hiking
After two trying years of sealed borders, we are all striving to finally take a vacation. But if you’re like me and have lost several jobs over the past two years, you might be looking for a budget option.
Since I’ve hiked in over 30 countries but barely seen parts of Australia outside of my own suburbs, I thought I’d give hiking a try in my own backyard.
My destination: the tropical north of Queensland. An escape from Melbourne’s August frost and good for most budgets. Seriously, nt’s time to go on a trip for a week, a month or maybe forever (it’s very easy to find a job in Queensland) so here are some tips for traveling to Queensland on the cheap and having the best time .
1. Backpackers travel light
The less you bring, the more time you’ll spend, guaranteed.
It’s hot in Queensland so you really don’t need a suitcase full of clothes. Get a suitable backpack that matches the carry-on size requirements – one with multiple compartments that can open all the way around like a suitcase is ideal.
Pack the bare minimum – t-shirts, shorts/shirts, underwear, swimwear, toiletries, hat, sandals, microfiber towel, bottle of water. Bring a jacket and a pair of running shoes and wear them when moving from place to place.
You’ll never have to pay for checked bags, you won’t have to worry about them disappearing between airports, and you’ll get on and off transport *much* faster. You’ll thank me when you don’t carry your 20 kg suitcase up a flight of stairs.
2. Opt for Queensland backpacker accommodation
Queensland is incredibly well catered for tourists, especially young tourists, who are already returning in droves from all over the world after two quiet years.
There are plenty of hostels and affordable accommodation options across the state and the vibe is indeed high.
Not only are hostels cheap, reliable, and fun, they always offer a bunch of free or deeply discounted stuff like tours, yoga classes, your morning coffee, evening drink specials, and even meals.
3. Don’t blow your food budget
It might be obvious, but it’s probably the hardest hiking tip to follow. Naturally, you want to get out and enjoy your well-deserved vacation, so try to have a balance.
Most hostels come with cooking facilities so you can brunch yourself and save your money for, say, a day on the Great Barrier Reef. Even if you don’t have access to the kitchen, you can still make your own sandwich on the road instead of buying lunch.
When you go out to eat and drink, look for happy hours, night markets and bustling local bakeries or fish and chips – there’s plenty, the more people the fresher and a $6 pie or a $10 fish burger can last a long way. And speaking of seafood, it’s everywhere and it’s a lot cheaper in a casual Queensland quayside restaurant than in the capitals. Capitalize on it.
4. Don’t fuss, take the bus
Queensland is big, so for a backpacker covering the ground from the sunny Gold Coast to the outback to the spectacular Daintree Rainforest, it can get expensive. Most people fly or rent a van or car. Both can get quite expensive, especially with gasoline costing an arm and a leg. But there is another way!
No matter where you are in the world, the bus is usually the cheapest travel option and Queensland is no exception. Greyhound Australia flies to 111 destinations in Queensland alone, and you can even catch overnight buses to and from the state from Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane. Take a look, they have a lot of promotions right now.
There are also literally hundreds of beautiful islands dotted around Queensland and if you want to get to places like Magnetic Island or the Whitsundays, fast and cheap ferries are plentiful and can all be booked in advance. Talk about luxury.
5. Take advantage of Queensland’s activities and competitive prices
The tropical north of Queensland offers many activities. With so much to do and operators welcoming travelers back after the closures, now is the best time to get a deal, so shop around.
Day trips outside the Great Barrier Reef, snorkeling off beaches, wildlife sanctuaries, swimming with dolphins/turtles/whales/manta rays, sea kayaking, paddling, sunset yacht tours sunshine, white-water rafting, skydiving – you can do just about all of this and *so much* more on any part of Queensland’s North Coast. Honestly, you could pack every day with activities and still have a yard-long to-do list.
Check out websites that may have deals for backpackers, like easy-to-remember deals for backpackers, or ask at your accommodation or literally in town.
6. The best things in Queensland are free
Queensland’s natural beauty is breathtaking. You don’t need to pay to enjoy it.
We’re lucky that in Australia we don’t have to pay entrance fees to beaches or national parks (seriously that’s a thing in many other parts of the world) so if your bank account stress, go for a walk in the bush, there are thousands of them. Explore gorgeous beaches, there are thousands of them. Go out and see cute animals, did you know rock wallabies exist and they just hop around in the open???
And if your bank account looks *really* gloomy, there are plenty of jobs in Queensland’s smaller towns and villages. Who knows, the humidity might set in.
Aleksandra Bliszczyk backpacked through Queensland as a guest of Tourism and Events Queensland.
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Image: Aleksandra Bliszczyk