For a start you will need to actually own a car to do this – but once you’ve bought one, suddenly you don’t need to stay in hostels, rent a flat or cart your stuff around with you. Make your car your home, as I did for 5 months back in 2010. It’s amazing how much money you will save and the adventures you will have!
Although you can save money sleeping in your car in a host of places, this post realistically applies to New Zealand and Australia. I slept in my car in England a few times, but it’s not really the done thing there. Somehow Southend to Southampton isn’t quite the road trip that Melbourne to Brisbane is…
So get yourself a cheap car! I bought myself a Toyota Hilux Yoot (Ute/Yute) while I was living in Devonport in Tasmania. It cost me $1,500 AU from a lovely Asian couple, Jam and Josie (I have since met up with them again in Hong Kong). So take a tip and buy from a fellow backpacker – you’ll get it cheaper and you can sell it on again easily to another backpacker.
Once you have bought your car, the roads are your oyster. When I had my car in Australia, I visited four states in it, driving around 40,000 kilometres. I certainly got good use out of it. I got extra work and after two weeks of buying the car I had earned $2,000 AU so had paid it off. After that all the money I was earning was mine. I did mostly broccoli farming, but also cauliflower, echinacea, weeding and pyrethrum planting.
So once you’ve bought a car, what else to you need to buy to ‘kit it out’ and what are the rough costs? (these were the costs back in 2010 when I did it – so add a bit on!):
– a mattress (I bought an inflatable one for $15 AU)
– a pillow (I asked a previous hostel for one they were chucking out!)
– a gas cooker (about $20 AU)
– crockery and cutlery (ask for these in hostels, buy cheapest brands in K-Mart)
– an electricity socket (powered by the cigarette lighter – this cost me about $35 AU)
I added one more thing of my own and that was a USB modem wireless internet connection (this cost me $80 AU and I know, I know, I am a budget traveller BUT I wanted to write blog posts as often as I could all from the comfort of my new car/home!!)
Another few money saving tips with cars is to share petrol costs and offer lifts to others for money. Backpackers gladly pay other backpackers for lifts, especially if you are taking them to work and back.
I loved my car and I travelled ALL OVER Tasmania in it, including taking it to Bruny Island. I slept in it, I cooked in it, I posted on my blog from it, I loved it!
But all good things come to an end when you are a travelling nomad and after securing a full time job back in PJ Gallagher’s Irish Pub in Parramatta, I could now walk to work and rent a flat with a few mates. So I sold the car to a guy from Afghanistan for $1,000 AU. Bargain. The car only cost me $500 AU in the end, and I earned thousands of dollars working in farms that I could only get to by owning a car.
So in closing, my TEN main reasons why you should buy a car, money wise are:
1. You can drive to remote places without paying a tourist fee.
2. You can share petrol.
3. You can work in remote places with it
4. You WILL get more work by owning a car. Simple as.
5. You live in it.
6. You sleep in it.
7. You cook in it.
8. You travel in it. No more buses, boats or planes!
9. You can transport your stuff to other places in it – meaning you don;t have to ditch things in a hostel and buy them again later on/carry them with you.
10. You can sell it again when you are finished with it