Budgeting: A tale of trial and error. 

Any backpacker worth their salt has a weekly or daily budget in place to ensure that their money lasts as long as possible. 

The first time I went backpacking my friend and I were on a strict budget of €27 a day (including accommodation). This time around setting and keeping a budget is all on me, and as someone who hates Maths, this has been tricky.

It’s pretty straight forward isn’t it? You set a daily or weekly budget and you keep to it, your money lasts and you can travel for a while before it catches up with you.

22 days in and having not been very strict at keeping to my daily budget, it is dawning on me now that once and for all I must conquer my fear of assessing the figures, set a budget and stick to it!

I’m by no means in trouble, however I will definitely need to get a job in the new year to supplement my travels. 

I thought it’d be helpful to write this post. For myself and any other backpackers who find the prospect of keeping a budget scary. I wouldn’t call this an advice post or how to budget post, ultimately you’ve just got to figure it out for yourself, which is all part of the travelling process!

Personally I’ve been pussy footing around it, and am now realising that if I just face up to it and work out how much I’m spending and whether or not I’m being sensible with my money, I’ll be in a much better place than burying my head in the sand.

I will run through what I’m spending on average per week in each area, highlighting the good, the bad and the ugly of my spending habits. 


I have booked 10 nights accommodation in Melbourne at two different hostels, one in central Melbourne and the other in St Kilda. 

The first hostel costs $37 (£22)a night and the second $44 (£26). For five nights each this is pretty pricey, and I should have checked their weekly rates before booking.

When I fly to Tasmania in December I am staying at a hostel for 9 days at $25 (£15) a night which a lot better value for money!

Comparing the difference in prices of accomadation in Melbourne vs. Tasmania shows me that I need to look for better deals when booking accommodation. 

I never book through hostelworld as a rule, and though my YHA membership gives me discounted rates, YHAs are fairly expensive.

Total for this week: $274 (£163)

Verdict: Not great.


My weekly food shop at Woolies averages at around $33 (£20), and includes the basic things I need for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

For breakfast I have porridge and coffee both come in packs of 10 and together the cost of breakfast per day is 99 cents (60p).

Lunch appears to be the most expensive meal of the day if I stick to what I buy from Woolies it comes to around $4 (£2.40). 

I tend to alternate between pitta and hummus ($7.17 combined= £4.27 split over two days £2.13) and rolls with cheese and salad ($11.79 combined, split over three days $3.93 = £2.34). 

For dinner I have $1 pasta with $2 pasta sauce, which brings dinner in at just under £1. 

If I stick to eating and cooking my own food,then I average around $6 (£3.70) on food a day, which isn’t too bad I guess.

Total for this week: $33.44 (£19.93)

Verdict: Good if I don’t buy anything else. 


As with any savvy backpacker my preferred mode of transport is by foot. I really like walking around and find it’s the best way to get my bearings. 

I used public transport semi-frequently whilst in Sydney, and learned that I should have got an Opal card straight away instead of just buying singles all the time. 

Fares were pretty reasonable in Sydney, it cost around $3.50 every time I took the bus somewhere, and about $4 on the train. I used public transport once or twice a week which is reasonable for my budget. 

When planning the next legs of my trip I’ve been looking to find the cheapest forms of transport available. I took the train from Sydney to Melbourne which cost $45 (£27), which seemed like a bargain to me.

Total for this week so far: $45 (£27).


During my first couple of weeks in Sydney I did a lot things, but not all of them cost a lot of money. 

The most expensive day out I had was when I went surfing in Manly. Followed closely by going to the cinema in Bondi and visiting the Australian Museum. 

So far in Melbourne I have spent $14 visiting the Immigration Museum, which was worth it to me because I really enjoy museums… incase you couldn’t tell. $14 seems reasonable compared with $28 to visit the Melbourne museum, but not as attractive as the “donate by gold coin” rate of the Victoria Police Museum that I’m hoping to visit tomorrow.

Now that I’m three weeks into my trip I understand the need to pace myself and space out activities. For my last week in Sydney I spent a couple of days going to the library or walking to Hyde Park which are free, and so very budget friendly.

Activities so far: $14


Reflecting on the past three weeks I realise I splurged a lot. Alcohol, eating out and impulse buys meant that my weekly budget was all over the place in Sydney.

It’s only now that I’ve got to Melbourne that I realise I need to be stricter with myself. I forgive myself for overspending in Sydney, I don’t regret any of it. I just wish I had thought a bit more before buying that agwa bomb or that cute top..

That being said I still sinned this week by buying some sushi and aa box of cookies during my weekly shop. 

Splurges: $8.23 (£4.91).

So my total spending for this week comes in at:

Accommodation:$274 (5 nights at $37 + 2 @ $44).

Food: $33.44

Transport: $45

Activities: $14

Total: $366.44

Cost per day (excluding transport): $46 (£27.42). 

Verdict: Not the best week budget wise! 

Honestly I’m just embracing the trial and error nature of budgeting as part the learning process. I’m fully responsible for my spending habits, and splurging is a habit I really need to break. At the moment I know I haven’t been the best at budgeting, but I’m confident I can make it to Christmas with enough money to tide me over until I find a job in the new year. 

My top tips for anyone about to go travelling and worried about budgeting are:

1) Don’t panic if you screw up, it takes time to figure it out. (But take it from me it’s probably better if you figure it out quicker than I did).

2) Face it head on. Writing this blog post meant that I had to confront the figures, which wasn’t as scary as I thought it’d be.

3) If you do use blog posts to help make sure you check the current exchange rate, it changes so often that by this time next year the prices featured in this post may not be helpful. 

Good luck to all those out the struggling with budgeting, you’ll be fine! And to those who are pro-budgeters… I envy you.

Here’s looking forward to my stay in Tasmania in a couple of weeks, which I hope will be more budget friendly! 

Thanks for stopping by,


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