Travel expenses for family of four

Submitted: Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 10:36
ThreadID: 44732 Views:2344 Replies:7 FollowUps:7
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We are off on a two month holiday from Vic to Central Australia in June/July with 4wd and camper trailer. We have no set destination as we've got a 1yo and 3yo and not sure how well they will travel. We're hoping to go as far as Kununurra/ El Questro area. Our question is how much money do people generally allow (including fuel) for one day? We will be taking all our own food and we're not big on buying takeaway which I guess is a big cost.
Any suggestions please??
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Reply By: Steve from Top End Explorer Tours - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 11:08

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 11:08
Hi Fiona

Our trip was 14000 km 6 weeks 2 adults, 1, 4 1/2 year old.

We stayed in motels a couple of times and camped the rest, we had some take away but made most meals and the trip cost approx $12000, this included Frazer Island, park fees and tours etc.

We had a portable DVD player for the young fella, that was the best piece of equipment we had kept him amused for hours mind you when he gets a bit older there will be less DVD and more sight seeing and learning.

IMOA leave EL Questro and do the bungles instead.

Hope this helps.

Cheers Steve.

PS with the 1 year old, A child backpack is the go, we used one with the young fella in the Kimborley, he would sit in there for about an hour at a time before getting restless.
AnswerID: 235874

Follow Up By: FionaD - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 11:32

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 11:32
Hi Steve, thanks for the info. With your one year old, was he walking at the time? Our little boy will still be crawling, I'm thinking of buying him some of those waterproof pants or coveralls to stop him getting covered in dust. Did you take a porta cot for him? We are thinking of taking one just to put him in while we're setting up etc. He probably wont sleep in it, he'll just be in with us on the matress. We've already got the DVD sorted and the child backpack.
Did you not think much of El Questro?
FollowupID: 497057

Follow Up By: Steve from Top End Explorer Tours - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 11:57

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 11:57
Hi Fiona

Boof head was 18 months when we went to the Kimberley, but we have been taking him camping from 2 months, trust me a little dirt never hurt.

We took the porta cot once, it only got in the way, meaning it took up to much room and never got used.

It's also easier to wash a bit of dirt off the young ones than taking extra cloths to wash, the dirt you find in the bush is clean dirt and helps kids with their immune system, our young one never get sick, I put this down to not wrapping him up in cotton wool.

As for EL Questro never been there mainly on principle, it's not the entry or park fees, only to happy to pay them, it's not being allowed to go to Zebedee springs after lunch because it's reserved for the homestead guests.

We went to the Bungle's instead, the drive in was great fun and walking around them was fantastic.

Cheers Steve.

FollowupID: 497064

Reply By: Member - Chris D (Newcastle) - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 11:31

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 11:31

First of all I hope you have a great trip.

Some of the expenses of a trip are fairly fixed, like fuel, you can work out the distances, look up fuel costs in Exploroz, multiply by your likely fuel use for your vehicle, add a margin for extras and there you have your fuel bill.

Then here are regular vehicle services that will be similar to the ones at home, if you have them done in large towns or cities, like Alice and Darwin. Unforseen car and camper repair bills and damage is your best guess, I suggests keeping access to a kitty for these of say $2,000 to $3,000, just in case. Just some free board on the plastic would be okay as an emegency kitty.

Your food bill, as you will be staying away from takeaway (infact there is often no takeaway when you are out bush) will be similiar to home, but up your existing weekly shopping allowance by 20% to 30% as some items in the outback supermarkets are more expensive.

You will probably eat better and a little more as you will be looking after the family and having more exercise walking to look at the great sights.

Some travellers spend more on cold drinks from the shops and beer at the pubs but others make use of cool water which is far cheaper. You will probably opt for the 10-15 litre water containers from the supermakets as the tap water outback is often not up to par. The cost of water in large containers from supermarkets is a little more expensive that the east coast but readitly available, sometimes you need to ask as it is kept out back of the shop and not on the shelves as I found in Willuna.

Accommodation expenses will vary greatly. You will find powered sites in popular caravan places will be $30-$40+ per night. Then again if you seek out national parks with lower levels of facilities these can often be free or just $10 per night.

There are plenty of publications showing where free camp sites are. Let me know if you cannot find the info on free camping. It will be up to you just how much you spend on accommodation, a selection of free, cheap and full price will probably be your choice if on a budget. Fellow travellers are a great way to find the bargains also. Find someone travelling in the opposite direction and share info with them.

Entry fees for some attractions and national parks will be a burden on the budget. I have always found helicoper flights out of my budget, but others have had a wonderfully new experience by looking at the world from above, I can just dream.

There are always new ways to part with money. I have found ice creams a drain on finances, but they just taste great when we have them as a family, a lovely treat after being away from civilization for a week.

A weekly budget is probably a good idea, keep the money in a purse, eek out the week and if there is money left over then a treat is in store, if you don't make the week out then cheaper fare is on the cards. Usually sitting in one spot for a while can help the finances, especially if you can catch some fish for the barbe.

Again hope your travels are all you hoped for, sorry I have not been able to tell you how much you need but you will probaly be able to figure out the sums for youself and your family.


AnswerID: 235877

Follow Up By: FionaD - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 11:59

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 11:59
Hi Chris, thanks heaps for your help. Its just scary not knowing what to expect. This is our first big trip. We have only ever done a few small trips around Vic High country, nothing like this one. We plan on just staying mostly in national parks and bush camping. I bought the Camps 4 book which seems to be good.
Hopefully we wont have any trouble with our car and camper. We've just had the major 80K service done and got new tyres. We've never had any trouble with it yet. We have some money set aside, just in case.
Anyway thanks again,
FollowupID: 497065

Reply By: Member - Chris D (Newcastle) - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 11:43

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 11:43

Just on another thing, you say "We will be taking all our own food" this is a good idea but don't take it all, as there are better ways to eat when travelling. You will be surprised just what a science that packing food for a trip is. You need light nutritious food, supplemented with fresh fruit and vegetables when available.

A few months ago my wife and I spent a night looking through our local Coles or Woolworths for items that were light and readily made into nutricious and tasty food. There is a stack of good products available that can be rehydrated with water and have a good shelf life.

This will add to your trip if you prepare well and think through simple meals that don't need a lot of preparation, yet can be made up from packets.

AnswerID: 235879

Follow Up By: ross - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 12:49

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 12:49
Very true. I would only take enough to see you to the next supermarket.

Making an allowance for the occasional meal at a pub or restaurant can make a nice change.
Many places have nutritous meals at low prices on their quiet nights.
FollowupID: 497074

Follow Up By: ross - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 12:53

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 12:53
I like your set up Chris . I have been thinking about the options for my 75 series and my plans are very similar.
Do have some sort of ventilation in there to keep it cool?
FollowupID: 497076

Follow Up By: Member - Chris D (Newcastle) - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 14:18

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 14:18

There are two side sliding windows for ventilation.

We have installed roof insulation from Insulation Indiusties. The side doors are designed to either be closed down if the night is cold, left open a little if it is windy or left more up if we want the wafting cool air of the night on our faces.

When travelling in clear conditions the side sliding windows are left partly open, when on dustty roads the windows are closed, no sign of dust entry as a result.


FollowupID: 497085

Reply By: Steve63 - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 16:39

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 16:39
You should not need to cart all your food. Keep meals simple. You just need enough to get you to the next big town plus 4-5 days just in case. I can tell you that you will get sick of two months of continual dried/canned food. You can have some stuff VacPacked but if it fails (fridge stops working etc) you are out a fair bit of cash. A few days on "emergency food" is ok. If you don't often eat salted foods you will find a lot of pre packed meals far too salty anyway. Look at how much food you have for a week. Stack up what you usually get into a heap. Do you really want to carry 2 months worth? Not only that do you want to spend 20 minutes repacking because you wanted a pack of biscuits?
Estimating cost is always difficult. Look at your preposed itinerary (you have some idea where you are going so that is good enough), work out the distance add 5 - 10%. Now work out the cost with differing fuel prices. This will give you some idea. Fuel could be expensive $1.60 to $2.00 a litre in some areas. Even roughly for 10,000km at 15l/100km you need 1500l. At $1.50 this is $2,250 at $2.00 it is $3,000. You should be able to work out your usual food cost per week. Add about 20% and that should be close. Accomodation, who knows. Depends where you are and what is available. It could be anywhere between 0 and $130+ a night. You may not always have a lot of choise accommodation wise. Eating out is not always expensive. I've had some good home cooked meals for $12.

If you are wandering around central Oz a lot of the things to see are on loops and will end up back at or near Alice for a restock.

The how much do you allow question is unanswerable really as it depends too much on how far you travel, what you do, what you eat, if you like a beer and where you stay.

Don't stress about it too much. Enjoy your trip. If you run out of cash just come home a bit earlier.

If you are going remote like CSR, Simpson Desert or planning on doing a lot of 4wding as opposed to driving on the odd dirt road, then significantly more planning is required.

As always you need to take your own circumstances into account when travelling. This is what we do as an estimate but may be seriously out for your requirements.

AnswerID: 235934

Reply By: ian - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 17:34

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 17:34
Hi Fiona,
Don't be too daunted by the idea of the trip. If you take it easy with your vehicle and give your kids breaks from sitting in the car you will be fine. I think everyone's first trip gives them some anxiety.
You have received lots of useful advice, but before you load up with food, make sure you know where the quarantine lines are or you may lose all your fruit and vegies, and other things like honey. There are places in Victoria and S.A that may catch you out, and the W.A. border is a real trap for those who don't know.
Have fun
AnswerID: 235949

Reply By: GUPovertyPack - Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 17:40

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 at 17:40
Hi FionaD,

We spent three weeks last September in the area, Ularu, Alice, Simpson, and Birdsville etc. We took the two kids (8 and 11) and I happened to keep track of all the costs. I don't normally manage my life in this much detail but I thought that it would come in useful to plan other trips.

We travelled a fair bit (6,500 Km) in a short time so the fuel bill was high but it worked out at $162.50 per day all up. The total cost for three weeks was $3,571, which was $1,664 in diesel and $1,908 in food, grog, camp fees, entry fees to parks etc. We started with a well-stocked camper and replenished supplies in Alice Springs and picked up a few bits and pieces along the way. The kids got a few souvenirs out of that $1,908 and we had the odd take away and a good night at the Birdsville Pub. We did a bit of bush camping, which keeps the cost down, but we didn't feel that we missed out on anything or were "skimping" at all.

I have the breakdown in a spreadsheet, which you are welcome to if you would like.


AnswerID: 235952

Follow Up By: TrishP - Sunday, Apr 29, 2007 at 10:25

Sunday, Apr 29, 2007 at 10:25
Can I please have your breakdown in the spreadsheet on your trip last September. We are going across the Simpson, Ularu, West McDonnell Ranges this coming August and have estimated 7000 klms for the whole trip. Our biggest question is the budget camping fees etc. and your costs would be a great help. What vehicle did you travel in. Thank you for your advice.
FollowupID: 497643

Reply By: Member - extfilm (NSW) - Friday, Apr 27, 2007 at 04:27

Friday, Apr 27, 2007 at 04:27
As Ian said, Be carefull about quarantine issues but, I did a walk once (Everything on my back) that was 150kms which took 12 days and we still came out with edible fruit and veg,,,,,,. On that walk, we allowed for 17 days of fresh food and another 8 days of emegency as we did get snow in the middle of summer. We did not have fridges, Ice or eskies to keep our stuff fresh..... It was all on our back......... Ok now you are all about to say. It snowed so it must of been cold. Well also have walked 250k on fraser Island and still had fresh food at the end.
I eat the best whilst I am in the bush rather than in sydney.......
IMO you can always have fresh food apart from meat anywhere you are
AnswerID: 236072

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