For me, one of the benefits of retirement is the opportunity to take my time doing the things I enjoy. When it comes to international travel, few places are better suited to a meandering vacation than Australia. Here’s how I stretched my retirement income while exploring the land down under.
Wheels for road trips
Australia is a vast land, and while there is much to see and do, many of the best features are spread far apart. With that in mind, I decided a road trip would be the best option. I also found through research that it would be less expensive to purchase a vehicle than to rent one. I searched online for used cars, vans and SUVs at affordable prices, and ended up going with a Honda CR-V. I wanted four-wheel drive so I wouldn’t be limited by conditions, and I wanted ample storage for luggage, equipment, and coolers. At the end of my vacation, I was able to sell the vehicle to recoup my purchase.
Owning your wheels is a boon to freedom and independence, with no caps on mileage, and you get to decide what will be comfortable and accommodating. Car rental companies tend to designate vehicle sizes on the small side. Also, while you might request a particular car from a rental company, you are only normally guaranteed that vehicle or a “similar” replacement. In my experience, the rental company’s definition of a “similar” vehicle doesn’t always mesh well with my own, so buying was the right choice for me.
Call of the wild
Australia offers a cornucopia of delightful road trip expeditions. For instance, there is The Big Lap, which is a loop around the entirety of the land itself. This is a particularly lengthy adventure, and can easily take a full six months or more. Some of the areas are quite remote, and I recommend adding a satellite phone and camping gear in your must-have equipment if you elect to take this jaunt. My personal preference is the Great Ocean Road. It’s a comfortable trek of around 155 miles, and includes breathtaking views and unique landscape formations, without being so remote.
Rather than off-roading, many people opt for more tame Australian adventures. You can see plenty by visiting the national parks, and they also allow camping in many areas. If you’re more of a bed and breakfast person, but at some point in your adventures you decide to try camping on a lark, CampNow will deliver gear to you. It’s a convenient opportunity to test the waters, and you don’t have to invest in gear for the entirety of your trip. To stretch your dollars, hostels are another inexpensive lodging option, and they are scattered throughout the country.
Charms of the cities
The cities of Australia offer a full range of things to do and see, with their own share of breathtaking vistas and unique beauty. When it comes to attractions, there are free museums and various performance centers. Entertainment can be expensive, but you can find discounts at individual institutions such as the Arts Centre of Melbourne.
Eating out can drain a substantial portion of your budget, but some experts suggest getting shared plates to make your funds go further. I also recommend eating out early in the day, grabbing breakfast or lunch, rather than the more pricey evening meal. Another idea is to order from takeaway restaurants, and also to hit the occasional grocery and stock up on snacks. As far as food and drink indulgences, a trip to the wine country is a must, and to stretch your funds yet enjoy a hearty sampling, you can try “hop on, hop off” wine tours.
The list of things to see and do in Australia goes on and on, but every trip should include a sampling of both city life and outdoor adventure. When you visit, taste a little of everything. It feels extraordinary when you check a trip down under off your bucket list, so be sure to savor the full experience.
Photo of woman is pexels creative commons
Australia Great Ocean Road Beach – pixabay creative commons
The Victoria Arts Centre in Melbourne – Wee Keat Chin on flickr – some rights reserved
Guest Author Bio
Marie Villeza hopes to fight ageism by connecting seniors with the resources they need to live happy, healthy lives. To aid her efforts, she developed ElderImpact.org, which offers senior citizens and their caregivers resources and other advice that will help them make the best decisions for their lives in an ever-changing world.