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Thursday 20th June 2024

The true cost of travelling – before you even leave

Sophie King outlines the pre-travel expenses for her long-term Australian adventure including visa, flights, vaccinations, and travel gear costs


Travelling Australia is going to be expensive but you’re going to be spending a fair bit before you’ve even taken off.

I’d reached my savings goal for Australia a couple of months ago – this was the amount I’d wanted to go with which would mean I’d be able to travel around for a bit before finding a job.

But then there were quite a few things I had to pay for which I should have factored in first.

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A first tip if you’re planning on moving abroad, particularly Australia, would be to get your visa first before booking your flights. 

It might be that it’s rejected or takes a while to come through and you wouldn’t want to lose the cost of your flights because you don’t have a visa. 

I’ve seen too many Facebook posts from travellers who have a flight within days but are still waiting for their visa to come through – don’t let this be you!

A working holiday visa for down under costs around £330, then you’re looking at at least £700 in flights just to get there.

On top of that, if you’re going to be visiting locations that require you to have vaccinations, you’ll need to pay for those too. 

One way to cut costs before even leaving UK soil could be to consider getting a Round The World plane ticket. 

This type of ticket will include several destinations across several continents at a much cheaper cost than buying them all individually. 

Depending on who you book with you’ll have a minimum and maximum amount of stops you’ll have to make to qualify for the ticket – you’ll be literally going all the way round the world.

For example, you could fly from the UK, to Singapore, to Perth, Sydney, Los Angeles and then back to the UK.

Of course, make sure you’re comparing single flights on comparison sites like Skyscanner – it might be that it is cheaper for you to book flights individually depending on the location. 

The downside to a Round The World Ticket is that your flights will be booked in advance. So if you’re someone who would prefer to go with the flow then it might not be for you.

These types of tickets can be changed, but they’ll come at a cost and you could end up spending even more money than you wanted to. 

Another cheeky thing airlines can make you pay for are seats and it’s usually for the longest flights. 

It cost me £29 to choose my seat to fly from San Francisco to Sydney and as it’s my longest flight and I had sitting in the middle, I paid for it. 

But if you’re not as bothered, it’s worth waiting until the very last minute as the airline may decide to reduce the price, or make the seat reservation free, if no one else has chosen it. 

Of course, the only risk here is that you won’t get the seat you wish for, your call.

With travelling of course comes packing and having to whittle a year’s worth of clothes down to one 65L backpack is no easy task.

I managed to find my backpack on sale from Mountain Warehouse for £70 and it came with a smaller day pack, a strap to hold the big bag over my shoulder and a waterproof cover. 

Travel backpacks can cost anywhere from £50 to £200 so it’s really up to what to go for. 

The one mistake I feel I made was that I didn’t get a bigger one such as 85L – my backpack was full to the brim which leaves me no space for any new items I pick up along the way.

If this is your first time travelling and you have absolutely no items already, see what you can borrow from family and friends. People can be so generous and there’s no point in buying a fly net (for example) if someone else already has one (another mistake I made – sorry for saying no to yours, mum!).

Here’s a list of things I had to buy beforehand and their rough cost (doesn’t include clothes and other bits and bobs)

  • Backpack (at least 65L) – upwards from £70
  • Day backpack – came with the cost of the large bag
  • Cross-body bag – £12
  • Travel plug – £15
  • Portable charger – £39.99
  • Fly net – £2
  • Hat – £10
  • Sun cream (though I bought this in Australia as it’s stronger) – £13
  • Travel wash – £3
  • Micro fibre towel – £10

Photo credits: Pexels

Sophie King

Sophie is a freelance consumer journalist who has worked for major brands including The Sun and MoneySavingExpert (MSE). She’s covered all things consumer finance, benefits, energy bills, refund rights and regulation. During her time at MSE she managed to get the Department for Work and Pensions to stop sending envelopes out to vulnerable people with info on the back telling them to switch energy provider - at a time when no one should have been switching.

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