Hannah Budge, with husband Leighton and their three beautiful boys aged 9 to 12, are living the travel-around-Australia holiday dream.
They’re headed for two years on the road – for a smidgeon of the price they expected to pay.
“Instead of shelling out the $52,000 we expected – $1,000 a week – we outlaid just $35,000 that first year,” says Hannah.
Just how exactly did the Budges make this spectacular and unexpected saving?
Facebook groups are gold
Here are the specific Facebook groups the Budges credit with their credit-free – in fact, mostly free – holiday.
The local ‘Buy & Sell’ Facebook group
“If we like an area and want to stay longer or caravan parks are too expensive, we usually just join the local ‘buy and sell’ group and say we are happy to exchange our skills in photography or maintenance etcetera, for a place to park our caravan,” Hannah explains.
Jobs For Travelling Families
This one is an Australia-wide Facebook group that does exactly what it says on the tin.
Farm Sitting Australia
A farm-sitting group where you can find opportunities to work for salary and free accommodation.
For former farm manager, Leighton, who is a fitter and turner, and boilermaker by trade, the last one has worked well. The Budges have even been able to earn income along the way – rather than just payment in ‘contra and kind’ – with three farm work stints.
“We managed an Arabian horse stud. Which was interesting because we know nothing about horses!” Hannah said.
“There are a couple of groups on Facebook I use to advertise my photography too,” she adds.
“And it helps that if someone sees a local business advertise anywhere, they shoot me a message.”
Hannah also has these other tips to make this type of trip work, from her now-extensive experience:
Hannah’s advice for thrifty Aussie travellers
Go off grid
That's your number one! Running a 12v system on your caravan is awesome. Even when we stay in caravan parks, we still camp unpowered. Saving that extra $10-$15 a night really adds up.
Share your skills
Put yourself out there and donate your skills and time in exchange for accommodation/food/experiences.
Download the Wikicamps App
This has all of your legal freecamping areas, caravan parks, water and dump points, activities, things to do in the town, and more. Not only that, but it has all the reviews from other campers and holidaymakers, so you know where it's best to spend your money.
Make sure you're supporting the little towns. If we freecamp in an amazing place set up by the town council, then we make sure we fuel up and buy our groceries or a meal at the pub there. Spend your money where it counts!
And, the most important one...
Talk to people!
They have a wealth of experience and knowledge in their area. And like they say, it's not what you know, it's who you know!
Some of our favourite places and experiences have come from just being friendly and chatting to the locals.
In other words, in country areas, country values rule.
And the experiences this could afford your family – quite literally – could be priceless.