Anything can happen when you're backpacking around Australia and if something goes wrong, having a contingency fund will enable you to act quickly when you need to get things sorted out. In the case of an emergency (i.e, your money gets lost or stolen) or even if you simply over spend and just wind up broke, you will need access to money, accommodation, food, transport & identification documents to get everything back on track.
Travellers cheques can be used to safely transport your money to Australia where they can be 'encashed' at some stage during your trip. They can be ordered in a shop front (bank, post office, etc...) or online which are delivered to you in the post.Learn how to use travellers cheques and why they are good for backpacking in Australia.
When you're planning a backpacking trip to Australia, knowing how to sensibly manage your money is one of the most important aspects. You will need to know how to open an Australian bank account, transfer money, proctect yourself in a financial emergency and of course, how to budget for your trip (i.e, cost of living in Australia). Learn everything you need to know about managing money for backpacking in Australia.
An Australian bank account can be opened before you go which you can then transfer funds into in advance for when you arrive or alternatively you can open an account when you get there. Both options for opening a new Australian bank account are covered in this article as well as some helpful ideas about how to choose the right account for you.
Knowing how to convert currencies will be a definite advantage to backpackers in Australia and all over the world. This calculation is a simple but very useful tool which will help you compare costs in Australia.
Whatever plans you have made for backpacking in Australia you will need to take some cash with you. The amount you take will depend on what you have managed to do in the planning phase. The ideal situation would be that by the time you leave home you will have...
1) Opened your Australian bank account and transferred your money in advance (read the Opening an Australian Bank Account from Overseas - Australian Bank Accounts Explained article).
2) Booked a week or two in a hostel (in advance) OR arranged accommodation which you won't need to pay for when you get there.
3) Pre-booked a shuttle bus OR arranged transport to get you from the airport to the place where you're staying.
4) Acquired an Australian SIM card and compatible mobile phone (although this is not completely necessary as you can easily get setup it when you arrive).
Assuming you had already made these arrangements you will only need enough cash to buy the everyday necessities like your food, toiletry products and enough for transport costs depending where you're.
So you would only need the amount of money required to survive until you visit the bank to activate your account ($200AUD or so would be fine). Check out the The Backpacker's Budget for Australia - Cost Of living In Australia - PART 1 article for the cost of dat-to-day necessities in Australia and also the Contingency Funds - Savings when you need them - Backpacking Australia – PART 1 on how to create a contingency plan.
Although the banks will charge a fee for an electronic transfer (see article Electronic Funds Transfer - Transferring Money To An Australian Bank Account) it's still the safest way of getting your money to Australia. Next to that is travellers cheques or debit/credit cards and last of all is cash.
It's always your choice but carrying large amounts of cash is a definite risk. Some people do just that though, they take $5000AUD with them in their bag and when they get to Australia they have it all there ready to go. The risk however is massive, no money means no holiday (excitement over, time to go home).
Even If you have travel insurance and are covered up to a certain amount in your policy (which might be reimbursed to you after a successful claim) this does take time and it's unlikely that you will get cover for a large amount (see A Backpacker's Travel Insurance Guide for backpacking Australia - PART 1 for a good break down). Instead it's advisable to carry only what you need so you don't have to face the loss of large sums of money.
When it comes to physically carrying cash, you will most likely go about things the same as you do at home. The chances of theft or loss are relatively slim (remembering that Australia thrives on tourism and compared to a lot of countries in the world it's a fairly safe place to be). It's the same as always, be vigilant and use your common sense (read our Travel Safety Tips For Backpacking Around Australia - PART 1 article for some handy tips).
If you want a good way to carry cash and your other valuables (passport, bank cards, jewelry, sensitive documents, etc...) safely on your person, think about getting a money belt (see section Concealable Money Belts - Carrying Valuables).
You can draw cash with your bank card from home as long as it has a Visa, Master card, or similar facility. The money you receive depends on the exchange rates at the time of withdrawal. This is can be a really quick of accessing your money in Australia if you have an emergency (check out the Contingency Funds - Savings when you need them - Backpacking Australia – PART 1 article).
A concealable money belt is a thin, lightweight pouch fastened by a clip (or velcro) which is worn around the waist beneath your clothing.
People use them as a preventative measure against pickpocket activity while travelling, particularly when they know they will be in busy areas (public transport, market places, tourist hotspots, etc...).
You can use these belts to safely store your all your sensitive documents and valuables (passport, driving license, credit cards, cash, keys, jewelry, etc...) as you go about your day.
It should be mentioned at this stage that crime does occur in Australia but the rate is quite low compared to other countries. The convenience of having everything stored together which is easily accessible, but remains out of view does provide good sense of security.
Anyone who likes to know they have their passport and credit cards safely with them at all times should consider getting one.
As much as it can help with prevention of theft, one of the most crucial things about a money belt is that even if all your belongings are lost (i.e, at the airport/during transit) or stolen, you can still survive with what you have on your person.
If you buy a a money belt, get one which is light in colour. Black belts can be seen under clothes of a lighter shades which defeats the entire purpose.
Separate the days cash supply into your pocket or a wallet from your money belt before you set off. This way you're not accessing the belt all the time but still have more cash available if you need it. At least then, if you lost your wallet, it won't be the cause of too much strife. The idea is to keep your most important belongings with you (on your person) without advertising the fact.
Here are a few things to keep in mind using a money belt...
Access - If you need to access the belt in public, use a restroom or other private area so you don't get unwanted attention. If you're drawing cash from an A.T.M use an indoor machine and fill your belt before you leave.
Alternate storage - If your hostel has a secure storage facility (i.e, safe, locker or other arrangement) you may wish to use it in the evenings. Unfortunately things do go missing inside hostels as well as outdoors.
Comfort - If the belt you have chosen is sweating or uncomfortable against your skin try wearing a light weight vest under your top to create a barrier between you and the belt. There are other types available which hang around the neck or strap to the arm or leg.
Be vigilant - Always be mindful of your surroundings (see section Travel Safety), pickpockets are opportunists and will take advantage of any distractions they can use (which could be anything) a partner in crime, a busy metro journey, a stunning photo opportunity, etc...
Contacts - Don't forget to keep any emergency contact details (i.e, Appointed Person, insurance company, friends at home, travel partners etc...) in your belt to help if your other belongings are lost or stolen.
Budgeting for backpacking in Australia is all about getting the most out of your trip with the funds you have available. Learn how to budget for backpacking around Australia including getting up to date prices for accommodation, transport, essential shopping items and day-to-day living expenses so you can budget your trip with confidence before you go.
For calling international numbers (i.e, contacting people at home) a phone card/ticket will often provide you with the best rates. Learn how to call home with low calling costs when you need to.
Read part 2 of our backpacker budgeting guide. More about earning money working, cost of transport/getting around and setting aside money for entertainment & recreation.
If you're on a Working Holiday Visa or are travelling for extended periods the largest part of your holiday funds will be paid into your Australian bank account. Learn how to transfer money to Australia.
Read our helpful backpacking checklist and get lots of hints/tips about what to pack before you go to Australia. Learn about choosing the right backpack, what essentials you will need and how to travel light.
There is quite a lot of preparation you can do to maximise your chances of getting work when you need it. Work can be easy to find as long as you know where to look and take every opportunity you get.
Unless you have booked your flights months in advance the dates you choose will make all the difference to the cost of your flight. Pack weight is also something to consider for your journey.