Australia is big.  Real big.  Especially when you are planning to drag a caravan around it. No doubt it has been a lifelong dream of yours to do, so when you only have so much cash to throw around it would be a real shame to blow it before you got the whole way.

So here are some key things you will need to take into account when planning your ‘Big Lap’ budget.

  1. Location and duration

Pretty simple really.  Where are you going and how long do you plan to take getting there? Divide the budget up accordingly. For instance, long distances without much in between might be a trek but it’s unlikely to eat into more than just your petrol allowance.  However, an indulgent trip to the wine region of Margaret River in Western Australia, might drain the coffers if you aren’t careful. Decide where you will splurge and where you will skimp, and you should be able to still have some fun, carefree days of pampering yourself.

  1. Fuel

Pulling a caravan is a big petrol-guzzling activity so don’t underestimate how much of your overall budget this will take up. Make sure you know your tow vehicle’s average fuel consumption when towing before heading off. This will help you to forecast the approximate fuel cost for each leg of your journey.  Remember that in the more remote areas of Australia, the cost of petrol soars, so take this into consideration as well.

  1. Accommodation and outings

Try and plan the majority of your stops ahead of time and estimate what these stops will cost.  For the stops and outings that you can’t predict or decide not to plan, have an idea of how much you are willing to spend and be ready to be flexible, if you splurge on one activity you might have to sacrifice doing something else instead. It is good to have a daily activity and accommodation budget, that way you will have better luck of finding balance. A cheap day will allow an expensive day and vice versa. Keep in mind that in peak season and in remote areas you may face a lot of “No Vacancy” signs so booking ahead of time can save you a lot of stress in the long run.

  1. Meals

Caravanning goes hand in hand with finding yourself in remote places.  This means you won’t always be close to a nice restaurant or even a corner store, so planning meals ahead of time isn’t just good for your budget, it’s good for your rumbling tummy as well. If you know you are going to be away from civilisation for a few days, you need to consider things like fridge space and cooking capabilities.  Those might be the days where you forego fresh milk for the powdered stuff so that you can have room in the cooler for easy to cook sausages.  Sausages are also good for buying in bulk and saving a bit of cash.  Sure, after a few days of snags and dehydrated mashed potatoes you’ll be ready for a nice piece of salmon at a fancy seaside restaurant, but then you know you will have truly earned it.

  1. Foreseeing unforeseen circumstances

Accept that it isn’t going to be a smooth run. You will get a flat tyre, maybe even two.  Your battery will probably go flat at some point. That thing you thought would never let you down (whatever that thing may be) probably will pack it in at the worst possible time.  It is what it is and it’s what makes caravanning around Australia such an adventure. Make sure you have a rainy-day fund in case of emergencies.  Hopefully, you won’t need it, but you’ll be kicking yourself if something does go wrong and you don’t have a backup plan.

  1. Putting it all together

Whether you like to make lists, are obsessed with spreadsheets or keep it all in your head take all these little variables into account and create a rough budget for each leg of your journey. Then, when you need to be flexible you will know just how much wiggle room you have, and you will be less likely to overextend yourself or have to deprive yourself of that one thing you were really looking forward to.

Once you have planned your budget you can relax and enjoy the journey.