1. Soda Can Stoves
To be fair, I found this little beauty while in Greece last summer but only used it once I got here. Cut a soda or beer can in half, crimp it, and voila! A gas stove. Just add ethanol (and it has to be at LEAST 95% alcohol or the bastard stuff won’t burn).
While road tripping and camping in Oz I used this little gadget to boil water and heat soup.
Best of all, it cost fuck all. Brilliant.
2. Dry Fit T-Shirts.
Never have I been so grateful for a shirt that dries quickly, than I have while in Australia. I was first introduced to the joys of the “wicking” T-shirt when buying a souvenir top at Krav Maga Melbourne. The fabric dries MUCH quicker than regular cotton, meaning that while you still have a damp T-shirt, you have it for a lot less time than you normally would.
I now own two of these and they travel with me everywhere. They also don’t stink so bad when you wear them for days on end. Always a bonus.
$5AU in K-Mart.
3. 99 Dollar Bicycles
K-Mart is a chain we don’t have in the UK (closest would be the now Americanised abomination that is Asda) and the one nearest to my lodgings in Sydney had a reasonable mountain bike (although I was specifically advised by the mechanic to go nowhere near a hill, let alone a mountain on it) for the sum of $99. For an extra 10 bucks they built it up for me and I had a lovely time whizzing round the streets of Sydney. Not one you’d want to go off road on, but for roading it was fun.
From $99AU in K-Mart.
4. One Dollar Coffees
Convenience store chain 7-Eleven have branches all over Oz, and do freshly ground small cups of coffee for just $1. Medium is 2 and a Large is 3. As McDonalds were charging $4.50 for a medium sized cup, this was a backpacker’s dream. Turned out the axe attack was in the one a mile up the road. Who knew?
Cost: $1 from any 7-Eleven.
5. Rest Stops
On my way to Broken Hill I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of these little beauties. In the UK the most you’ll get is a place to pull off and maybe a rubbish bin. The Oz variant has toilets, sometimes showers and always a picnic table or two. Some were overrun by goats (always a laugh to be had watching ruminants watching you as you sip a cup of coffee), others were blown about by sand but when you’re driving hundreds or even thousands of miles a comfortable place to sleep is like a gift from God.
6. Lentil As Anything
A restaurant chain that I tried in both Melbourne and Sydney. Run entirely by volunteers and serving vegan food, LAA serve delicious meals with a soft drink and a dessert to follow your main course. The twist is that YOU decide how much you’re willing to pay for the meal in a discreet “contribution box” near the exit. They ask for a minimum of $5 a time to cover overheads but no one checks or even sees what you pay (box has a shield thingy round it like on an ATM.
Cost: What your conscience decrees.
7. Opal Travel (or Myki)
In London we have the efficient yet hideously overpriced Oyster travel card. In Melbourne there's Myki, which is OK but in Sydney there’s Opal, which gives you unlimited travel on a Sunday for $2.50 as well as half price journeys after you’ve taken 8 at the full price. Just don’t forget to tap in like I did once (cop accepted my excuse of “I was knackered and forgot”).
8. Pay As You Go SIM Cards With Huge Data
Telstra offer a $40 SIM card that give you 6GB of data (3 in the day, 3 at night), unlimited texts and unlimited calls PLUS some international calls are free. Only catch is that you have to use the credit within a month.
Perfect for those of us with visa regulations to adhere to.
Cost: From $30 to $60, depending on how much data you need/ want.
9. Flying Cheaply & With No Arrival Security
For $130 I flew from Melbourne to Sydney. It took just over an hour (would have taken 13 on a bus) and while I had the requisite security checks on the way onto the plane, I simply walked out and into the bus depot at Sydney airport upon landing.
Cost: What you can get. Check out Skyscanner for deals.
10. Cheap(er) Petrol
Silly prices in the UK (and Europe for that matter) for fuel whereas in the merry old land of Oz, it’s anything from $1.15 to $1.47 a litre….which as any Englishman knows, is fuck all. I did a 2000 mile round trip and it cost me just over $400 in guzzoline (roughly £240).
Cost: More since Trump got elected, although I’m assured those things aren’t connected.