1. Credit Card Fees
Most hotels and many restaurants and shops will add anywhere from 1-2.5% to your bill if you decide to pay with a credit card or non-Australia debit card. If you can book and pay for your hotels through a third-party website such as booking.com or hotels.com you can avoid paying this fee. Also, considering getting a credit card with a rewards program that gives you 2% cash back to offset the fee.
2. Food Prices & Tipping
Restaurants in Australia are expensive, and most of the time, the food is nothing special. Keep in mind that you do not tip, so you should deduct 15-20% off the menu prices for an apples-to-apples comparison with prices in the US. Even after this adjustment, it's still a bit pricey. Fortunately, lots of hotel rooms come with small kitchens, so you can do your own cooking. Alcohol is even pricier due to taxes. For example, a bottle of Australian wine generally costs much more in Australia than the same bottle would cost in the US. There is really no way around this other than perhaps picking up a few things at duty free on the way in.
3. Airplane Travel
Lately there's been an increasing trend of airlines charging you for checked bags. Australian airlines have taken this to the extreme. If you buy a cheap domestic ticket on an Australian airline, it probably won't include a checked bag. You are allowed to carry on a maximum of 7kg of bags, which some airlines adhere to strictly. And 7kg does not get you far. If you need to check a bag at the airport and your fare does not include a checked bag, you will have to pay $40-80 per bag. To avoid this, be sure to book your ticket directly through the airline's website and be sure your ticket includes a checked bag, or that you can add one when you're buying your ticket. Tickets purchased through a third party such as Priceline often do not include checked bags, forcing you to pay a high fee for one at the airport.
As mentioned earlier, looking for a hotel room with a kitchen can be a good solution if you would like to save money on pricey restaurants. We've heard that you can also get self-contained cabins at campervan parks, which are present all over the country, at a very reasonable rate, though we didn't get to try one of these. In cities, apartment hotels offer a great compromise between price, comfort and all the conveniences of an apartment in a good location. Check out Meriton, which has properties in most major Australian cities.
5. Campervan Rentals
Lots of people rent campervans to travel around the country, either camping or staying at campervan parks along the way. We looked into this and actually found the campervan rental a bit more expensive than renting a car and staying at hotels. On the plus side, it could be a lot of fun to stay at campsites and meet other travelers, and this also affords you a bit more flexibility on your itinerary, but it will come at a price. One additional consideration is that gasoline currently costs the equivalent of $6-8 per gallon depending on where you are in the country, so be sure to factor this into your budget if you hire a gas-guzzling RV.
6. Gas Discounts
If you're going to be doing a lot of driving, as your first order of business, sign up for a loyalty card at one of the two major grocery chains, Woolworths or Coles. One benefit of the card is discounts on gas at either Caltex (with your Woolworths card) or Shell (with your Coles card). This can really add up over the course of a long road trip.
7. Travel Agents
Travel agents are still widely used in Australia, even though they have gone the way of the dinosaur in other countries. It's worth checking in with a couple agencies before you book local travel as they often have really great package deals. Flight Center is a chain located across Australia and then each town has it's own local agents. We booked our trip to Heron Island directly online and then later found out we could have saved the cost of our very expensive ferry tickets if we had gone through a local travel agent.
8. Last Minute Discounts
If you have flexible travel plans, you can save a lot of money on excursions by booking standby tickets with a local agent 1-2 days beforehand. We found great deals on sucba/snorkeling day trips, island resort trips, and liveabaord sailing trips throughout Queensland by just showing up at a travel agency the day before. Research peak seasons ahead of time as these tickets may not be available if you are traveling during local school vacations or holiday weekends.