Don’t forget petrol costs in your holiday road trip budget

By Olivia Gee ·

With the summer holidays approaching and travel restrictions easing within Australia’s borders, a road trip could be the go-to for many holidaymakers.

Petrol prices will naturally come into the road trip budget, so it’s important to know where they’re at right now. Luckily, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has just released its quarterly petrol price report.

If you’re picking up petrol in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth, you can expect to see an average price of 122 cents per litre (cpl), with Darwin’s bowzers sitting a little cheaper at 118cpl. This is an increase of around 13cpl from the 2020 June quarter but doesn’t come close to the December 2019 high of 159cpl, according to the ACCC.

“We saw some major fluctuations during the first six months of the pandemic but petrol prices stabilised in the September quarter,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

Those planning their road trip for a few weeks or months down the track should note that these numbers are based on the last three months. Happily, petrol prices are predicted to fall.

“As economic activity in Australia picks up again and sales volumes return to normal, the ACCC expects to see gross retail margins fall,” Sims said.

Other road trip budget considerations

While it’s great to have a petrol plan, there are a heap of other costs to factor into your road trip equation. Here’s a few to remember and ways to cut costs across the board.

  • Accomodation

We’re cutting it pretty close to Christmas now, but it’s a good idea to book your accommodation as early as possible to avoid last-minute holiday price hikes. If you’ve got the equipment – or want to invest in it – camping or van life could be a cheaper alternative to hotels or privately booked digs. 

  • Car insurance and roadside assistance

Whether you’re heading interstate (all things going well border-wise), driving along well-travelled paths, or on unknown and unsealed roads, you want to make sure you’ve got the right kind of car insurance for the job. It’s a good idea to look over your PDS to see what you’re covered for and what isn’t included. Then make sure you’re getting a good deal on price by comparing car insurance quotes. 

You may also want to consider including roadside assistance in your policy to help you out of sticky situations like if you need a battery recharge, emergency petrol delivery or minor mechanical fix. This is usually offered an optional extra, so it’ll come at an additional cost.

  • Dining out (or in-car)

When you’re on the road, budget-friendly meal prep gets a little complicated, but there are a few things you can do to keep food costs down. Do a big grocery shop for non-perishables before you hit the road – those petrol station snack prices are always outrageous. 

Whenever you can, take advantage of a camp cookout or kitchen and make your own meals. And if you are eating out, consider vegetarian options as these are often more affordable than their meaty counterparts.

  • Sightseeing

Free things can be fun! Road tips are built for days at the beach, mountain hikes and small-town window shopping. Spa days and amusement parks are wonderful holiday fodder, but if you’re trying to stick to a strict road trip budget, maybe save those luxe experiences for your next mini break.

If you’re being a trooper and working through the festive season, here’s how to make the most out of your summer job savings.

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Olivia Gee
Money writer

As a personal finance writer at Mozo, Olivia investigates insurance, banking and property. After completing a double degree in journalism and media and communications, Olivia became a lifestyle editor at Time Out Sydney and freelanced for notable publications such as Guardian Australia and SBS News. Now she is Mozo’s resident car insurance enthusiast, and is certified (ASIC RG146 Tier 2) to provide general advice in general insurance. She also creates audible finance adventures as co-host of Mozo’s podcast, The Finance Burrito.