Should You Buy A Car While Backpacking in Australia?

By: Flashpacking Duo
Getty Images / Simon McGill

Owning a car is all about freedom. But what about buying a car in Australia while backpacking.

There’s bound to be registrations and a complex set of rules for buying a used car down under, so is it worth it?



Backpacking usually involves public transport. You’d hop on a bus or train to get from place to place and in most cases, this would prove to be cheaper. The trouble is, you give up on seeing the most beautiful sights in the country.

You also lose a degree of freedom. Transport like Greyhound buses and trains won’t stop in the middle of a gorgeous national park so you can spend the night camping.

You’ll have to go from city to city and find your way to the national parks that are well connected by buses. With a car, you can go where you like. Stop anywhere and simply spend the night gazing at the stars or having a beer on one of the whitest sand beaches in the world.

Travel by private vehicle, at your own speed, is actually a better way to see Australia.



That being said, renting a car is really expensive. Travelling by bus or train would be a fraction of the price when you take into account the insurance and fuel.

But there is a way to get the best of both worlds – buying a used car and selling it at the end of your trip.

A used backpacking car is likely to cost you somewhere between $2,000 and $6,000 AUD. A used campervan costs a little more, between $5,000 to $10,000 AUD.

Used cars are a lot cheaper in Australia and you can simply sell it off to someone else to get most of the money back.

Buying and selling the car in the same state will save you a lot of trouble with regards to registration and insurance considerations, so plan your trip accordingly.


Guide to Buying

Cars like the Ford Falcon and the Holden Commodore are popular with backpackers due to the design. They have ample boot space and fold away back seats.

Pay attention to details while buying any car;

  • See how much mileage it’s likely to give you after you fill the tank up.
  • Learn a little bit about the seller and their reason for selling the car.
  • Understand basic maintenance or repair needs for a car model you are interested in.
  • Take the car for a test drive and make sure they’re no weird noises from the engine.
  • Check for signs of rust on the car body and inspect the tread on the tyres, plus the spare.
  • Ask for a service history log, before you sign the dotted line.

For some travellers, buying a car is the best option. You can go where you like, stop anywhere and cut costs.

Australia is the perfect country for a long road trip – enjoy!