Travel restrictions and Covid-19
As of October 2021, travel to Australia continues to be restricted by the Australian government due to the pandemic. Check current restrictions before booking a trip.
Ah, Australia. A fascinating country of contrasts with cosmopolitan cities and snow-capped mountains, spectacular beaches and the desert interior. Most travelers find it worth the roughly 20-hour flight from the US Some Americans love it so much that they even choose to move there after leaving work.
But Land Down Under is not a cheap place to visit, and simply getting there can affect any travel budget. Airfares from the US can be as high as $ 2,000 to $ 3,000 (especially if you want nonstop flights). The good news is that there are times of the year, and even days of the week, when you can fly to Australia for less.
- Australia is a bucket list destination for many people, but traveling to Australia can be expensive.
- May to June is the low season, but remember that what is summer in the US but it is winter for Australians.
- The mid season, from February to April and from September to early December, is less expensive than the high season, but more expensive than the lower low season.
- Consider a package that includes airfare and hotel stays; often it’s just a few hundred dollars more than airfare or a hotel stay alone.
Travel during the low season
Like most tourist destinations, Australia has different travel seasons. Qantas, Australia’s largest airline by fleet size and total number of international flights, publishes fares based on three seasons: high, low and medium. Because airlines pay a lot of attention to demand in pricing schemes, there are several low and medium seasons throughout the year. This differs from many tourist destinations that have only three defined periods for the low, medium and high seasons. What would be a long off-season during Australia’s winter, for example, is interrupted by a more expensive mid-season that coincides with school holidays in the US.
So when are the different seasons? According to Qantas, peak (or peak) season, which runs from the second week of December through January, is when airfare tends to be the most expensive due to heavy holiday-oriented traffic.
This period is the summer of Australia. Remember, the country is in the southern hemisphere, so the seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere. Depending on where you are, the weather can be very hot and dry, making the country’s beaches a very popular destination.
The middle season is located between the high season and the low season and extends from:
- February 1 to April (late summer to fall)
- the second week of June until about the third week of July (winter, but when schools are not in the US)
- from the third week of September to the first week of December (spring), just before people start traveling for the holidays.
The cheapest airfare tends to be during the low season, which runs from May 1 to the first week of June, and again from about the third week of July to the third week of September. These periods represent late fall and winter, when temperatures are colder, especially the further south you are, in the direction of Antarctica. Again, this is the opposite of the northern hemisphere, where people are used to heading south during winter to warm up.
For comparison, we looked for the cheapest fares published on expedia.com for 14-day trips, traveling on Wednesdays in both directions during each of the three travel seasons, flying between Los Angeles and Sydney (prices in US dollars). While precise prices will vary, these figures represent the typical ratio between seasons:
|High season (test dates: December 22 – January 5)||$ 1,634|
|Mid season (test dates: February 9 – February 23)||$ 1,402|
|Low season (test dates: August 18 – September 1)||$ 1,051|
Different days, different dollars
If you have some flexibility in your travel dates, you can save money by flying Monday through Thursday and avoiding weekend flights. A quick look at the rates posted on qantas.com, for example, shows that if we travel on Saturdays instead of Wednesdays, the rates increase each season by at least $ 100 (we look at the same general dates as above but change each trip. advance a few days to travel on Saturdays in both directions).
A one-stop flight can cost $ 500 to $ 1,000 cheaper than a nonstop flight and often takes three to four hours longer.
A package deal
Depending on your plans, you may be able to save money by purchasing a travel package that includes airfare and accommodation. A search on expedia.com, for example, shows a more budget flight hotel deal for $ 1,518, traveling between August 18 and September 1 (the same dates we are looking for low season rates), which is approximately $ 500 more for the lowest fare flight alone. Depending on your preferences, you could spend $ 1,871 for a package that includes a hotel in central Sydney.
Or you can splurge and pay $ 3,464 for a luxurious place like the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, with its elegant spa. Without a package, a two-week stay there costs $ 3,055.
The bottom line
Australia is such a diverse country that it takes weeks, if not months, to start exploring all it has to offer. Like other tourist destinations, travel costs change just like the seasons, so the dates are worth studying. You may be able to save a few dollars on your airfare if you can travel on different days of the week. Booking your flight and accommodation together, rather than buying them separately, can also result in big savings. Spend some time researching now. That way, you can spend more time in Australia.