Costs to consider before your next road trip

Avoid draining your holiday budget with unexpected expenses on the road.

A road trip is not always a cheap holiday option, especially when you calculate all the hidden costs involved. 

The best way to avoid any financial surprises on your journey is to make a checklist of what you need to budget for and plan out where you will be spending your money before you leave. 

Here are some of the costs to consider before setting off. 


Fuel prices vary across the state so doing a bit of research before you fill your tank could save you some money. 

Planning your fuel stops and carrying some extra fuel is a necessity for outback road trips as service stations are limited in remote areas of Queensland. 

To estimate the fuel cost for your road trip you will need to know the trip distance, the average cost of fuel per litre and the vehicle’s fuel consumption. 

The process is as follows:

  1. Divide the trip distance by 100
  2. Multiply the results of this by the fuel consumption
  3. Then multiply this figure by the cost of fuel/litre. 

Consider factors which could affect your fuel consumption such as vehicle load, traffic, towing heavy trailers or caravans, wind or your driving style. 

RACQ members can save four cents per litre on fuel at participating Puma Energy and Choice petrol stations Australia wide. 


To avoid any mechanical costs on your trip, ensure your vehicle is serviced before you go. 

Make sure all tyres have enough tread and are filled to the correct pressure, including the spare. Check hoses and belts for leaks or cracks and replace any that look worn. 

Pack an emergency kit of jumper leads, a reflective safety triangle, torch, tyre pump and a first-aid kit. For peace of mind on the road consider roadside assistance. 


Coffee shops, drive through take-aways and petrol stations are magnets for road trippers because they are so easy to access from highway exits.

 Budget enough money for food and drink by planning out your rest stops.

If you are driving long distances be sure to take a break of at least 15 minutes every two hours. 

To save some money pack some home-made meals and snacks to enjoy at Driver Reviver sites or rest areas. 


Whether you are staying at a campground, caravan park, hotel or motel, accommodation expenses are almost unavoidable.

The best way to budget for accommodation is to plan your journey and book in advance. Alternatively, you could access some of Queensland’s free camping sites. 

Entry fees

One of the best things to do on a road trip is to experience local attractions along the way. To ensure you don’t miss out on any bucket-list adventures save some money to cover the cost of entry fees. This could include tickets to a local museum, zoo, World-Heritage Listed site, event or outdoor activity.  

Permits and vehicle ferries 

Vehicle access permits may be required if you are driving through a national park, state forest or recreational area. 

Bribie Island, Fraser Island, Moreton Island, Cooloola and Stradbroke Island all require a permit which must be displayed on the vehicle for inspection

Permits can be purchased for one month or up to one year and can vary from $50 - $450. 

To avoid unexpected expenses pre-book your permits online and check for any discounts which may apply.

You will also have to budget in the cost of a vehicle ferry if you plan on visiting one of Queensland’s many islands.


To estimate the cost of Queensland road tolls during your road trip with an online calculator.

Queensland toll payment provider Linkt has a range of account products available ensure your toll fees are paid on-the-go.

If you are renting a vehicle for the road trip check with the rental company about their tolling arrangements.

Planning a holiday here this year? Check out Queensland’s top 10 on and off-road adventures including short weekend drives, challenging off-road and long-distance journeys. 

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and not as specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice and does not take into account any person's particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives, financial situations and needs.