On average, schoolies spend more than $1000 during a week on Surfers Paradise.

On average, schoolies spend more than $1000 during a week on Surfers Paradise. Photo: Andy Zakeli

Schoolies week can be a source of concern for parents as school leavers make their pilgrimage to tourist hot spots along the coast to celebrate the end of their secondary studies.

But the event doesn't only hit the heart hard, it can also hit in the hip pocket.

brisbanetimes.com.au estimates the average Queensland schoolie spends at least $1037 during a seven-day stay at Surfers Paradise.

Although the popular image of schoolies week is drinking teenagers, more than half the average cost is in accommodation, with alcohol likely to be just 10 per cent of the total.

According to the specialist accommodation provider schoolies.com, the average cost for a seven-night stay on the Gold Coast is $537 a person. But some students pay almost double.

A class of 2011 school leaver, Giorgia Whyte, said she spent $800 on accommodation at Moroccan Resort last year. Her brother, who is attending this year's event, is spending $1000 for a stay at a sub-penthouse at the Q1 resort.

The chief executive of schoolies.com, Matt Lloyd, says schoolies generally have $500 to $1000 to spend after paying for their accommodation.

"But sometimes you'll have a few students who have a bit more than that ," he says.

Ms Whyte was 18 when on her week-long adventure and spent $90 on alcohol.

She says her brother intends to spend about $100.

But she acknowledges some spend much more, noting the stacks of cartons she saw at some apartments.

She and her friends managed kept costs down by sharing alcohol.

"Because I was in a room of eight girls there was heaps of alcohol," she says.

"So if you had a big bottle of vodka you would share it around with your friends, and vice versa."

Although travelling to the Gold Coast can be a substantial cost for southern schoolies, once there travel is cheap. Free buses travel between Main Beach and Broadbeach between 7pm to 2am each day.

And with most schoolies staying close to Main Beach, there is no need to venture far. "I hardly left Surfers the whole time I was there," Ms Whyte says. "Everything was in walking distance."

Ms Whyte spent $70 on groceries to take and $15 on McDonald's – a staple of the schoolie diet, according to the founder of Red Frogs Australia, Andy Gourley.

"Quite often they are smashing KFC or Macca's or Hungry Jacks, and the late-night kebab gets a good hiding too. So you could be looking at up to $200 or $300 a week on food," he says.

Mr Gourley says students should put aside at least $30 a day for food.

To cut costs he recommends students take advantage of the free barbecue on Tuesday night at Main Beach, where 10,000 sausages are cooked for school leavers.

"Another way to save money is to get mum to start cooking up some meals and freezing them to be taken down frozen," he says.

"Grab a couple of lasagnes and a couple of stews so they are ready to heat and serve because you need to be eating well during the week, particularly if you are drinking, so you aren't drinking on an empty stomach."

Also recommended are breakfast cereals, two-minute noodles, large amounts of water and sunscreen.

Another cost, Mr Gourley says, is merchandise, with revellers spending about $100 on memorabilia.

Ms Whyte did her clothes shopping before she went.

"I would have spent around $200 to $250 on clothes, a fake tan and everything I needed like swimmers before I even went," she says.

Estimated average schoolies budget (seven nights on the Gold Coast):

  • Food $210
  • Groceries $70
  • Accommodation $537* (Source schoolies.com)
  • Alcohol $100+
  • Travel $20
  • Spending money $100
  • Total $1037