Travelling Australia is expensive. There is no way around it. It will drain your bank account – but there are some easy ways to make that money go a little bit further. And a cheaper trip means more time on the road. So…. here are some hacks to getting cheaper campervan hire.
1. Return the vehicle to the same place as you rented it
This may not be possible for everyone, but it will save you $200 – $300 on your vehicle rental. Whenever you return a campervan to a different location than where you picked it up you are charged a one-way fee of between $200 – $300. Every company will do this, so there is no point shopping around for a company who does not. Why do they do this? Because they can. Does it really matter why, the point is it’s a real thing and you can avoid it. If you’re in a campervan and willing to ‘rough it’ for a night or who, then you can free camp it and head back to where you picked up the van from via a faster inland route. For example you may have driven from Brisbane to Cairns via the coast, however the Inland Way will take you back to Brissy in a much shorter time-frame – ignore Google maps, it does not take into account traffic and road works (plus you can stop in a Belyando Crossing, our old workplace, and say hi to the crew). There is less to see and do on these inland roads, they are mainly truck routes and local roads and great to getting from A to B quickly!
2. Avoid the weekends and public (and school) holidays
This should be a no-brainer but we hear people complaining about it time and time again. Yes, companies will raise the price of rentals during peak periods. Commercial campsites will also be more expensive. So stay at home when the kiddies are on holidays and take a few days off work to avoid the weekend price-hikes. You will be rewarded with a better experience, less traffic and a lower car hire rate.
3. Be over 21
Some car hire companies will hire nicer vans to those over 21 and others will charge a premium price to drivers under 21 – some may not hire to you at all. If you can’t or wont postpone your big Aussie roadtrip until you’re over 21 then find yourself a driver who is over this milestone age. There are hundreds of car-share opportunities being posted online everyday in backpacker groups on facebook and on gumtree. It’s obviously best to meet them before you hop in a car with them, so decide on a public space to meet and have a beer/coffee first. Meet a few candidates, then lock in your roadtrip buddie. Plus with a buddie on board you can split the costs of fuel and food!
4. Longer travel = cheaper price per day
Yep thats right folks. If you travel slow and take your time exploring this great land your van rental daily rate will be cheaper. True! Also, if you’re looking for a really long term campervan hire, then call the company directly and try to negotiate a better daily rate. This will only work if you’re hiring for over a 4 – 6 weeks (if not longer). You never know what they might be able to offer you for a long term hire!
5. Get your mates in – take a tent and drive with 4 in the car!
How many travellers can you fit into a campervan? Take it to the (legal) limit and fit in as many people as the car can carry when driving. Some campers can carry 4 when driving but only comfortably sleep 2. No worries. Be smart and buy a small tent and rotate through who gets to sleep in the van. Make sure you buy a decent tent though, not like this guy in the photo who purchased a $20 tent from K-mart with no fly or air ventilation and wanted to sleep him and his girlfriend in it in the Queensland wet season. No action for him this vaycay.
For some ideas of decent and cheap tents, check out he following:
We met two couples who were travelling together and had hired a Juicy van per couple. They were very comfortable but they must have also been either broke after their trip, or freaking loaded to start off with. The better (cheaper) option is to drive all in the one van and sleep in a tent. We did it, it’s not that bad!
6. Relocate a campervan
If you want a small adventure but don’t have the cash or time to spare, then this just might interest you. You can hire a campervan for as little as $1 per day, but there is a catch. You have a set location to pick the car up form and deliver it to and usually a short timeframe. For example, the company may need cars relocated from Adelaide to Sydney. The will set an earliest pick up and latest drop off date. You are welcome to use the car as you wish between these dates. generally there will be a fuel rebate to a certain amount (maybe $50 or $100 cash back if you provide fuel receipts) and a daily rate that you will have to pay. The daily rate is generally between $1 – $10 per day. Cheap as chips mate! All this sounds too good to be true right? Well it kind of is. You have quite a short timeframe to get from one point to another. For example, at the time of writing on offer was Adelaide to Sydney in 4 days, Alice Springs to Melbourne in 5 days, Brisbane to Melbourne in 4 days and Sydney to Brisbane in 2 days.
You can get your grubby little hands on these relocation offers via Imoova or Coseats. We would recommend these relocation deals as a great way to gt form one place to another, without playing for pricey bus or plane fares, however they are not great for big adventure.
Already read out full Guide to hiring a campervan in Australia? Great! Now you can start to compile the rest of your travel budget. Not sure how to do that? We have you covered. Head to How much money do I need to travel Australia here.