Expert Tips

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Keeping young children safe in your car rental


Exploring the vast and scenic expanses of Australia or diverse beauty of New Zealand with a rental car is a fantastic holiday idea for the whole family.

There are strict rules on securing your young child when they're in the car.

To make the experience enjoyable for everyone, you’ll want to make safety a top priority and you’ll most likely know the basics of safe long-distance car travel.

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How to make the most of your New Zealand campervan rental

By New Zealand /

Hiring a campervan can be an exciting way of exploring New Zealand with the whole family, especially for your kids – imagine the delight on their faces at the prospect of living in a house with wheels! If it’s your first time travelling in a Campervan in New Zealand or anywhere for that matter, here are some things to keep in mind.

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What is freedom camping?

By New Zealand /

Freedom camping is a hot topic for New Zealand tourism, and a thoughtful visitor will opt to pay the low fee at a camp ground instead of undertaking this practice with their New Zealand campervan rental.

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Do you pick up hitch-hikers?

By New Zealand /

What are the real and unspoken rules on picking up hitch-hikers in New Zealand? Hitch-hiking is a common sight around the world, and New Zealand is no exception. The practice is legal in the country (unlike in neighbouring Australia), so you will likely come across hitch-hikers when you’re out on the roads in New Zealand.

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Driving in New Zealand – what you need to know

By New Zealand /

There are a few important things to know about driving in New Zealand that anyone renting a car needs to be aware of. The great thing about exploring the Land of the Long White Cloud is that driving a New Zealand car rental is a relatively stress-free experience, particularly for those used to the more busy roads of North America, Europe or even Australia.

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What is Car Hire Excess Insurance?


One of the most common issues raised with us is that of Excess Car Insurance.

How much am I liable for in the event of an accident?

How can I reduce my liability and how much will that cost?

Does my travel insurance cover me?

To answer these questions and explain how excess car insurance works the DriveNow Res team put together a quick guide.


What insurance comes as standard with a Rental Car?

All car hire companies supply vehicles fully insured with a standard amount that you are liable for in the event of an accident or damage to the vehicle whilst in your possesion. This amount varies between companies and type of rental vehicle. Small and Standard size vehicles attract an excess of around $3300 whilst for luxury and 4 wheel drive rentals this figure can be as high as $5700.

If you choose not to take out an excess insurance reduction option then the standard excess amount is charged to your credit card. This is reimbursed when you drop off the vehicle once it has been checked for any damage.


How does Excess insurance work?
In a perfect world and in the case of the vast majority of car rentals there is no need to fall back upon insurance. However here’s what happens where that perfect world is not so perfect.
If the rental vehicle is damaged whilst in your possesion irrespective of who was responsible the rental company will retain the full excess insurance amount. Once the cost of repairs has been established and should those costs be below the excess amount the rental company will reimburse your credit card with the difference. One thing worth remembering is that the time between your rental drop off and the repairs being completed may fall beyond your credit card billing cycle so you may have to pay for the full excess insurance amount and wait to be reimbursed by the rental company.

As you can see standard excess can be painful in the event of an accident.


So, What are Excess Reduction Options?
There are ways of reducing this exposure and potential pain. Some commentators call excess insurance options the hidden cost of car rental. This is slightly unfair on the rental companies (and yes we may be a little biased) given they are renting their fleet out to different drivers every day and in order to keep their costs competitive they need to optimise their insurance options.

By paying a daily fee you can reduce the amount you are liable for and the amount debited against your credit card.
These reduction fees vary between companies, type of rental vehicle and even location. Expect to pay $25-$28 per day for a small or standard sized vehicle, $30-$36 per day for luxury and 4 Wheel drives. The amount these fees reduce your liability also varies from aroung $350 for small vehicles to $1600 for some of the 4 wheel drives.


How can my Travel Insurance help me?

There is another option which can cover your entire excess liability albeit with a couple of strings. Travel insurance and Credit Card agreements. Many travel insurance policies and credit cards include car hire excess insurance cover. However the catch (as such) is that you need to claim back from the insurance company after travelling and therefore your credit card will be charged the full excess insurance amount and processed as if no excess reduction option had been taken. It is critical that you have all documentation relating to the vehicle damage and circumstances (a police report even in minor single vehicle accidents is essential). So whilst this option will see you reimbursed that may not occur until after your trip.

With the prevelance of camera equipped phones a great tip is to take photos of any internal or external scratches, markings or signs of damage when picking up your vehicle and before leaving the rental branch. In addition bring this to the attention of rental staff and ensure a written record is agreed upon.

Ultimately the decision to take excess insurance options or not is a personal one, weighing up the risk against the cost of the additional premiums and the impact upon your credit card of the standard excess charge during youre rental. The travel insurance option offers one of the cheapest paths taking into account that there may be a delay before you receive reimbuserment from your insurance company in the event of an accident.

Explore your options when you pick up your vehicle or with your insurance company before travelling.
DriveNow Team

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Let’s keep Easter at Easter and Christmas in December


Christmas in July is one thing but Easter in January?

Santa has no sooner garaged the sledge, turned Rudolph and friends loose for another 11 months of frolicking in the ice fields and put the kettle on when Easter has arrived.  No long hot antipodian summer, no frenzied Australia Day celebrations nor excitement of the first term in the new school year. No, it’s official, Easter is here – just visit your local supermarket where time beats to a different tune and you’ll find yourself thrown forward to Easter in January.

Our local Victorian seaside purveyor of all things fresh and wonderful was offering Hot Cross buns on 28th December with Easter Eggs, so I was assured by Mr Checkout, to be on the shelves from this Monday, the first in January.  Is it just me or is this a wee bit early? Do they really believe that as we rush out to stock up on summer goodness that we”ll be struck by the need to beat the rush and pick out our Easter eggs whilst the mercury is hovering in the thirties, cricket is on the beach and TV and tennis is yet to come?

It seems today that Easter snaps on Christmas heels whilst Christmas itself kicks off during those last weeks of footie finals in late September and early October. Whatever happened to the great December Christmas countdown? That last mad cap week when we charge around attempting to find presents before the shops close at 5pm on Christmas Eve. Surely having put up with the extended family Christmas lunch, spent Boxing Day recovery with the start of the Sydney to Hobart, cricket at the G and survived NYE’s fireworks, celebrations and resolutions, we all deserve a bit of quiet respite? I know the Easter Bunny is a busy chap but I’m betting his egg supply will not run dry. Please, can we have January back?

On the other hand …………… there’s one thing the Easter Bunny cannot control and most definitely does run out and run out fast and that’s Easter rental cars! Well you knew there was going to be car rental angle somewhere didn’t you?

Easter and Christmas are the peaks of peak when it comes to renting a car or campervan. Unlike Easter eggs not only do vehicles sell out quickly but as they do what’s left rises in price. Note to those needing People Movers – book now – don’t wait and be disappointed – these are always the first to go.

There is a simple solution to this dilemma. Book Early.

These days you can book a car without supplying any credit card details and campervans require no payment until 6 weeks out from travel. So booking now for Easter costs you nothing, ensures you of the vehicle of your choice and most importantly you get the best price. There’s nothing to lose and plenty to gain.

So when you visit Mr Coles or Mrs Woolworths, pass on the Easter eggs and hot cross buns by all means, but perhaps whilst you laze away those summer days find 5 minutes to jump onto and book up your Easter wheels without burning a hole in your pocket.
Happy 2013 and Happy Easter!!



Grab some bargains online before setting off on your Aussie summer road trip

By Australia /

The road trip’s looking good – you’ve done the groundwork, booked the Australian campervan rental, assembled the essentials, but a few last-minute items are still on the agenda. Why not avoid the Christmas crowds and click on convenience by shopping online before that next big summer road trip.

Here are a few ideas:

The Great Australian Doorstep TV Show’s clearance sale: DriveNow’s regular guest blogger Peter “Spida” Everitt’’ not only discovers Australia AND records a TV show, he also finds time to pack his website with a heap of bargains.

The Little Book of Big Discounts ($2.95) contains 36 vouchers for holiday parks, cruises and day tours, accommodation, camp gear hire and car hire. The exclusive Great Australian Doorstep Sherrin footy, at $89 (usually $195), is perfect for booting around the campsite. Throw in a deck of cards ($2.55) and a silver key ring bottle and can opener ($3.95) and you’ve bagged yourself some great value. You can also snap up some DVDs of the series.

AGFG online store: If you are away in your campervan rental for the festive season, it’s handy to have a hamper tucked away – you’ll never be short of a box of choccies or gourmet pickles for that relative, friend, or the bloke who helps you fix a flat tyre.

The brand new AGFG online shop, part of the Australian Good Food and Travel Guide’s general portal, features a first-class selection of hampers from top name brands and chefs, including a Christmas range (from $50, see a $99 one pictured). Of course, it’s nice to keep a few luxuries for yourself. How about some Maggie Beer stock (beef or chicken), Luke Mangan BBQ rub, a bit of Peter Kuruvita Chili Salt and a jar of Duck Creek honey choc macadamias to keep your camp dinners interesting? Top it off with the Original Hot Chocolate Company “chunks on a spoon”, it’ll  keep the kids amused as they stir it in hot milk by the fire, or savor one yourself while watching the sun go down.

When hitting the road after you have hired a campervan in Australia, barbecue is the undisputed king of camp cooking, but imagine surprising the family with a roast, stew or dessert? Jo Clews’ Australian Camp Oven Cooking (Boiling Billy Publications, RRP $34.99) provides recipes, as well as info on different types of camp oven cooking gear, menu planning and building the right type of cooking fire.



Splash out in Swan Hill this summer

By Victoria /

THERE’S no better way to splash out over summer on your next road trip than by parking your campervan rental at a Big4 Park – especially one with a Splash Park!

Holiday caravan park chain Big4 has plenty of these water wonders around Australia to pick from, including Big4 Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort in Queensland, Beachlands Holiday Park in Western Australia and BIG4 Saltwater @ Yamba Holiday Park in New South Wales.

While the weather’s chillier down south, Victoria does get some serious heat from late December through to early April and the state now has a new water world in the neighborhood. Those who hit the road in their Melbourne campervan hire and arrive at BIG4 Swan Hill about four hours later will have a beaut way to cool off thanks to the opening of a new $800,000 Splash Park. The zero-depth multi-level aquatic play area is ramping up the family fun-o-meter with three water slides, an 8.5-metre super splash tipping bucket, spray cannons, interactive ground sprays, and play equipment to keep kids splashing about for hours on end. The complex also has protected toddlers’ areas outside of the range of spray cannons and a soft fall surface.

Clare O’Bryan, owner of BIG4 Swan Hill, is excited about what the Splash Park brings to the Murray River town for holidayers.

“We’re very excited to have the opportunity to bring something totally different to Swan Hill. Our guests, as well as a lot of Swan Hill locals are always on the lookout for activities to keep the kids entertained, especially over the school holidays,” says Clare. “Ours will be one of the first water parks in a holiday park in Victoria and we’re expecting to see an increase of at least 20 percent in bookings once it opens. We’re hoping to bring more visitors to Swan Hill and encourage them to stay longer to enjoy our new Splash Park and all our other fun, family-friendly facilities while they explore the region.”

In addition to the Splash Park, BIG4 Swan Hill offers a relaxed family friendly environment with facilities including a giant jumping pillow, playground, pool, games room, purpose built bike track, beach volleyball court and go-kart hire.

Visit for more info.



Girls just wanna have fun: 5 great Aussie road trips

By Adelaide / Australia / Brisbane / Hobart / Melbourne / New South Wales / Queensland / South Australia / Sydney / Tasmania / Victoria /


CYNDI Lauper made the call back in 1983 and there’s no doubt one of the best ways for girls who wanna have fun Down Under is to head off on the great Aussie road trip. But where to go?

With Spring in the air and Summer just around the corner, I called upon five friends from five different Australian states and asked the question: What’s your ultimate girls’ weekend road trip getaway after you grab a car hire at the airport? Here are their answers …


Daylesford. A 90 minute drive from Melbourne along Western Hwy/C141 (115km).

“No question, has to be Daylesford, the perfect road trip for girls as it’s not to far and once you get there it’s heaven. In this former gold mining town surrounded by mountains you will find Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa. Wow. It’s definitely a treat. Hepburn is known for its natural spring mineral spas, where you can treat yourselves to well-deserved massages and body treatments. It’s also great to take in the thick forest scenery from your window as you sit back and relax. You also have to dine out at Frangos & Frangos.” – Amy, 36, Bentleigh.


Byron Bay. A 2 hour drive from Brisbane along M1/Pacific Hwy/National Route 1 (165km).

“It’s becoming a little bit more commercialised every year, but it still doesn’t mean Byron Bay is any less appealing. In fact, it’s still as amazing as ever with a really relaxed vibe. Byron has several spas to choose from, including the Kiva Spa and Bathhouse, which has a Southeast Asian atmosphere. Spend some time in Kiva’s spas, sauna and plunge pool before pampering yourselves with massages and skin treatment. After that, relax at Byron Bay’s world famous beaches, only 15 minutes away.” – Renee, 51, Brisbane.


Hunter Valley. A 3 hour drive north of Sydney along Tourist Drive 33 (220km).

“You’ve got to visit Chateau Elan, a $40 million spa retreat, which has an extensive spa menu where you and the girls can choose from a range of different massages, including Balinese Palming. With its French inspired café, a golf course and a hair salon, the girls are in for a treat!” – Sheree, 45, Pagewood.


Barossa Valley Wine Region. A 1 hour drive from Adelaide along Princes Hwy and Sturt Hwy (70km).

“If you feel like some delicious wine and a relaxing weekend away then then Barossa Valley is the place to go! Most definitely without question. Sample some wine at one of the several vineyards on the way to the Endota Spa, an award-winning franchise. Relax with the girls and enjoy all kinds of treatments fit for a princess.” – Lisa, 29, Glenelg.


Freycinet National Park. A 3 hour drive north of Hobart along A3 (200km).

“Head straight to Tassie’s Freycinet region, home to Wineglass Bay, and you will find the Saffire Freycinet – it’s perfect for a girls weekend away in Australia. With the Freycinet National Park Campground not far away, the Saffire overlooks Great Oyster Bay’s pristine coast. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, venture out to the surrounding white sandy beaches to soak up the sun after your luxurious spa treatment.” Fiona, 41, Hobart.