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The A-Z of booking a Self-Drive Campervan Rental in Australia

What to Hire, from Who and How?

Introduction:

The first thing to say about self-drive holidays in Australia is that you have a wealth of choice to select from as well as a vast country to explore. Given that Australia is roughly the same size as continental USA with a population less than Texas there is plenty of empty space and a country widely diverse in climate and terrain to discover.

Australia is fortunate to be home to some of the World’s leading Campervan rental companies offering a wide range of vehicles from adventurous four wheel drives to luxurious Motorhomes.

Long gone are the days when a Campervan holiday involved cramped beds, awkward bathroom facilities, limited cooking options and generally a step away from home comforts. Today’s vehicles have evolved to offer European styled kitchens, spacious air-conditioned living areas with audio-visual equipment, large double beds and well-equipped bathrooms. What’s more they are surprisingly easy to drive with no special licensing requirements other than holding a full driving license and over the age of 21 (with some exceptions).

Power steering, automatic transmissions and modern design have taken the hard work out of travelling in a vehicle larger than most of us regularly drive.

Finding & Booking … How?

Most of the leading rental firms have online booking facilities and in some instances reservations can be made through your local travel agent. However as alternative option, we would suggest visiting drivenow.com.au, a website dedicated to pulling information together on the top Australian (and New Zealand) rental suppliers. In addition to being able to compare rates and vehicles from competing rental companies the website also offers:

  • Latest Discounted Rate Comparisons
  • Early Bird and Long Term Rental Discounting
  • Vehicle Rental Company profiles
  • Rental branch locations and services provided
  • Detailed Vehicle descriptions and specifications
  • Fleet comparisons
  • Insurance detail options
  • Travel information

DriveNow is focused on doing all the leg work for prospective road travellers in Australia and New Zealand to ensure that you have all the information required to compare and select the vehicle that most suits your travelling needs.

Rental Companies … Who to use?

There are many high quality rental companies in Australia, some are highly specialised and offer services in particular states or cities whilst others are national and operate across all states and territories. The top 5 in terms of size, range of fleet, widest choice of branch locations and quality of service are:

Vehicle Definitions … What’s in a Name?

The term Campervan, Motorhome, RV (Recreational Vehicle) and even 4 WD Campervans are all often inter-used to describe the same vehicle. Whilst there are exceptions a set of rule-of-thumb definitions could include:

  • Motorhome
    Generally top end luxury vehicles on a long-wheel base and provide the most generous living space and facilities.
    These range from 2 to 6 berth vehicles and come equipped with European styled kitchen appliances, comprehensive bathroom facilities, full reverse cycle air-conditioning, LCD televisions, DVD players and in some instances even Playstations.
  • Campervans
    Campervans cover largely 2, 2.5 (2 adults & 1 child) and 3 berth vehicles. Today many of these are equipped with bathroom and complete kitchen facilities and often TVs & DVD players. Most have air-conditioning and heating in the Driving and Living cabins.
  • Recreational Vehicles (RVs)
    North American term to describe both the above sets of vehicles, although in the US the size of RVs can far exceed Australian models.
  • 4WD Campervans
    4 Wheel Drive Campervans are designed on their namesakes, the most popular of which is the Toyota Land-Cruiser. Whilst limited in internal features (generally bedding for two) these often provide additional external sleeping through tent extensions and some can accommodate up to 5 travellers. Vehicles are all Diesel with manual transmissions and generally long-range fuel tanks.

Campervan Classes … What’s the difference?

  • 6 Berth Motorhome6 Berth Motorhome Rental Comparisons
    Top end luxury vehicles, generally largest in a suppliers fleet with 3 double beds, comprehensive kitchen, onboard shower & Toilet facilities and Air-Conditioning/heating. Large entertainment area and audio visual equipment often includes LCD TV & DVD players. Turbo Diesel engines with manual and auto transmissions depending upon supplier. Examples include the Britz Frontier and Apollo Euro Deluxe Motorhomes.
  • 4 Berth Motorhome 4 Berth Motorhome Rental Comparisons
    Luxury vehicles with 2 double beds comprehensive kitchens, generous entertainment area, Air-Conditioning/heating and onboard shower & Toilet facilities.Often equipped with LCD TV & DVD players. Turbo Diesel engines with manual and auto transmissions depending upon supplier. Examples include KEA Campers 4 berth and Maui Motorhomes Spirit 4.
  • 3 Berth Motorhome3 Berth Motorhome Rental Comparisons
    Luxury 3 berth (1 x double & 1 x single) with comprehensive kitchen, onboard shower & Toilet, Air-Conditioning/heating and audio visual equipped. Turbo Diesel engines with manual transmission. Examples include Apollo’s Cruiser.
  • 3 Berth Campervan3 Berth Motorhome Rental Comparisons
    Accommodation for 2 adults & 1 child, Cooker, Fridge and sink (hand pump), no onboard bathroom facilities, Air-Conditioning/heating in Driver’s cabin. Unleaded Petrol engines with manual transmissions. Examples include Backpacker’s Nomad and Apollo’s Hitop campervan.
  • 2 Berth Motorhome2 Berth Motorhome Rental Comparisons
    Luxury vehicle, 1 double bed, comprehensive kitchen and onboard shower & Toilet facilities, Air-Conditioning/heating and often equipped with LCD TV & DVD players. Turbo Diesel engines with manual transmissions. Examples include KEA’s ST/TV and Maui’s Spirit 2 T/S.
  • 2 Berth Campervan2 Berth Motorhome Rental Comparisons
    Widest choice of vehicles, 1 Double Bed, well equipped kitchen, usually with onboard shower & Toilet facilities. Turbo Diesel and unleaded Petrol engines with manual transmissions depending upon supplier. Examples include BackPacker Wanderer and Britz Elite.
  • 4 Wheel Drive Campervans4 Wheel Drive Campervan Rental Comparisons
    Often equipped with sleeping accommodation onboard for 2, 4WD Campervans also supplement their sleeping quarters with tents. In the case of the Britz Toyota Adventurer this takes the form of the quirky Dome tent that sits atop of the vehicle. Vehicles largely based on the Toyota Land Cruiser short and long wheel base, Turbo diesel engines with manual transmission and often equipped with long-range fuel tanks – 135 litres. Examples include Apollo’s 2 Berth Adventure and the KEA Camper 3 Berth Pop-Top 4WD Campervan.

Selecting a Vehicle … What’s right for me?

In selecting the right vehicle for your holiday there are certain key considerations to make including:

  • Number of Travellers
  • Age of Travellers
  • Travel Itinerary
  • Budget
  • Time of Year
  • Style of Holiday

Obviously the number of passengers is going to dictate the type and size of your vehicle. But it’s also worth checking out the sleeping configuration of each vehicle.  For instance in many instances the 6 berth luxury Motorhomes have 3 x double beds and whilst perfect for 3 couples or young families it would not necessarily work for a group of friends or family with large number of adolescent children.

For those looking to have all the mod-cons whilst on the road then the Motorhome range of vehicles will fit the bill with accommodation starting from 2 berth up to the aforementioned 6 berths. These will provide the most leg-room, fittings, furnishings and bathroom facilities. Remember that many of the electrical appliances (including auxiliary Air-conditioning/hearting) will only operate when the vehicle’s power cable is connected to the mains (most Holiday Parks in Australia will offer this facility).

For those who are happy to live without some onboard facilities then the range of Campervans, of which the most popular and widest choice are the 2 (+1 child) berth will be ideal and easier on the pocket.

If you’re travelling on a budget and require 2 or 3 berths look for the Cheapa Campa from Apollo and Backpacker Campervan Rental options. Though often you will be surprised at the prices and deals available so comparing all your options is highly recommended.

If you plan to take your vehicle off the bitumen then the 4 Wheel Drive is the only option to look at and you must let the rental company know of your plans when you pick up the vehicle. In parts of Outback Australia you are required to have a permit to enter Aboriginal Lands and depending upon the season some areas are closed due to climatic conditions. The 4 Wheel Drive option caters for 2 travellers through to parties of 5 with tents – so very flexible.

Depending upon the time of year and where you wish to travel, it’s worth booking well in advance. In the Southern states in summer, particularly around Christmas, Motorhomes book out fast and well in advance. Conversely in the Winter period – June through August – Northern Queensland and the Top End – Darwin and the Northern Territory become popular.

If you have younger children or infants that require booster and/or baby seats check on the DriveNow website as to whether your vehicle of choice accommodates them.

DriveNow allows you to book well in advance so once you have your travel dates locked in it’s highly recommended to lock in your vehicle of choice to avoid disappointment and higher rates that generally come around the closer you get to popular travel times. Another advantage of booking early are the Early Bird rates. Most of DriveNow ‘s Campervan partners offer aaded discounts to rentals that are booked 6+ months in advance.

ChrisC
DriveNow Partner and sometime Blog Contributor

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