No Australia adventure is complete without an Aussie Road Trip. In many years of travels around Australia, I have experienced all different kinds of road trips, from backpacking trips to group travel, to solo road trips by car and campervan. There are many ways of experiencing the great outdoors in Australia, but they all imply a different level of knowledge, various skills and first and foremost the type of experience that you expect from a road trip.
To make sure that you choose the right type of road trip experience here are my best tips and advice on for planning a road trip around Australia.
How to plan a road trip around Australia
First of all, you must be clear that driving in Australia is not the same as driving in Europe. The vast distances and the peculiar landmarks have an impact on the overall enjoyment when road tripping around the country.
So the first things that you should learn about Australia before considering a road trip around the country are:
- The road trip destinations around Australia
Where do you want to go on a road trip? Are you planning a big loop all around Australia, then you will need six months, or maybe from West to East, then plan 6-8 weeks or a road trip along the East Coast of Australia, six weeks will be a right time frame.
- The natural environment
Where will you be driving through metropolitan, suburban or coastal areas, national parks, or Outback regions? Map out your road trip routes and see what challenges they bring.
- Driving distances and facilities
Be aware of what you will get on your road trip journey. Are there urbanised areas, with hotels and accommodation or are there vast empty spaces with national parks and remote outback regions with limited facilities. This will influence the type of vehicle to use for your road trip.
- The nature of the road trip
What are you going to do while road tripping in Australia? How many stops do you plan in and what activities you want to do. Hiking, walking, biking, or will it be a driving-through-route to your next destination?
Car vs Campervan – Advantages and Disadvantages
Once you have gathered all the above information, then the next step is to choose between hiring a car vs hiring a campervan. While hiring a campervan may sound appealing and cost-effective, it’s not always the best solution to saving money on accommodation. Touring Australia by car may oftentimes is the best solution for first-time visitors. And the benefits and the downsides vary a lot depending on the circumstances and the type of Australian road trip you want to plan.
Here I have grouped the main benefits and negatives for choosing a car vs a campervan and vice-versa.
Benefits and downsides for hiring a car in Australia
- Hiring a car is usually less expensive than a campervan.
The cost of fuel and vehicle insurance are lower than those you are bound to spend on a campervan. While fuel isn’t expensive in Australia, the price for hiring a campervan is considerably higher and a campervan cost of fuel too.
Travelling by car is best suited for short and accessible routes.
It gives a lot of flexibilities, and the care-free pre-trip preparation is almost non-existing compared to hiring a campervan where you need to make yourself familiar with many aspects.
- Car hire implies a higher cost for accommodation and food.
That’s true if you will eat out for all your meals. If you stay in budget accommodation like hostels or are prepared to book yourself into a campsite, a basic cabin accommodation for 2-3 people would cost 100-120 dollars. This will allow you to cook your meals too, thus saving money on food.
On this page, you can read more about my tips for travelling by car around Australia.
Benefits and downsides for hiring a campervan in Australia
Campervans are not all equal in Australia. There are three main ranges, the low-range a.k.a. Budget campervans, the mid-range and the high-range. I would only consider mid-to-high-end range campervans for better comfort. While backpackers vans are quite inexpensive, the quality of the vehicles is poor.
While travelling Australian in a campervan is good fun, it’s advisable to weigh up all the pros and cons to make a thoughtful decision on the type of road trip experience.
- The cost of accommodation costs drops
With unpowered campers, rates can be as low as 20 dollars/day. However, a powered camper will cost you around 50-60 dollars, depending on the campsite and type of campervan. If you are planning a road trip around Australia for 1 or 3 months, then hiring a campervan or caravan will save lots of money.
- Hiring a campervan implies a higher insurance rate
The insurance is available for purchase when you book the vehicle, and you pay it when you pick it up. This is something I wouldn’t skimp on. In case of an accident, the average travel insurance plan will not cover any damages and costs arising from campervan damages.
- A small campervan is comfortable to park
also in metropolitan areas, whereas for large campervans you may have difficulties in parking outside suburbian regions and those are good for long-distance road trip journeys only.
- Trailers are an excellent alternative to campervans
They are an upgraded version of a tent. These are quite common among the locals though, as most of the times are not available for rent.
This is my experience on my Solo Camping Adventure in Australia.
The cost Prices vs Comfort and real comparison sites
While there are many car and campervan van comparison sites on the web, I suggest using an Australian based comparison site, mostly because they have an in-depth knowledge of the market and the local customs and Australian driving rules and customs, secondly they offer a full range of local campervan brands.
For the past seven years, I have been using DriveNow for bookings all my solo road trip adventures. It’s one of the best sites I know with an intuitive, straightforward interface and booking process with no hidden fees, and with the option of cancelling with refund-deposit for the new bookings.
Which car and campervans brands
Depending on the type of car, on the East Coast and the West Coast, I have booked my cars mostly with Europcar, and in the Red Centre and Outback regions, I have used Thrifty. Budget is another good option. But I would search and browse through the results to find the best deal but also checking the car features that best suits you.
For a campervan holiday in Australia I suggest the following brands:
- If you travel on a budget but want to hire a good campervan at affordable prices, I would book either Juicy Rentals or Cheapa Campa, for the best value campervan hire.
- For mid-range campervans in Australia, I suggest Britz and Apollo countrywide locations and Cruising for the East Coast of Australia.
- For the highest comfort and luxurious campervans and motorhomes, then Maui and LesGo. If you decide to go with this category, they best suit a group of 4-6 people to better leverage the costs.
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