How do you hire a campervan?

Emily wants to know if hiring a motorhome is a good way to tour Australia and whether she can expect any nasty surprises when she comes to make her booking.

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Q. Emily
My husband and I are thinking of travelling around Australia for a month and are considering hiring a motorhome to take in as many of the sights as possible. Is this an easy thing to do? What are the things I need to look out for? Are there any hidden expenses that could make this more expensive than it seems?

A. A campervan or motorhome is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to explore Australia. It is also increasingly popular, so you can’t just expect to turn up to a rental company and pick-up a motorhome that is ready to go, you will need to book at least six months in advance for peak periods like Christmas.

Before settling on any campervan, it is highly recommended that you read the company’s product disclosure statement (PDS) or rental contract. This document outlines everything you need to know about the campervan, your responsibilities as the renter and the services the company will provide to you. It will also discuss what you need to do if you break something or your vehicle breaks down. For example, in the case of breaking a mug, one company may require you to buy a whole new matching set, while another may only need that one cup replaced.

Depending on the company you choose to make your booking through, there are some things that you might consider necessities that could be included as optional extras, and that come at an additional cost. These can include bedding, outdoor furniture and accessories, and safety equipment such as GPS units and tyre-puncture kits.

More often than not, your campervan will come with unlimited kilometres, meaning you can travel as far as you like on any given day. A few companies offer capped daily kilometres on their campervans, which usually ends up being a few hundred. Exceeding the daily limits incurs a cost on any extra kilometres travelled.

A few companies charge extra for travelling on outback or alpine roads – up to $10 per day!

Always thoroughly read the hirer’s PDS or contract before signing anything. Some deals are too good to be true, as although the hire price is low, you will incur exorbitant fees when you travel to make up for it.

Insurance
All rental providers offer some level of insurance when hiring a campervan from them. This insurance operates similarly to third-party insurance, where you are covered if you are hit by someone else, but you will incur a very high, non-negotiable excess if you are the cause of the accident.

Basic insurance only covers you for any mechanical or electrical issues while on the road. However, if you choose to upgrade your insurance, any damage to your windscreen and tyres will be covered too.

Campervan rental companies do not offer insurance on the undercarriage or roof of the vehicle, and any damage to those will come directly out of your pocket.

Roadside assistance is also included in most hire agreements.

Have you ever hired a motorhome to tour Australia? What did you think of the experience? Did it encourage you to take more self-drive holidays?

Related articles:
Capital Drives: Adelaide
Drive on the wrong side of the road
How to save on a road trip

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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