Road trips sound like the most fantastic way to travel – driving with the windows down, having the freedom to stop wherever and whenever you like, and massacring Despacito for the nth time, what’s not to love?
But before you can live the road life, there’s the logistical aspects to get through first. If you are going on a road trip for the first time, some of these questions will inevitably cross your mind: Where can I rent a vehicle in Australia? Who can I trust? What type of vehicle for my trip? What are the things I need to know? What are the things I don’t even know I need to know? Being road-tripping newbies, we learnt along the way and picked up a few tips from our 7-day Western Australia adventure. Hopefully the tips here will help you sweat less on the logistics so you can spend more time gathering those perfect Instagram shots.
Scout around the sites
If you’re new to road tripping and want to be a savvy renter, you gotta do your research or risk being taken for a ride. Start by asking yourself these questions:
- How many people are on the trip?
- How many days are you going for?
- How confident are you/your companions in handling the vehicle? Is auto transmission a must or can you handle manual vehicles?
- What is your rough itinerary e.g What kind of travel/roads are you going to be on? Are you going to be sleeping in the car/pitching a tent/in proper accommodation?
- What is your budget?
Once you ascertain your needs, you can narrow down to one of these common types of rental vehicles:
- Cars (2WD or 4WD)
- Station wagons
The next step is to go on the various vehicle booking websites to browse the available vehicles, check out the photos, reviews, and get a quotation. For Alex and me, the most important thing was having the flexibility of being able to sleep in a car (camping was great, but as we were travelling in winter, we weren’t 100% sure of the weather conditions). Since we were just 2 people, we figured a station wagon would suit our needs perfectly. We settled on Travellers Autobarn as they provided super prompt responses, were very patient in answering every single question we had and offered competitive rates.
Clarify the terms and conditions
Upon picking up the vehicle, you will usually be asked to review and sign off on some paperwork, including terms and conditions. Make sure to read through the clauses and clarify if you have any doubts at all. Some good questions to double check would be on insurance coverage, details on vehicle condition/return, or if there are any other additional charges.
Watch the safety and instructional video
The last thing anyone wants on a road trip is a breakdown/accident/or any other unforeseen incidents. Pay attention to any instructional guides even if you feel you are an experienced road tripper. Travellers Autobarn made sure we were aware of the basic operation of the vehicle and we were also briefed on what to do should there be any issues at all with our car while on the road.
Check the vehicle, pay attention to the damage report
We knew we were in great hands when the staff at Travellers Autobarn came along with us to do a detailed vehicle check and fill out a damage report noting down any dings/marks that are already on the vehicle. Ensure that this is filled out thoroughly to avoid any contention upon vehicle return!
Chat to the staff, ask for their recommendations
Now that you are almost ready to hit the road, why not seek some quick advice from the helpful staff at the rental place? We got some great advice on places to visit as well as local places to eat – now isn’t that what travelling is all about?
On the road
Keep your eye on the fuel gauge
Don’t wait until your bladder is super full before you start searching for a toilet.
Don’t wait until your fuel is near empty before you start searching for a petrol station.
Obey the speed limits
This sounds intuitive, but deserves a spot, especially for international travellers – obey the laws! Australia is very strict on speed limits, so don’t be surprised to find yourself being pulled over if you think you “only slightly exceeded the speed limit”.
Driving on unfamiliar roads means you have to be extra careful. Australian weather can be pretty unpredictable; wait out any bad weather if you need to. Plan your route such that you avoid driving at night especially in remote areas with minimal light; wild roaming animals can be hazardous if you hit them and your insurance may not cover any vehicular damage as a result of that.
Return the vehicle in the same condition as you pick it up
Make an effort to clean the vehicle and tidy it, as much as possible – it’s only polite! A good rule is to treat the car like it is your own (if you treat your own car shabbily, apply the rule: “treat the car like you borrowed it from your friend”).
Rental places like Travellers Autobarn is great as it offers after-hours return. Simply drop your key at the designated place, park your car and you are set! Collect your emotions as that probably also signifies the end of your road trip, but don’t worry, now that you have these tips under your belt, we are sure you will be off on your next road adventure before you know it.