Never driven a manual? Don’t have a credit card? Suitcase too big to fit into your van?
Today’s story comes from the heart — there is nothing worse than getting ready for your road trip to only get held back due to a “technicality.” Below, we have come up with some necessities to watch out for before hiring a car or campervan.
If you can drive a manual vehicle, you won’t need to stress. However, if you can’t, you might be in trouble. Heaps of customers often are only familiar with traveling in an automatic vehicle and are shattered when discovering on pick-up that their booked van is manual transmission. So, before booking your campervan, make sure you are comfortable with its transmission. It is super easy to switch from manual to automatic. However, the other way around is not something that can be taught in 5 minutes. You’ll have to consider this since there would be no point in hiring a van or campervan that you cannot even drive.
What a great topic bond is — every car and campervan rental company in the world has a bond or what we like to call “excess reduction.” What this means is that you are covered should there be any damage done to the car or campervan that you rent. The last thing you want at the end of a trip is to cover the cost for scratches and dents on the van. Before you book your campervan compare the different bond options and — most importantly — ensure that you have enough money on your credit card to cover for a bond. Bonds can range anywhere between $2,000 to $7,500. Those are big numbers, so make sure you are aware of your bond level, that you are able to cover it with your credit card, and VERY VERY IMPORTANT: check with your bank what your daily limit is. We are getting lots of customers who have more than enough money on their credit cards for the bond, however, they weren’t aware that their daily limit is much less. A quick call to your bank (overseas) before hiring your vehicle will help clarify this matter and avoid the potential delay and getting on the road.
CASH CARD VS CREDIT CARD VS DEBIT CARD
Everyone has cash cards these days. They make it easy to avoid exchange rates risks as well transaction fees. HOWEVER, and this is very important, no car/campervan rental company accepts cash cards for their bonds. So if you hire a vehicle, definitely get yourself a credit card organised (Mastercard or Visa). Some companies allow debit cards — give them a call and check before you book! At Travellers Autobarn we do not allow cash bonds either. In fact, only a few companies offer the possibility of a cash bond. The downturn of a cash bond is that you may lose a lot of money in exchange rate fees, and if you travel for a long time (3 months plus), you might potentially be dealing with strong exchange rate fluctuations. Our suggestion would be to use a credit card for the bond but to also have a cash card or debit card handy for any purchases you need to make on the road.
Size can be a funny one, especially if you are traveling on a budget. It really comes down to how long you plan on staying in your campervan. Some campervans out there are like cars — no option to sit or stand in the campervan — while others are much bigger and offer enough room for your backpack AND a case of beer. Find out for yourself what is important to you. If you are on the road for a few weeks, it is worth it to spend a few more dollars to get that extra space. This way, you will avoid moving your luggage from the driver’s cabin to the trunk to the back seats to the driver’s cabin, etc. We would also recommend to travel with a backpack/rucksack, rather than a suitcase. Some travelers arrive with their hardshell suitcase and are unable to find storage space for it. A backpack is ideal for road trips because it’s smaller and it can fit just about anywhere. The more flexible your bag is, the better!
Each company has different opening hours — it is extremely important to be aware of that when you are planning to pick-up or drop-off of your vehicle, especially over the weekend. Most budget campervan rental companies are closed on Sundays and only operate half a day on Saturdays. If you are coming from overseas or within Australia, ensure your arrival time will suit the opening times — and please leave some spare time too. We highly recommend to allot at least 3 additional hours before your rental company closes. This way you are covered for any special circumstances that cause delays. If your flight is delayed or it takes longer than usual when picking up your luggage, then you still need to find your way to the depot. All these actions will take time so better prepare for it! The worst case after you arrive in Australia after a 24-hour flight would be to find yourself in front of closed doors and then you still have to organise yourself accommodation for another night. Take your time after your flight. Book yourself into a hostel for the first night, don’t put yourself under too much pressure. Enjoy the journey, relax, and take a step at a time.
Traveling in a campervan doesn’t have to be stressful. Just do your research and take note of the appropriate tips and suggestions that would make your travel time more enjoyable. If you have any other questions just post a comment or contact us at Travellers Autobarn – your friendly backpacker campervan hire company.
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.