If you want to rent a vehicle in Australia, it’s important to choose a model that’s suitable for your trip. Once you’ve decided on this, several more questions will then arise – how to find the best deal on a rental, when to book, whether or not you should take out insurance, where you should drop the vehicle off etc. In this article, we’ll give you the keys to finding the best prices, understanding the different types of vehicles available to you and the best insurance options so you can travel with peace of mind.
Table of Contents
Compare prices and find the best deal
The best way to find the best deal on a motorhome/van/4X4 is to use a price comparison website. They have competitive rates and access to all the best offers on the market. We recommend Motorhome Republic, which works with over 50 suppliers in Australia and New Zealand.
How does it work?
As an agent, MotorHome Republic has access to discounted rates from various vehicle suppliers. As a result, you are likely to pay less for your rental than you would if you booked directly through a rental company’s website. On average, rental companies rent only about 30% of their vehicles directly to customers. The remaining 70% are hired through agents.
How much does it cost to rent a van in Australia in 2023/2024?
Examples of prices for a van rental
📅 Depart in June (low season)
📅 Depart in June (low season)
How are the prices set?
The first thing to know about van rental prices is that they are not fixed! We often hear around us or on social media that such a person paid $xx for their van rental. This can of course give you a general idea of prices, but they are never set in stone. First of all, rental prices increase over time. In addition to this, they vary depending on several factors, such as:
Model type (2 seater, 4 seater etc)
The term “van” or “campervan” is used for vehicles that do not have a shower (not self-contained). Self-contained vehicles will appear as “motorhomes” in your searches. The more up-to-date and well-equipped the vehicle is (camping table and chairs, GPS, child seats, etc), the more expensive it will be. If you wish to opt for an autonomous vehicle, the price will be affected. It is therefore sometimes better value to rent a more basic vehicle and just make use of the equipment at the various campsites where you will be staying.
The longer you rent a campervan, the cheaper the daily rate gets. Usually suppliers set different levels (+7days, +14days, +21days, +30days). For example, if you plan to rent two different vans in two different places during a road trip, you will probably be better off getting just one rental for a longer period.
Rental companies adjust their prices according to the seasons. In the south of the country (Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart) prices are highest in high season between November and February. In the north, June and July are more expensive (Darwin and Cairns). Prices during school holidays and long weekends are also higher.
Book in advance
Like plane tickets, when there are only a few vehicles available, prices go up. In 90% of cases, the earlier you book, the lower the rates will be. It is generally recommended to make your reservation (especially in high season), at least 3 months in advance (ideally 5 to 6 months). This way you might get the “early bird” price.
Apart from rising prices, it can also be very difficult to find a vehicle at certain times of the year. So it may well be that for the period between Christmas and New Year everything is already fully booked from mid-November on.
Pick-up and drop-off cities
Although most tourists arrive in Sydney or Melbourne, it is important to know the different cities where you can rent a van in Australia. Indeed, if you are planning a road trip and you are thinking about your itinerary, you will have to take this information into account.
In some cities, vehicle rentals are more expensive than in others. All over the world, this is the case in small towns or isolated cities. For example: Adelaide, Airlie Beach, Alice Springs, Broome, Devonport. Sometimes it’s better to drive a few kilometres extra to the next bigger city to get a better price.
Here are the main cities where you can rent a campervan in Australia:
- Alice Springs
- Broome (taxe)
- Gold Coast
If you want more detailed info on renting a van in one of these cities, check out the following articles:
Some routes are very popular in Australia. One of the most popular routes is the east coast from Sydney to Cairns. Rental companies must then try to get their vehicles back to Sydney. Therefore, they sometimes offer special rates to people traveling from Cairns to Sydney. So if you want to do a road trip from A to B, check prices in both directions.
Another tip to keep costs down is to consider going off the beaten track and take advantage of your autonomy in your van. Visit some smaller towns rather than staying in the most popular places, where you are more likely to find affordable places to eat and campsites.
One way charge
You often have to pay a fee if you don’t return the vehicle in the same city where you picked it up (one way charge). Generally it costs between 100 and 300 AUD (there might be exceptions) so planning a route which allows you to start and end in the same spot could be beneficial.
The more equipment you book extra, the more expensive it gets…e.g. GPS, table & camping chairs, child seats etc. It’s up to you to decide how much you need.
Type of insurance
It is very important to include insurance in your budget when renting a van. The type of insurance you buy will affect the overall price of your rental. Note that if you choose not to take out insurance, you will have to pay a larger deposit up-front. Some vehicles have a deposit of up to $7,500! If you wish to take out comprehensive insurance so as not to take the risk of losing your deposit, it will cost you between 25 and 50 AUD per day in addition to the price of the vehicle. See below in the article for more information about van insurance.
Beware of fines or fees
An unexpected fine or fee can definitely push you over budget so make sure you understand the rules or where you can and can’t park your van, following any signs or the internet to be sure. Make sure you dispose of any rubbish responsibly too, as some campsites will fine you if you leave things behind. Finally, follow the signs and speed limits out on the road.
More tips for renting a cheap van in Australia
There are many tips to reduce the cost of renting a van in Australia. The two biggest factors that will affect the price of your rental are the time of year, and how far in advance you book. As van prices are set based on vehicle availability, the later you leave it to book, the more you’re likely to pay. Here are some tips for finding good deals:
Look for special offers
- Choose off-peak times of the year. Rental companies cut their prices to get as many vehicles rented as possible during low season.
- Book in advance to benefit from special “early bird” offers.
Travelers Autobarn Promo Code – 5% off
All Australia Backpackers Guide readers get a 5% discount on their van booking in Australia and New Zealand. Just go to the Travelers Autobarn website and add our promo code GuideEN when making your booking. Find all the information and conditions on: Travelers Autobarn Promo Code
Promo code conditions
You must rent a vehicle for at least 10 days to benefit from this deal. The reduction applies on the daily rate, on all vehicles except the Hi5 model. Insurance and equipment are excluded. The offer is only valid for bookings made directly on the Travelers Autobarn website.
5% off your van rental
Save money on your van rental in Australia with our promo code: GuideEN
Jucy Promo Code – 5% off
We have also teamed up with Jucy to offer our readers a 5% discount on van rental. The offer is valid on all vehicles and on all rentals in Australia and New Zealand. Just enter the Jucy Promo Code AGB5 when making your reservation.
5% off your van rental
To benefit from your 5% discount, simply use the Promo Code AGB5 when you make your reservation on the Jucy website.
This system allows a traveler to bring a rental vehicle (car, campervan, motorhome) to another depot at a lower cost. Indeed, many tourists do the same route, so sometimes rental companies need to shift vehicles to a specific destination to meet their rental needs. On these occasions, they offer heavily discounted relocation specials on their websites. Often the price is close to $0 (generally a symbolic $1), on the other hand, the petrol remains at your expense of course (and you will have to pay a bond for the insurance ).
The big downside is that you will only have very little time to complete the trip. Generally you have just enough time to make the trip, without being able to enjoy it. So this system is mainly for those who want to travel from point to point B.
To find relocation deals, you can check the websites of rental companies, as well as specialised sites such as transfercar, imoova, coseats, vroomvroomvroom etc.
The different van models
2-seater van (Low tops)
2-seater vans are probably the most popular because they are cheap and still allow you to travel easily. Most of these models are designed in the same way, with a double bed at the rear of the vehicle, which can sometimes be converted into a bench. A small kitchen area is installed in the trunk, with a separate sink and gas cooker. These vehicles are called “low tops” because they do not have a raised roof. Living space is therefore limited.
2, 3 and 5-seater van (Hi-top)
Hi-top vehicles have a raised roof, allowing you to stand up inside the vehicle. A single bed is located on the upper part (often quite small and limited in weight). In the living space, a sofa turns into a bed and a small kitchen area is fitted out. This type of model is ideal for couples or parents with a child. If you are travelling with a child, make sure that the model you choose is suitable for their age group.
These campervans, equipped with 4 seats and 2 beds, are designed for small groups (family or friends). Some models are specially designed for families with young children, as they are equipped with 2 anchor points for attaching baby seats. They are generally laid out the same way as 3-seater vehicles, except that the top bed can accommodate 2 adults.
This type of model is the largest van available on the market. It has 5 seats and 2 large beds (one of the beds will have to be shared by three people if you are a group of 5).
Some van rental companies offer “tourist” cars kitted out for a road trip. Among these are mainly station wagons. The advantage of these vehicles is that they are cheap, they consume less fuel and have 5 seats!
These are ideal for young people on smaller budgets. On the other hand, you will not have a living space in the vehicle and will therefore have to cook outside and camp in a tent. Most companies offer all the necessary camping equipment (tent, table & chairs, cooking utensils, stove, cooler etc). Other smaller cars also allow several people to travel. Indeed, some rental companies offer cars equipped with a roof top tent. This allows you to benefit from the advantages of a small car, while having the possibility of sleeping during the road trip. The tent is easily pitched and the mattress and linen are provided.
There are also some 4WD models specially fitted out for road trips, but they are rarer. Accommodating 2 to 5 people, they are rented with the necessary equipment for sleeping and eating.
They are often available for hire in Western and Northern Australia. It is in these regions that a 4WD is particularly useful or even essential for visiting certain national parks (such as the François Perron National Park, for example).
The equipment of the vans obviously varies according to the models and their size. You will always have the necessary equipment for cooking and sleeping. Campervans, unlike motorhomes, are not equipped with showers or toilets.
- Bed inside the vehicle or tent on the roof
- Bed linen (sometimes extra) – including duvet or sheets and duvet, pillows, hand towel
- Gas hob
- Water tap with pump (manual or electric)
- Kitchen utensils (cutlery, plates, glasses etc)
- Pots and pans
- Microwave (depending on model)
- Camping table and chairs (often at an additional cost)
Van equipment comparison:
|Equipment||Single space van||Low top||High top|
|Toilet||❌||Depends on the model||Depends on the model|
|Aircon||Driver cabin||Driver cabin||Driver cabin|
|Heating||Driver cabin||Driver cabin||Driver cabin|
|Type of kitchen||Back of vehicle||Back of vehicle||Interior|
Van rental companies in Australia
There are a multitude of van rental companies in Australia, but not all of them can be found all around the country. Most are located on Australia’s east coast, so depending on your itinerary, you may have fewer options to choose from. The biggest companies generally have several brands, offering different ranges. The smallest companies are either high-end, mid-range or entry-level. The two main players in Australia are the Britz and Apollo groups, with the largest fleet of vehicles.
Here are the main brands grouped by level:
- High end: Britz, Apollo
- Mid-range: Travelers Autobarn, Jucy rentals, Cheapa Campa, Mighty, Camperman
- Entry Level: Lucky Rentals, Wicked Campers, Awesome Campers, Hippie Camper, Spaceships
What is the best insurance for your van rental in Australia?
Insurance is an important point to take into account when renting a van, especially since it can quickly double the price of the rental. Here are the various options available to you:
When renting a van, you will automatically get “standard” insurance. This type of insurance is free of charge and mandatory. It is included in the price of the vehicle, but you will have to leave a deposit with the rental company ($3000 for a small van and up to $7500 for a motorhome). This is third-party insurance, covering you for damage to other people. But in the event of material damage to vehicles, you will not be covered. If you are involved in an accident, the rental company will take part or all of your deposit to pay for the repairs.
Insurance offered by the rental agency
With this type of insurance, you pay a certain amount per day, reducing your deposit (and therefore limiting your liability). Generally different options are offered: $10/day = deposit reduced to $1500, or $25/day = deposit reduced to zero. The advantage of this option is that you avoid having to pay a deposit. On the other hand, there are always exceptions/exclusions, so make sure you check the conditions of your insurance contract.
Your own private insurance can cover you in the event of an accident. You just need to tell your insurance company your dates of stay and the amount of your deposit. The advantage is that this type of insurance is much cheaper and generally offers better cover than rental insurance. On the other hand, you will still have to pay a deposit to the rental company if you have private coverage.
Insurance with your credit card
Some credit cards include insurance that may cover vehicle rentals. Be careful, however, to check that it covers the rental of vans or motorhomes (which are considered as a very specific category of vehicle). In this case, you will not have to pay for insurance. On the other hand, you will always have to advance the amount of the deposit to the rental company. Also, be prepared to fight for your claim. Claims are often longer and more complicated with this type of insurance.
|Standard||Credit card||Rental agency||Private|
|Level of Coverage||Low||Medium||High||Very high|
|Ease of repayment||-||Low||High||Medium|
More information: Motorhome insurance options in Australia and New Zealand
What to check when renting a van?
During your first van rental, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the information given to you by the rental company and tell yourself that you’ll check your van for issues later. However, a problem with your van could very well spoil your entire road trip, and it’s always better to spot them sooner rather than later. Here are some important things to check before driving off with your rental van:
- First of all, remember to check that the model corresponds to the one you booked. Sometimes it may happen that you are offered a replacement vehicle. In this case, you must be offered a higher range vehicle. If this is not the case, do not hesitate to negotiate a discount!
- Read your contract carefully to make sure that no additional costs have been added to your rental.
- Check the exterior of the vehicle for dents, scratches or imperfections. Notify the rental company if you find anything. Feel free to take photos of the vehicle as evidence. This can be useful if there are any issues raised by the rental company when you return the van.
- Make sure you understand how the vehicle’s equipment works (lights, toilets, waste water, battery charging, etc.)
- If you are leaving from a large city, don’t forget about tolls. Plan your route accordingly. If you have not taken out a prepaid plan with your rental company, be aware that there are no toll stations where you can pay in person. Indeed, everything is done online or by phone, so avoid them as much as possible.
More information: Inspecting your rental vehicle: What to check?
Budget for a rental road trip
To estimate a road trip budget in Australia, the main criteria to take into account are the type of vehicle, the length of stay, the season, the region visited and your budget for meals, outings and activities. In order to best estimate different scenarios, you can use the two tools below to help you. Of course, actual costs can end up varying, but these tools can give you a starting point for your budget.
1) Motorhome rental price comparison
2. Road trip budget simulator
Frequently asked questions
What should you prepare before picking up your rental vehicle? Check that your identity documents are in order. Check that you have the correct license for the category of vehicle you are renting and that it is valid for the entire duration of your rental. You must also be in possession of the credit card that was used for the reservation.
What to check when picking up your vehicle?
During check-in you must check the condition of your rental vehicle, inside and out. On the exterior of the vehicle, the main elements to check are the underbody, the roof, the windshield, the tires and the bodywork. Inside, you should check the condition of the equipment and whether it is working properly. The items to be checked as a priority are the electrical equipment (microwave, refrigerator).
Check that the indicators and headlights work well. For more details see our article on the checks to be carried out.
What are the opening hours of rental agencies?
Rental agencies are open every day of the week. In general, the opening hours are from 8am to 4.30pm.
Can I change my booking?
The conditions for changing your reservation are specific for each agency. In general, they impose a delay of 24 hours before taking charge of the vehicle. Other agencies allow changes during your rental period. Changing your booking may result in an increase or decrease in price if it applies to the following elements:
– The agency office where you’re returning the vehicle
– The time and date of pick-up
– The time and date of return
– Vehicle category
– The flight number and the company
– Safety seats for children
For more details check the rental conditions of your agency.
What happens in case of rental reservation cancellation?
The cancellation conditions are specific to each agency. Some may impose a deadline before the collection of the vehicle to declare the cancellation. If you meet the deadline you will be entitled to a full refund. If the deadline is not met, the agency may charge you a certain amount.
Is there a minimum age to rent a van in Australia?
You can rent a van from the age of 18, but additional costs apply if you are under 25.
Is there a limit on the number of drivers on a rental vehicle?
You usually have to pay extra for each additional driver (otherwise they are not insured). If you are driving long distances, as is often the case on a road trip in Australia, it is good to be able to take turns behind the wheel.
Do you need an international driving license?
If you are from overseas and you want to drive in Australia you must have a driving licence from your home country and an international driving license if your driving licence is not in English. If your driving licence is not in English, an alternative to the international permit is a certified translation by a NAATI translator. But beware, the legislation varies from state to state.
If you decide to go to Kangaroo Island or Tasmania for example, you will have to take the ferry with your rental van. Whatever rental agency you use, it’s a good idea to let them know your intentions to bring the vehicle on a ferry, along with the dates of your ferry travel. If you do not have a specific itinerary planned in advance, you can notify your rental company a few days beforehand.
Before completing your reservation, check the number of kilometres which you are entitled to travel. If you exceed the authorised mileage, you will have to pay a large surcharge when returning the vehicle.
There are several options for sleeping in your vehicle in Australia.
– The bush camps, which are free, but often in isolated places.
– Rest areas (roadside rest areas) where you can stay overnight and up to 24 hours.
– Camping on local people’s land, thanks to sites like Youcamp, which allows you to sleep in your vehicle or tent in a local person’s garden/field etc.
– Authorised pitches and campsites listed by the Campermate and Wikicamp smartphone apps, that all travellers use in Australia.
Article updated 25/5/23