How to rent a campervan on a budget ($1/day)
You’ve always dreamed of exploring faraway lands in a van? Can you already see yourself driving across Australia, New Zealand, the USA or Canada, admiring the landscape from your campervan? What if I told you that it can become true, for $1 a day, would you believe me? It seems to good to be true right… but it’s real, we’ve done it several times, thanks to campervan’s relocation.
In this post, we will show you how to do one way trips for routes like Sydney-Melbourne, Perth-Broome, Los Angeles-San Francisco, Christchurch-Auckland or even Montréal-Calgary on a budget.
It’s a tip we shared with a few friends when they came to see us in Sydney. Now it’s time to share it with you.
What is relocation and why is it so attractive?
A lot of travellers rent campervans for one way trips. In that case, once done, the agency has to bring the vehicle back to its origin. Even though they charge a one way fee, which can be a few hundreds of dollars, it requires some organisation and gets expensive for the agency (they might need to pay for a driver, the fuel, potential tolls or a spot on a train).
The relocation, consists of getting someone to take the vehicule from its destination back to its origin. The price of the rental is highly reduced and no « one way fee » is charged. And that makes everyone happy.
We relocated 3 campervans with different agencies and had a great time. In order for you to have the best experience and a lot of fun, we’ve gathered some information.
The rules of relocation
– The price
The price depends on the rental agency. In general, relocations start at $1 per day and can go up to $5 per day. You can get extras like a full tank of fuel or free ferry crossing for the vehicle & the driver (to go to Tasmania for example). It doesn’t get cheaper than this!
– Routes and bookings
Rental agencies offer relocations between their offices. They are often offered at the last minute. It makes sense as agencies try to priorise customers who are willing to pay the full price. Relocation offers are usually posted online up to 1 month before the requested return date.
– Rental duration
The number of days allowed for the relocation depends on the distance between the city of origin and the destination. It’s often the minimum amount of time needed to link the two cities, accounting for a few stops. That being said, you can usually request additional days, for the full price, if the vehicle hasn’t already been booked at the destination. That way, you can have some relaxing time and the price is still unbeatable.
What rental agencies and which destinations?
You can get relocations in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, in the UK and Europe. Rental agencies websites usually offer a promo/sales or a relocation page.
We put together a non exhaustive list of rental agencies offering relocations. We hope it will help you find your next relocation 🙂
You can either go through a search engine or directly through a rental agency. One of the search engines we used is called imoova. It has a good reputation but it’s usually easier to book directly through the rental agency. I’ll tell you more about that later.
A/ In Australia
Have you ever thought of driving from Sydney to Cairns or, why not change and go from Cairns to Darwin?
So don’t waste your valuable time and visit only one of those sites to check relocations available 🙂
B/In New Zealand
C/ In the United States
D/ In Canada
E/ In Europe and in the UK
How does London to Barcelona sound?
I usually go to the imoova site to see if there are relocations for the route I’m interested in.
However you have to pay booking fees (about $25) and a holding deposit ($75 that you get back) and you can’t add extra days, you need to go through the rental agencies for that. They seem to be working on this feature though but it isn’t always accessible. So I usually organise campervans relocations and rentals through the rental agencies as it’s simpler.
A STEP BY STEP GUIDE
I understand we covered a lot of things here so here’s a checklist to clarify each step:
- Have an idea of where you’d like to go (that one is easy… and if you don’t have any idea I can give you plenty – under the condition that I’ll come with you!!)
- Check out the sites I mentioned above
- If it’s too early to book a relocation, register your interest on a waiting list (imoova’s is great)
- Check the distance on Google Maps to confirm the driving time you’d need from point A to point B, based on the route you would take. Do you want to go through the scenic route? Do you have an idea of stops or detours you’d like to make? Any long stopovers: do you want to stay in Byron Bay (in Australia), on your way, for a day? How many hours a day are you willing to drive? Take all of this into account.
Be careful, it’s easy to underestimate the number of days you need to enjoy the ride, we’re often too optimistic… believe me.
- Book the relocation directly with the rental company. Call them beforehand to confirm you can extend the rental as sometimes you’ll need to book the relocation and the extension separately.
A FEW LAST THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Relocation is your best bet if you want to rent a campervan for a one way trip, on a budget. Check a few things, to avoid any surprises:
- Go to the relocation or sales page regularly. You get the best offers in the morning.
- Check what’s included. Some agencies will charge extra for things like additional driver, bed sheets, kitchen kit…
- Just like for usual rentals, you will need to pay for insurance on top of the daily fee.
- Watch out for mileage restrictions, and pick up/drop off times
- Add a few extra days (at the full rate) to really enjoy it. The goal isn’t just to stay behind the steering wheel… unless that’s what you want 🙂
- Check the reputation of the rental agency and travellers comments. If you go through a search engine, go through all of their conditions to avoid any bad surprises.
- Be careful with the size of campervans available: a 6 Bert is not ok for 2 people. The offer may sound interesting but it’s not! It’s hard to park a vehicle that big or even to take small national park roads. Believe me it’s not worth the hassle.
- Always read the small prints and the T’s & C’s to confirm things like the drivers minimum age, if you need an international driver license…
Make sure your card limit allows for that. It would be annoying if, after having done all the planning, you couldn’t pick up your vehicle.
With all those tips, you’re now ready to live the Australian dream: go from beach to beach, a surfboard under the arm, chasing the sun and waves… or a different dream, you choose 😀
Enjoy your trip.