Everything you need to know about renting a campervan in Australia

Renting a campervan to roadtrip Western Australia turned out to be one of our best adventures during our time in the land down under!  The freedom that comes from living in the van is like nothing we had experienced before.  Having your morning coffee in front of a different beach every single day is hard to beat.  Not to mention that Western Australia has the best beaches in the country, but that conversation is for another time.  If hitting the open road sounds as thrilling to you as it did to us, then we have got you covered!  Here is our list of the top things you need to know before heading out on your own campervan journey.

1.Picking the right van for you

There are many different types of campervans, and they all fit in various budget sizes.  From a regular car with a bed in the back, to a fully equipped van with kitchenette and showerhose, everyone’s needs will be different.  My number one recommendation for picking a van is to pick a model that allows you to stand up inside.  Some vans have the little kitchen in the back and to cook you have to stand outside.  While that can work out fine, we were so happy to be able to cook inside our van and stand comfortably, especially on those evenings when it was either very windy, rainy or mosquito infested!  Having only lived in one van, we are by no means experts, so your best bet is to talk to the company representatives.  They will guide you on the different models and help you find the best fit for you.  We used the legends at Ratpack Travel  to help us find the best company to suit our needs and they guided us towards Travellers Autobarn.  We have had nothing but positive experiences with their staff. We had a little hiccup on our first night in the van, but we called them first thing in the morning and they guided us towards fixing the issue immediately.  Within 5 minutes we were ready to continue our adventures.  Their customer service really was impeccable!

We ended up going with their “Kuga” van and it was absolutely perfect.  We loved our home on wheels and would rent it again any day of the week!  We are already thinking about planning our next campervan trips.  @travellersautobarn also have a ton of extra accessories such as outdoor tables and chairs, plug-in Bluetooth speakers, fans, and many more for rent to make your experience even better.

2.Download the WikiCamps app

This app will make planning out your trip so much easier.  It costs just under 5$ on the appstore, but it is worth every penny.  It shows you all the free and for a fee campsites, caravan parks, day use areas, watering stations, hostels, information centers and points of interest in the areas near you!  Almost every spot we chose to sleep in was found through this app.  It also made finding facilities offering toilets and showers much more stress-free.

3.Using Google’s offline maps

For the majority of our time on the road, we had no service whatsoever.  Before you leave, make sure you download an offline map from the google maps app, so that you always know where you are and where you are headed while on the road. Relying on cellular data in Australia’s countryside is a risky gamble!

4.Don’t be scared of free camping

To save money and experience something unique, we chose to only sleep in caravan parks when we had to. That means that for 5 out of our 9 nights, we slept in free spaces.  Sometimes this meant a free campsite, and sometimes it means a rest area on the side of the highway.  Not always the most glamorous, but definitely all very memorable experiences.  If like us, it’s your first time living out of a van, this might sound a little intimidating.  However, Australia is the perfect country for it!  Almost every beach and public park have free facilities that always include toilets, and sometimes even showers (especially if you are close to a beach).  That means that even though our van did not have a bathroom, we never had to “go” in the woods.

5.When in doubt, gas up!

Australia’s highways are mostly surrounded by a whole lot of nothing.  It is mostly fields and farmlands once you step outside of the bigger cities and towns.  This means that sometimes you can drive for an hour without seeing any sign of civilization.  If you are ever hesitating if you should fill up your tank, do it! Especially if you are driving in the middle of nowhere for a long time (aka all of central Australia).

6.Don’t underestimate Australia’s size

Although living in a vehicle gives you a lot more freedom with your time, since you can be on the move any time you want to, don’t cram too much distance in every single day of your roadtrip.  This country never ceases to amaze us with its size, and it is easy to underestimate how far each destination can be from one another.  Give yourself some time to actually enjoy the places you are visiting. 

7.Plan in your budget to sleep in powered sites a few nights

We wanted to save as much money as possible on our campsites, but what we did not know, is that in order to keep our fridge running, we had to sleep in a site offering electricity every 2-3 nights.  Not only will you run out of power otherwise, but you will also most likely run out of water in your tank.  If you cook every meal like we did, you will run out of water within 2 days.  Sometimes we were able to fill up our tank at public facilities, but very often it wasn’t drinking water, so sleeping in a camp site every 3 night at least will keep you nice and full. 

8.Top things to buy before you go

There are many unforeseen circumstances that can occur while travelling, and even more so when living out of a campervan.  When these things happen, it’s good to be prepared. 

First things first, buy a big 10-15L water jug before you head on the road.  It might be harder than you think to find drinking water along Australia’s long and empty highways.  It can also come in handy if your van’s water tank runs out.  Our van had a 30 L water tank, and although that may sound like a lot, it runs out faster than you think.

Next, a bluetooth speaker or plugin speaker will make your drive much more pleasant.  These roads can seem never-ending and cranking some tunes will make time go by faster.

Bringing garbage bags might sound like a silly thing to mention, but it’s not something you’ll think about if you’ve never lived in a car before.  You’ll be very thankful to have a few extra bags when your garbage piles up and there are no garbage bins in sight.

We were lucky enough that Travellers Autobarn provided us with sponges, drying rags, and dishwashing soap, but make sure to grab some if your van doesn’t already come with those necessities. 

Freecamping and travelling in a van also means using public bathrooms very often, so make sure to bring toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you every time, just in case.

So there you have it! These 10 days were absolutely incredible, and we can’t wait for the next time we hit the road again. We hope you enjoyed this post, and that it makes planning your own vanlife a little easier.

Lots of love,

Ben and Bianca

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