If you plan to do a lot of touring round a country then buying or renting a campervan can be a great idea, and is very popular in Australia and New Zealand. The best thing about staying in a campervan is that it becomes your home, and you take it with you wherever you go. No more packing up your rucksack after every stop! Simply drive off. A campervan will also bring you freedom and independence. You can travel at your own pace and don’t have to worry about keeping to public transport itineraries or routes. Go wherever you want to, when you want to!
You will have to negotiate parking and driving round cities in a big van though – so make sure your driving skills are up to scratch! If you plan to live out of your van, then you will also need to spend money on some equipment and supplies – eg. crockery, cooking utensils, chilly bins to keep food cool, even outdoor seats and a table.
You have two choices – either buying or renting a campervan.
Renting a campervan
Renting campervans can be quite expensive, but you can weigh this cost against the fact that you won’t have to pay separately for accommodation or transport. You will have to pay some money to park your campervan in cities and sometimes in the countryside on campsites, but this will certainly be a lot less than paying for a room for the night.
Book in advance, and simply turn up and drive off in your van. Drop it off on the last
day of your trip, with
none of the worries that you would have if you had bought it.
If you rent then in the event of your campervan breaking down, the rental company will be required to provide you with a replacement.
Renting is the lower risk option, but money spent on renting is lost forever. Whereas, if you buy well and sell for a good price, then you could recoup all of your costs and effectively get free accommodation for your trip. However, buy poorly and you could end up losing more in the long run.
Buying a campervan
To buy a campervan, you will need a lump sum of money available. Your budget will obviously determine the type of campervan you can buy. Don’t expect showers and toilets unless you have a very large budget. But you should be able to purchase a van with a sleeping area and a basic kitchen (oven & fridge) for a reasonable sum. What you can buy with your money will depend on what time of the year it is (this will affect how busy the traveller route, and therefore the competition is), and whether you are travelling a popular route in the same direction as the majority (are you buying in a sellers market!?).
You need to allow time to find and to sell your campervan. Be prepared to spend a week or so visiting car markets to find the right van. Don’t leave it too late to get rid of it – you don’t want to have to give it away for next to nothing because it’s time to leave the country.
You will need to register your ownership and will have to take out car insurance. Make sure you check the legalities in the country you are visiting.
If you buy a campervan, make sure you have some money spare in case it breaks down. If you do breakdown, it could leave you stranded while you wait for a garage to fix it.
We would strongly advise you to spend a small sum to get the AA (or country equivalent) to perform a mechanical inspection of the campervan that you intend to buy. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of your hard earned money on a campervan that turns out to be a money-draining nightmare, and is impossible to sell at the end of your journey. It should only cost £100 or less to get a certified professional to give your camper the once over, and could save you a small fortune!
Kings Cross Car Market in Sydney is a unique car market with lots of campervans available, where only genuine travellers are allowed to sell their cars (no locals or dealers). Check out their website for valuable information and advice on buying, selling and vehicle insurance.