Ultimate freedom on Australia’s roads for cheap. How to score a relocation campervan and what you should know before you do one yourself.
Australia is expensive. Like, wicked expensive. Beer in the pub, ice cream by the beach and even candy in the supermarket: You’ll most likely pay top dollar for it. Which is annoying but manageable if you permanently live in Australia (hello Aussie salaries!), but becomes
…there is a thing called “Campervan relocations” which sounds so perfect that it immediately makes you suspicious: You get a fully equipped van for anything between 1$ and 5$/day and sometimes even money for gas and tolls on top of that – you just have to pick the car up and drop it off at a specific location and in a specific timeframe. Fancy a road trip, anyone?
WHERE DO YOU FIND THIS THING?
There are a bunch of different websites, but I went with coseats.com twice and quite liked them. Hints: The available vans are sorted alphabetically, and you can set email- or even text alerts for when relocations for your desired dates come up (that’s how we found our second van)!
As soon as I first heard of this relocation thing, I was super intrigued to try it out, and when I was traveling around Australia with my brother I finally went for it. Equally thrilled and scared, mind you, because nothing awesome is ever free, and there had to be some kind of catch involved, right?
Looking back… I tell you the truth about relocations and nothing but the truth!
We totally lucked out with our vehicle which was a motorhome equipped with things like shower, fridge, microwave, stove and even TV and a DVD-player, and we had an awesome time driving from Brisbane to Cairns. We saved a ton of money by doing the relocation, and the absolute freedom to just have your home on the road with you is an unbelievable feeling! BUT there were some things I wish I thought about more or knew before signing up for the relocation. (I’d still have done it, btw!)
It’s going to be a lot of driving
Not a secret but worth pointing out: Relocation deals are designed to get a van as quickly as possible from A to B, so prepare for a lot of time being spent in the car. We went from Brisbane to Cairns in five days (1800 km), and IT IS totally doable – especially if you’re on a tight schedule anyway. But we were driving an average of 5-7 hours a day. Also, plenty of attractions along the Australian east coast require a day trip (ie. Fraser Island, Whitehaven Beach,…) which is very hard to fit into the relocation timeframe. You sometimes can add extra days at the normal rental rate though – this gave us comfortable five days for the stretch from Melbourne to Adelaide.
You’ll face special conditions
This probably depends on the rental agency that does the relocation, but with ours we were
- Not allowed to drive at night
- Not allowed to drive on unsealed roads
These things are not disclosed before you’ve actually paid the deposit to book your van and while at first none of them sound like an issue, in
You’re not covered the same way “normal” rentals are
As a relocation driver, you are fully liable for most damages to the vehicle (ie windshield, tires, and underbody), even if they would normally be covered. We had a stone hit our windshield twice, and while roadside assistance assured us that we’re not liable for this, upon returning the van it turned out that we actually were!
There always is a risk of cancellation by the rental agency
The rental agency is allowed to cancel your relocation booking at any time, even on the day of the relocation itself. While this is understandable as they don’t make much money with relocation deals, it a bit bothering if your plans absolutely depend on the route you want to drive.
The rental price is charged by calendar day, not 24 hours
If you relocate a van which you pick up on the 26th and return on the 28th, you’ll pay for three days (26th, 27th and 28th).
You need to be quite flexible
A lot of relocation deals only come up 1-2 weeks before the actual relocation date. So you need to be flexible enough to be ok with leaving your plans up to the last minute.
Bottom line: Yes, relocation deals are awesome and definitely worth looking into, but they are not necessarily the same as a relaxed campervan holiday in your own time frame. Still, if you are curious, go ahead and TRY IT OUT!