Because we only had about 4 weeks in Australia, we decided to skip the buying and selling a car thing that we did in New Zealand.
That means we had the exciting adventure of using public transit: buses, trains and airplanes. But also… camper van relocations.
Lets say that you rent a motor home for your holiday. You drive it on a one way journey and leave it at a different location than you picked it up from. How does it get back to the original location? This concept is what drives a relocation. They’re scheduled, one way trips in a camper van, for anywhere from $1-$5 a day. A day. Sound too good to be true? We thought the same. So we asked the internet what it had to say on the matter. As always, there was a bit of good and a bit of bad. Namely there were complaints about the added fees that make the total much more than the originally advertised $1 or so. A few people had been in accidents and run into trouble in that area. We decided it might be worth the risk, and booked our first relocation from Cairns to Brisbane. We had 4 days to drive just shy of 20 hours, and this specific relocation came with $100 of reimbursed fuel on top!
Here’s the truth: It won’t come out to be only $1 a day. That being said, we still found it worth it, as neither a plane, bus or train ticket would have covered the same distance for any better of a price. Plus, we got to experience driving down the coast ourselves which is a big part of the fun.
In the end we opted for the reduced bond, dropping our initial deposit from $1,000 to $250, and a daily coverage for our tires and windshield (should anything happen). Total cost, as long as everything went smoothly and we didn’t cause any damage to the vehicle (spoiler: we didn’t!) came out to be about $28 a day + fuel. Once again, this was still less than we would have paid traveling by other means, as this cost also included lodging for 3 nights!
Part of the deal is that you have to keep an eye out for the specific dates and cities that you want to travel to and from. There isn’t an unlimited number of options or journeys- so if the one that fits your needs shows up, you book it! This came out to mean that our first relocation was for a 6 berth RV… which was absolutely bigger than we needed. Much bigger than we wanted to drive really… but after a bit of time behind the wheel it got less daunting. Once we parked for the evening we appreciated the space we had, it felt so luxurious!
We were able to stop and see Airlie Beach, Townsville, Rockhampton, and Noosa Heads National Park- all in the same 4 day stretch. We drove through miles and miles of banana groves and sugar cane fields. There wasn’t one sunset we weren’t amazed by. We felt so fancy being able to cook our own dinners and lunches from the back, and there were plenty of free overnight parking area’s for us to settle in for the evenings.
We actually liked the whole thing so much that we did it a second time, this time from Brisbane to Sydney. Our second journey was much shorter, with only an overnight trip to cover about 10 hours of distance. Our ride was a big smaller as well, a 2 person camper van this time.
Things to keep in mind, in case you ever want to try something like this:
-You must be 21 or over to be able to drive.
-You must have an international drivers license to be able to drive.
-The bond is charged in full on pickup and reimbursed upon return in good condition. HOWEVER, it may take up to 21 days for the money to show back up in your account.
-Someone should do a condition check of the vehicle before you leave, you should be doing it with them. This means walking around the vehicle and letting them know if you see any damage to the car. This way, its written down that it was there before you got it- and you didn’t do it!
-Personal insurance won’t cover damage to a relocation, even if you are in a collision accident. It’s a hefty cost if this happens- which is why we opted for the reduced bond. Drive carefully and be aware of what you’re signing up for!
-There is a time limit! You are given a return date and time. Calculate how many hours you will drive and how many days you have to do so, BEFORE you book.
-There is a milage/kilometer limit. Depending on the distance- you will be allowed a certain amount of driving. We were able to venture off the directed route a few times and still be within this limit, but it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on it.
-If you don’t know how to drive manual, make sure you check that the vehicle is automatic. It will say in the details.
-Returning the vehicle on time is important! Keep in mind that traffic will get dense as you get closer to the branch location in the city, and allow ample time for yourself.
-The vehicle needs to be “free of dirt and bugs” upon return. With our first relocation we went to a car wash, our second was so short that a quick scrub with the brush at the petrol station did the trick. Allow time for this too!
-If the relocation has fuel offers, keep receipts that say the type of fuel purchased, and return with the gas tank full.
-When possible, book with the company directly. Other websites like imoova and coseats are super handy for seeing all the different offers available, but often they will charge a fee to book through them.
There are plenty of options for each individual trip. You can also add-on extra days if you want (although it is pricier). This system worked really well for us, and we felt really lucky to have found out about it!
Even better news: they do this in the States too!
The two relocations we did were fun, and added some variety to our travels in Australia. They allowed us to see lots of the East Coast as we zipped through it, and get from city to city in a cheap and exciting way.