One of the best ways to see the beauty Australia has to hold is via camper van. Whether you are exploring the East coast, West coast, or the whole country, by hiring a self-drive van, the world is your oyster.
However, there are some important factors you will need to consider before hitting the road and heading to the outback.
Here are some top tips for you to take on board before you head down under.
Where To Buy A Camper Van
The more you know, the better decision you are likely to make. By doing your research into what type of camper van, RV or motorhome you should buy, you should be able to gauge a good idea on what is available. Start your searches on sites such as Caravan Camping Sales (caravancampingsales.com.au), Trading Post (tradingpost.com.au), CarPoint (carpoint.com.au), Gumtree (gumtree.com.au), eBay (eBay.com.au), Travellers Autobarn (travellers-autobarn.com.au), and Travel Wheels (travelwheels.com.au).
You will need to have some money behind you in order to get the best experience while travelling around Australia on four wheels. You will need to budget for the following, as well as the cost of the van: vehicle registration, insurance, getting a roadworthy certificate, and any mechanical checks you wish to do before buying. The different states in Australia have different regulations, so it’s worth checking this before travelling.
Registration And Insurance
Overseas travellers using a camper van can use a hostel address for their vehicle registration if you are in the south (Victoria). If you have a rural address, rather than one in the city, your registration is likely to cost less. Lots of vehicles are sold with registration which can be transferred into your name, and you can always sell on a vehicle with registration left on it when you leave the country. It is recommended that by removing the standard windscreen excess, one stray stone can ruin, your day and also your budget.
A road worthy certificate is mandatory for transferring ownership, so don’t buy a vehicle which doesn’t already have one. Try and go through an independent mechanical check, and ensure that the gas and electrical compliance plates are current.
Buying A Van
No matter how much you think you like a vehicle, don’t accept one which has had repairs carried out without receipts confirming them. Also make sure to ask for an up-to-date log of mechanical work completed before you make an offer.
Second Hand Vans
When looking to buy a secondhand camper van, you will need to work out which repairs are likely to be needed, and the cost of these. It’s best to check the following:
- the instruments inside the cabin all work, from the fuel gauge to the indicators
- seat belts
- tyre tread
- the breaks, gears and steering all work well without any pulling or vibrating
- rust or accident damage
- oil should be honey-coloured and translucent
- coolant should be clean and not rusty looking
- no fumes, smoke, or rattles from the engine when it’s running (leave the engine running for a while before and after your test drive)
- the windscreen for cracks or chips.
As the vehicle is going to be packing some extra weight, you’ll have to consider the size of your tank, fuel type and average consumption to determine how far you are able to drive between refuelling. It’s useful to calculate your fuel requirements and figure out whether you need to carry a jerry can. It’s also worth keeping an eye on your water consumption, and making sure you check when the tank is running low.
Most sellers will sell their accessories with the vehicle, however you may also need to purchase some other necessities for along the way. These include: a cheap solar shower bag (around $20), a privacy shower stall, comfortable folding chairs, plenty of bedding, rechargeable head torches, 12v power socket to plug into cigarette lighter. Do not forget to pack a GPS, with a back up old-fashioned map.
Re-Selling Your Van
Before you’ve finished your trip, you’ll need to start advertising your vehicle. Camper vans can often take months to sell, so it’s best to finish in a big city with a good turnover of camper vans. Be sure to keep all receipts, and download and print the sale documentation. It has been recommended to take pictures of your van in exotic places to help with the selling!
By listening to other people’s advice on travelling via camper van, you are sure to get the most out of your trip. Take a look through some of the following tips:
- Share the wheel and take regular breaks, as distances in Australia take longer than you think.
- Try to keep a loose schedule, this will allow you to enjoy the parts you love the most.
- Watch the sunrise and stop driving by 4pm, before ‘kanga o’clock’ which is when the kangaroos are most active and may jump in front of your van.
- Set up camp at least two hours before dark.
- Ask other travellers about roadside or free camping. Guides can date quickly, so often the best spots are found via word of mouth.
- Caravan parks are ideal for hot and cold showers, as well as using the electricity to recharge all of your devices.