A campervan trip is one of the best and most fun trips you can do, but there are some important van life questions you should know to ask before committing to your home on wheels! We have been fortunate to rent a campervan and motorhome from multiple Countries including Australia, New Zealand and Europe, and so have some experience with hiring different types of vans during different seasonal periods across the year.
From our experience, here are our top 10 must ask questions to help ensure a smoother sailing trip. Don't forget to check out our Packing essentials for your next road trip!
Ask what is included?
Ask exactly what will be included with the vehicle hire. I'm talking about an actual broken-down list, providing details on what is included in the price that has been quoted. There are not many campervan hire companies that will give you an 'all inclusive price' but different hire companies will charge for multiple extras, and they won't all be the same.
There are usually add-on options that can catch you out, these include optional extras such as your duvet and pillows, (yes, these are not always included!) kitchen equipment like pots, pans, kettles etc, kitchen sets like mugs, plates, bowls, outdoor furniture such as table and chairs, other extras might include additional cleaning supplies for the toilet, amongst other options.
Know who to call if something goes wrong
This should be highlighted to you at the beginning of your trip, but take a picture on your phone of the phone number and who to call should something go wrong with your van. If you're anything like us, we often lose pieces of paper and so having this already handy on your phone will save any further stress. This also sounds like an obvious thing to do, but often, it isn't actually the hire company that will deal with issues with the van, it is often a third party company that looks after any mechanical issues.
Does it have hot water and heating?
You’d think after being seasoned 'campervan hirers' we would know to ask this by now.... But on our recent trip to Italy, we were so overexcited at the prospect of travel again (after 4 months lockdown in the UK) that we didn’t even think to ask such a simple and basic question!
We went to take a shower on the second day to realise there wasn't any gas or hot water in the van, and so cold showers it was. For us, luckily, this wasn't a huge problem, but probably best know in advance what you're in for! Depending on the season, having no hot water may not be an issue. For example, in Italy, daily temperatures reach 38c and even at night it can stay around mid 20c, and so a cold shower is very much welcomed. However, this would be quite a problem if travelling during Winter, or if the temperature drops at night you may want to consider what you will do for heating and warm water.
Do you have unlimited Kilometres?
Often, you will be given a limited amount of Kilometres you can travel for the whole trip. Just make sure you know exactly what that is so you can keep an eye on it and not go over and risk being handed a potentially hefty fee at the end of your trip. Alternatively, most hire companies will offer an upgrade option to unlimited kilometres which might be worth doing if you think you might do more than what the basic offer is.
Diesel or Petrol?
Again, this sounds like another very obvious one, but we have heard horror stories where the wrong gas has been pumped and has completely ruined their trip from not double checking whether it is a petrol or diesel to run the van... Doh!
How big is the water tank?
This will help you plan roughly how long you have until you will need to refill your water tank again. On our most recent campervan trip in Italy, we knew our tank was 60 litres, this allowed us a couple of very quick showers across a few days (no hair washes) and to be able to use the sink at the kitchen to wash up across a few mornings and evenings. It didn’t stretch particularly far so we knew every few days we would need to fill up the water tank again.
Most paid campsites will have a water tap, and so would recommend to always refill, even if you think you won’t need to, always better to have a full tank when you get the option to fill up.
What Insurance is included?
Usually when purchasing a campervan rental, a very basic insurance comes included in the price with a very high excess should something go wrong.
How many times have you gone to pick up a rental car, and surprise, surprise, you get smacked with a huge insurance cover payment that you weren’t expecting? Ask in advance so that you have chance to compare the options, the excess costs, and make a decision on what is going to be right for you.
Based on personal past experiences, we tend to go for the Liability reduction option that includes road side assistance and windscreen cover and a very low excess, if not a $0 excess. This is a complete personal preference, but for us we like to drive and not worry that if something accidental does happen, we are completely covered and do not need to stress at paying out a huge excess.
This is sometimes clearly specified in the breakdown but sometimes it is not. Ensure to ask whether additional drivers are included or if this at an additional fee. We have found it is often a chargeable extra around $5 Aud per day, although sometimes is included in the base cost.
Understand the road tolls
Check how these will be paid, often the vehicle will be fitted with a road toll token which means you do not need to worry about them at all. Some campervan hire companies will include it in their rental fee, and others may charge you at the end of the hire. Just make sure you know what you’re in for when it comes to road tolls, and know how they are being paid.
Pick up and drop off locations
Most hire companies will allow you to pick up and drop off at both the same location, and different locations should your trip be a one-way drive. It's worth mentioning that often there will be a higher charge for a one way trip, as they then have to get the vehicle back to the pick up depot. Ask how much this fee will be, if there is one. In Australia, it is usually within the range of $0 to $300 Aud.
Is there a Cleaning fee at the end?
Another cheeky hidden fee is the cleaning fee that can be rather unexpected at the end of a campervan hire. Some campervan companies do not charge this and will include this already within the rental amount, but worth asking if this is something that is expected at the end of your campervan hire.
We hope this list is a helpful quick list for your next campervan trip. To be honest, everything else you can pretty much work it out on your own, and that's half the fun of campervan life, figuring it out and having a laugh along the way!
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