Hiring a 4WD or Campervan

This article is intended to help the international visitor to Australia who is trying to work out the best way to choose a vehicle for a self-drive trip. There is a perception that buying a vehicle and selling it afterwards is the most ideal and cost-effective solution - this is usually wrong. Hiring a vehicle that is both your transport and accommodation in one is the realistic solution for a stress-free holiday. In this article we explain the different types of vehicles for hire in Australia including motorhomes, campervans and standard vehicles from 2wd to 4wd.

Why Hire a 4WD or Campervan?

Just ask anyone, and you'll hear that a driving holiday in the great Australian outback is a once in a lifetime dream...but if you had the chance - how would you do it?

Self-drive holidays are popular with travellers who have some serious exploring in mind, so naturally many of them firstly look towards purchasing a vehicle in Australia and then selling it afterwards. There is a perception that this is the most ideal and cost-effective solution and that selling the vehicle after the trip will be easy. Wrong! - Insurance, equipment and then return of the vehicle are the major factors that make hiring a vehicle much less complicated. Hiring a vehicle that is both your transport and accommodation in one is the realistic solution for a stress-free holiday.

Another major reason to hire a 4WD or camper is that you will learn more about the product before purchasing it. If you are thinking of buying a caravan, buying a 4WD or buying a motorhome, then think of trying it out for a week or two so you and family can get to know it inside and out because the long term benefits will far outweigh the initial hire costs. Lastly, hiring a 4WD or camper will give you and your family a taste of the RV lifestyle before making a major investment.

Types of Vehicles to Hire

Hiring a vehicle that is both your transport and accommodation in one is the realistic solution for a stress-free holiday.

Hire vehicles generally fall into 3 categories:
  • Motorhomes

  • Campervans

  • Standard vehicles (unmodified)
And all 3 can either have 4WD or 2WD transmissions.

Although it is true to say that most major tourist destinations are accessible by 2WD vehicles most roads off the highway in the outback are dirt tracks. Check our Difficulty Rating for advice on each Destination.

If you are serious about going offroad, make sure you hire a vehicle with 4WD transmission. Some companies are now making their own campervan modifications from quality 4WD chassis, so shop around to find the right deal for you.

For more information see our article Buying a Motorhome

Troop Carrier

An example of this vehicle for hire is the Toyota Landcruiser (Troopcarrier).

This vehicle is one of the most commonly seen vehicle types available for hire to 4WD tourists. You can hire this vehicle under many different names, but all are based on the Landcruiser chassis. The hi-top conversion allows this camper to sleep up to 3 adults plus all cooking equipment.

Custom-Modified 4WD Ute

An example of this vehicle for hire is the Toyota Hilux (Ute).

This vehicle is a custom-modification based on the chassis of 4WD ute. This is a good camping setup for 2 adults with annexe for protection from the hot Australian sun.

Custom-Modified Truck

An example of this vehicle for hire is the 2000 Izuzu NPR truck camper.

This vehicle is a custom-modification based on a 4.6L turbo diesel truck with a 4WD transmission. It's a large unit but it sleeps 4 adults and has all the mod cons.

Camp and Drive

Another alternative is to hire a regular 4WD vehicle that is not modified for camping and hire the camping equipment, devices for communications, and other accessories separately.

Possible Disadvantages

Setting up tent each day, no fridge, sink or cooker inbuilt into vehicle.

Possible Advantages

This option may cost a little less than a camper and you are really experiencing "camping".

Items to Consider Hiring Also

Also, you need to consider where you are going to obtain all the other items you will require for your trip such as:
  • Camping and cooking equipment

  • Basic vehicle Recovery Gear kit (snatch strap, air compressor, jack, tyre changing tools etc)

  • Relevant items from our "What to Take" list
Many of these items can be put into your car-hire package if you ask.

What to Look for when Hiring

What to look for when choosing a hire company:
  • Look for a network that offers a large Australia-wide fleet of vehicles so that you have more flexibility in your itinerary, such as one-way rentals

  • Long term rental discount rate

  • Unlimited kilometres

  • Vehicle insurance offroad (river crossings, beach driving, marked desert trails)

  • Roadside assistance helpline

  • Options for camping and cooking equipment hire that includes emergency communications equipment and first aid kit
Some companies also offer their hire vehicles to you on a purchase/buy-back arrangement which can be more cost-effective for long-term rentals.

Hiring a self-drive vehicle, whether it be a campervan, motorhome or just a 4WD vehicle is also worth considering if you plan to be travelling once a year or less. The cost of owning, insuring, storing and kitting up your own vehicle may not be worth it in comparison to the ease of hiring a vehicle.

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Created: June 2008
Revised: December 2006
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