Caravan hire: Everything you need to know
Caravans have always held a special place in the hearts of many Australians. These moveable accommodations on wheels have been mainstays of the Great Aussie Holiday for many decades.
But nowadays caravans cost a lot of money – they are a huge investment – and even if you did want one they’ve been hard to come by over the past few years due to skyrocketing Covid-related demand and delays in supply.
What’s the next best thing to owning your own caravan? Borrowing one from a mate and returning it grotty and banged up? Wrong! The next best thing to owning a caravan is hiring one for however long a period of time you want. Now you can even hire a caravan directly from its owner via what have been dubbed peer-to-peer van sharing services.
Read more about caravans
So, how does that work? Is it easy to do? Is it becoming more popular? How has Covid impacted the popularity of caravan hire? We’ll answer those questions and many more in this yarn.
How does a caravan compare to campervans, camper trailers & motorhomes?
A caravan is essentially a self-contained house on wheels, replete with kitchen facilities, beds, seating, storage and some even have toilets and showers.
In those ways it is similar to a motorhome, but the difference is a motorhome is an all-in-one vehicle-and-accommodation package that is driven as one mobile unit, while a caravan has to be towed behind a separate vehicle.
A campervan is also a vehicle-and-accommodation package and it’s driven but it generally has fewer amenities than a caravan – no toilet and shower – and is not as big as a caravan.
Camper-trailers are similar to caravans in that they have to be towed, but they do have fewer amenities than a caravan, such as a toilet and shower.
Different strokes for different folks.
What types of caravans are available to rent?
What type of caravan you decide to hire will largely depend on what you want to use it for, where you’re going to take it, the duration of your trip and – gulp – your budget.
How many people are you taking on your trip? Will your trip involve off-roading? Are you going off-grid? Are you taking pets? Do you like a bit, or a lot, of luxury?
Caravans of all types and sizes are available – everything from two-bed caravans through to 4 berth caravan hire and 8 berth caravan hire – so all you have to do is figure out the logistics of your trip, and hire a caravan to suit your plans.
You’ll also have to decide whether you’ll hire a caravan from a commercial operator, or opt for a peer-to-peer van sharing service, such as SHAREaCamper, Camplify, or Camptoo.
Camplify, the self-proclaimed “largest and most trusted van sharing platform” in Australia, states that it has “thousands of unique vans available for hire across Australia and a community of over 50,000 holidaymakers”.
Same goes for mobs like SHAREaCamper and Camptoo – they all reckon they have plenty of caravans, so sourcing a suitable caravan shouldn’t be a problem.
Your caravan options range from pop-top caravans (use your imagination) to static caravans (already on location so you just arrive and use it) to touring caravans, which you’ll tow to your desired location with your vehicle. You can even hire a tow vehicle and the caravan to go with it. There is a caravan for hire to match everyone’s needs.
You will no doubt find a caravan seemingly purpose-built precisely for your travels, whether you require off road caravan hire, off the grid caravan hire, pet friendly caravan hire, luxury caravan hire, or your budget only stretches to cheap caravan hire.
Most caravan hire companies and peer-to-peer collectives have caravans in pretty much all of the popular locations, so expect to find caravan hire in Perth, caravan hire in Brisbane, caravan hire in Melbourne, caravan hire in Adelaide, caravan hire in Sydney, caravan hire in Tasmania, and caravan hire on the Gold Coast.
The duration of the loan may have a minimum period – for instance, two days – but long term rentals can be discussed with the company or the caravan’s individual owner or agent.
How do you hire a caravan?
Working out how to hire a caravan is easy. Commercial operators or peer-to-peer van sharing services have comprehensive online booking systems and it’s simply a case of picking your caravan, selecting your dates, thoroughly reading the terms and conditions of the caravan loan before you pay any money, make sure you’re fully aware of all of the fees involved (more about that in the ‘How much does it cost?’ Section below), and then laying down your cold hard cash – well, punching in your credit card details etc.
When you go to collect the caravan, you should run through a thorough caravan checklist with the owner/agent, take photos of the whole unit (inside and out), and make sure the owner gives you the lowdown on any quirks or peculiarities in the operation of the caravan that you need to know about it.
How much does it cost?
Prices vary widely, depending on location and the type of van.
Just to give you an idea, we had a look at Camplify and that search indicated that it’s possible to hire a caravan that sleeps six people for from $100 a day in Byron Bay, though average pricing for caravans that sleep five it seemed was around the $150/day mark (at time of writing) in other areas; we saw a two-bedder for $250 a day; and there was a caravan that sleeps six people listed for $500 a day.
The age, size and condition of their caravan will determine how much you’ll be charged per day.
Also, be aware that peer-to-peer van sharing services tend to charge fees other than the rental cost you will be anticipating. For instance, there may be booking fees (often non-refundable); a security deposit (taken from your credit card prior to the hire period, then released back to you when the van is returned in an owner-approved condition); credit card fees; insurance (as always, the more you pay at the start, the less excess you’re liable for if there’s a claim); and other fees, such as cleaning, any extra kilometres travelled above expected, late fees, and cancellation fees.
Is it possible to rent out your own personal caravan?
Yep – on the flip-side of the massive growth in caravan popularity, there is the option for caravan owners to lease their vans out via peer-to-peer van sharing sites, such as Camplify.
All you need to do is register an account and your van on any of the reputable websites, upload photos and info about your van (including a description, details of onboard facilities and any restrictions you want imposed on the caravan loan) … and then away you go.
Be warned: there are numerous terms and conditions and a stack of contract-related stuff you must read through and understand before you hire your caravan, so you know where you stand in regards to loans, payment and how damage claims or disputes are dealt with by the company involved.