Pack ‘er up kids, it’s time for a road trip. Whether you’re heading overseas or taking on the great Aussie outback, travelling in a campervan is a fun and affordable way to see the world. But there are a few little-known catches that might trip you up. Before you set off on your road trip, you need to know these campervan rules.
Some campervans come with a daily kilometre limit
This is uncommon, but some campervan rental companies impose a maximum daily kilometre limit and will charge you a fee for exceeding. Some say this is to protect drivers from fatigue-related accidents, others say it’s to extend the lifespan of the vehicle. Either way, you could be hit with a hefty fee at the end of your trip if you travel over the daily limit.
Infants must be at least six months old to ride in a camper van
Road tripping with a newborn? First of all, kudos to you, brave soldier. Secondly, you may need to consider pushing it back a few months. Passengers in Australia must be at least six-months-old before they can legally travel in a campervan. Family Travel reader, Sarah W, found out the hard way when her family had to cut their holiday short after trying to rent a camper with their four-moth-old. The family of three were planning to road trip around the North Island of New Zealand. They even brought their own car seat from home but were turned away after being informed their daughter was too young to be covered by insurance.
Each of the 8 Australian states has slightly different rules – if in doubt check the state website:
New South Wales – Roads & Maritime Services (formerly known as the Roads & Traffic Authority or RTA)
Victoria – VicRoads
Queensland – Queensland Department of Transport & Main Roads
South Australia – South Australian Department of Transport, Planning and Infrastructure
Western Australia – Government of Western Australia Department of Transport
Tasmania – Department of Transport
Australian Capital Territory
You need to book in advance
If you rock up to the car hire desk at the airport and expect to rent a vehicle on the spot, you’ll more than likely be turned away. For busy periods such as school holidays and long weekends, you sometimes need to book more than six months in advance to secure a campervan. Availability will differ between rental agencies but it’s definitely worth ringing up beforehand or booking online to ensure you don’t miss out.
You’ll need an international drivers license if you’re hiring a camper van overseas
If you’re travelling to a non-English-speaking country, chances are, they won’t accept your Australian Drivers License. You can obtain a Certificate of Translation for your original license, but we recommend paying the AU$39 fee to apply for an International Driving Permit. IDP’s are valid for twelve months. You can apply online, via mail or in person at a participating NRMA branch.
You must return your camper empty of waste and full of petrol and gas
With any form of car hire, it’s a pretty standard rule that you must return the vehicle with a full tank of petrol. However, some camper van rental companies also require you to refill the cooking gas cylinders too. You’ll also have to empty out the waste/grey water tanks. A quite tidy in general is always appreciated too.
Don’t touch the First Aid kit unless you really need to
If your child falls over and scrapes their knee, as kids are prone to do, think twice before opening the camper’s First Aid Kit. These kits must be fitted to every rental vehicle but they come at a cost. Some travellers have reported paying between $20-$50 just for opening them. Of course, in an emergency, you can’t put a price tag on the health and safety of your family. But for minor incidents, it’s best to BYO bandaids.
Janeece Keller is the founder and editor of Family Travel. She mostly travels with her husband and two young kids. She has a large blended family that lives in Australia and Europe. She has visited 52 countries and lived on 3 continents. From camping to luxury resorts Janeece tries to make sure her family has diverse holiday experiences each year. She is an avid hiker and ocean swimmer who loves good food, margaritas and heading off the beaten path.