hiring a campervan in
These days campervans come in all many shapes and sizes. They come with camper stoves, extendable beds, pop up camping spaces, showers, heaps of hidden storage and, best of all, the opportunity to immerse yourself in a sea of everchanging and undiscovered views. Hiring a campervan means you’ve got the bulk of your transport and accommodation costs already covered thanks to having a bed, kitchen and storage in the back of your van. You’re not bound by check ins, check outs or bad room service. It means you have the freedom of seeing a country how you want, when you want and with whoever you want.
Scotland is an amazing country. Lush rolling hills, endless lochs and more castles than you could poke a stick at. It’s an adventurer’s dream and, in my mind, driving around in a campervan is the best way to explore this rugged dreamland.
But there’s a few things you should know before you sign the dotted line on the rental agreement.
Book in advance
Whether you’re coming from overseas or interstate, the best way to hire a campervan is online and well in advance. It’s generally a pretty quick and pain-free process which guarantees a campervan waiting for you at the depot before you arrive.
It also means you’ll save some dimes. The general rule is that rental costs tend to increase the closer you book to your dates due demand and vehicle availability. I tend to look into campervan rentals at the same time as booking flights (if not beforehand) to steer clear of any kind of price hikes.
Look at opening times and locations
If you plan to pick up your campervan as soon as you land and drop it off before your departure, check the opening hours of the pick-up location before you commit to flights.
For example, the opening hours for the campervan company we chose for Scotland (Bunk Campers) was the usual 9-5 like most places, but the campervan rental collection was limited to hours between 3pm to 7 pm. This meant we had to re-arrange our plans and organize accommodation in Edinburgh for one night before we picked up the camper in the afternoon the next day. Some campervan rental companies even have restrictions on hiring campervans after long haul flights due to safety reasons. It’s best to check out all these little technicalities out beforehand to avoid any headaches.
Look for a camper that suits your needs
There’s something for everyone – from a no-frills option for as little as £30/day or a grander camper that might set you back some £150/day. Whilst it is common to search by price, I think it’s best to narrow down your options by considering the following:
Sleeping berths: How many people are planning to sleep in the van? Campervans tend to accommodate 2-4 people depending on size and you may need to consider an upgrade to a motorhome if you have a bigger group.
Transmission: Are you comfortable in an automatic or manual transmission? Companies will often have both on offer, though my experience has taught me that manual transmission tends to be cheaper and handles a little better on the narrow, windy and sometimes steep terrain in places (like Scotland).
Space, amenities and comfort: Campervans come in loads of different layouts and sizes. It kinda goes without saying that they bigger the van, the more comfortable it will be (but this also must take into account the number of people staying in the van). Also, bigger campers might have more modcons, like a fridge, bench seats and high tops that let you stand up inside. In saying that, most people who are doing a quick escapade tend to be happy with a backpacker-style van with just the basics. We had this type of camper when we did Canada and I thought it was pretty great! The campervan we rented for Scotland was a bit more luxurious and had stuff like heating, a toilet and shower, two double beds and a pretty neat kitchen. But, yeah, these add-ons also came with a very different price tag! That brings me to the next point ...
Cost: So now you’ve decided you’re going to jump on the campervan bandwagon, you’ll need to start comparing prices. Quotes vary greatly based on size, transmission and vehicle age and/or mileage. Prices also vary depending on the level of insurance you choose. I’ve always erred on the side of caution and chosen the highest level of insurance. I don’t think I could really enjoy a holiday without being consumed entirely by thoughts of impending accidents and the ensuing costs.
To read the fineprint
Whilst hiring a campervan comes with a bunch of perks, there are some things that you should know about before you hire.
Minimum hire requirements: Rental companies impose a minimum period in which the vehicle must be rented. The ‘minimum hire period’ is usually five to seven days and unlikely to affect most holidaymakers setting out for a week or more.
One-way travel: Hiring a campervan at one location and returning it to another can add a significant cost to the overall cost of the rental. One way to get around this little inconvenience is to seek out relocating campervan deals. If a company needs to relocate vans from A to B, they’ll often advertise ridiculously discounted rates to tourists willing to do the job within a certain timeframe. We once did this and paid $1/day for our camper … and were even given a $100 fuel allowance for our troubles. Check out imoova.com if you’re interested!
Capped kilometres: A few companies do offer capped kilometres on their campervans and exceeding the daily limit will incur a cost determined by the number of extra kilometres travelled.
Cleaning and refueling fees: Companies expect vehicles to be returned in a similar, if not the same, condition to what they were when they turned out of the depot driveway. An unclean vehicle or one that has less fuel than previously agreed attracts a fee which has been predetermined by the company.
To have fun!
Undoubtedly, living in what is basically someone else's pockets will lead to some hiccups and hard times along the way. But, most of things are quite minor and shouldn't let you from enjoying your adventure!