We’ve just returned from our incredible road trip up WA’s Coral Coast, and we had an amazing time. The destinations were spectacular, to say the least, but the trip was even more enjoyable because we had a wonderful deluxe campervan, courtesy of the awesome folks at Traveller’s Auto Barn. I constantly found myself wishing we’d had this van on our month-long Epic Aussie Road Trip because the van has so many little things that really make a huge difference.
For one, there is so much more SPACE. The van can sleep three people, so when you’re just two that gives you a lot of extra room. (And if you are three, it saves you lots of money splitting rental, camping and fuel costs!) In the front cabin we had much more space to spread out while driving, and in the back you can actually stand up in the kitchen area (as opposed to a smaller van where the back is taken up entirely by the bed, which you can only crawl into).
All this space definitely helps preserve your sanity on the road, not to mention your relationship with your travel partner! We would have really enjoyed the extra storage space on our last trip as well, since we were lugging around everything we owned. In this case, we never had to worry about our backpacks as they were easily stored in the above bed area and out of the way when we didn’t need them.
The deluxe campervan also has screens on the windows that open in the back. This is something easily overlooked when you’re choosing a campervan, but this was a huge savior for us on this trip! During most times of the year in most places in Australia it is pretty hot, and this was definitely the case in northwest Australia in late summer. Nighttime is no different; it is still really hot, especially in the van. We would have surely overheated at night if we didn’t keep the windows open, but we would have surely been bitten to death by mosquitos and/or kept up all night by buzzing flies and other insects if we didn’t have screens on the windows. I honestly don’t know how we would’ve survived without this feature!
The comforts don’t end there. The van also has a normal sink (so nice not to have to pump out water — especially when washing your hands or dishes!), fridge, microwave (we excitedly used this to lazily make some Easy Mac our first night on the road) and gas burner inside the van. I emphasize this because there are a lot of times when you really don’t want to stand outside the van to cook (like you have to do in most campervans) or even go out to use a camp kitchen (if you even have access to one). Whether it’s raining or there’s just a huge amount of flies or mosquitos lurking about, you will often find yourself extremely happy that you can prepare your meal within the safe, dry, insect-less comfort of your van.
Finally, having tried a few other basic/budget campervans before the deluxe, Oscar and I can safely say that the deluxe campervan had the best A/C (again, something you will probably have great need for), drove the best, had the best storage, and was overall the most comfortable of any vehicle we’ve tried. Little extras like an exterior light for finding your way back from the toilet at night, extra cupholders in the front, a mini closet with hangers for those easily wrinkled (or wet) clothes, all add to the appeal of the deluxe van.
We were also beyond thrilled to find the van came with a copy of CAMPS 5, something that can you save you considerable money on your trip with its maps and listings of free and cheap campsites (another thing we really wish we’d had on our long trip last year). Oh, and it’s pretty nice to have a normal looking van, as not everyone likes to drive around in a graffiti-covered van that screams for attention. Pretty much the only negative I could find in the van was there was no ipod hookup (which the Chubby from Traveller’s Auto Barn does have), and we only had one CD with us for those long stretches of driving where there were no radio stations available. So just be sure to burn a few mix CDs before your trip and you’ll be good to go!
Overall, the comfort and value you get from a deluxe campervan far exceeds the extra cost (I say this even as the hardcore budget travel nazi I am). This is especially true on a longer trip, where you can easily get really tired of living out of a van and in such close proximity with your travel partner(s). I can guarantee there will be a lot less fighting in this van!
And while we were really lucky to be sponsored by Traveller’s Auto Barn for this trip, we went with them having already used them on our Epic Aussie Road Trip paying full price, and both times we had an exceptional experience. Everyone we dealt with (at both Melbourne and Perth branches) were extremely friendly and helpful. We never had a single problem with either vehicle from TAB, which is pretty incredible considering how much driving we did in both vehicles (well over 3,000km on this trip alone). Pickup and dropoff are quick and easy. And even when we did have a problem at pickup with the bond the staff bent over backwards to help us work the situation out so we could get started on our adventure!
Look out this week for more details on our trip up the coast (somewhere in between my packing and preparing for my trip back to the US). Or if you need an immediate fix to satiate your Australian road trip desires, check out my WhyGo Australia guest post on the Top 10 Things to See and Do Along the Nullarbor as well as my Tips for Taking an Australian Road Trip.