Campervan Hire vs Car Hire and Hotels in Australia

campervan hire vs car hire australia


I regularly find people asking on travel forums if they should hire a campervan or rent a car and stay in hotels whilst in Australia. There are normally a bunch of conflicting opinions that then chime in on the forum leaving the person asking the original question no better off than they were before. So I thought I would come up with a relative example of an average campervan booking and compare that to using a car and staying in hotels.

Average Campervan Hire in Australia

4wd campervan hire australiaBased on data recorded from our bookings, the average campervan hire is middle-of-road price range, is hired for about 2 weeks and is occupied by about 2x 30-something people. So if that is the average campervan hire adventure, in Australia,  how does it compare to doing the same thing in a car and staying at hotels? Like all travel, there are many factors that can be changed in this equation – quality of vehicle, quality of accommodation, route taken,  like or dislike of being in places like national parks as opposed to cities, like or dislike of being in caravan parks or hostels or hotels. It is impossible to look at all these options so I tried to take one average scenario and compare them. So what is the journey that we are comparing campervan hire and car hire/hotel stays in….

I have based this comparison on a cheaper-model,  middle-of-the-range campervan  and compared it against a cheaper-model, small sedan. So in both cases I have not gone with the super cheap budget model but one rung up the quality ladder. I have tried to pick hotel accommodation that is fairly basic in its quality to compare to the fairly basic surrounds of a campervan. In Australia, you don’t get much in your hotel accommodation for $100 p/n. And I have factored in only travel from start point to finish point without a lot of detours. The prices and details are included if you want to recalculate  anything to more suit a journey you might be going on.


Campervan Hire vs Car Hire and Hotels in Australia


ROUTE: Sydney to Cairns via the coast road

DURATION: 2 weeks


DISTANCE: Sydney – Cairns: 2730km following the coast road


Maximum excess reduction taken on both vehicles

Driver age 22 or older


Hiring a Campervan

Mighty campers Highball campervanHIRE COSTS – CAMPERVAN

2 person campervan: Mighty Highball Hi Top Hiace campervan in September 2014, 14 days. $695 (read more about Mighty Campers here )

(reference: )

Option to reduce excess to NIL $30pd x 14 days =420

(reference: )

One way fee $200

(reference: )

Total Campervan Hire Costs: $1315



14ltrs per 100km: 2730km/100km = 27.3 * 14ltrs = 382ltrs fuel


Fuel average price:  $1.55

(reference: – rural prices – August 2014)

Total Campervan Hire Fuel Costs: $1.55 x 382 ltrs = $592



Caravan parkAverage cost of caravan parks for powered site: $37


Assumption: Stay in powered site every 2nd night and free roadside stops and national parks on other nights

Total Accommodation Costs: 7x $37 = $259



Van $1,315

Fuel $ 592

Accom: $259

TOTAL: $2,166



Hiring a Car


Toyota corollaToyota Corolla 14 days $748 – includes one way fee


Reduce collision fee to NIL (Go Zen package) $597


Total Car Hire Cots: $1,345



Fuel usage is 6.6ltr per 100km


Fuel average price: $1.55

(reference: – rural prices – August 2014)

Fuel usage: 2730km/100 = 27.3 * 6.6ltr = 180ltrs

Total Car Hire Fuel Coasts:  $1.55ltr x 180ltrs = $280



Average price of a cheap hotel across Queensland as a whole state $100p/night

(reference: – checking Queensland hotels across the state)

(Note: You CAN get hotels starting at $50. They are rare. Most start in the $80’s range and go up. There will be cities and towns that you come to that simply don’t have these cheap prices and you will be paying $120 and more. It is particularly common if you haven’t booked in advance. In fact putting in $100 per night as an average is probably pretty cheap. Even a cabin in most caravan parks cost more than $100 per night)

Total Accommodation Costs: 14 nights x$100 = $1400



Car hire:  $1345

Fuel: $280

Hotels: $1,400

TOTAL: $3,025

($859 more than campervan hire)



Average price per person in a hostel is $28, so for a couple it’s $56 for people in DORMS. The average for a private room which is closer to the experience of being in a campervan is $35 per person ($70) (reference: So…

Total cost staying at hostels: $70 pn x 14 nights: $980



Car hire:  $1345

Fuel: $280

Hostels: $980

TOTAL: $2605

($439 more than campervan hire)

 Additional Things To Consider


Cooking on the road saves moneyObviously another large expense as you travel throughout Australia is going to be food and drinks. I think this is where campervan hire can really start to show a distinct advantage. With a campervan comes the ability to cook and store fresh foods. In ALL hired campervans will come the ability to cook. The quality and the ease of the cooking equipment will change with budget but at a minimum you will have a 2 burner stove and a proper place to keep it giving easy access. If you travel in a car you will need to buy these things and toss them at the end. This is an extra cost. If you DON”T have these things you are going to be eating out more often as a lot of cheaper hotel rooms simply don’t have kitchen facilities. Eating out will cost significantly more each night.

Another food consideration is keeping food fresh and drinks cold. In the campervan model chosen for this comparison there is a a fridge (runs off the 2nd house battery so won’t drain the engine battery). It will keep things cold, fresh and dry. The car options are to A) not keep things cold B) buy a cooler and put daily ice in it (cooler cost $50, ice cost $5 per day x 14 days = $120 total). So you have just paid 1 nights accommodation to keep your food fresh.



get lost with a campervanWith a campervan you can pretty much turn up to any town at any time and you will be able to stay there comfortably as you have your bed, food and kitchen with you. I have NEVER turned up in a town in a campervan not been able to stay there. Without planning your trip when staying at hotels you may find that there is nowhere to stay, or nowhere to stay that is affordable when you arrive  – this means sleeping in the car; dull.

And the reality is, at the end of the day, it’s not just about the money, it’s more about being able to do what you want to do when you want to do it. If you are looking for a journey across the wilds of Australia or just sticking to the well beaten path, you want to be able to do it the way you want to. You want to be able to stay longer if it’s great there, you want to be able to move on if the place is less interesting than expected and the reality is that if you are relying on finding a new place to stay every other night, then it is a lot harder or a lot more expensive to do this.



So it seems that not only is it actually cheaper to hire a campervan when travelling in Australia but it also offers more options to be where you want to be on your trip. The additional freedom is what I think really sells using a campervan. I know on my travels in the past, you often find reasons to change your plans mid journey, in fact it’s what makes journeys so much fun, and if you know you are carrying your food, clothes shelter and transport all together, you are free to change any time you want.

by Tim Ahern





  1. June says:

    Thanks for doing this research – this is a question we had been pondering over but had already decided to go with the campervan option, even if it cost more, because we like the lifestyle. It’s good to know it should actually be better value. Can’t wait for our Australian adventure to begin

  2. Robert says:

    Thanks for the excellent comparison! . I am ready to do a camping tour of New Zealand and the “Mighty Highball Toyota” seems like a good fit for me. Can you direct me to the nearest reputable outfitter?

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