Travelling by campervan is one of the best ways to see and experience everything Australia has to offer. There’s nothing like the feeling of packing your camper and hitting the open road, following your bliss and enjoying the freedom to go and stay virtually anywhere.
Rent a van to travel in, or make the leap to own your own motorhome, and you’ll be joining thousands of Aussies who travel the country each year.
There are many things to consider, and planning the routes to take will be an important start to your adventure before you’ve even headed off. Decide whether you should rent or buy the camper you’ll travel in, and what places and activities you really want to see (and which ones you don’t). Find out what road rules are important to know and where you can stop for the night. And remember to leave no trace as you travel around Australia’s parks and reserves.
These helpful tips and tricks will set your next road trip up for success.
Being able to just get in the campervan and head off on your Australia road trip is the dream, but sometimes it takes a bit of planning, especially if you’re wanting to travel in peak times when you’ll be sharing the road with more people.
The good news is planning your route is all part of the fun. Think about where you want to go and what you really want to see and do as you travel. You may also find it helpful to think about roughly how long you’ll want to spend at each destination too. Leave extra time in case you get given a good tip you can’t miss, traffic is slow or you get chatting along the way. Aim to take a break every 2 hours and swap drivers if needed.
When you travel around Australia, you’ll start to see there are large stretches of rural outback and they can look the same if you’re not familiar with them, so it would be very easy to get lost if you don’t have a plan of where you’re going.
It’s very important to note down where you’ll stop for gas and supplies too. The last thing you need is getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with no fuel or not enough food to get you through.
Unless you have a fully equipped vehicle and a reason to be there, stay on motorhome-safe roads, and avoid dirt roads or unsealed roads if you don’t want to get stuck, especially if it’s wet.
How long you want to travel around Australia for, and how often, will help you decide whether you should look at hiring a campervan or if you should look at motorhomes for sale.
If you’re planning on getting away on a road trip that'll last less than 3 months, renting may be a better option, and our KEA motorhomes are available to rent through Maui, Britz, and Mighty. When you rent a campervan, it comes fully equipped, includes roadside assistance, and you can travel for as long or short as you want.
If you’re looking to travel Australia over a number of months or even years, then buying may make more sense in the long run. You can always rent a campervan first to try before you buy and see if it’ll be a good fit with your lifestyle.
Always make sure you have plenty of food and water onboard. Gas stations and shops can be few and far between, so whenever you get the opportunity, stop and fill up the tank and the cupboards. It’s handy when you pull up to a campsite and not have to head out for food, or when there aren’t any shops nearby.
Visit local markets as you travel and stock up on fresh produce and delicacies, and if you like relaxing in the evening with a glass of wine, stop in at the cellar doors.
Hot weather means carrying water is really important. Make sure you carry enough water, and food, per person - at least 4-5 litres of water a day per person is a good rule of thumb. Have extra for emergencies and overnight.
Australia has unpredictable weather in some areas, and even on hot sunny days, it can turn quickly, so have the “just in case” items too like good hiking boots, warm clothing and waterproof jackets.
Itineraries help you make the most of planning your road trip. If you start with a pre-prepared one, you’ll have a good idea of travel times and what you can fit in. You can either stick with that one, or use it as a guide to plan around the things you really want to make time for, like those ultimate bucket list stops.
Using an itinerary means you can stick to a set route and safe roads, and keep to a timeline if you have somewhere you need to be, like a pre-booked tour. But keep it flexible so it’s not so rigid it takes the joy out of travelling - road trips are about the freedom to go at your own pace.
Make sure you include stays at powered sites every couple of days to keep your motorhome interior charged up and running as well as to dispose of waste and top up your water tank for the shower and sink.
For a safe trip, make sure you check and follow the road rules for each state you’re in.
Australians drive on the left hand side of the road, and give way to the right - that includes roundabouts and intersections. Even something as simple as honking your horn in a residential area may get you a fine.
Check the speed limits regularly. Different streets and towns may have different limits so it’s best not to assume, even on the open road.
Australia doesn’t allow phone use when driving (though some states do allow hands-free), so put the phone away while driving. The same goes for alcohol - Australia does have breath testing so save it for the end of the day when you’ve finished driving and parked up for the evening.
If you’ve been driving Aussie roads for a while, all of this will be familiar. It’s worth noting though that a camper is not that much harder than driving a car. You may want to invest in accessories or upgrade your vehicles tech with reversing cameras and monitors to make parking and reversing a breeze.
Australia is famous for its blue skies and sunny days, but not all areas are hot, and some states experience tropical rain and cooler nights.
It’s a good idea to check what weather you can expect for the season and state you’re heading to, and plan your trip around the type of weather you find comfortable. For example, if you don’t like really hot weather, plan your trip for cooler months or head to areas where the temperatures aren’t as harsh.
Make sure you carry sunscreen, sun hats and appropriate clothing to keep the sun off you. Even on cloudy days you can still burn.
Australia is very camper-friendly, but there are some areas where it may be culturally insensitive to park up, or use the land in a way which isn’t seen to be respectful. It’s always good to get accustomed to the Aboriginal beliefs around land and sea before you travel.
There are also areas where you can’t just park anywhere, and there’ll be signs in place highlighting the restrictions. If you do happen to park in a restricted spot, you run the risk of getting fined.
Make the most of the parking at the beautiful National Parks instead, or stay in the many great camping grounds and holiday parks across Australia. Check out the thl Roadtrip App for finding campsites and other hidden gems along the drive.
There is so much beautiful wildlife to enjoy, but in some areas they can be free roaming. If the wildlife is near roads, they likely won’t have any road sense, and may dart out suddenly, so do be careful when driving.
Remember to leave no trace, take your rubbish with you, take care with campfires, and respect their home.
Each motorhome is set up a little differently, and which one you ultimately travel with will depend on a number of factors. What kind of travel do you want to do, how many of you will be travelling, can you get up into a bed over the cab, do you want to have guests come and visit, what can you comfortably drive? All of these are important considerations when choosing the right motorhome for you.
Decide if you are happy to use campground facilities, or if you would rather have onboard facilities, particularly if you are travelling in outback areas, and remember to check you have enough room to pack your luggage, outdoor gear and supplies.
A navigation app helps make short work of planning, includes tips to help make travelling easier and offline maps that let you access them when you don’t have coverage or data so you can find your way, or plan the next leg when you’re off-grid.
It lists dump spots, campgrounds, petrol stations, and handy ‘how-to’ motorhome advice, and you can tap into the discussions to get great advice from other travellers.
Check out our other helpful guides.
Get more advice for travelling in a campervan with KEA Motorhomes. Come into a branch or visit us online.