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Tips for Hiring a Travellers Autobarn Campervan in Australia

Chubby Travellers Autobarn
Travellers Autobarn

Bastian Graf
Sales and Marketing Manager - Travellers Autobarn

Hi Bastian, who are Travellers Autobarn? Where are your branches located? And what do you offer as a product?

Hi, Paul,  Travellers Autobarn is a campervan hire and car sales company. Been established since 1993. We've got branches all around Australia, in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin and Perth.

We are also in New Zealand, with Auckland and Christchurch. We've got a total of 700 campervans, all around those countries we are the oldest budget and backpacker campervan operator in the market, and business is pretty good for us.

What age demographic usually travels in your vehicles?

50% of our age demographic is 18 to 30, but we also have a huge demographic 30 plus, especially in the 50 to 70 age group. And most of those elderly clients are actually directly from Australia or New Zealand.

Do you charge a certain underage, under 21 age surcharge for your vehicles?

No, one of the key selling points of Travellers Autobarn, as long as you're 18, you have a full driving license, you can hire any of our vehicles. Between 18 to 75, in Australia and New Zealand. So it doesn't matter what kind of car you're going for, it doesn't matter where you would like to hire from. Everything is the same charge, same insurance levels, so you don't need to worry about these things.

Will international travellers planning on a road trip in Australia need to obtain an international driver's license when hiring a vehicle from Travellers Autobarn?

For Australia there's no international license required. In New Zealand, by law you're required international driving license. If you come to New Zealand, and you forgot an international driving license, we do have services in place that can help you getting your license translated for you.

The campervan it's the only option where you can actually change your itinerary every day. You meet some new friends, which can travel with you as well. So we believe having that full flexibility is the best way to see Australia.

And how much would that be?

You're probably looking anywhere between 50 to 150 dollars, depending what you need. Now obviously if you come very late to the branch, what it would mean is you wouldn't be able to pick up your van until the next day.

Is there any restrictions to where camper vans can drive in Australia?

Generally with us is rules you can only be on sealed roads. Any dirt roads, any beaches, is forbidden under the terms and conditions. That's purely because the vans are quite tall, so the moment you go on a dirt road on a beach, there's a very high chance you're going to roll over your vehicle. Which is really an experience you don't want to have.

Do you guys offer unlimited kilometres and 24 hour roadside assistance?

Yes, we do indeed. So all our vehicles in Australia and New Zealand come with unlimited kilometres and 24/7 roadside assistance.

Does Travellers Autobarn offer insurance? If so, what options of insurance do you cover?

We actually technically don't offer insurance for excess reductions, or liability reduction. So standard is that you have a bond of two and a half thousand dollars. That basically means is, when you pick up your vehicle, that amount will be frozen on your credit card. It will not be cash deducted, which is again a great sales point of us. That's also in case you have an accident, that will be the amount that will be taken of you, until the case is closed.

80% of customers choose the full cover package, which basically means you can reduce your excess to zero. It's called Protection Plus. It costs you 25 dollars a day in Australia, and $27.50 in New Zealand, which will mean in case of an accident you're fully covered. There are of course a few exclusions, which are highlighted in our terms and conditions.

What are the benefits traveling in a camper van, rather than a bus pass or a normal car?

Generally with a campervan, it's the best way to see Australia or New Zealand. There are so many things that you can't even know about. It doesn't matter how many times you Google online. It doesn't matter how many you read Lonely Planet. You're going to see Australia, there's all these awesome national parks and beaches. And with the campervan it's the only option where you can actually change your itinerary every day. You meet some new friends, which can travel with you as well. So we believe having that full flexibility is the best way to see Australia.

But obviously also what you need to consider, if you're going to a hostel and a bus tour, you have to pay for the bus. You also have to pay for hostel every day. You're also going to need to pay for public transport or tours, if you want to go somewhere else on top. So a camper would also be financially for you a better option.

What would you say people find most surprising about Travellers Autobarn?

What they most probably find was that even so we are a budget campervan provider, most of our clients are extremely happy with the service that we provide. We've also changed Australia in the fact that a lot of our vehicles are actually brand new. So even it's a budget backpacker company, most of our vehicles are brand new.

We offer services like, you get access to free campsites in Australia, which is a key selling point for all our clientele. But we also offer an app which basically allows customers text anything they need about Travellers Autobarn, but also access campgrounds, bars. You know, where's an ATM, where's a supermarket, where's a petrol station. So it's really all for them ready to go when they pick up their van.

What are some tips to bring, or have prepared, when you're arriving to pick up your campervan?

I think the thing that you always want to do is, always talk to your bank. Make sure you have the proper amount ready on your credit card. It probably happens once or twice a day, all around the country, where people say, "Look, I have $10,000 on my credit card." But you have a daily limit, or your bank thinks it's a fraud activity.

So I think it's always very important to tell your bank that you're going to pick up a van, how much money you're going to need to spend. So that you don't have these surprises. It's important to have a valid VISA or MasterCard credit card, which you require for your bond.

Make sure everybody that would like to drive is present upon pickup. Happens quite frequently, where somebody is still staying in their hostel, and didn't realize they need to be on pickup there as well. But most of that information is all directly on the voucher provided to you. So when you get that voucher, is only four or five tips that we write underneath the pricing. Make sure you read through properly, and just be prepared for it.

What's your average pickup and drop off time, and how new are your vehicles? How often do your vehicles get maintained or replaced?

The average pickup time really depends to you as a customer. You get three days before pickup, a check-in email. If you fill out that whole email, that would probably save you 15 minutes off your pickup time in the branch. We also send you video of your specific vehicle which you're picking up. Again, if you watch that video about your car, which will show you how your vehicle works, in the inside and the outside.

Pretty much, depending on how busy it is, you can be in and out within 10 minutes. So it can go very, very quickly. If you haven't done your pre-check, and you haven't watched the video, anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. Again, we've got pre-check-in desk as well now, all our offices. But it comes really down to you. If you do all these things prior, it can go very, very quickly.

Again, drop offs shouldn't be more than five minutes. Pretty much drop off your van. Make sure you've refilled your petrol, you've refilled your gas for the gas bottle. Make sure it's clean inside and outside. All you do is drop off your van, we check it, you fill out a quick survey, in and out five minutes if you really do the right thing.

How new are your vehicles, and how often do they get maintained or replaced?

All our vehicles get serviced anywhere between five to fifteen thousand kilometres, depending on what the Australian standard is. Vehicle-wise, it depends what you choose. We've got some vehicles which are, which we call premium budget, like our Chubby and Kuga vans. They're anywhere between zero to seven years old. That also is part of the fit out.

Then we've got Budgies, and Budget Hi Tops, which are for the customers who want to spend a little bit less money. You're probably looking at vans that are anywhere between seven to ten years old. So again, depending what budget you are, depending what you prefer, you've got different opportunities to pick out these vehicles.

What qualifications, certificates, awards, has your company obtained?

In regards to us, we've won quite a few of the Golden Backpack awards in the past. We're part of the basic tourism certification which is ATEC as well.

What type of vehicles does your company offer? How many people can you fit in each type of vehicle?

We offer anywhere between two to five person campervans. We also do station wagons, so if you just want to hire a car, and sleep in the back, or go camping, all those station wagons come with a tent. Otherwise, yeah, you've got two berth vans, three berth vans, four to five berth vans, which are great for families with small kids. So we will have anything you really need.

And are there any extra costs, or optional extras, that people should be aware of?

There's always, obviously, extra costs. But it always depends on what you want. So anything you book with us, there's afterwards no additional charge. But if you decide you would like to have a GPS, you would like to have camping chairs, these charges are extra. But whatever you get from us when you make the booking, there's no extra charge on that part. It really depends on you, if you would like to have any extras. And the only charges we ask extra drivers, so if you prefer more people to drive, there is a fee for that.

What's the best time of year to travel in a Travellers Autobarn vehicle?

To be honest, there is always a good time to travel in a Travellers Autobarn campervan. Australia's a very big country, so while it might be cold in Melbourne, and in Sydney, June, July, August, it is very warm in Darwin and Cairns.

You also need to realize again on your budget, if you want to travel in December and January you're going to pay top rate. If you travel in May, June, July, you might only pay 30% what you might pay peak season. So again it comes down to budget travel. But Cairns, Brisbane, Darwin, it's always nice and warm, so to be honest, there isn't really a bad time.

Even New Zealand, there's still lots of people traveling when it's winter down there, because it is so cheap. You save so much money. So, yeah, just depends what you're after.

Do you have safety systems and procedures in place for your travellers?

We do have safety systems in place. They're all explained to the customer on pickup. And obviously, guys, when any vehicle gets returned it gets checked through by our branch managers. We also have specific check places, where we get checked by our handyman and detailer. And then I get quality control again by our branches to make sure all the vehicles meet the qualities that they need.

Obviously it will be unavoidable, sometimes things just break down. It's the nature of cars. But to be honest, if anybody tells you a car or camper will never break down, it's simply untrue. It's just things that can happen. But we do have a network of over 500 mechanics Australia-wide. Same as New Zealand. So we will be there to help you make sure your vehicle gets fixed as quickly as possible. If we can't, we'll find a way to give you a replacement vehicle.

Why should travellers choose Travellers Autobarn?

Well, we've been the longest in the market, so we understand the budget traveller very, very well. All of our staff have been traveling campervans for many, many years. So we know Australia very, very well.

What's really unique for us is, as long you're 18, you have a full driving license, you can travel anywhere around Australia. You get any kind of vehicle, you absolutely don't really need to worry about are there any surcharge, any of those things.

All of our customers get access to free campgrounds in Australia, which is a massively big selling point. In fact, we're the only company in Australia who offer that service. You also get a 10% discount if you want to go to nice proper caravan parks. And we offer 24/7 roadside assistance.

And we have an awesome app, which basically will tell you anything you need about Travellers Autobarn. If you have an issue, if you had an accident, if you need to know about tolls, everything is in the app straightaway on your phone. So it's a very unique product.

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