Is it difficult to drive a campervan and driving it in a foreign country? It is daunting at the beginning, but you will get adjusted very fast.
Before starting campervanning, I have never driven any large car before until we booked a VW Crafter on our first campervan trip to Australia. It is a huge and long van. The height is 2.4 meters and the length is 7 meters. The first time we take the car out from the rental depot was a daunting experience. All most normal cars are lower than us. I also had a cold sweat if need to enter a narrow way such as entering a tight gas station, because I am afraid I will scratch the car or other cars. But we are safe well until the end of the trip.
During the trip, we also throw a joke to each other that we can become a truck driver when returning home. The next year after that, we had a chance to travel to New Zealand and rented a Mercedes Sprinter. The height is 3.5 meter and the length is about 7 meters. It is even taller and longer. As usual, I was nervous when driving out the rental depot, but I got adjusted to it after a couple of minutes.
This post will be about tips on driving campervan for a beginner, which will be based on our experience. It will cover tips before you fly out from your country, before driving out from the car rental depot, and when you are on the road.
Before Flying Out From Your Country
First, you need a driving license. A good thing about driving in Australia and New Zealand, they accept almost all foreign driving license. If the license is not in English, you only need an official translation or an International Driving Permit. If you still don’t have a license, get one soon! There are many roads that you should travel all over the world.
Second, you need to book a campervan. There are many campervan company in each country where campervanning is a culture. You can compare the prices and get the best offer. We will write another post on how to get a cheap rental price. On top of this, you also need to study the rental contract, especially pertaining insurance coverage that you might be liable to. You might want to buy an extra insurance to reduce your liability. Ask the rental company when you are unsure to avoid disappointment.
Third, research the traffic rule of your destination. There will be some differences for sure. Understanding the rule will make your trip safer and avoid unnecessary fines or travel disruption because of caught by the police.
The major concern for westerner that goes to Australia or New Zealand is they need to switch from driving on right side of the road to the left side of the road. It can be dangerous if your memory muscle brings your car to the wrong lane. Thankfully we don’t have such risk because Indonesia and Singapore driving on the same side of the road like Australia and New Zealand.
Before Driving Out From Car Rental Depot
You have landed on your destination country, gone to the rental car depot, and signed the paperwork. Then, the next thing to do is to check the campervan carefully. Normally there will be a staff who will guide you through all of the campervan functions, unless if you let them know that you are already familiar with it. Check all car amenities and features to make sure they are not missing. For example making sure they gave you enough cutleries and bedding set or where the fire extinguisher is.
After a basic briefing on campervan, the next thing is you will do a car damage check. It is like normal car rental. Make sure there is no existing damage left un-noted because you might be liable to it. In our case, we always take photos and make a video recording of the vehicle condition before we drive out. By doing this, we have a backup proof in case some dispute regarding car damage occurs later on.
In the driver cabin, you also need to make sure you understand all the driver toggles and buttons location. Find where is the signal toggle, the car light, the gasoline opener, the radio buttons and so on, the campervan electric panel and so on. So that you will not get distracted while you drive because you accidentally press the wiper button instead of the signal button.
After Getting Out from Car Rental Depot
I have to admit it is still daunting every time I drive a campervan out from the rental depot. It is a large vehicle. As Uncle Ben said to Spiderman, with great power comes a great responsibility. I couldn’t agree more. However, don’t freak out too much. Trust me, the daunting moment will be very short. In a couple of minutes, your amazing brain and muscle will get adjusted to the campervan size.
You still need to be careful though and respect traffic rule along the way. Drive carefully within the speed limit and don’t be over-paranoid because it can distract you.
If there is an issue or problem, you should be provided a vehicle support contact that usually online for 24 hours a day. Most of the time, the staff is very helpful. We are hoping that you never encounter any issue during the trip and enjoy the travel.
Returning The Car
If you have purchased zero excess insurance and you really don’t encounter any accident, usually the car return process will be very fast. But, you need to fill some paperwork if an accident happens. In this case, your bond will be held. To avoid such hassle, we suggest taking the best insurance cover. Even though you need to pay more, but you will have a peace of mind. We will write in more detail about insurance topic in another post.
Last, when you have reached here on your trip, it means that is the time to fly home. Have a safe flight and I assume you immediately want to have your next campervan trip soon.