Need to test-drive the van life, actually? Travellers Autobarn has campervans for rent. We took one on the highway to attempt it for ourselves.
Residing out of a camper is not only for dirtbag climbers or travel-hungry globetrotters. Individuals of all ages and from all walks of life have embraced both touring or dwelling full-time by campervan. And that’s simply as true with renting the van life. For these not able to buy, there are many nice functions to utilizing a van for adventures.
Who’re campervans for? Actually, anybody. Current grads, distant employees, seasonal park staff, journey nurses or journey writers, retirees, and extra are hitting the highway, sleeper-style.
And Travellers Autobarn affords absolutely built-out campervans — with tons of room for gear — at an unbeatable worth. I beloved the van itself. However I additionally preferred the providers and options the corporate offers. These embody limitless mileage, entry to a campground app subscription, photo voltaic panels for off-grid dwelling, and extra.
Kuga Campervan Rental: On-the-Highway Evaluate
Travellers Autobarn, an Australian firm, simply upgraded its fleet of Kuga campervans. The corporate can be pretty new to the U.S. It’s been working in Australia since 1993, however operations started right here in 2019.
I lucked out and took one out for a 7-day highway journey by means of California. Listed here are my ideas on the expertise.
General High quality
The van excelled in some areas. In others, it was fairly normal.
The general necessities offered within the van have been actually nice, they usually have been definitely every part I wanted. The corporate considered a lot of little particulars, together with USB charging ports for telephones, a can opener within the kitchen, and exterior lighting for sitting exterior at evening.
The entire firm’s Kuga Campervans have been up to date in 2020; nonetheless, the precise vans date again so far as 2012. Which means that the cab, engine, and driver’s space aren’t fairly new.
Now, I can’t completely fault Travellers Autobarn on this — the model does market itself as a funds rental service. Simply know that you simply would possibly get a campervan, absolutely constructed out and practical, however older.
Home equipment and Performance
The home equipment within the campervan are superior. I examined each side and the options rocked it.
The Dometic gasoline cooktop sports activities two burners, and the Dometic fridge labored like a attraction. The photo voltaic lights, panels, and shops have been all straightforward to navigate. And the electrical hookups did the job as effectively.
Additionally value noting, not like an RV, the photo voltaic batteries are quiet — there’s no generator buzzing or groaning within the evening.
Now, as somebody who normally backpacks or tent camps, I solely used the electrical hookups one evening (which energy an added 12V microwave). All the pieces else within the van ran off photo voltaic. In my view, the hookups are nice, however completely elective — with solar energy, you possibly can select whether or not or to not keep in a developed campground.
The campervan I examined sleeps as much as three of us. I by no means had three individuals inside, however the size and width of the bottom-level mattress are spacious sufficient for 2, and the higher loft (purely for sleeping) is enough.
There’s not a lot headroom for the third individual up prime — a few foot — however hey, it may well sleep three. And when the loft is saved away, there’s nonetheless loads of livable house for one or two.
I used the higher loft part for bedding and additional gear storage. It’s value noting that the max standing peak in about two-thirds of the van is 6’5”, greater than ample for many vacationers.
Gear and Storage
Let’s speak storage, which is arguably an important a part of a campervan. Nobody desires to take a 2-week highway journey or embrace the van life if there’s no room for toys and baggage on board.
There are three storage bins below every bench within the dwelling house of the van: two cubby-sized bins and one giant foremost compartment. I used to be impressed. This room offered stash house for climbing gear and sneakers, carry-on baggage, camp blankets, furnishings, chairs, soiled mountaineering boots, and extra.
On this journey, I had a 50L duffel bag, camp chairs, a blanket, a paddleboard, a daypack, a hydration bladder pack, and a journey Dopp package all stashed away.
That’s along with the water hosing and electrical hookups, bedding, sleeping baggage, pillows, and a full cookware and kitchen set (teapot, mugs, utensils, dinnerware) offered and saved within the van.
For a one-week highway journey, I had every part I wanted and extra. For something longer, I’d have nonetheless had ample room for gear, however I’d most likely need to be extra strategic about meals storage. (The campervan included a fridge, so I didn’t convey a cooler.)
Based mostly on what I packed, I used to be in a position to make the most of the storage for each dwelling necessities and my private gear. Changing the storage benches from a eating space to a mattress was additionally pretty straightforward, although most days I opted to forgo the inside desk. I picnicked, ate, and aprés outdoor as an alternative.
Water, Gasoline, Photo voltaic, and Electrical
The Dometic cooktop makes use of normal propane, and it’s an awesome measurement. Moreover, the fridge match greater than I believed it might. Something not saved within the fridge went into the cabinets, which had additional room for dry items along with the van’s cookware.
The water tank within the Kuga campervan holds a powerful 13 gallons (some van builds have tanks as small as 5), offering loads of water storage for per week or a number of weeks.
The hose that got here with the van (for refilling the tank, which I by no means wanted to do however did take a look at) is an ordinary 25-foot hose. The water strain within the sink was nice, and this side was seamless to function.
The photo voltaic panels on the roof additionally labored nice, and — due to California’s sunny disposition — it offered loads of energy alongside my journey. And the battery system was quiet.
The photo voltaic panels powered outlet and USB charging ports, the fridge, and inside and exterior lighting. In a single nationwide park, it took lower than 2 hours from sunup for the 2 photo voltaic panels to completely cost. Spectacular.
This campervan rental and highway journey expertise would have been miles totally different with out this superior solar-powered function included on the Kuga Campervans.
Travellers Autobarn: Decide Up/Drop Off Course of, Buyer Service
Choosing up my campervan had some ups and downs.
First, the corporate does an superior job with communication, specifically pre-check-in emails and digital details about your journey. I acquired an e mail a number of days earlier than, a day earlier than, a receipt upon arrival, and several other on the finish of the journey.
The Los Angeles Travellers Autobarn workplace, which I assumed could be a sunny and busy mecca, was a reasonably low-key van depot. The general public-facing firm storefront was closed as a result of COVID, so take the next with a grain of salt. There was just one different individual ready to test in and decide up a van, so it didn’t take lengthy.
The employees member who checked me in was useful however didn’t appear probably the most participating. He gave a full overview and walkthrough of the van options, answered a couple of questions I had, and (after a brief mixup with a set of keys) I used to be on my means.
Returning the van at my last vacation spot was a a lot smoother expertise. The employees was tremendous pleasant, and the workplace appeared a bit extra organized. General, my expertise with Travellers Autobarn employees and customer support (in individual and over the cellphone) was constructive.
Renting with Travellers Autobarn: Why You Ought to
Now, I’ll dig into all of the behind-the-scenes, fine-print particulars. Listed here are the professionals (there are tons) and cons of renting a campervan with Travellers Autobarn.
Campervan: Absolutely Outfitted
It’s a campervan! Positive, you might lease a automotive from Finances and highway journey to hit some nationwide parks, or stealth camp in a U-haul.
However actually, if you will give another person (or your self) a highway journey journey, go all out. Deliver refrigerated items, convey your favourite pillow, convey the surfboard, and the trad climbing rack.
Bask within the comfort of photo voltaic panels and working water. Glamp it up.
Low Renter’s Age
In contrast to Outdoorsy, GoCamp, and several other different van rental providers, you don’t need to be over 25 to lease with Travellers Autobarn. (There’s no younger driver charge, both!) All you want is to be 21 or older.
This can be a big perk for current grads (like my youthful sister), younger professionals, and millennials trying to dip their toes into the ever-trendier “dwelling out of a van” way of life.
No Mileage Charges
Repeat after me: Free. Limitless. Mileage. Take that surprising highway detour. Cease at your pals’ home. Don’t stress about what number of miles you spend driving round in search of the excellent spot to camp.
Don’t fear about added prices when you go over. Travellers affords limitless miles on each campervan rental. I like this side of its service.
Travellers Autobarn advised us that the all-inclusive (campervan rental, insurance coverage, provides) common price per journey is $20-40 per day. (My journey got here to nearly precisely $33 a day.) We’ll do the mathematics for you: A 2-week highway journey is about $420. That’s cheaper than most airline prices — and undoubtedly cheaper than per week of lodging.
Even on a DIY highway journey, I can see myself spending a minimum of $20 per day on what the campervan offers: a automobile, lodging, a spot to cook dinner and eat (range and gas), and a gear room on wheels. Now, the associated fee does go up once you consider issues like campground charges and gasoline, however that’s all a part of being on the highway.
To make the deal sweeter — or in case you are on a decent funds (ahem, younger professionals) — and value your whereas, Travellers tosses in issues like reductions for extra days on the highway, a free subscription to a campground app (with reductions) for all renters, and free 24-hour roadside help (which you hopefully gained’t want!).
Campervan Cons, Different Logistics
I skilled only a few cons with this campervan rental service. However, there have been a couple of.
Driver and Car Security
Travellers Autobarn is a funds campervan rental firm. Its vans are reasonably priced and accessible to almost everybody. If you’re in search of a luxurious, $200-per-night van getaway, this isn’t it.
The corporate discloses that its vans are older (as previous as 2012) GMC and Chevrolet automobiles, which means the cab isn’t the freshest, and its controls could also be handbook (aspect mirrors, home windows).
I think about for renters not conversant in driving 18-foot vans, high-tech automobile options like smartphone compatibility for instructions and automated controls in all vans could be good. And which will even make the driving expertise safer.
For context, I not solely take a look at drove a campervan, however I additionally took a have a look at Travellers Autobarn’s entire California fleet for a greater perspective. I’d guess a bit greater than half of the automobiles had newer, automated controls.
Nonetheless, I additionally had a couple of points on the subject of auto security. One, the van I acquired had over 130,000 miles on it (this isn’t a con, simply extra mileage than I anticipated). And two, I had a couple of engine/service lights go on and off whereas driving.
When you’re 80 miles from the closest city or driving up a mountain highway, this may be nerve-wracking. I had cell service, and I used to be in a position to name the corporate’s customer support (the group member I reached was useful and educated) to find out whether or not it was secure to proceed driving. However nobody desires to need to cope with that on a highway journey, particularly when the corporate is advertising journey to distant locations.
Barely newer vans must be in Travellers Autobarn’s future plans. And unofficially, they’re, as the corporate advised me it plans on updating the vans each few years.
As a result of these are rental automobiles, Travellers Autobarn doesn’t permit pets. So when you’re a pup dad or mum, you have to to make preparations to your fur child.
For a automobile rental service, it’s cool that Travellers additionally offers itineraries for these in search of extra construction and journey concepts. This takes them up a degree in my thoughts from only a rental service to extra of a campervan and journey firm.
It even designs itineraries round particular actions, like climbing and winter sports activities.
I adopted certainly one of its itineraries as I examined the campervan. And whereas I beloved the stops, nationwide and state park suggestions, and tempo, I do want a couple of extra particulars have been included.
Issues like two or three really useful choices of the place to remain, possibly a couple of “locals’ suggestions,” and a labeled estimated driving time for every day could be useful additions.
Restricted Decide-Up Areas
Should you go to Travellers’ web site, the very first thing you’ll most likely discover is its in depth, nationwide itineraries.
We’re speaking Seattle, Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, Denver, Miami. The contiguous U.S. is your oyster (type of). Nonetheless, Travellers’ house bases for the model new Kuga Campervans are solely in L.A. and San Francisco, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada.
That is along with Travellers’ house stomping floor of Australia and New Zealand.
So, in case you are tremendous set on renting a campervan from these of us, you’ll need to issue journey to these locales in.
I’ll add that Travellers Autobarn is increasing to house bases in Denver and Seattle this yr. So hopefully, you gained’t have to attend lengthy to get extra choices close to you!
I traveled over 1,000 miles round and throughout California, hit up 4 Nationwide Parks, and a half dozen state parks as effectively. The van was pretty straightforward to drive, the inside dwelling house functioned rather well, and there was room for gear.
Wanting not fairly feeling like house (although this rental was higher than another rental “lodgings” I’ve skilled), this van delivered. It gave me consolation, comfort, and entry to outside areas.
And given every part that was included, the value is a large constructive that you simply actually can’t flip down. I’d contemplate renting from Travellers Autobarn once more, until I catch myself shopping for and constructing out my very own van first.