Your Australia Questions Answered – Car Or Public Transport?

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Australia Questions - Car or Public Transport

 

Today, I got a couple of questions about transport. Let’s hear it:

 

Question(s)

Do we need a campervan to travel Australia, or is public transport a better idea?  – Esther

Should I have an International drivers licence when visiting Australia? – Romina

Answer

Hi Esther and Romina,

There are many ways to see Australia and it all depends on your budget, available time and travel goals you personally have. Let’s get a bit into some of the options:

  1. Public Transport (Greyhound, Premier, Firefly Bus)
  2. Organized Tour (Oz Experience, Top deck, Groovy Grapes, Adventure Tours, etc.)
  3. Renting a Car/Campervan
  4. Buying a Car/Campervan

 

I’ve actually travelled Australia with all four of these options, and every mode of transport defined a different part of my journey. Let me explain:

  1. When I first arrived in Australia, not knowing anyone and wanting to meet people, I travelled with the Greyhound bus. It’s cheap (check out the mini travellers passes that are valid 90 days and give you massive discounts) and one of the quickest and comfortable ways to travel around. You can stop wherever you want (provided they have a bus stop, but al mayor points of interest will) and most hostels will have a pickup service from the bus stations. Premier is similar to Greyhound, but sometimes cheaper (but with limited stops and routes). Firefly operates in the South of Australia only.
  2. Organized tours are great for the most remote parts of Australia. For example, I had great times on tours around Kakadu National Park (Northern Territory) and Uluru (Red Centre). They organize the transport, you have a knowledgeable guide, all meals are included and there are lots of (optional) activities for you to choose from. Sometimes accommodation is included, or they have options for you to choose from. These tours are quite pricey, but I always feel that you should never cut yourself short on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. You get to meet amazing people and are sure not to miss any of the countries highlights. Perfect if you’re short on time as well.
  3. I would recommend renting over buying a car if you’re in Australia under 10-12 weeks. It’s really not worth your short time to get into buying, transferring and trying to sell a car. With any trouble, your company will help you out straight away. The only negative is that renting is usually more expensive. Think about visiting in low season (we got a great deal on our spaceship campervan) and hiring a smaller car instead of a massive campervan with shower, colour TV and Jacuzzi (or something similar). Do you really need al that, or do you want to rough it a bit more to save loads of money and have just a good experience (or even better! Australia is great for camping and off-roading) I’ve read some advice on car rental websites that say don’t even think about buying a hi-top campervan if you’re in the country under 22-30 weeks!! It’s just not worth it.
  4. There are definitely benefits with buying a car over renting, but you will take a much bigger risk. You have total freedom, you can earn some money back when you sell it in the end. If you don’t get any mayor car trouble, this can be quite cost effective. But I do see a lot of travellers having trouble selling their cars (not enough time to sell, in low season, etc.). We ended up buying a 4 wheel drive, but I wouldn’t not recommend that. You don’t really need it except for Fraser Island, The Kimberly’s or anything north of Cairns and once you get car trouble (and you will), it’s really costly. They are also really hard to sell. The most success with buying/selling cars I’ve seen is a simple Ford Falcon station wagon with a mattress or even just a tent in the back.

 

To answer the second question: I purchased a special “International Drivers Licence” in The Netherlands before I left, as the roadside assistance guys told be I needed one. I’ve rented with multiple car companies in Australia now, and they never asked me for it, my Dutch drivers licence was just fine. So that’s money you can keep!

What I did found, however, was that some rental companies charge you extra for having an international drivers licence. They just don’t know that everyone else in the world are much better drivers than Australians, but please don’t tell them that.

Australia Travel Question - Car or Public Transport?

 [:nl]The Sundays on The Travel Tester are open for all your questions about travelling, working and living in Australia. This week, I’ll give you my opinion about car/campervan versus public transport.

Previous questions about Australia included how to make the first step to go travelling, the different types of discount cards and hostel membership cards available and we talked about the question ‘is it safe to travel as a girl alone in Australia?’.

 

Australia Questions - Car or Public Transport

 

Today, I got a couple of questions about transport. Let’s hear it:

 

Question(s)

Do we need a campervan to travel Australia, or is public transport a better idea?  – Esther

Should I have an International drivers licence when visiting Australia? – Romina

Answer

Hi Esther and Romina,

There are many ways to see Australia and it all depends on your budget, available time and travel goals you personally have. Let’s get a bit into some of the options:

  1. Public Transport (Greyhound, Premier, Firefly Bus)
  2. Organized Tour (Oz Experience, Top deck, Groovy Grapes, Adventure Tours, etc.)
  3. Renting a Car/Campervan
  4. Buying a Car/Campervan

 

I’ve actually travelled Australia with all four of these options, and every mode of transport defined a different part of my journey. Let me explain:

  1. When I first arrived in Australia, not knowing anyone and wanting to meet people, I travelled with the Greyhound bus. It’s cheap (check out the mini travellers passes that are valid 90 days and give you massive discounts) and one of the quickest and comfortable ways to travel around. You can stop wherever you want (provided they have a bus stop, but al mayor points of interest will) and most hostels will have a pickup service from the bus stations. Premier is similar to Greyhound, but sometimes cheaper (but with limited stops and routes). Firefly operates in the South of Australia only.
  2. Organized tours are great for the most remote parts of Australia. For example, I had great times on tours around Kakadu National Park (Northern Territory) and Uluru (Red Centre). They organize the transport, you have a knowledgeable guide, all meals are included and there are lots of (optional) activities for you to choose from. Sometimes accommodation is included, or they have options for you to choose from. These tours are quite pricey, but I always feel that you should never cut yourself short on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. You get to meet amazing people and are sure not to miss any of the countries highlights. Perfect if you’re short on time as well.
  3. I would recommend renting over buying a car if you’re in Australia under 10-12 weeks. It’s really not worth your short time to get into buying, transferring and trying to sell a car. With any trouble, your company will help you out straight away. The only negative is that renting is usually more expensive. Think about visiting in low season (we got a great deal on our spaceship campervan) and hiring a smaller car instead of a massive campervan with shower, colour TV and Jacuzzi (or something similar). Do you really need al that, or do you want to rough it a bit more to save loads of money and have just a good experience (or even better! Australia is great for camping and off-roading) I’ve read some advice on car rental websites that say don’t even think about buying a hi-top campervan if you’re in the country under 22-30 weeks!! It’s just not worth it.
  4. There are definitely benefits with buying a car over renting, but you will take a much bigger risk. You have total freedom, you can earn some money back when you sell it in the end. If you don’t get any mayor car trouble, this can be quite cost effective. But I do see a lot of travellers having trouble selling their cars (not enough time to sell, in low season, etc.). We ended up buying a 4 wheel drive, but I wouldn’t not recommend that. You don’t really need it except for Fraser Island, The Kimberly’s or anything north of Cairns and once you get car trouble (and you will), it’s really costly. They are also really hard to sell. The most success with buying/selling cars I’ve seen is a simple Ford Falcon station wagon with a mattress or even just a tent in the back.

 

To answer the second question: I purchased a special “International Drivers Licence” in The Netherlands before I left, as the roadside assistance guys told be I needed one. I’ve rented with multiple car companies in Australia now, and they never asked me for it, my Dutch drivers licence was just fine. So that’s money you can keep!

What I did found, however, was that some rental companies charge you extra for having an international drivers licence. They just don’t know that everyone else in the world are much better drivers than Australians, but please don’t tell them that.

Australia Travel Question - Car or Public Transport?

 

Please send me your Australia questions! I’ve visited Australia 3 times, travelled all around the country and lived in Sydney for 2 years, working as a hostel receptionist and Australian Travel Agent. I love to answer any questions you might have.  I’ll do my best to answer to my best and current knowledge, or help you find the right resources to prepare for the trip of your lifetime. You can post your questions in the comment section or mail me.

 [:]

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