The Universe

Getting Around on a Dollar-a-Day

Zero to Hero is over. 30 days of blogging and a whole lot of experimenting has definitely given me an idea of what I want and don’t want for my blog. I want this to be about traveling – in every sense of the word. I want to tell you about stuff I did and about stuff that might come in handy if one day you find yourself where I am (this one, for example).

So, brace yourselves!

A lot of people in Australia buy vans to travel around in. This is so convenient for so many different ways:

  1. You own it so you can do what you want with it
  2. You can go where you want when you want
  3. It is not just a means of transportation but also a place to sleep and your kitchen

Some of us don’t want that, others can’t afford it. In that case there are many other ways to get around:

  1. By plane
  2. By bus
  3. In some parts: by train
  4. Hitchhiking
  5. Walking (not really)
  6. Dollar-a-day van

Options 1 to 5 are pretty much self-explanatory, I think, so let’s focus on 6.

The official term for dollar-a-day vans isΒ relocation. Many tourists rent vans to get from A to B, and for some reason not entirely clear to me the rental companies need the vans to be returned back to A.

That is where the dollar comes in. Because that is the amount you pay as a ‘relocator’ for the rent of your van per day.

A dollar? Yes, a dollar (equals 0.66 euro, equals 0.89 US dollar).

This price doesn’t include insurance and anything additional you might want, like GPS or sheets or chairs and a table to sit outside. It also doesn’t include petrol, although in a lot of cases, you get a $100 petrol voucher.

There must be a downside. And there is. You have a set time for when the rental companies want the van to be back at location A. For example, 2 days to get from Melbourne to Sydney. This is enough, but doesn’t give you time to do any real sightseeing along the way.

I had my first relocation experience just this week. I was in Brisbane and needed to get to Sydney. I Googled ‘dollar a day Brisbane’ and a long list of possibilities appeared out of nowhere. I rang the first number and they had a van available that needed to be in Sydney by February, 5 (yesterday), giving me three days to drive just over 900km.

Luck of the devil! They would refund me all the fuel as well as give me $100 allowance. The lady at the rental place said I was very, very lucky.

As always, you have to weigh your options, but I would say if you’re on a budget this is one of the best ways to travel. You get to see some beautiful places you otherwise wouldn’t. You have the costs of food, but you have to eat anyway. You don’t have to go to paid camping sites. There are so many legal (and illegal, but allowed) camping sites, with or without facilities.

On my last overnight stop just after Newcastle, I met a German couple who told me about Wiki Camps. It is a database made by ‘[u]sers just like yourself’ and shows all the camping sites, backpackers and everything else you need while traveling. It costs $4.99, but it has an offline version as well – super handy for when you have no phone reception (often). I suggest you go to a library or somewhere they have free wifi to download it and enjoy your trip!

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