~ I’ve heard about this sort of thing before, and thought it was an urban myth - but to my amazement it is true.
What am I talking about? A scheme that lets you drive a car, motorhome or campervan right across the country – for next to nothing. In fact, some of the companies involved will even give you up to $500 in free fuel – and pay you an allowance as well!
It sounds crazy, but it’s true. Let me explain. Car rental companies often hire their vehicles out to clients who are travelling in one direction only – say from Adelaide to Brisbane. Once the car has been dropped of at its destination, the rental company then has to get the vehicle back to its home location in Adelaide.
They could of course, wait, and hope that eventually someone in Brisbane will rehire the vehicle and drive it back to Adelaide, but they could end up waiting days or weeks for this to happen. And while they are waiting, they could be losing clients because they don’t have enough hire vehicles left in the yard back in Adelaide to rent out to other clients. Sometimes their only option is to offer amazing inducements to drivers to return the vehicles, and this means that if you are flexible about when you want to travel, you could literally be paid to drive a car or motorhome across the country.
How do you find out which companies are involved and what vehicles are on offer? Go online, dear reader, go online.
For instance Apollo (the campervan and motorhome rental company) have a page on their website where they list the vehicles that need to be relocated back to home base. As I write this, there are 23 such vehicles including a Euro Tourer 2 Berth campervan that needs to be returned to Alice Springs from Adelaide.
As an inducement they are also offering (and I quote from the site): “$1 per day rental, all fuel free (dockets required), $100 travel allowance (no dockets required)”. Yes you read it right. Not only could you be driving this campervan from Adelaide to Alice Springs for a dollar a day, but all fuel is free and they are also offering to pay you a $100 travel allowance! Or you could drive a Euro Deluxe 6 Berth motorhome from Cairns to Sydney for just a dollar a day, and they will throw in up to $500 worth of free fuel! Yes, it sounds crazy – but it’s true.
Head over to the Apollo website now and take a look at what is on offer. By the way, this is why you have to pay a premium if you are hiring a vehicle and only going in one direction. The hire car company often has to offer inducements, like those on the Apollo website, for someone else to return the car to base.
What’s The Catch? Well, for a start, you can’t spend two weeks returning the vehicle to home base! As you will see on the Apollo site, vehicles have to be returned within a specified period of time. However, if you do want to spend a bit more time on the road, you could of course hire the vehicle for an extra day or two and enjoy the trip rather than simply drive between point A and point B in the fastest possible time.
Another ‘catch’ is that you have to be ready to hit the road with very little notice. Again, take a look at the Apollo web site. Some listings want a vehicle returned “Today”, while others have return dates that are several days off.
One more ‘catch’ to consider – once you have delivered the vehicle as arranged – what do you do when you reach your destination, where do you stay, and how do you get back home again?
And finally, you may not find a vehicle which needs returning to your preferred destination. For example, checking the Apollo website again, today if you wanted to drive from Darwin to Brisbane, you would be out of luck, because no vehicles need to be returned to Brisbane from Darwin. However, that situation could literally change overnight, so it is worth keeping an eye on the site.
Of course, there are the usual Terms & Conditions that apply to vehicle hire, and you will need to meet those before anyone is going to let you hire in the first place. However, adventurous readers may well want to give this method of transport a go. You never know where you might end up!
Image: Courtesy of Apollo website