It’s easy to look at people’s adventures on social media and get all wistful and wish you could do this or that. And that kind of Wanderlust gets a bit fuckity if it makes you feel like you’re missing out on something by focusing on the shit you can’t do, rather than excited about what you can. The thing is, if you’re imaginative enough, curious enough, and enough of a smarty pants, chances are that while that bucket list hiking trip through Patagonia may still be out of reach for now, there’s at least one trick I can share with you that makes some adventures much, much cheaper than you might ever imagine.
And no, you don’t have to have more Instagram followers than Kim Kardashian to convince someone to give you a free trip – some companies give them away to regular people like you and me all the time.
For me personally it was a three day road trip in a 6 berth motorhome from Melbourne to Adelaide with an afternoon hiking in the Dandenongs, and a day spent in the amazing Grampians, that cost me less than $50 all up.
So, are you ready? Want to know how I did it?
Two words: Motorhome relocations.
Yeah, you heard me. Motorhome companies need to relocate their motorhomes all the time. So if you’re flexible on where and when you want to go, and happy to fly by the seat of your pants like I am, there are all sorts of deals to be had.
Here’s how mine worked:
Flight from Adelaide to Melbourne: $80
3 days camp hire at $1/day: $3
A refundable security deposit: $1,000
(Don’t fuck up, and you’ll get every cent of this back.)
Credit card surcharge: $11.78
(Which was a bit of a bummer because they charge that on the $1,000 you end up getting back, and not the $3 you actually pay, which is pretty cheeky. But hey, it was $11.78.)
An extra 28kms over my 900km allowance at 28c/km: $7.84
(Because I diverted through the Grampians instead of going direct which would have been more than covered by the included allowance, it made the trip a fair bit longer than it needed to be. But well worth the $7.84.)
Bedding and toilet block: $12.50
(Could have saved this by taking my own sleeping bag and I never even used the toilet block
WAT and RAP bundle @ $7/day: $21
(Can’t even remember exactly what this was now, but pretty sure it was some sort of insurance. I have pretty good permanent travel insurance that covers most car hire stuff, but I took this for some reason and you may want to check what insurance you do and don’t have. It’s also worth checking if any car hire cover you have applies to motorhomes which can be different.)
Fuel (for 3 days): $168
So at this point, as you can see, that’s way more than the “less than $50” I hooked you in with. It’s more like $300+ and you’re probably feeling a bit sucked in. But wait, I haven’t finished yet.
You see, depending on how keen they are for you to relocate their vehicle they then offer various other incentives. In my case, I was given a fuel allowance of up to $250 so I got every dollar of my fuel back, plus a $100 travel allowance which more than covered my flight. I parked in a free overnight campaign spot just outside of the Grampians so no RV park fees were required either.
Of course, I bought something to eat and drink along the way, but I don’t really include that in the trip costs, because you have to eat no matter where you are. And other than a fancy dinner with a friend in Melbourne that first evening, (which I don’t count because it was completely indulgent and unnecessary and not really an integral part of the trip), I pretty much bought a few basics from the local supermarket and as you can see from the pic, that wasn’t exactly extravagant.
It’s also worth noting that while the relocation deal usually only includes a set amount of days which is likely to be only a little more than enough to get where you need to go, extra days are often available, sometimes for not very much more. (Mine was available for $75/day if I’d wanted it which still would have made for a pretty cheap holiday.)
You can check out Apollo Motorhomes Relocations in Australia, New Zealand and USA here. It’s worth keeping an eye on them if there’s a specific route you’re interested in.
Some additional things to consider.
I traveled alone, so only had one flight to cover. Obviously that changes a bit if you go with a buddy or your family.
I’m pretty sure I also had an Uber fare in there somewhere. The motorhome place was a short walk from the airport, but in different locations you may need to allow for transport to and from your start and end point.
Make sure you get road tolls sorted if you go somewhere where that is a requirement.
Make sure you don’t crash the motorhome so you get your deposit back. And if you do crash it, make sure you have the right kind of insurance.
Not all deals include full fuel and allowances. Usually the more desperate they are to get it relocated, the better the incentives. As you can see from my expenses, even another $168 would have made it a pretty reasonable three day trip considering no accomodation costs were required.
Depending on the deal you’ve done, be sure to take it back full of fuel as usually there’s a fairly hefty surcharge for if you take it back even partially empty.
And finally, always, always, always check the fine print in the contracts. There’s about a billion pages which is a bit of a pain, but with any luck, there’s nothing too dodgy.