Hiring or renting a car for camping

You may have no current desire to even own a car let alone a mid-size or above one large enough to transport you, your family and all of your gear just for the few weeks of the year you might need it for camping / touring holidays. 

If you are looking to buy a car, check out our cars and accessories section as well as our car buying checklist. If hiring or renting a vehicle at this time is a better alternative for you, then here are your options:

Car hire

Car hire companies
Car hire companies can supply standard passenger vehicles that would be generally suitable for camping, but on the occasions when we have attempted to hire a particular car model to test for this website, we came up with two problems:
  1. Car hire companies will offer on their website a particular model of car which we might determine is appropriate for our camping based on boot / trunk size, payload and other considerations. But in fine print you will generally see the words "or similar" next to the car, meaning you might receive a different car to the one described that doesn't necessarily have the specifications we need.
  2. Car hire companies will generally not supply cars with roof racks or tow bars, which will be unsuitable if you need a car with those accessories. In any case, we are told that car hire companies are unlikely to permit the transportation of gear on the roof even if you found a way to do so.
More reliable car hire options are vehicles with larger internal cargo spaces capable of comfortably transporting all of your gear. You would need to keep the volume of your gear to a minimum, especially in relation to your bedding, and ensure that the length of your tent is compatible with the cargo space dimensions. The following vehicles would be suitable for this purpose:
  • An 8-seater "people mover" vehicle: These vehicles have a generous rear cargo area with the third row of seats folded down. You can check our out article on how to pack a people mover.
  • A dual cab ute with a canopy: In our experience, most rental utes are not fitted with a canopy. If you can find one, they would be an excellent rental car option.
Commercial car and truck rentals

Commercial car and truck rental companies offer the larger four-wheel drive and dual cab utes with canopies that are better suited to our needs.  These companies would also be more likely to permit roof transportation if that was required. Again, the dual cab ute and canopy may have a sufficiently large rear cargo area to negate the need for roof transportation.

"Peer to peer" car rental websites

With the rapid growth in the sharing economy, it's not surprising to see peer to peer car rental websites appearing on the scene. Essentially, these websites work by matching you with owners interested in renting out their car, allowing you more certainty about the type of vehicle you are getting, and permissions around transporting gear on the car roof.

Campervan or motorhome hire

When you factor in the costs to hire a car and to buy camping gear as well as the setup and packup times, you might instead consider hiring a campervan or motorhome. They come complete with sleeping arrangements, kitchen facilities and good storage, and are very quick to setup and packup. 


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