Worldwide motorhome holidays: frequently asked questions
So, you want to travel the world but still retain the independence of having your own hotel on wheels?
Carefree can help you to plan and book your worldwide motorhome holiday in Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Southern Africa. Our friendly team of Travel Specialists get asked lots of questions – here is a selection of the most frequently asked.
Do you just book the motorhomes?
Most of the holidays we organise for members involve a motorhome booking. However we are able to book all kinds of different holidays including flights, hotels on arrival, airport transfers, hotels for longer stays, excursions, car hire and so on. We can book everything from balloon trips over Ayers Rock in Australia, to white water rafting in New Zealand, sky plane excursions and whale watching in Canada. Or, we can simply advance book half and full-day city tours or entry to attractions and places of interest. Niagara Falls? We can do it. Hong Kong Harbour Cruise? No problem! You do not need to spend all your holiday in the motorhome. Why not use the trip to visit friends or family? Why not take a train journey across Australia to avoid having to do all the driving? How about renting a log-style cabin in Canada? Just let us know your requirements and we will give you a personalised quotation.
Can you hire any type of motorhome?
Our staff have carefully selected rental company partners in all the countries we offer. While making sure the safety and basic maintenance of the vehicles is upheld, we have tried to provide a wide range of vehicles, both in terms of price and size for each destination. In the USA we work with El Monte RV, Cruise America, Road Bear and Apollo Motorhomes. In Canada we work with Cruise Canada, Fraserway, CanaDream and Westcoast Mountain Campers. In both Australia and New Zealand we can offer Kea Campers, Apollo Motorhomes, Maui Motorhomes and Cheapa Campers. In South Africa we offer Bobo Campers. You can find out more about the motorhomes by visiting the ‘motorhomes to hire’ page under each country’s section of the website.
What is the right size for my requirements?
We can book many different sizes of motorhome to suit your requirements and budget. Vehicles range from van conversions without toilet or shower facilities, to full A class motorhomes in America that are as big as a coach. In between you could hire a truck camper (a pick-up truck with a sleeping compartment attached), various sizes of coach-built units (from 2 to 6-berth) with shower and toilet. In Australia we can also book 4-wheel adventure campers to allow you to get off the beaten track.
Do you do one-way rentals?
It is possible to do one-way rentals with most companies, although there is generally a charge for this.
Which is best for me – an escorted group tour or a tailor made holiday?
The group escorted tours in this brochure are a great way to experience a motorhome holiday in a new country in the company of like-minded holidaymakers. The tours are fully booked for you and you have the services of the tour escorts, fellow Club members, who are on the tour to provide a point of contact for the group, to bring the group together while on site and to help with any difficulties encountered. We organise the tours so that there is a good balance between pre-arranged excursions and free time to head out and explore on your own. Booking an individual itinerary gives you the complete freedom to travel when and where you choose. It can work out cheaper, but you are not pre-paying for excursions, campsites and the services of our tour escorts.
Can we take the motorhome across national borders?
As long as you return the vehicle to the country in which you originally hired the motorhome, most companies allow you to travel into other countries. The notable exception in the USA is Mexico where most American motorhome companies do not allow their vehicles to travel.
Can we drive anywhere?
Most companies insist that you keep to tarmac and gravel roads, unless you have specifically booked a vehicle that is equipped to go off-road. In some countries there are certain areas that you are not allowed to visit in a motorhome such as central New York, or the Death Valley National Park, California in the peak summer months.
How do I book campsites?
For the escorted tours in this brochure, the campsites, as well as hotels and excursions, are all pre-booked for you. For an individual booking, while we are not able to make specific campsite bookings, we can supply you with information on where and how to book campsites. If you travel out of the high season it is not always necessary to book in advance, but we do recommend that you book campsites in the areas most in demand, for example near the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls.
Do you need to arrive at a campsite before a certain time?
If you have booked in advance the campsite should hold your pitch until you arrive. If you are travelling without a reservation we recommend that you arrive at your destination by late afternoon.
What are the campsites like? Is it safe to free (wild) camp?
Campsites vary from country to country and within each country, just as they do in the UK. In America for example there is an enormous variety of privately-owned campsites, and campsites belonging to chains, such as KOA (Kampgrounds of America). In addition many of the national parks have specially designated camping areas where facilities may be basic, but this is reflected in the price. The Club does not recommend free camping (not camping on a designated area or campsite) but it does happen in most countries. We would however always recommend, for your security, that you stay on a recognised campsite.
Are there hookups on sites?
Depending on the site you book most will have hookups. Most rental motorhomes work on a dual battery system, with one battery for the internal workings of the motorhome and another supplying the engine. In most cases these batteries will provide 12 hours power without the need to recharge depending on the amount of power, electrical usage and your daily mileage. American and Canadian motorhomes also have generators which supplement the power supply.
Where do I get the gas for cooking?
In most cases you will be supplied with a full tank of gas when you pick up the vehicle. In the past most members have found that the gas supplied is sufficient for their journey but if you do need to fill up, you will be told how to do this when you pick up the vehicle.
What is it like to drive a motorhome?
All of the motorhome companies will provide full instruction on how to operate the vehicle. Compared to driving in the UK, driving abroad can seem a pleasure as long as you avoid driving through city centres. In each country the motorhome is designed for the environment in which it operates. Driving a large motorhome in America is not an issue when everything else is big – the streets are wider, parking spaces are larger, most of the campsites have drive-through pitches so you do not need to reverse onto a pitch. Some motorhomes come equipped with reversing sensors or even cameras, especially on the larger vehicles. If you are reversing the vehicle it is always advisable to ask your passenger to watch you while reversing to avoid any accidents. Motorhomes are basically easy to drive if approached calmly and sensibly. Remember that because of your size, everyone can see you.
Can I use my ordinary licence?
It is possible for anyone over 21 to rent all the vehicles offered in this section using an ordinary UK full driving licence, even including the larger American ‘A’ Class RV’s. In some countries, and for certain rental companies, there is a maximum age of 75. As a general rule, driving regulations are those used in the country where you hire your vehicle. In Argentina an International Driving Permit is a legal requirement, whereas in Australia, the USA, South Africa and Canada it is advised, but it is not required in New Zealand.
Can all members of our party drive the vehicle?
As long as their driving licence is valid, all members of your party can drive the vehicle as long as this is declared when the vehicle is picked up. There is sometimes an extra charge to include more people on the vehicle insurance.
What happens when I pick up the vehicle?
You should allow at least a couple of hours to pick up your vehicle from the rental depot. This can be longer at peak times. As well as completing all the necessary paperwork for the vehicle, the rental company may require you to watch a video presentation about the vehicle and will also give you a personal demonstration of your own vehicle. Depending on the rental company used there may be washing and showering facilities, tourist information, drinks machines, etc. Some have internet access.
What insurance cover do I need to take out?
As well as your personal and medical insurance, you will need to take out insurance to cover the rental vehicle and this has to be taken out with the rental company to cover damage to the vehicle and third parties. We recommend that, for peace of mind, members take out the fully inclusive package offered by the rental companies. This reduces the accident excess to a minimum and covers all potential damage, and can include other benefits such as no one-way fee or free outside furniture.
What is the security deposit?
Generally most companies ask you to leave a security deposit, usually payable by credit card, as a deposit against damage to the vehicle. Sometimes the money is actually deducted from your account and then re-credited upon the return of the vehicle. You may lose (or gain) a small amount depending on the exchange rates at the time of the transaction. Some companies just take an imprint of your card. You will be required to return the vehicle in the same state of cleanliness as when you picked up the vehicle.
Do they have manual or automatic transmission?
Generally most vehicles have manual transmission, except for the United States where automatic transmission is the norm. It is possible to rent an automatic vehicle in most countries if this is your preference. In all cases we will endeavour to find a vehicle to suit your requirements.
What are the motorhomes like?
Many of the rental motorhomes we use are manufactured especially for the rental market and not the private ownership market, so do not necessarily expect to see the same standard as your own motorhome. In each country, we can offer a range of different types and sizes to suit your requirements and budget. In general it would be true to say that North American motorhomes enjoy a more luxurious ‘spec’ than southern hemisphere vehicles. However some companies, such as KEA, offer premium vehicles with solar panels, DVD players, water filters and more. Other companies operate in economies of scale with large depots running large fleets with vehicles sometimes with high mileages.
How much fuel will I need? How expensive is it?
Most of the worldwide destinations tend to have cheaper fuel prices than we have in the UK so you may be surprised at how relatively cheap your fuel bills will be. However the larger the vehicle you rent the more fuel will be used. In North America most vehicles tend to have petrol engines whereas diesel is more the norm in the southern hemisphere.
How long should I allow for a tailor made trip?
We can book trips for as long or short as you like. Many people make the mistake of underestimating the distances involved in such places as the USA and Australia. Do not expect to cover all Australia or the USA in a two week holiday. Our Travel Specialists can suggest tried and tested itineraries for you.
Is there a safe?
Many of the motorhomes we offer have an inbuilt safe inside the unit for you to lock up your valuables.
When are the best times to travel?
In general you can get cheaper rates if you travel outside the peak periods in summer. Please note that in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, the peak season is during our winter, with the Christmas and New Year periods in particularly high demand. Travelling out of high season can mean that you avoid the crowds and there is generally more space on the campsites.
When should I book?
Many companies now work with similar pricing strategies to airlines with fluid pricing. Generally speaking the earlier you book the more likely you are to get a better price.
Do I need a visa? How long can I stay?
Visas are not required for UK passport holders travelling to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Canada, Argentina or New Zealand. Visitor visas are required for the USA (costing US$14) and Australia which can be applied for electronically. Visitor visas for Zimbabwe can be obtained on the border. In order to travel you normally require a passport with at least three months, or preferably six months, remaining after your proposed return date. More information and application details can be found on the UK passport agencies website ukpa.gov.uk, or at some Post Offices.
Can you book vehicles with access for people with reduced mobility?
Many of the rental companies have vehicles available with assisted access. Please ask for details.
Do I have to empty the toilets?
When the vehicle is supplied to you, all the grey and black water tanks, or cassettes, will be empty and you are expected to return the vehicle in a similar condition. Failing to do this will result in you being charged by the rental company.
Can we drink the water in the motorhome water tanks?
Because you cannot always be sure of the water supply that has been put in the tank, we recommend that you use bottled water for drinking and cooking. The water should be fine for personal washing.
Is the motorhome fully equipped?
Usually the motorhome is fully equipped for at least the number of berths advertised for that vehicle. This includes kitchen equipment, towels and bedding. Depending upon the package you book with your rental there may be a charge for this. There is also usually an extra charge for outside furniture.
How do we get from the airport to pick up the motorhome?
After a long-haul flight it is highly inadvisable to pick up a motorhome straight from the flight and we would strongly recommend you book at least your first night in a hotel near your arrival airport – in fact some companies insist that if you arrive on an international flight you must take your first night in a hotel. As your arrival airport is likely to be in a major city, why not take the opportunity to explore the city before picking up the motorhome and avoid having to drive your motorhome around busy streets? Some rental companies will arrange transfers from designated hotels near the airport and this service is sometimes free of charge, depending upon which company you are using or which package you have booked. Similarly on departure, the motorhome company can sometimes arrange to drop you off at the airport for your return.
Is there room to store my luggage?
We highly recommend that you take soft bags or suitcases rather than rigid ones. They are much easier to store in the motorhome as storage space can be limited. Some of the rental companies allow you to leave luggage at their depot, but you must return to the same depot to collect it. Some companies do offer a forwarding service but there is an extra charge for this.
Can we hire bikes?
The rental companies tend not to hire bikes at the depot but recommend that you hire bikes locally at your destination.
What electricity supplies are available?
For your UK appliances you will need to take an electrical adaptor to use your electrical appliances in your motorhome or in campsite wash blocks.
What is the layout of the vehicle?
Each of the rental companies has a range of vehicles with various different types of layout. Our Travel Specialists can provide you with details of the options available and will be able to book the type of vehicle which best suits your requirements. For example motorhome layouts, visit the ‘motorhomes to hire’ page within each country’s section on the website.
How many seatbelts are there in the vehicle?
Each vehicle will have a sufficient number of seatbelts for the number of people that it is designed to accommodate. In all of the countries we travel to, the wearing of seatbelts is compulsory. In the front two seats of the vehicle the seatbelts are 3-point as in any modern car. In some vehicles the seats in the rear are 2-point, as used in aircraft.
Can we hire child seats?
Most companies usually require you to bring your own child seats, although some, e.g. Apollo, can supply them. Please note that if taking your own, make sure the vehicle you are renting has 3-point seatbelts.
Can we hire a mobile phone or satellite phone?
Some of the rental companies offer the possibility of renting mobile phones so that you are able to use the local networks for calls within the country. In Australia, because mobile phone coverage can be very sparse, it is also possible to rent satellite phones.
Can we hire a Sat Nav?
Generally most companies offer the option of renting Sat Nav – one even offers it as part of the all inclusive package.
What happens if we breakdown?
Breakdown cover is included in all rentals and all companies will provide you with a 24-hour emergency telephone contact number that you should call. Depending on the nature of the problem, they will either send someone out to you or ask you to carry on until the next major town and arrange for the repairs to be done there.
Which side of the road do we drive on?
In New Zealand, Southern Africa and Australia they drive on the left, whereas in the USA, Argentina and Canada they drive on the right.
What are the speed limits?
Speed limits vary from country to country, and in the case of the USA, from state to state. In some countries there are reduced speed limits for motorhomes and you should be made aware of these when picking up the vehicle. If you do incur speeding or parking fines it is best to pay them before you return the vehicle. Rental companies will often charge you an administration fee in addition to the fine, if they are required to handle the payment of the fine.
Is smoking allowed in the motorhomes?
Most rental companies forbid smoking in the motorhomes and impose heavy cleaning charges if they detect that you have been smoking in the vehicle.