"Review of my travellers-autobarn hire"
- Reviewed 1 year ago
reliable van that worked well, no major issues.
Travellers Autobarn is a large campervan hire company in Australia that rents 2-5 berth campers aimed at the budget and youth markets. A slow upgrade of their campers shows that they may be starting to head for a wealthier market but whilst they are still mainly aimed at the budget range, they are one of the few campervan hire companies in Australia that will rent to under 21 y.o. drivers.
Travellers Autobarn's range of campervans is broad enough to cater for a couple of different price ranges within the budget market. The "Budgie” goes out as the cheapest choice while the newer “Hi 5” model acts as the priciest among all on set. Here’s the basic rundown on how the range develops:
Budgie – 2 person in an old model, low top Mitsubishi with kitchen facilities at the rear for outside cooking. No standing up
Chubby – as above but a lot newer
Hi Top Campervan – 2 or 3 people based on the Toyota Hiace from around 2003-2005, Nicer inside than the previously mentioned models and the ability to stand upright. Kitchen facilities inside and better cooking and refrigeration facilities.
Kuga Campervan – as above but newer (2005-2009), so pricier.
Hi 5 Campervan – built on a longer wheelbase Toyota Hiace, this claims to be 5 people, but forget it unless there are kids involved and you can sleep 3 in a bed. Really this model just comes with 2 double beds so you should probably be looking at this as a 4 person. Cook inside and the ability to stand up.
Budget Campers– the oldest but pretty spacious 2-3 berth Toyota Hiace featuring large kitchenette with sink, gas cooker and fridge.
The cheapest campervan that Travellers Autobarn offer, the Budgie is a simple camper with a layout and amenities that have been tried and tested by many budget campervan hire companies. The rear seats fold out to take up most the rear for the bed at night and kitchenette is accessed by putting up the rear door. The Mitsubishi base vehicle is a little noisier and less comfortable to drive than the Hiace model and the age of the vehicle means that the tech ability of the entertainment system will leave something to be desired. On the bright side, approximately 50% of the campervans come with roof racks for extra storage of weatherproof gear.
The “Chubby” budget van, is based on the Mitsubishi express, as are most budget models out there. Each Chubby is individually painted, the age range is 3-4 years old and the fittings are pretty much industry standard: sleeps 2, esky for cold storage, kitchenette sink, food storage at the back and cooking with the rear door up. There are a handful of companies that are adding awnings/tents to the back door to protect you from the elements whilst cooking, and the Chubby is one of these. The “easy to assemble” awning comes standard with the hire and can save you from getting wet if you have to cook while it is raining. Overall, the awning is that main thing setting this vehicle apart from its closest competitors as there is very little difference between them otherwise. One final thing to note though is that they have a headphone jack in the CD player to plug in your iPod. These are excruciatingly rare so keep that in mind if the music you listen to in your travels is high on importance agenda.
The Hi Top is the next price level up. This model is for those that want a little more room and a little more luxury. Seating and sleeping 3 the Hi Top allows for sleeping “upstairs” and “downstairs” – 1 up and 2 down. Great if you have a child or friend coming along. Cooking facilities allow for entirely inside cooking and it comes with a fridge and a microwave. The microwave will only run when connected to mains power like when camped a caravan park or similar. The fridge is dual power so will run on the house battery and the mains. Like nearly all budget campervans, it is a manual gear vehicle (stick shift), so if you can’t drive one of those, you will have to move up a price range or two. The beauty of the hi-top is that you can stand upright in the vehicle. On longer trips, or for taller people, this is a fantastic option. It also allows for extra storage in the area above the drivers head. Never fear, though, this vehicle already has plenty of cupboard space inside. The downside of the hi-top is that the extra height causes extra drag on the vehicle and the fuel economy is reduced. If doing a super long journey, this will have some impact on fuel bills.
Travellers have 4 versions of hi-top campervans and the main difference is the age and seating options:
The Budget Campervan is the oldest 2-3 berth hi-top in the range. It is nice to see that Travellers Autobarn don't try and cover it up. They openly tell you that it is older, got higher KMs and has more wear and tear. They are the cheapest campervan in the hi-top range for a reason. If you are simply looking for a campervan that will go from A to B with only the basics included and you are not concerned about shiny new objects, then this model may be for you.
Whilst being an obvious name for the campervan model it is a little confusing when there are 2 OTHER kind of hi-tops for 2-3 berth available. But hopefully this little article is clearing all that up for you! This is the 'middle of the range' model in the hi-tops that will offer a slightly nicer interior and will also show off any new design improvements that happened to come along about 8 years ago.
Ideal for bigger families, the Hi5 Campervan is built on a longer wheelbase Toyota Hiace. Though the company claims this campervan to be 5 people, this model is technically suitable for 4 adults or 1 couple with 2 or 3 kids as there are only two double beds. The campervan is the biggest vehicle on fleet that comes with amazing cooking and storing facilities like large fridge, microwave, sink and gas stove. Your cooking sessions can be done inside the vehicle without restraining your movements. Stand up freely while witnessing the scenic countryside.
The difference between the normal Hi Top campervan and the Kuga Campervan is the newness. The Kuga vehicles are newer and hence have overall less wear and tear. The fittings and upholstery are nicer and any recent design improvements are going to be found in these vehicles. One new design element is the slide out bench that pops out through the side door, but that is hardly a deal maker. Generally, there are more lights, prettier laminate on the cupboards, thicker cushions and even carpet on the ceiling but the overall design of the vehicle is the same. So if you like a little more “pamper” on your journeys, this is the one for you. Stupidly, if you want to be able to play your iPod, you will have to rent the Chubby, because you can’t plug into the hi-tech AM/FM radio – it’s a Toyota thing.
Really, Travellers Autobarn should only be on your radar if you are looking for older, or more importantly, cheaper models. Whilst they are introducing models as young as 2013, they are not going to be the majority of the fleet. Generally, there a few complaints about the company and that is a sign that they do things well, but go in with your eyes open. You can’t rent a campervan that is 10 years old and under $45pd and expect great things. If you are looking for the newest kind of vehicle, then you can try and secure one with Travellers Autobarn, but you are more likely to find one at their more expensive competitors. Overall, recommended though if looking in the budget range.
reliable van that worked well, no major issues.
One other thing to note - it gets stupidly hot in a Hi Top Campervan up in the tropical north. The Hiace van's engine is in the middle of the van and it takes quite some time to cool down. It was pretty unbearable up by Cairns after a day's drive with the bugs and the heat.
We rented a Budget Hi Top Camper for three months in the Australian winter for around $3300 (through an agency). One of the cheapest deals we could find, particularly for a Hi Top. The alternative was a Jucy El Cheapo, a Toyota Estima, a much smaller, fuel inefficient SUV.
Overall we were really pleased with the service Traveller's Autobarn offered. The price was great and as it was a budget version we were happy to overlook the wear and tear on the van (e.g. clunky cupboards, bed not that comfortable, CD player broken, air vents not working properly, central locking broken). You can't expect to get a pristine van for this price. What we didn't like was the fact we had to go out and buy blankets because the thin sleeping bags were completely inadequate for the time of year.
We found TAB to be pleasant and helpful on the phone and during pick up and drop off. We have separate insurance to cover all the things that aren't covered by the TAB insurance - single vehicle roll overs, hitting animals, windscreen damage etc, so I would look into that before buying their own insurance (we used rentalcover.com). We weren't pressured into adding on extras during pick up like you often are when renting vehicles.
Our van did break down once (we drove a seriously long way in it) and we found TAB themselves to be very helpful. Their roadside assistance helpline that is outsourced elsewhere was useless however. We broke down in the middle of nowhere and were told that we would have to pay for a tow to get us to the nearest town (this would cost $1800). This was in fact completely untrue. We ended up spending the night in the desert unable to sleep in the van as a result of this. The next day we spoke to TAB themselves who reassured us that this wasn't the case and they sent out a recovery truck at no cost to ourselves. We were refunded the downtime and back on the road shortly.
Overall, I would recommend TAB if you are on a budget and it's not going to be the end of the world if your van has a few little quirks or breaks down. You are renting a vehicle with a serious amount of kms of the clock, so things may fail. We also felt that TAB were honest and weren't necessarily constantly trying to find ways to charge us extra. The rental is cheap, so there are some aspects of the rental which aren't as great as some of the more expensive companies - you can only drive 500 metres on a gravel road to a campsite which is really restrictive (other companies offer more) and the insurance as noted above is not that comprehensive.
If money was no object, I'd rent from another company that offers newer vans that can go further on gravel roads (I think Jucy allows you to travel further offroad to a campsite...). I'd probably rent a 4x4 to be honest, however, these guys are a good budget choice, just make sure you fully read and understand the contract you are signing.
One more thing, TAB don't actually take the bond from your credit card, they just freeze it. This means you don't get charged foreign transaction fees. Other companies take the money and the fees can amount to a couple of hundred dollars.
The stationwagon is simply not as advertised, you can't really sleep in the car, no curtains or tinted windows, no rainshields on the windows - you can't open the windows when it rains, no moskito nets, no plain surface to sleep. customer service very disappointing. you are not allowed to drive at night or on gravel roads (which you definetely have to do to get to some places) - NEVER AGAIN!
Having recently rented a space wagon for a month, we have nothing but positives with regards to our experience with Travellers Autobarn.
The entire process leading up to the rental was quick and straight forward making it very simple and easy to organise and pick up the car we wanted. The staff were also extremely informative about certain aspects such as toll roads and campsites around the country.
Our space wagon was in very good condition, very clean and well equipped for camping whilst travelling the entire length of the East Coast.
We highly recommend Travellers Autobarn and would definitely rent from them in the future.
A great experience and a massive thanks to the company!
Charles & Louise-Anne,
I did a lot of car rentals in my life including big companies like Europcar, Hertz or Sixt as well as local rentals. I even rented a campervan in the USA with "Escape Campervans" which is basically Travellers Autobarn. I was happy with all's the rentals mentioned above and never had problems with those even in case of insurance or ticket issues. Even due to my very good experiences in the USA I decided to go again with Travellers Autobarn.
I rented a campervan with Travellers Autobarn in Australia In 2016 for about 4 weeks. After research in the Internet and a lot of good experiences in forums they sounded like the best option for a budget campervan rental. So at first the good thinks I liked with Travelers Autobarn:
1. The car was very clean at the pick up.
2. Engine, breaks and tires had a good condition and seemed to get good maintenance.
3. Camping equipment was OK, bit to old and crappy so that we need to replace some small parts but at all allright.
So the very necessary basics worked fine then. By what I really did not like is the service and how the company interacts withe there customers. Following points bothered me and in sum shaped my opinion to never rent again with this company:
1. After renting the car, Travellers Autobarn changed there pick up office in Melbourne for the car and did not send us any information about it. We just got lucky that somebody told us a day before in the hostel we stayed. I mean you can change your office but please send us mail and tell us about it Travelers Autobarn.
2. We had technical problems with paying the bond for the insurance (due to low credit card limits) and needed to upgrade the booked insurance package what we did not want. This wasn't a fault made by Travellers Autobarn, but the information about how they charge the bond on the credit card was pretty bad. Furthermore they just gave us the option to upgrade the insurance and pay a few hundred dollars more instead of the bond. So the flexibility of the company in cases like that can be better. We offered other ways to pay the bond like a bank account transfer or or a payment in 24 hours after increasing the limit on the cards - they did not accept. The one way of payment or not getting the car or upgrade the insurance.
3. The car was running OK like mentioned above (engine, breaks and tires), but the outside was horrible. The windscreen had 2 stone cracks, the car had bumps on both sides, the front and the back. OK it's a budget rental, but the employee who did the damage check of the car with us just marked the whole sides of the car on the record. In my eyes this is unprofessional. I asked an Australian car trader I met on the travels if that is usual business in Australia and he really complained about the record as well.
4. As we signed the contract we got explained in detail what we can be charged for (toll fees, speed limit tickets, parking fees, car damages, broken key, returning dirty car etc.). I remember the employee told us that we should be carefull not bending the car key because they have a lot of problems with it. Then he handed a bended key to us about 5 minutes later - not very professional Travellers Autobarn.
5. We got a small scratch from a stone in the windscreen after travelling with the car. So we had insurance for that and informed Travellers Autobarn via E-Mail. They wrote back that it's no problem but we should cover it with a sticker they store in the car for that issue. Unfortunately Travellers Autobarn forgot to do place the stickers in our car. It's just a tiny think but shows me one more time how they work.
6. As we returned the car in Brisbane we had to wait for about 1 hour before somebody had time to check our car and returns it. There was 1 employee in the office for about 8 customers who wanted to return or pick up a car. Sorry its not enough. I have seen some other employees there but they did not care about us and did other stuff - I think they haven't been responsible for the office stuff and did the maintenance on the cars.
7. After finishing our holidays I received a charge on my credit card with 75 AUD 7 weeks after returning the car and no further information from Travellers Autobarn. I knew it would be a ticket issue (it's part of the rental contract) and asked Travellers Autobarn by E-Mail to send me details. They did and it was an issue about a toll road used and not paid. I checked this payment and date and as far as I see I paid the toll fee. As I told travellers Autobarn and sended them the payment part from my credit card bill, they wrote me back that they haven't done an error on the issue and neither the toll road company and I have to pay the toll company. I think they never checked my complain and just send me prewritten standard mails that are matching for everybody. What bothers me most is the fact, that Travellers Autobarn did not send me details about the issue but charged my credit card. So I still had to pay the toll fee at the toll company, luckily I recognized the charge on my credit card and could ask what it is for otherwise I would not have known about that problem. So Traveler Autobarn what is the 75 AUD for if you even not inform your customer about a ticket?
To sum up I have to say that I am honestly unhappy with the service and the communication Travelers Autobarn did. If I see the market for budget campervan rentals in Australia I would suggest everybody to hire with a different company there are enough other options.
We hired a travellers autobarn budget campervan from Sydney and went to Cairns for three weeks.
We had lots of problems with the second battery going flat, using a lot of fuel and the van wasn’t that clean and all the sleeping bags, pillows and kitchen equipment was really old.
Yes it was a cheap rate, but still not worth it. Customer service was not that great and they didn’t want to know when we said the van had problems. Would not use them again :-(
Dave and Jo
We spend 3 weeks in a Hi-ace Toyota campervan and paid 3.400 aud. The car already drove 400.000 k, was using cooling water, was not watertight and the watertap was broken. Inside the car was quite worn out and was stinking a bit. Their helpdesk couldn’t do anything for us (“leaking water? But it was raining very hard” (not), “you have to come to Sydney to repair the tap” (we were in Eden). All the camping equipement (“stress-free package”) we hired from them was broken when we took them out of the plastic covers. We managed most things ourself with tape or accepted the discomfort. When delivering the car back in Sydney after three weeks, we made our complaints. The man from Travellers Autobarn only said: It’s not an excuse, but it’s summertime and it is very busy. We only recharge money if you really couldn’t drive any more (we said nothing about recharging money). Although we had a wonderfull time in Australia, we will never hire a car from Travellers Auto Wrong.
Travellers Autobarn was ok, but it was not worth the money we paid for it.
The campervan was really old and not that clean. It didn’t drive that smoothly and the bedding and sheets were worn and not that good quality.
We drove from Sydney to Cairns and it cost over $600 worth of petrol as the campervan used a lot of fuel. We spoke to other customers when we stopped at campsites along the way and they said they only spent about $400, so our campervan used a lot of fuel as well :-(
The service was average and they didn’t want to know when we asked (not complained) about why it used up so much fuel and how clean the van and equipment was when we picked up the campervan.
In my opinion I would not use them again and would choose of the other companies with newer campervans at about the same price.
Not recommended and have a look at a different company instead which can offer more for the same money. Probably next time I would choose Britz as the vans are newer and the price are about the same.
Wolfgang and Steffi
WARNING:- Be aware that even if you purchase Protection Plus you could still be liable for up to $35K – the replacement cost of Hi5. The insurance cover is poor, especially for single vehicle accidents. Read the small print very carefully before you sign. This is what Travellers Autobarn wrote to me:-
It is correct that in case of a single vehicle roll-over you are responsible for the full cost of the campervan – in case of a write-off of our Hi5 Campervan, which you have booked, you would be looking at around $25 – $35K – depending on the model.
P: 02 8323 1505 M: 04 1719 6471 F: 02 8338 8026
Me and my girlfriend rented a campervan at autobarns a month ago. It was in a horrible shape but we nedded it so what should we do….anyway the service at pickup & return was horrible as well as the car was. But the real insolence is their illegal action against me! In brsbane i accidently ordered a TAG for the Tollroads. To order it we had nedded a adress in australia where the tag was sent to. so i have chosen the travellers autobarn adress in cairns.
First the bad thing. They didnt wrote me message that the TAG was sent to them (But it`s approoved by the queensland government)
The illegal thing: They used the TAG in another car without getting me a message. They drove through the country on my bill…WOOOOW!
I hardly recommend you stay away from travellers-autobarn!! You now i `m from Germany and i have met so many poeaople on the road with autobarn campers. All of them had problems with autobarn!
Anyway: Till now i got no response on my aftersale e-mail.
Many thanks for your feedback J.V.
I thought you might be interested to know that we have replaced our Manager in Darwin and we are receiving much better customer reviews as a result. I can only apologize for the inconvenience for our failure in our customer service and the issues with your van. I am unsure about your issue with the security bond as your rental shows that you had chosen the $0 excess option which did not require a bond to be authorized on your credit card.
Darwin office is very unprofessional and ripped me off. Booked a Van for the week ending Sat, only to fly all the way up there from Melb to speak to a very rude manager there who simply said that he didnt want to come in on a Sat so “sort it out” forced to change flights and alter trip. The van had no running water, and the stove did not work, I didnt figure this out until I was in the middle of Kakadu… I was never refunded my lost day and my Sec deposit took six weeks to find its way back to my account. VERY RUDE DARWIN MANAGER…
We had a high top campervan from Travellers Autobarn for 3 weeks. The price was great, but the campervan was old and dirty. We spent a few hours on the first day cleaning the interior and after that it was OK, apart from the passenger seat, which was so worn out that one side was 3 inches lower than the other – extremely uncomfortable and gave me severe back pain. I develeped a system of packing out the seat with cardboard and towels, and that allowed us to keep going, although it was a bit of a nuisance to adjust the padding whenever we got on and off.
Technically the van was sound, no problems, and all the appliances worked OK. The pots and pans and cutlery were fine, but the bedding and towels were terrible, old and smelly. It didn’t matter to us because we’d brought our own, and the towels came in handy for padding out the broken passenger seat, but I wouldn’t have wanted to sleep in those sleeping bags.
After a while we got used to everything being worn and tatty and having little niggly things like cupboard doors that wouldn’t stay shut while we were driving. We realized it is almost impossible to keep the van clean when getting in and out all the time, particularly in wet weather that gives you muddy shoes, so having an older one that we didn’t have to worry about was good in a way.
The service was extremely friendly, and the price was all inclusive, no extra for the gas bottle which you didn’t have to refil before returning the van. We took out the additional insurance to remove the excess, which again was much cheaper than with some other companies.
On balance, we’d be prepared to use Travellers Autobarn again. It’s important to understand that their prices are so low because the vans are old and quite worn inside. They said that they put their effort into keeping the vehicles mechanically sound rather than clean, which kind of makes sense.
The friendly service helped to overlook some of the problems.
I hired a campervan from Perth for 10 days and toured the whole southwest coast from Esperance to Perth. Campervan was great value and so easy – just pull up anywhere and set up for the night with minimal fuss. The vans are a bit older than some of the other companies, but WAY cheaper and in great shape. I was travelling by myself so spent a bit on petrol, but for 2 or 3 people it would be perfect.
We spent 4 weeks in a Budget Camper – it’s a bit old but it was great value for money. Had a great time travelling from Perth to Darwin – especially the Exmouth area is just wonderful…
We travelled from Perth to Darwin and drove 7000kms with the station wagon during 1 month.
Everything was fine on pickup. The car and the living equipment were very clean. We have our own Inflatable mattress so it was quite confortable to sleep in the car. When it was hot during night time, we slept in the tent they provide in the living equipment.
Even if the car was a bit old (around 280 000km), it doesnt consume a lot : 9.5L/100Km
We just had a problem the last day in Darwin with the battery. We called the road assistance and 30minutes later, we had a new battery in the car without pay anything.
Kimda & Gautier from live-our-trip.com