The Ultimate Guide: Campervan or Bus?

The Ultimate Guide Campervan or Bus in Australia

When you arrive in Australia, you will quickly discover that there are numerous ways to make the most of your time Down Under.

While people at hostels may insist that their way is the best way – “You must travel first…” “No, get a job and save money first…” “Start with farm work, then enjoy the fun stuff later…” – it’s important to pay minimal attention to those who try to dictate how you should travel. The choice is entirely yours, and there’s no right or wrong approach. Whether you decide to work in the city or the countryside first and then embark on your journey, or vice versa, is entirely acceptable!

Everyone travels in their own unique way, enjoying different experiences and preferring longer stays in particular places. So don’t worry if that loud individual at the hostel bar thinks you’re crazy for wanting to work first and travel later!

That being said, at WorkingHolidayGuide.com, we want you to make the most informed decision possible when it comes to traveling in Australia.

There are two primary options for your travel adventures: campervans or buses (specifically, the Greyhound). With our Working Holiday Travel East Coast Package, we take care of virtually everything you’ll want to do throughout your time on the East Coast. Make sure to explore the package because booking in advance can save you a lot of money!

Both campervans and buses have their advantages and cater to different individuals perfectly. A six-hour bus ride may be your idea of hell, just as sleeping in a van every night may not suit you. So, let’s break down the pros and cons of each option and see what you think!

Remember, the choice is yours, so get out there and start traveling! If you need more information about campervan travel or Greyhound tickets, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Basics

When it comes to traveling on the Greyhound, the only thing you really need is money for the ticket! Keep in mind that there’s a luggage allowance of 20 kilograms, although the Greyhound is a bit lenient when it comes to luggage. Unlike airlines, they don’t strictly enforce the allowance, but if you show up with two surfboards and twelve bags, you might incur additional charges. Other than that, you’re free to travel anywhere in Australia via Greyhound.

For traveling along the East Coast, the Kilometre Pass offers the best value for money, aside from our Working Holiday East Coast trip. It allows you to effortlessly travel between Sydney and Cairns.

Now, if you choose to travel with a campervan, you’ll need to be able to drive! An Australian driving license isn’t necessary, but you must have a full driving license from your home country. Unfortunately, if you’re on a provisional license, you won’t be able to drive.

There are different insurance options for campervans, which can be explained more thoroughly in person. If you need further information about that, feel free to get in touch!

Just a quick primer for your road trip: Australia drives on the left-hand side of the road, and their speed limits are measured in kilometers per hour, unlike miles. Highways typically have speed limits of 100-120 km/h, while other roads range from 40-70 km/h. However, always keep an eye out for speed limit signs, as you can still be fined even as a traveler!

Comfort

With the Greyhound, comfort comes with experience. Your initial bus journey might feel quite uncomfortable, especially if it’s a long one! Before you even step foot on the bus, make sure to check out our guide to surviving the Greyhound.

Once you become accustomed to the Greyhound seats and figure out what you need to make each journey as comfortable as possible, you’ll be just fine. The great thing about the Greyhound is that you’ll likely be sitting next to or near someone in the same situation as you—heading north to Cairns or south to Sydney or Melbourne.

There’s a sense of camaraderie among travelers, and as you continue on your journey, you’ll make friends and gain knowledge along the way.

When it comes to driving comfort, campervans are great! You’ll either be driving or sitting in the passenger seats, playing with the radio and trying not to get lost.

The comfort issues arise when the journey ends! Depending on the van you choose and the number of people you travel with, it can be a bit tight when it’s time to settle down for the night. Keep in mind that when booking your campervan, you’ll be in close quarters with whoever you decide to hit the road with.

Heat can be a challenge in a campervan. Despite opening as many windows as you want, getting airflow through the van can be tricky. However, you’ll quickly get used to the campervan, and as the trip progresses, it becomes more bearable.

Campervans offer greater comfort during the actual traveling part of the journey, whereas the bus provides more comfort once you reach your destination.

Also read: Australia Travel Guide: Campervan Tips!

Freedom

One of the greatest advantages of having a campervan is the freedom to stop and go as you please. If you drive past an intriguing sign and want to check it out, you have the freedom to do so! Craving an ice cream or need a bathroom break? You’re in control!

On the other hand, the bus doesn’t offer the same level of flexibility. You stop when the driver stops, and you are bound by the Greyhound schedule. The Greyhound network covers extensive routes across Australia, with a significant focus on the East Coast, ensuring you can reach all the major stops. However, it’s important to note that you’ll only get to explore those major stops.

If you cherish the freedom to spot a tourist information sign and venture off the beaten path to discover something more secluded, then a campervan is perfect for you. However, if you’re aiming to visit the popular stops along the coast, a Greyhound bus is a fantastic option.

Accommodation

When traveling with the Greyhound, your accommodation options are either staying in hostels or sleeping on night buses. Hostels are fantastic, and we’re here to assist you with bookings and provide recommendations for any hostels you need.

Night buses also offer the opportunity to save on hostel costs and continue moving towards your destination. However, these options are only available for long journeys, and if you have the time, we recommend avoiding them. Keep that in mind when planning your travels.

With a campervan, your accommodation is quite different. You’ll be sleeping in the van, of course, but you have a range of choices for where to park.

Certain hostels offer affordable parking options where you can stay overnight, plug in, charge your devices, and enjoy the lively hostel atmosphere. Campsites and caravan parks are slightly quieter and more expensive, but you can still meet fellow campervan travelers and enjoy amenities such as a pool, kitchen area, and game room if you desire.

There are also designated road-side or beach-side stops where you can stay overnight for free. Look out for signposts, as these locations are often filled with fellow travelers. The beach-side spots are particularly wonderful, as they provide bathroom facilities, showers, and, most of the time, free BBQs for you to cook your meals. Plus, waking up at the beach is a special experience!

Now, I don’t want to sound like a nagging parent, but it’s important to be cautious. Make sure to lock your doors at night, just as a precaution. Remember, you can’t simply stop anywhere and sleep. For example, Airlie Beach has strict rules about campervans staying overnight in car parks or unauthorized areas. If you’re caught trying to camp somewhere you shouldn’t be, you may face a hefty fine!

People

Staying in hostels makes it easier to meet fellow travelers, which is great if you’re traveling by bus.

However, if you’re in a campervan, it doesn’t mean you’re on your own – quite the opposite! As you drive along the Pacific Highway, you’ll come across numerous campervans heading in both directions. And at every stop you make, it’s almost certain that you’ll find other van nomads nearby.

Similar to a hostel, all you need is the confidence to strike up a conversation. With a campervan, you have the opportunity to meet people you wouldn’t typically encounter in hostels. Whether they’re Grey Nomads (retirees on road trips across Australia) or groups of Australians on holiday at various coastal sites, your experience will be different from the usual hostel life.

Experience

The choice between the bus and the campervan ultimately depends on the type of experience you’re seeking on the road.

If your goal is to travel the East Coast, visit popular destinations, go out, meet like-minded people, and repeat, then the bus will suit you just fine. It’s also a suitable option if you want to save money, follow a structured arrival and departure schedule, and spend time in some of the world’s best hostels.

On the other hand, if you prefer the idea of managing your own time, stopping wherever and whenever you want, and living out of a van for an extended period, then the campervan is a perfect fit. A significant aspect of the campervan experience is sharing it with your co-pilots. If you’re a couple or have a close group of friends you want to travel with, the van allows you to split the cost of travel and spend quality time with the people you already love.

Both the bus and the van offer easy accessibility to the two popular trips on the East Coast—Fraser Island and the Whitsunday Islands. If you choose the van, you’ll need to find suitable parking before embarking on these trips, but either way, you’re good to go.

Keep in mind that with the bus, any side trips you wish to take will incur additional costs because you won’t have the freedom to drive yourself. With the van, your only expenses will be a map and petrol if you decide to explore places without joining an official tour group.

Price

The burning question is: how much does it all cost?

Well, with a campervan, the cost can vary from week to week, and even day to day. To secure the best rates, it’s advisable to plan ahead and get in touch with one of our travel experts as soon as you have your travel dates. We can guide you through the available van options, recommend different rental companies, and discuss the various types of insurance coverage you can purchase. Even if you’re booking a van at the last minute for a departure in a couple of days, we’ll do our best to get you the best possible deal!

Another aspect to consider with the campervan is the cost of petrol. While petrol prices in Australia aren’t exorbitant, they can quickly add up. Speaking from personal experience (nerd alert!), during a month-long trip from Cairns to Sydney in November 2013, I spent $536 on petrol. However, if you divide that cost between two, three, or four people, it becomes quite manageable.

On the other hand, while you don’t have petrol costs with the bus, you will incur expenses for hostel accommodations, which can accumulate over time. If you choose a campervan, you will likely need to pay for most of the campsites you utilize along the coast, but at least you have the option of free accommodation in certain areas.

Both options require you to buy food, but both also offer the advantage of cooking your own meals instead of dining out, which can lead to significant savings. With a campervan, you have the convenience of purchasing food without worrying about the hostel fridge getting emptied. However, it’s important to note that the size of the fridge or cooler in each van may vary, as well as how long the battery lasts without being charged.

Considering everything that’s included in the East Coast package, it’s definitely worth considering if you’re opting for bus travel. By booking all the activities and experiences you want to do as a package, you receive additional savings compared to booking them separately. You have the flexibility to add or remove activities based on your preferences and extend your package duration. To discuss customization options, you’ll need to speak to one of our team members!

Decisions

I hope this has provided you with a well-rounded perspective on the different ways you can travel Australia!

The debate between campervan and bus travel will continue indefinitely, and you’ll hear conflicting stories from both sides. Some will insist that the only way to truly experience Australia is by driving yourself, while others will rave about the fun they had traveling on the Greyhound without the worry of navigation.

As I mentioned earlier, what truly matters is that you embark on the journey itself, regardless of the mode of transportation you choose. Whether you opt for a campervan or decide to hop on a bus, the choice is entirely yours. Remember, we are here to support you every step of the way!

Let us know your best and worst bits of travelling by either campervan or bus! What would you do if you were travelling and if there are any questions left unanswered then fire away!

Also read: East Coast VS West Coast Australia

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