The pros and cons of travelling Tasmania by camper van or motorhome – which way should you do it?
It may be just a small island state, but there really is so much to see in Tasmania. Predominantly wilderness and small country towns, exploring Tasmania is very different to getting about and exploring, say, central New South Wales. There is a lot of driving involved (often along small, windy roads), and the beauty of the state just lends itself to a slower, camping style holiday.
In January, for the first time in a very long time, I ended up on a camp style holiday with the family in Tasmania. The four of us – dad, Jenny, my brother and I – piled in to a motorhome and spent a week traversing the incredible countryside around the Eastern side of the state. We did away with hotels and fixed accommodation, and instead lived from a vehicle for the best part of a week. I had forgotten just how simple and beautiful it was to holiday like this.
If you are considering making a trip to Tasmania, I have put together a ‘pros and cons’ list to doing it in a camper van or motorhome below. Personally, I loved our decision, but I will leave it up to you to make up your own mind…
It is cheaper
A motorhome or camper van is a 2-in-1 deal. You get your mode of transport and accommodation all rolled in to the one expense. Prices obviously vary depending on what sort of camper van or motorhome you get, but in almost every case, they work out cheaper than staying in Air BnBs or hotels AND hiring a car.
Time becomes the least of your worries
There is absolutely no pressure to be in a certain place by a certain time as you have your accommodation right there with you. Rather than stressing about getting to point B so that you can check in by a certain time each day, we drove to where ever was convenient and set up camp there. We took our time driving around, and stopped in where ever we pleased along the way.
It is a novelty
Well, it was for us anyway! It was a novelty to drive around in a huge vehicle in which we could eat, drink and sprawl out to do work – all while it was moving! It isn’t often you get to experience a camper van or motorhome holiday, so it is fun to do it in a place that lends itself to it. I can’t tell you how handy it was to sit strapped in to a seat with a table in front – the perfect station to get work done while we were moving!
You spend more time out and exploring Tasmania
There is less keeping you in a van or motorhome than there is in a hotel room or Air BnB, so you find yourself out exploring more. We would wake up, put the percolator on, go for a morning wander to check out the beach/bush wherever we had wound up overnight, and then get on the road to go and find more to explore. We ate sitting on rocks overlooking Great Oyster Bay, sat and shared a bottle of wine on Binalong Bay and even pulled up on an empty plot of land somewhere along the Bay of Fires to indulge in a tray of fresh oysters. The outdoor lifestyle was ours to live and embrace!
You won’t always have power or reception
In all honesty this is also a pro. It is amazing having time off the grid and going back to the good old days of playing cards around candle light. If you have to stay somewhat on the grid for work purposes, the lack of power and reception can be problematic. Some camp sites are powered, but they get snapped up fairly quickly. And even if you do have power, unless you are with Telstra, you can’t be certain you will have internet. 99.99% of hotels and AirBnBs offer free wifi these days – and they obviously all have power – so if you can’t afford to go completely offline for a day or two, look for cafes and pubs that might have free wifi, or consider booking somewhere else overnight.
Space is a commodity
There is no room for activity in a motorhome or camper van. There is room to get to and from the bed, to the stove, to the drivers seat; but that is about it. You have to be strategic about what you pack as the last thing you need is your luggage taking up what little living space you do have. Luckily for us, we were in a 4-birth motorhome, so there was plenty of space to stash our luggage during the day (under beds and on beds) and at night (on the table and in the cabin). If you are in a smaller camper van, you may not be so lucky.
You are living on top of each other 24-7
With more space comes more time apart from whoever you are travelling with. In a camper van or motorhome, you don’t get that luxury. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing – you can make it work – but it can make for some tense times. You will definitely get to know your travel buddy/ies all that more intimately! Just be aware and prepared for the possibility of arguments being in such close confines for an extended period of time. (p.s. this is where having your own little hobbies is very important – take time out to read or do some crosswords or even knit!).
You have to stock up.
While the vans come equipped with most of the essentials, there is still a lot that you need to buy for a comfortable holiday. Things like bin bags, butter, salt and pepper, and coffee are considered essential, but they probably won’t come included in your van rental. We had to do a big shop when we arrived in Tasmania to make sure that we had all the essentials, and we topped up on an almost daily basis. The bonus is that we could take most of what was left over home with us, even if the people manning the x-ray machine did look at us oddly for having 10 rolls of toilet paper stuffed in our suitcase…
Oh, and it was still cheaper than eating out every meal!
I will let you make up your mind – would you consider doing a camper van trip around Tasmania yourself? Or are you sticking to the hotels and Air BnB?
P.s. Scroll to the bottom to see the vlog of my Tasmanian travels