Renting a motorhome in Europe is one of the best ways to travel, but if you are looking for a one-way motorhome rental in Europe it can be difficult. Historically, one-way hires have been discouraged by most of the motorhome and campervan hire companies as it costs them a lot of money to relocate the vehicles back to their central depot once the customer has finished with them. As such, these companies made one-way rentals cost-prohibitive. No one wants to add an additional €400 or more to their budget.
Having driven motorhomes for over 25 years, we’ve certainly come up against this issue before. While we were able to work around this, it always meant we had to follow an itinerary that would allow us to get the motorhome back to the original hiring location. This wasn’t always ideal. We made it work, but now you don’t have to.
What is one-way motorhome hire?
While this sounds obvious, it is important to note that there are two main types of one-way motorhome rental. On both occasions, it means starting the rental in one location and returning it to another. However, this can cover hiring a motorhome from one city and returning it to another in the same region or country. Examples of this could be starting in Paris and finishing in Bordeaux in France, or from Lisbon to Porto in Portugal.
Alternatively, it can mean that you hire it in one country and return it to another. This is called cross-country motorhome rental. The specifics of where you can and can’t hire and return vehicles will be specific to the motorhome hiring company.
Pros and cons of one-way motorhome hire
- No sacrifice is necessary with your travel plans, you can go exactly where you want to go.
- No doubling of the route/journey. Depending on your chosen route, having to finish in the location you started means retracing the same roads.
- If you want to see different countries, this becomes more accessible and can save you time and allow you to get further.
- Allows you to take advantage of good flights in different locations for the start and end of your trip.
- Saves times and can be beneficial if you are on a time limit.
- Travel more broadly across countries without having to worry about how long it will take to get back to the starting point.
- No need to hire and rehire motorhomes, waste time at handovers, constantly pay different security deposits etc., as you change countries.
- Total flexibility.
- Can be more expensive depending on the hiring company. You need to do your homework and shop around. There are some motorhome companies now that offer one-way rental which is extremely competitive.
- You might be encouraged to drive and do too much in a short space of time.
- One-way drop-offs that involve airports can often be even more expensive.
Things to consider when doing a one-way motorhome hire
Many travellers start planning an overseas driving holiday without necessarily knowing that one-way hire either isn’t easily accessible or cost-effective. They plan their itinerary, starting in one country and ending in another, expecting that this will be easy to do when they go to look for cars or motorhomes.
Imagine the feeling of finding out there are no hiring companies who are willing to do this, or, add on such an enormous surcharge as a drop-off fee that you could actually stay a couple of extra weeks in a good hotel instead. These are some of our tips to help you pre-plan a road trip in Europe. Do these before you start to look or book.
- Research the motorhome rental companies first. Read through their website information and terms and conditions to see if one-way rentals are possible. While you are doing this, run checks on the motorhome hire companies. Where are they based? How long have they been operating? Can you find reviews that give a reliable overview? What’s their online service like? Can you get quick responses via their online contact form, email, phone or live chat? Good communication is vital in this instance.
- If possible, make sure you find the relevant information indicating whether there is a one-way surcharge, also called a drop-off fee.
- If you find information that states there will be a drop-off fee, be sure to find out exactly what the amount is. Often you can do this through an online quote. If not, send an email to the hiring company and ask. This is one area where bill-shock is highly possible.
- Ensure there are no additional fees you aren’t prepared for. Always check that your final quote is the final price.
- Find out if there are any additional insurances or requirements for one-way motorhome hire and once again, be sure to have this quantified in terms of your bottom line cost.
- Are there depots? Where are the depots located? If there are no depots. how does the pick-up and drop-off process work? Can you choose your handover locations?
- Do you need to pick-up and drop-off inside business hours or can you choose your time?
- Is it a handover with a person or is it contactless?
- Are there any country restrictions? There’s no point wanting to drive from Italy to Estonia only to realise that Estonia isn’t on the list of places to return your vehicle.
- What’s the pickup and drop off process like? Where do the handovers occur?
- Remember that whatever you pack you will need to keep with you the whole time. When you hire a motorhome and drop it back to the same location, often the company will let you leave all of your suitcase and other items you don’t need onboard at their depot. We’ve done this countless times before, having travelled from Australia to Europe with large cases for extended periods of time. If you are doing a one-way hire, this won’t be possible, and you’ll need to be able to find room for everything you need in the vehicle.
Pro tip: When hiring any vehicle or making any other travel bookings always check the fine print for cancellation and postponement (change of date) requirements. Some hire companies now have added in an optional extra during the booking/quote process to add special cancellation protection, while others give a range of options for cancelling or changing bookings within defined time periods. Whatever it is, make sure you find it, read it and understand what your contract conditions are prior to accepting a quote, signing contracts etc.
Motorhome companies who do one-way rentals
There are several companies that do offer one-way motorhome rentals in Europe, like Avis Car Away but usually, most will operate as a booking portal only and source their vehicles from other providers. In this instance, you need to make sure you know where your motorhome will ultimately come from in order to do all of your appropriate due diligence on the company.
In Europe our preferred motorhome hire company is Anywhere Campers, a dedicated one-way hire company based in Prague. The reason we love Anywhere Campers is because their business model has been specifically established to service the one-way market hire, and they are best-placed to provide coverage to customers across the broader European continent.
With Anywhere Campers, you deal directly with the company, and the drivers who do the pick-up and drop-off handovers work for them. So, you are always dealing directly with the hiring company. As a customer, you are given the personal mobile numbers of the drivers, so that you may contact them immediately if you have an issue with your pick-up and drop-off times or locations at any time.
We have also used and can recommend Indi Campers, having used them for our Lisbon to Porto drive: An 8 day Portugal road trip in a campervan and they were fabulous to deal with.
Hiring directly from Anywhere Campers means you know immediately who you are dealing with and hiring from. Unlike most other traditional motorhome and campervan hire companies, Anywhere Campers don’t have dedicated depots, allowing them to be extremely flexible with a one-way rental. This means they come to you! It’s almost unheard of, right?
Now you can make plans from anywhere in Europe and a member of the team at Anywhere Campers will come to your location to either drop off or pick up your motorhome. It honestly doesn’t get any better than that. Anywhere Campers works with the customer and does what they require, not the other way around.
An example of a trip we have done with Anywhere Campers started with a pick-up at Gare de Narbonne in southern France. We had spent a week on a luxury barge on the Canal du Midi that ended in Narbonne, so it made perfect sense to pick the motorhome up from here as well.
Following our motorhome trip, we then dropped the vehicle back at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport a few hours before our flight home to Australia. It made for a very relaxing day and transit home.
Related reading >> Our review of Anywhere Campers provides a more detailed explanation of how they operate if you were to hire from them. If you are getting a quote, we’d love you to use our link. You won’t pay anymore, but Anywhere Campers love hearing from our readers.
We have travelled extensively in motorhomes in Europe and have utilised both the one-way hire and return hire services. We don’t advocate doing one over the other. The two options exist to provide a service to customers who want a solution to their travel requirements.
We do love however the fact that companies like Anywhere Campers exist, as this opens up so many possibilities when planning a road trip. for us, it’s our way of hiring in the future.
If you are looking to buy a motorhome in France, we recommend France Motorhome Sales. Use our referral code FMS1022 for extra special attention!
Looking to book a one-way hire in Europe. Use the online quote form on the Anywhere Campers website and they will get back to you asap.
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