Finding a one-way motorhome rental in Europe 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 to potential customers. No one wants to add an additional €400 or more to their budget. Having driven motorhomes for over 20 years, we’ve certainly come up against this issue before. While we worked around this it always meant we had to complete a round trip to get the motorhome back to the original hiring location. 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 are wanting 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.
- 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, wasting time at handovers, constantly paying different security deposits etc as you change countries.
- Can be more expensive depending on the hiring company. You just need to do your homework and shop around. There are some motorhome companies now that offer one-way rental that 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 their planning of 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 when they go to look for cars or motorhomes, this will be easy to do.
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 with your pre-planning of a road trip in Europe. Do these before you start to look or book.
- Research the motorhome rental companies first. Read through the information on their websites and their 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?
- If they are possible, make sure you find the relevant information that will indicate 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.
- Make sure there are no other additional fees that 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 what your bottom line cost will be.
- Where are the depots located?
- 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 you can return your vehicle.
- What’s the pick up 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.
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.
We have 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. We also recommend 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.
By this, I mean that other motorhome rental companies are set up generally to hire out motorhomes in a one-way scenario. Some of them then may add significant surcharges to discourage, but will still allow it if the customer really wants it. Others will, as I’ve said above, outsource the physical hire to another company.
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.
Just released. Read now >> Our review of Anywhere Campers and a more detailed explanation of how they service the one-way motorhome rental market. 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.
If you are looking to buy a motorhome in France, we recommend France Motorhome Sales. Use our referral code FMS1022 for extra 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.
You can find more of our road trip itineraries here.
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