Updated: Dec 8, 2021
We love road trips! There is something about being able to chill in the car and let your brain relax as you aimlessly watch the scenery pass you by. Our children on the other hand, not so much....
With the kids it is "Are we nearly there?", "I'm hungry", "Mum, Brianna is looking at me!"....
So we decided to take a much desired road trip from Melbourne to Sydney - without the kids!
Our aim was to do the whole trip, including flights one way (Sydney to Melbourne), accomodation, and travel for under $400 for 4 days.... sound impossible? It isn't!
So keep reading for how we did it for such a small cost and see our detailed itinerary.
We discovered two sites where you can get amazing deals on vehicles you can use for road trips such as ours. We wanted to fly down to Melbourne (from Sydney) and then get a rental to drive back home.
The deal is that many companies have people renting their cars to get from one location to another, but then they don't have as many people going the opposite way so they end up with too many vehicles in one place. This means they have to pay drivers to get the cars back where they belong....or put them on websites like Drivenow or Imoova. These sites tell you where the vehicle is, where it needs to get to and how many days you have to get it there.
In our situation we found a 2 berth High top van with Imoova which needed to get from Melbourne back to Sydney within 3 days. We were allowed 1200km to use on the clock and were given a $100 fuel voucher. And you want to know how much it cost us? $1 per day (so $3) and no that isn't a typo.
After we booked the van, we simply grabbed last minute one way flights to Melbourne (cost us $60 each through Jetstar) and our long weekend was booked in!
So from our $400 budget we had spent a total of $123!
We caught a train to the airport and flew Jetstar to Melbourne
From the airport we got a shuttle to the city centre (approx $20 each). Then we walked (we could have taken the tram but we love walking) to the Bayview Eden Inn which was our accommodation for the night. The hotel ranges around $200ish per night but I managed to get a deal through Trivago for $85. Yeah, I could have gone really cheap and stayed in a hostel but we were away from the kids and wanted a tiny bit of luxury. Budget = $152 remaining.
We spent the rest of the day strolling around the town, grabbed dinner at Hungry Jacks (classy, I know) and then headed back to the hotel for a swim in the heated pool.
A relaxing even in front of the TV (not Disney channel, yay!) with some snacks and then the fantastic undisturbed slumber of a parent without children.
The next morning we took the tram to Coburg to pick up the van (a few bucks each - don't remember exactly how much). With a stash of snacks and our luggage in the back we settled in for the first part of our road trip.
From Coburg we drove to Wilsons Promontory which took us around 3 and a half hours and knocked 238km off the clock.
Wilsons Prom was really lovely and we did some mini hikes, strolled around the beaches and tried to avoid the rain (weather was pretty bad).
We left Wilsons Promontory after lunch and drove to Lakes Entrance which added another 285km to our trip. We enjoyed stopping at several spots to stretch our legs and arrived in Lakes Entrance around 7pm just in time for dinner.
Here we parked our van at my Aunts house and spent some time with her and my Uncle before heading to bed in the van around 10pm.
Around 11pm my husband leapt out of the van after waking from a nightmare that the van rolled down the hill into the ocean. So we spent 15 minutes or so chocking the wheels with chunks of wood he found on the vacant block next to my Aunts house.
We left Lakes Entrance after breakfast and headed to Eden which is around 3 hours drive time and 242km.
A brief stop in Eden for lunch and then set off to Batemans Bay. This took around another 2 and half hours and 197km. In Batemans Bay we booked in for one night at a caravan park and paid around $40 (Approx $112 left) for a powered site to park the van. This allowed us to use the toilets and hot showers and have a safe place to sleep for the night. The caravan park was right on the Bay so we got to enjoy a few good walks including crossing the bridge into town for some pizza for dinner.
Our last day of our trip had us headed from Batemans Bay to Hyams Beach, the whitest sand beach in the world. In fact if you want to see just how white it is, try googling it on Map view and look at it from the satellite, its pretty cool. From Batemans Bay its only about an hour and half drive, adding 110km to the clock.
After Hyams Beach we drove to the Sea Cliff Bridge via Wollongong. Sea Cliff Bridge is that cool windy curvy bridge that you often see in car commercials. 129km later we entered the final part of our road trip and left the Sea Cliff Bridge headed for the depot to drop back our rental car which was around Caringbah, approximately 40 minutes from where we were.
We dropped the van off in good condition (well, as good as we received it in), bought an Icee (because why not?) and jumped on a train to head back home to our kids.
So, with our $400 budget at around $112 we are well under what we planned to spend. But add in some road trip snacks, National Park fees and a few meals it brought us pretty close to our original budget. Oh and we needed an extra tank or two of fuel over the $100 voucher we had but all in all, we had an awesome trip for less than a couple of nights in a nice hotel.
I would love to hear your stories of your road trips and any experience you have had with renting cars or vans this way. Send us an email and share your stories.