When planning a holiday or journey, getting from place to place within a country is often one of the biggest areas of research and cost. Each country’s transport routes and cultures differ. After around 5 years of travelling in nearly every transport method imaginable I have established the kind of factors that stand out to make the conditions right for actually renting a campervan or motorhome rather than trying other methods of transport.
The 3 primary things that combine to help guide the decision are size of country, population and wealth of the nation overall. I’ll break these down so you can understand what I mean.
Size of the Country
General rule: the larger the country, the worse the public transport. The larger the country the more area that has to be efficiently covered by the public transport network. A larger country means the more spread out the population is. This will mean that public transport will concentrate on the main corridors between major cities making it difficult to get to those fantastic out-of-the-way tourist attractions. That is, unless there are plenty of people wanting to get to those places – which brings us to population.
General rule: the larger the population, the better the public transport; If the population is large there is going to be plenty of people who want to get to all corners of the country. India is a great example of this. Despite the vastness of the country there are still people in every corner. Public transport is only going to go to all the places you might want to go if there is enough demand for it. Subsequently, if the population is small, the transport network is not going to go many places other than the major cities. Not only is the public transport guided by the population as a whole, but also the permanent population that actually relies on public transport as opposed to owning their own vehicle. This leads to wealth of the nation.
In wealthy westernized nations, plenty of people can afford to own and run their own vehicle. This means the overall demand for the pubic transport will be lower than might exist in countries where people earn less money and take buses and trains everywhere. Less demand = less supply = you’re left sitting on you butt waiting for buses and trains all the time.
So, how do you work out if you are going to a country where campervan hire is the better option. Well lets look at some examples where campervan or motorhome hire is a more desirable option:
Vast land mass, small population, wealthy country. There are only about 22m people in Australia. Most of them can afford their own vehicle. It is a long way from anywhere to anywhere else. Due to the fact that there is very little demand from the locals for long haul public transport, it is limited in destinations, frequency and very costly. Much time travelling in Australia will be wasted on waiting for buses or trains as well as sitting in said transport to get anywhere. If travelling in your own vehicle you can start when you want, stop for little sideshow adventures when you want and finish the day when you want.
Small land mass, tiny population, wealthy country. There are only about 4.5m people in New Zealand. It is wealthy so most people own vehicles. For this reason there is little public transport outside the cities meaning that getting from place to place can be difficult and time consuming. In general, outside of the cities, there is NO public transport.
Very similar to Australia. There are about 34m people spread out over a huge land mass. It is a long way from anywhere to anywhere else and most people own cars as it is a wealthy nation. Public transport is limited for these reasons making it difficult and time consuming to get everywhere. Transport concentrates mainly on the main corridors from city to city meaning if you want to go anywhere else you will be waiting a long time for frequency and paying a lot for privilege of going somewhere off the beaten track – if the option is even provided.
Huge land mass, huge population, wealthy country. The USA is a country you can get around on public transport due to the population demand. The higher the population, the better the public transport, however, there is so much to offer that although you can do it, you are better off having you’re own vehicle – this comes back to size. Like Canada, getting off the main corridors is possible but the frequency of services drops off and the price goes up.
Large land mass, large population, not as wealthy as previous nations. I have not traveled in South Africa so I can only go on what I read and interperet. There has been a large growth recently in the amount of campervan hire companies that have a presence there so I am thinking that the size and variety of the nation is starting to make it attractive to the campervan and motorhome hire enthusiast.
If you are planning travel, particularly in the countries mentioned above, then you should seriously consider a campervan or motorhome to expedite your ability to move around at will. If you are thinking about another nation, you should consider the 3 influencing factors discussed when you are researching that country and seeing if fits as being the kind of country where you are better off having your own vehicle.
FYI here are the population densities of the nations listed above to show how it correlates to needing a campervan to get around. If the country you are looking at going to is similar to these, you should think about a campervan.
Australia 7 ppl per sq mi
Canada 9 ppl per sq mi
New Zealand 39 ppl per sq mi
United States 84 ppl per sq mi
South Africa 94 ppl per sq mi
India 954 ppl per sq mi – use public transport!