Renting a VW Bus: Try Before You Buy

Why renting a VW Bus might be the best thing to do before buying your own.

If you’re considering buying a Kombi but feel hesitant to take the plunge, why not consider renting a VW Bus first? While the Buslife lifestyle is, in many ways, nothing short of a dream, life on the road also comes with responsibilities that quite often bring you back down to reality. While some might not feel prepared for the responsibilities that life on the road comes with, others simply may not gel with it. Therefore, it’s often better to try out the Buslife lifestyle by renting a VW Bus before you buy one. It will help to address any of your questions or concerns about life on the road, and shed light on how compatible you are with Buslife in general. Plus, it’s a great excuse for a vacation! 

Read on to find out more about the ways you could benefit from renting a VW Bus before you buy one. We have even shared our favorite campervan rental companies for you to check out if you find that the ‘try before you buy’ method seems right for you.

Photo by Buslifers Ambassadors Educart

Buslife on Instagram vs. reality

Despite living with no showers, toilets, or other home comforts, owning a VW Bus has not just become trendy, it has become glamorous. In many ways, there is something glamorous about waking up somewhere new every day, being so close to nature, and living a life full of adventure. However, the posed and edited pictures on Instagram can make the lifestyle look much more carefree than it actually is. While you may see a pretty picture of a VW Bus parked up along the coast with the sea coloring the background, for all you know, there’s a highway or a littered car park on the other side of the camera. Or maybe there was a ‘no camping sign’ just outside of the shot and the owners drove to a much less picturesque park-up right after the picture was taken. In other words, you’ll rarely get the whole picture from a post. 

As much as the Instagrammer has a social responsibility to keep it real with their audience, their audience has a personal responsibility to not believe in life through the Instagram lens and draw their own conclusions. Of course, there’s no better way to do this than by sampling the Buslife for yourself by renting a VW Bus. When you do, you’ll likely find that travelling in a VW Bus isn’t quite what you expected. The good comes with the bad, and sometimes, the down-right ugly. Even so, most find the real Buslife to be even better than expected despite the challenges because in the end, they are part of the adventure…and isn’t that exactly what you were looking for?

Photo by Buslifers Ambassadors Cartoline da Cristina

Get inspo for interior structure and design when renting a VW Bus

Since VW Buses are so compact, the interior layout and design of the living space makes a huge difference to its functionality and livability. It’s (almost) impossible to have everything you could possibly need to live normally in a VW Bus including a shower, toilet, fridge, dishwasher, bed, desk, and countertops. Some things have got to give. But what should you prioritize and what can you live without? When renting a VW Bus, you get to try out the layout and design of it to see what you like about it and what you would do differently if designing your own. 

The first thing to consider is: what is the best use of the space in a VW Bus for you? If you want to take all-weather trip in your bus, it’s best to have an indoor kitchen rather than a back-door kitchen. If you need a place to sit and work you might prefer a sofabed. Or if you want a bus for family vacations, you’ll need a pop-top tent. When renting a VW Bus you can test out its layout and decide how you’d improve it based on your personal needs.

The second thing to consider is: what can I live without? Test yourself by renting a VW Bus that doesn’t have life’s most essential luxuries — a toilet and shower. Since you’ve likely never been without them before, you might not believe you’d be able to now. However, you might just surprise yourself and adapt to the outdoor toilet and river baths quite quickly. Many even feel an unexpected sense of freedom! On the other hand, you may find it’s not something you’re willing to compromise on, which will enable you to prioritise these elements in your own VW Bus design.

Photo by Buslifers Ambassador Il Dolce Limone

Find out what living on the road is like when renting a VW Bus

As we mentioned before, life on the road isn’t always as rosy as it looks, but what is it like? Well, although we could (seriously) ramble on and on about how exciting, freeing, challenging, fun, and unexpected and all the other things it is, it’s just not the same as seeing for yourself. Each traveler is different and experiences life on the road in different ways, and there’s no way anyone else can tell you what your experience of it will be. With that in mind, renting a VW Bus is the most accurate way to get an idea of what living on the road is like for you.

You may find that you dislike driving long distances, the uncertainty of where your next night’s sleep will be, or the challenges that come with living in a small space. Alternatively, you might thrive on these things! While some easily adapt to life on the road, others find they don’t enjoy it quite as much as they expected. Most, however, find that it wasn’t as they expected, but they loved it for exactly that reason. At the end of your trip, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to live the Buslife and if nomadic living is for you after all.

Photo by Buslifers Ambassadors Social Traveling

Will you get on with your travel companions or alone when renting a VW Bus?

Whether you’re considering buying a VW Bus to travel with your partner, pet, friend, or entire family, it’s important that you know if you and your travel companions are compatible. Living in a space as small as a VW Bus, it’s easy to step on each others’ toes — but it’s not just a lack of space that can cause tension. On the road, there are always decisions to be made such as where to drive next, who’s driving, and where to park. As a result, you may find yourself needing more patience and willingness to compromise than usual to have a peaceful Buslife. 

If you and your travel companion can’t agree on decisions, you’re not going to make it very far along the road. After renting a VW Bus with your travel companion, you’ll have a greater idea of how life on the road will affect your relationship dynamics. Remember, life on the road is very different from a stationary life, and it requires adjustment. So don’t worry if you and your travel companion aren’t compatible in a VW Bus straight away, it takes time to build new habits and routines, and learn each other’s needs.

Equally, those planning to travel solo should see how life on the road would affect them too. As a solo Buslifer, every aspect of responsibility for living in a VW Bus rests on your shoulders from driving to cooking, sourcing water, and finding park-ups. Some might take on this challenge with ease while others may struggle more than they might expect. Whatever the outcome, you’ll learn a lot about yourself by renting a VW Bus before buying!

Photo by Buslifers Ambassador JL Travel

How to rent a VW Bus

VW Bus rentals aren’t usually listed on generic vehicle hire websites affiliated with airports like Hertz and Enterprise. Instead, they are found on independent or niche small-scale specialist vehicle hire websites, many of which focus specifically on renting VW Buses. So when you’re beginning your pursuit for VW Bus rentals, make your search specific to the type of vehicle you want and the place you are looking to hire it (i.e. ‘VW Bus rental companies in England’). Bear in mind that these types of vehicle rentals won’t offer airport pick-up.

To help you with your search, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite VW Bus, van, and RV rental companies from the USA to Australia.

Outdoorsy – USA – A campervan and RV rental company that offers a full range of livable vehicles available in exciting destinations throughout the country from Alaska to Tampa, and even Hawaii

Goboony – UK – An Airbnb-style campervan hire company that provides listings for independently owned VW Buses, converted vans, motorhomes, and even 4x4s for rent across the UK

Busfabrik – Switzerland – A VW Bus specialist rental service with an exceptional range of restored retro buses to hire for camping trips in Switzerland and Europe, weddings, and other events

Hire a Kombi – Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria, Australia – A small family-owned VW Bus rental company in Victoria, Australia with four beautiful Kombis to rent for vacations, weekend trips, weddings, and more

Quirky Campers – UK and New Zealand –  An Airbnb-style campervan hire company that provides listings for some of the most unique and quirky converted VW Buses and campervans across the UK and New Zealand

Road Surfer – Across Europe – Rent motorhomes and professionally finished campervans (including VW Buses) in 11 countries across Europe including Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, and Sweden

Is Buslife suited to you?

By renting a VW Bus, any concerns you may have about Buslife will be confirmed or erased and all of your questions will be answered. The biggest one to consider is: is Buslife suited to you? You may find that it isn’t for you after all, or you may find it is everything you dreamed it’d be. Most likely, though, we think you’ll find that while some aspects of Buslife are harder than expected, other aspects are even better than you could’ve imagined. Besides the incredible memories you’ll be left with from your first road trip in a VW Bus, the experience will also gift you with peace of mind. You’ll be able to purchase your own VW Bus without the worries and hesitations that usually come with making such a big investment and simply look forward to all the adventures you’re going to have in it.

You can also stop by one of many VW Bus events held around the world where VW Bus owners and enthusiasts gather together in their vehicles to share in community. Not only will you be able to nose around many of their buses, but you’ll also be able to get information and advice about buying VW Buses, and life on the road. To find an event near you, check out our global VW Bus events page.

Emily Draper
Author: Emily Draper

Having visited over 70 countries across all seven continents, it's safe to say Emily has the voice of a true traveler. She has lived with the Hare Krishnas in Chile, an Amazonian tribe in Peru, and a retiree named Jerry in a Wisconsin trailer park. Now, Emily has embarked on the coolest adventure yet: across Europe in her self-converted bus.

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  1. […] Pan Camper Van is one of the companies leading the way in short-term VW Bus rental services so we decided to talk to its founders to find out all about their inspiring business and vanlife in […]

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