Have you ever thought of packing up a VW bus and taking an epic road trip? Or maybe even just touring in a camper van for the weekend? Now that safe air travel feels limited, this might not be such a pipe dream. But there are several important things to know before you rent a Volkswagen bus and hit the road. Here are 10 things to think about before you take the plunge!
Editor’s Note: This article was updated in May of 2022.
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CONTENTS: In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about renting a VW bus, including:
- What is a VW Bus?
- Brief History of the VW Bus
- 10 Things You Should Know
- Advantages of Travel in a VW Bus
- Disadvantages of Travel in a VW Bus
- What Types of VW Bus Are Available?
- Cost to Rent a Volkswagen Bus
- Where to Rent a VW Bus?
- What to Expect When Traveling in VW Bus
- Tips for Planning a Campervan Trip
- Where can I stay with a Campervan?
- Alternative Types of Campervans
- 2022 Microbus is Coming!
- Final Thoughts on Renting a VW Bus
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What’s Next?
What is a VW Bus?
A Volkswagen bus is a light van introduced by German in the 1950s. It was one of the first vehicles that set the driver above the front wheels, and the engine in the rear.
That makes it the forerunner of the modern passenger van.
Brief History of the VW Bus
Over the years, the Volkswagen bus has become somewhat of an icon around the world.
While it was originally created in 1947, the VW bus became popular in the 1960s and 1970s. That’s when it was the preferred mode of transportation by hippies as part of the “counterculture movement” in the western world.
VW Bus art dates back to the 1960s, when “hippies” painted images of peace signs, flowers, and other symbols of peace on their campervans during the notorious counterculture movement.
Since then, the VW bus has evolved into a popular campervan for travelers.
You may have heard the Volkswagen bus go by several names over the years, with official and colloquial names such as:
- Type 2
- Micro bus
But one thing is a constant as the bus has advanced over the years: it has kept the same casual vibe as a utilitarian vehicle for road trips!
Now, let’s get into the 10 important things you should know before you rent a Volkswagen bus.
10 Things You Should Know
Make sure you know each of these ten points before you rent a Volkswagen bus for yourself. It can save you some headaches.
1. Advantages of Travel in a VW Bus
There are plenty of advantages of travel in a VW bus.
Perhaps the biggest advantage or traveling in a VW bus is that you to take a road trip wherever you want, whenever you please.
Thinking of sleeping under the stars?
Falling asleep to the sound of the ocean?
Parking on a mountaintop?
Your VW bus can make that possible.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about the costs or cleanliness of a hotel or Airbnb. You’re in charge!
Finally, they are easy to customize, so you can easily create the perfect living space for you and your travel partner(s).
Even if you’re renting a Volkswagen bus, campervan travel and van life is on trend. You’ll find inspiration everywhere!
Whether you prefer a classic, simple style or a more sophisticated living space, the possibilities for arranging your space seem endless.
2. Disadvantages of Travel in a VW Bus
While the VW bus has many advantages, there are some solid disadvantages.
Do remember, unless you’re tent camping along the way, you’re still basically sleeping in a car.
In winter months, you may find it difficult to stay warm within the walls of a vehicle.
Likewise, in the summer, it can get quite hot without proper ventilation.
Of course, some vintage VW busses have 23 windows and large side bay doors. Now that’s a cross-breeze!
When you are looking to rent a caravan, make sure to consider the vehicle’s air-conditioning and insulation for a more comfortable experience. Perhaps invest in a solar powered space heater or battery-powered fan to bring along.
Another disadvantage is that you might find you’re incompatible with your travel partner, since you will be living in tight quarters in a VW bus!
It might turn out to be romantic for some couples, but be prepared for it to just be cramped.
You should also consider that the VW bus, while charming and easily customizable, may not be the most reliable vehicle on the market.
Especially if you are going for an older model.
Ge aware that there may be a higher chance of technical difficulties or breakdowns.
And while VW campervans are typically easy to fix, repairs aren’t exactly something you want to deal with on your trip.
So, make sure that your caravan is well maintained and ready to go. If you are renting, make sure that you are renting from a reliable company.
And, you might just want to sign up for Sam’s Club or another roadside assistance plan before your trip.
Also, be aware that the VW bus is not necessarily made for speed, so expect to drive at a comfortable 50-70 mph.
That’s all the better to see the scenery along the way, though, right?
3. What Types of VW Bus Are Available?
Since its inception, the VW bus has grown and evolved with changes to its appearance and hardware.
If you are looking for the classic style caravan, the Volkswagen Type 2 (T1 and T2) makes a good choice.
Within the Type 2 generation, there are different models.
There’s the Microbus with the split windshield, and the model with bay windows, each with the option of 7 or 9 passengers.
If you don’t have your heart set on the classic vintage look of a VW bus, there’s also a larger, more square van-like shape. It’s not the beloved classic look of a VW bus, but it’s called the Volkswagen Transporter (eurovan).
Here are several models you should research and consider when it comes time to renting a Volkswagen bus.
- Kombi – short for Kombinationskraftwagen or a combined-use vehicle – has simple/basic features
- Volkswagen Type 2 T1(Microbus) – 7 passenger/9 passenger
- Volkswagen Type 2 T2 – with Bay windows
- Volkswagon T2 V3 – “Vanagon”
- Volkswagon Transporter- (eurovan)- larger, more square van like shape, not the beloved classic look of a VW bus
- Westfalia Camping Van “Westie”
4. Cost to Rent a Volkswagen Bus
Considering that the cost to buy a vintage VW bus can range from around $30,000 to nearly $130,000 USD depending on the year, model, condition, and mileage, renting may be the best options.
You can expect to pay around $100-$200 USD per night as a rental.
That’s about what an affordable luxury hotel might cost, but without being tied down to a certain location.
The cost to rent, of course, will vary from place to place, so be sure to do your research.
In addition, be sure to factor in the cost of gas, as the VW bus gas mileage is around 15-20 mpg.
You should also consider mileage limits on the rental agreement. As for the vintage rentals, don’t be surprised if you may be limited to how many miles you can drive per day.
As with any car rental, find out whether your existing car insurance will cover you for damages.
Also, be prepared to place a hefty hold on your credit card before you can drive away.
5. Where to Rent a VW Bus?
Similar to websites such as Airbnb and other accommodation websites, you can rent a campervan online!
Whether it is a general car/RV rental website or one specifically for VW buses, most websites will ask for your:
- Price range
- travel dates
Then, they will show you which VW buses may be available.
These services may require a minimum night stay. They may also require cleaning fees, milage limits and charges, as well as pick up and have specific drop off time frames.
Many websites will also only cater to certain areas and destinations.
This all means you need to be sure to do your research on the services available for your desired destination.
6. What to Expect When Traveling in VW Bus
Let’s take a look into what VW bus life might be like while you’re traveling.
The VW bus is said to have good visibility, drivability, with easy steering.
Any VW bus produced before 1973 is likely to have a manual transition (“stick”) unless it has been updated.
If you can drive a standard, your options are wide open. Believe it or not, less than 18% of the US population knows how to drive a manual transmission! (Source: U.S. News and World Report)
But don’t worry.
Since 1973, Volkswagen has offered models with both manual and automatic transmissions. That means you can choose a model that fits your comfort level, depending on your preference.
The seats in a VW bus are fairly elevated, so you are sitting high up in the driver’s seat.
Most renovated campervans will feature a small kitchenette with a sink, cabinets, and even a hot plate/stove top.
When it comes to bathrooms and showers, however, don’t expect to find those in your compact VW campervan.
That’s all the more reason you’ll want to plan out your pit stops.
7. Tips for Planning a Campervan Trip
At minimum, you’ll want to:
- Plan a basic route but prepared to do some exploring
- Do some menu planning
- Decide on comfortable and appropriate attire for your road trip
- Incorporate pit stops and some take-out/dine-in meals
- Scout out where you’ll overnight
- Pack light but make sure you have necessities
8. Where Can I Stay with a Campervan?
Where can you park your VW camper van for the night?
That’s a good question.
Of course, you can stay over at campgrounds and national parks.
You can also stay over at some of the places that RVers enjoy overnight accommodations, such as WalMart and Flying J.
As far as picking a random spot and parking overnight, it’s best to check the local regulations.
9. Alternative Types of Campervans
If you love the idea of van life, but want to scope out alternatives to a VW bus, here are some worthy competitors:
- Chinook Bayside Camper Van
- Doubleback Van
- Fiat Ducato Camper Van
- Ford Transit
- GMC Vandura
- Hymercar Camper Vans
- Mazda Bongo Friendee
- Mercedes Sprinter
- Outside Van Wanderlust
- Peugeot Rifter 4×4
- Renault Estafette
- Toyota HiAce
- Volkswagen California Camper Van
- Winnebago Revel 4×4
But, you might be glad to know that there is new VW bus in the making.
10. 2022 Microbus is Coming!
After many years, the microbus is back and rumored to be better than ever.
This 2022 VW bus is making its comeback with modern features while keeping its classic, well-loved aesthetic.
It’s called ID.Buzz, or Buzz for short.
It will be fully electric and will have an anticipated driving range of 300 miles. (Extra points for sustainable travel!)
Plus, the interior seating is also expected to be flexible and reconfigurable.
While the 2022 minibus is still a concept car, it’s rumoured that the top speed will be 99 mph and it will have a starting price of $40,000 to buy.
The Buzz Electric Microbus is planned for roll-out in the US in 2024. A short-wheelbase version has already been released in Europe.
European short-wheelbase version already looks like a winner
So, how much to rent?
That’s yet to be determined, but we can’t wait to hear.
You can get a preview of the minibus concept car here.
Final Thoughts on Renting a VW Bus
So, now that we’ve covered the most important information before you rent a VW bus, does the possibility seem a little closer to becoming a reality?
Will you rent a vintage VW bus and head for the hills on a camping trip, or wait for the new VW minibus and cruise the Pacific Coast Highway?
You’ll get all the encouragement you need from us. Either way, it should be a blast!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Renting a VW Bus
Here are answers to some common questions about renting a VW bus.
How many people can sleep in a Vanagon?
You’ll be able to fit two people in the bottom and two on the top of the Vanagon, for a total of four adults/kids.
Can you stand in a VW bus?
No, not unless it’s a high-top VW camper, which is more like a small RV.
How many miles can a VW Bus last?
On average, vintage VW busses will get about 100,000 miles, If they are maintained well mechanically, then more.
Now you can begin planning your road trip in a VW bus. Check out these helpful resources:
- A Beginner’s Guide to Road Trips
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Car Travel
- How to Plan the Best Outfit for a Road Trip
- Tips for Long Drives: Plan the Perfect Road Trip
- Simple Driving Radius Map for Your Road Trip
- How to Organize Your Car for a Road Trip
- Road Trip Food List: Bring these Delicious Snacks on the Road
- Road Trip Necessities: Helpful Tips to Prepare for Your Road Trip
- Best Family Packing List for Road Trips
If you’re wondering where to go, here are some routes that can be a lot of fun:
- Road Trip Essentials for a UK Driving Tour
- Best US Road Trip on Route 66, Chigaco to LA
- Scenic Self-Drive Routes in Canada
- 9 Gorgeous New England Road Trips
- Take A Dreamy Drive from San Francisco to San Diego
- Road Trip from Boston to Nova Scotia – Where to Overnight
- The Ultimate Spain Road Trip: Driving from Barcelona to Madrid
Even if you decide against renting a VW bus, you have other options for road trips:
- RV Essentials Checklist—Planning Camper Trips
- Planning a Fun RVing Vacation with Your Grandkids
- Safety Tips for Traveling with Your Grandchildren
- Scenic Motorcycle Tours in the US
Did we cover your concerns? What questions do you have before you rent a VW bus? Have you ever taken an epic road trip or owned/rented a VW bus? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Photo credits: Blue VW bus by ocean – Anthony Wright, VW hippie van – Manuel Willer (Pixabay); Orange VW bus by lake – Alfonso Escalante, Green caravan in village – Liam Gant, Coffee cup, Socked feet – Taryn Elliott, Popup camper – Daniel Rodriguez (Pexels); 2022 Microbus photos and footage courtesy of Volkwagen.
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