Looking to join the ranks of Australia’s grey nomad army? The extended cross-country or round-Australia trip in a caravan or motorhome is a rite-of-retirement-passage for thousands of mature Australians and there’s lots to organise before you hit the road.
If your time’s your own and you fancy spending a few months making a leisurely lap of the continent or wending your way north to winter in the sun, you’re far from alone. Grey nomads, as those still in their prime who travel around in caravans, campervans and motorhomes are affectionately dubbed, are a familiar sight on the highways and byways. Over-55s accounted for 3.4 millionview disclaimer1 of the 11.84 million camping and caravanning trips taken in the year to March 2018, according to Tourism Research Australia. Careful planning will allow you to enjoy your time in the slow lane even more. Here are a few things you may want to put on the To Do list.
Working out what to do with your home is a major consideration, unless you have offspring yet to fly the coop. Should you lock up and hope for the best, ask a neighbour to look in occasionally or find a house-sitter to hold the fort in your absence? The latter can be a good option if you have pets to care for or a garden that needs tending. Sites such as Mindahome, opens in new window and Aussie House Sitters, opens in new window can put you in touch with individuals happy to caretake your home and look after your furry friends, in return for free or inexpensive accommodation.
You may also be tempted to sign up for the role yourself, if the opportunity presents somewhere you’d be happy to linger for a couple of weeks or months. Short house-sitting gigs can be a great way to break your journey and enjoy the comforts of decent cooking facilities and a private bathroom.
Life isn’t always predictable and having to head home because something unexpected has arisen that only you can deal with is a possibility on any long holiday. You can reduce the chances of your trip being interrupted unnecessarily by getting things in order in around the home and sorting out any personal matters that might require your attention while you’re gone. Jobs you might want to tick off include cleaning the gutters, pruning overhanging trees and changing smoke alarm batteries.
The mail won’t stop in your absence and it’s important you don’t miss payments such as rates and insurance premiums, should bills be due while you’re away. If you don’t already do your banking and receive statements and bills online, it could be time to consider going electronic. This way you won’t have to miss a payment no matter where you are.
“A highlight of the last trip was spending a day emailing back and forth with our accountant to get our tax done before the lodgement deadline” – said no grey nomad ever. It’s few people’s favourite way to spend a morning but, if you’re still required to file an annual return, you’ll thank yourself later if you get as much of it as possible sorted before you get going.
Thorough clean, new tyres, a full service… giving your vehicle a going-over is probably already on your agenda but how about doing the same for yourself? If your annual check-up is due – or it’s been more than a year since you had one – visits to the GP and dentist may be in order. Making sure you’re in good shape and your skin check, mammogram, prostate exam, flu jab and other regular scans, screenings and injections are up to date will help you keep on moving. If you’re on medication, remember to ask for repeat prescriptions and check the storage instructions if you plan to stock up.
The days of heading up the highway with just a map and your sense of adventure are pretty well gone for good. Thanks to the smartphone, today’s grey nomads can stay connected with family and friends and access a plethora of helpful information in an instant. Must-have free apps to download before you leave include the Bureau of Meteorology’s BOM Weather app, opens in new window , the National Public Toilet Map, opens in new window , petrol price tracker MotorMouth, opens in new window and WikiCamps, opens in new window , an online omnibus of camping grounds, caravan parks, day use areas and points of interest. Fellow travellers can also be an invaluable source of knowledge. Shoot the breeze with them online at the Grey Nomads Forum, opens in new window or in person when you pull in for a break or to make camp. Bon voyage!
Any advice and information on this website is general only, and has been prepared without taking into account your particular circumstances and needs. Before acting on any advice on this website you should assess or seek advice on whether it is appropriate for your needs, financial situation and investment objectives.
Any general tax information on this website is intended as a guide only and is based on our general understanding of taxation laws. It is not intended to be a substitute for specialised taxation advice or an assessment of your liabilities, obligations or claim entitlements that arise, or could arise, under taxation law, and we recommend you consult with a registered tax agent.