A growing trend
It is no secret that the ‘Grey Nomads’ phenomenon is on the rise. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic or perhaps because of it, numbers in Australia are at record levels. And increasing steadily.
Retirees and seniors are taking to the road in droves. Their choices of recreational vehicles include caravans, camper vans, camper trailers and motor homes. Back orders and waiting times for new recreational vehicles have become common. And there is also a thriving market in second hand vehicles.
With international borders currently closed indefinitely for recreational travel, the lure of the local prevails. Most of us know someone who has undertaken a fairly lengthy ‘road trip’ in the past 18 months or so. Adventurous nomads are setting out to explore new locations and to tick off places on their bucket lists. And to just enjoy, what for many is, a new aspect or phase of their lives.
Who are they?
We tend to think of Grey Nomads as being over age 55 or so. But the number of roving travellers in the ‘young or midlife with no kids’ demographic (roughly 30-54 age group) now rivals the numbers from later age segments. Many of these younger travellers are still in employment so their trips tend to be shorter but frequent. And in the current ‘work from home’ environment, many are ‘digital nomads’ who can continue to work while they travel.
Older adventurers who are no longer working often prefer to enjoy extended periods of time criss-crossing the country. Some are doing the ‘Big Lap’, a full trip right around the country. This can involve a year or more of being on the road. They may be able to work remotely to supplement their funds or do casual work when they find it.
Long-term border closures have led to chronic labour shortages particularly in regional areas. Fruit picking and other casual jobs which have been filled by foreign and domestic back packers in the past, these days are options for the older Australian travellers to add a few dollars to the coffers.
Time to travel?
Some prefer being away for only a month or two at a time, sometimes following the weather heading to the more northern parts of the country where temperatures can be a perfect 25 degrees celsius during cold winters further south. Some focus on destinations in other states where family members live, taking their time to drive and see the sights along the way there. Now that air travel between states has become so uncertain, driving may be the safer option.
Some Grey Nomads have taken the decisive step of selling up their homes with a view to travelling full time. Others are mostly just seeking a temporary change from their familiar routines and environment, and an opportunity to savour time to reflect and re-charge batteries.
A new service industry
The growing Grey Nomad sector of the population has spawned its own service industry. Numerous publications such as the digital ‘Grey Nomads’ newsletter and many magazines feature articles aimed at this expanding audience. They provide advice and helpful information with a view to supporting and encouraging these local adventurers.
These publications are usually careful to stress that the wandering life may not suit everyone. There are the pros and cons you would expect with any new and different lifestyle. The Grey Nomad experience can be very enriching. Making new friends, seeing new places. But most information sites also offer practical advice and suggestions. Such as keeping in mind the importance of access to medical services. And ensuring vehicle registration is in order and budgeting for vehicle servicing, repairs and insurance.
And the attractions of Grey Nomad living?
Many people are drawn to the relaxing, economical and sociable getaways that RVs can make possible. And it is easy in this digital era to stay connected and in touch with family and friends. Thanks to broadband and mobile phones, we almost never have to feel isolated no matter where we are. And travellers don’t have to be ‘off the grid’ unless they want to. Grey Nomads know they can be contacted in an emergency, and vice versa.
There are however some challenges. The fast growing influx of travellers has highlighted the lack of sufficient camping locations and alternatives. Stories of ‘no vacancies’ signs and queues at camp sites abound. Articles advise travellers to book well in advance and not risk being turned away from a preferred location. Although the main alternative to staying in designated caravan parks is ‘free’ camping, this may not always be an option. For this, the vehicle needs to be especially well equipped with its own washing facilities, power supply and other features.
Another interesting statistic has emerged from the Grey Nomad tribe. This is the trend for Australians aged 55 and over to volunteer abroad. The number of mature age volunteers performing work in other countries increased more than 60% in the decade before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Although the greatest percentage of overseas volunteers are teens and young adults in the 15-24 age bracket, participation by older adults has risen steadily. In part this is a reflection of the overall growth in the over-55 population. But the trend also indicates the willingness of older adults to embrace new challenges and adventures outside their usual comfort zone. The average duration of an overseas stay by older volunteers is over 3 months. The organisation Global Volunteers runs a range of volunteer programs. And they state that you are ‘never too old’, citing an example of a 95 year old volunteer program participant.
There are other popular lifestyle choices. In pre-Covid-19 days it was not unusual for many retired Australians to regularly divide their year between living at home and living semi-permanently overseas.
And there are others who decided to sell up and buy a home in a foreign country to live for a couple of years or even permanently. Some even more adventurous Grey Nomads exchange bricks and mortar for a floating home. For many, the idea of selling up, buying a sailing boat or yacht and taking off for a few years is a dream come true.
We can only hope that these other opportunities to work, volunteer, travel or live abroad will return again. We are grateful, however, that there is still the chance to see this big beautiful country of ours.
So, while you are on the road, what about...?
Are you already a Grey Nomad or planning on becoming one? Or just thinking about hitting the road for an extended period when time and circumstances permit? Or perhaps you are you thinking of moving house. Downsizing or selling up to finance a new lifestyle?
If you fall somewhere within any of these categories, there are many practical matters you need to consider. Including how best to deal with your personal records and important information, whilst you are in a lifestyle transition or travelling for extended periods.
You don’t want to risk your paper records, files and documents being accidentally lost or destroyed. Or even just put somewhere you cannot remember. Storing them in a storage unit is expensive, and you definitely won’t want to carry all this extra weight and worry with you. Which is why having an Anticipate Life account is the ideal solution.
Our digital information locker allows you to record and store your important life information, including your end of life wishes, in one secure confidential online location. An Anticipate Life account is easy to set up and use. You can update or change your information at any time, wherever you are, and whenever your life circumstances change.
With Anticipate Life, you can have peace of mind and greater freedom as you set forth on your new adventures. For more information, visit us at Anticipate Life.