The secret to successful long-term travel is that there is no secret – you just haven’t asked the right person yet. If you want the best advice, it makes sense to speak to those in the know. When it comes to advice for long-term caravan travel, it’s exactly the same.

Many dream of pulling up stumps and doing their “lap of Australia”, but can’t quite juggle the numbers to make it affordable.

We spoke with a number of grey nomads who have made the switch from bricks and mortar and sought their advice on how they’ve realised their travel dream.  Here’s how you can follow in their tyre tracks.

Terry & Mary

Hailing from beautiful Torquay in Victoria, Terry and Mary believe there comes a time in life when you just have to weigh up the quality of life compared to the daily grind of work. Terry retired a couple of years earlier than the traditional age of 65, after which he and Mary bought their dream caravan from a local builder.

Terry and Mary

Terry and Mary

Their tips for living on the road long term are:

  • Never let work dominate your life to the point of preventing you enjoying the fruits of your labour.
  • Invest wisely; don’t just go with the first money investment opportunity. If it doesn’t pass the “comfortable sleep test” then go elsewhere.
  • If you have the chance to salary sacrifice into your super, then go for it. Terry said it boosted his funds to a point, which allowed him to retire earlier.
  • Go part-time if you can. Mary still tops up their funds with a part time job at a nursing home. It’s enough to make ends meet and the lifestyle change is still significant.

Brett & Kathy

Then SA couple gave up their long time jobs in 2010 so they could hit the road for what ended up being a seven month trip. Along the way they picked up a short term cleaning gig in a Queensland caravan park, and Brett wrote a few magazine articles to help pay the fuel bill. Brett said it was always the plan for to return home to Adelaide to work for him after the trip, although Kathy was happy to permanently retire.

Brett with his beloved van

Brett with his beloved van

  • If you’re able, try looking for work on the road. Keep an open mind and be prepared to try your hand at most things.
  • Organise your banking in such a way that all bills are on a direct debit system. This will give peace of mind while travelling and make it easier to stick to a budget.
  • Use any pensioner discounts along the way. Kathy never hesitates to use her senior’s card, whether it’s for public transport or general shopping.

Arnold & Janet

Aside from enjoying van travel, the Melbourne couple like to splurge on occasional trips to New York to spend time with the family. To keep costs down on the road, the couple say that you need to get more disciplined with your spending, which will allow you to draw upon your financial reserves for longer.

Arnold and Janet

Arnold and Janet

  • The couple downsized from their home to a unit, releasing equity that would have otherwise been tied up.
  • Janet still works for herself and in doing so allows a top up on their investments when it comes time to travel around Australia and overseas.
  • They travel with pushbikes on the rear of the van, providing good exercise and a cheaper way of seeing nearby sights when they stop.
  • They free camp sometimes to help push their accommodation budget further.

Link: Read more in Issue 16 of Time to Roam Australia