How to wave your way to Big Lap camaraderie

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Grey nomads wave at other motorists
There are many different gestures that motorists use to ‘wave’ to others

Caravanning grey nomad Dave Hall has been on the road for some time but he is the first to admit that he still has much to learn. Here, he tries to unlock one of life-on-the open road’s great mysteries ……

During our five years caravanning, my wife Jackie and I have noticed a curious phenomenon … most other drivers towing a caravan will wave to us.

A friendly gesture that I suppose signifies a shared understanding that says “Hey, I notice that you are caravanning, we are too!” When I say ‘wave’, this may encompass a number of different gestures:

1. The one-handed wave.

2. A furious two-handed frantic gesture (I’d check whether your roof-mounted air conditioner has come loose and is now bouncing behind your rig).

3. A casual, almost flippant, slightly raised finger from the steering wheel (hard to spot, stay alert).

4. A nod or wink from the driver. Very subtle but it may indicate that the other driver may be falling asleep, steer clear.

Now sometimes I may be too occupied with other tasks in my car to remember to watch for the wave or I may just forget until the very last minute and miss responding. This is followed by a feeling of inadequacy and dread that the other driver just knows that you are a snob and hates your guts for it. It is way too late to throw a u-turn and try to catch them up to explain, just drive on.

There are times where I have waved first and received no response. I hate these people, who do they think they are? Hang on, maybe they responded with a nod and I missed it? I still hate them.

Sometimes we are in a situation where there may be a convoy of 20 or more vans in a row going in the opposite direction, prepare to wave at them all. Shouldn’t there be some item of etiquette that just requires you to wave to van number 1 and the rest will just assume that you have paid your dues and therefore don’t need to wave to every. Single. One. Of. Them? I mean sheesh!

Now this is where things get tricky. What about motorhomes? They don’t wave to me and I won’t wave to them. No way. They aren’t towing anything after all, well actually some do, there are a lot of them that tow a small car, does that count? Not really, the accommodation MUST be at the rear to deserve the wave.

Campervans, no way! OK, so what about camper trailers? Nope, not the same. No wave from me! Same as pop-tops, I’m bloody-well not waving to them either! If I did, next thing I’d be doing is waving at cars that have a roof-top tent, or even a tent in the boot, how would I identify them?

A panel van? You have to be kidding. You also don’t wave to trail bike riders, nor trike riders. Who else? Police, posties, ambos, farmers or boy-racer fang merchants. I think that’s it.

  • So, have I got this etiquette correct or am I over-thinking the whole thing? Comment below.

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24 Responses to How to wave your way to Big Lap camaraderie

  1. Dave Dave Dave, just chill out mate, you are out there travelling for your own enjoyment. My philosophy is simple regarding waving. I wave to all those that appear to be enjoying a life of freedom on the road, so that maybe caravans, pop tops, camper trailers etc, it doesn’t really matter it is totally your choice, don’t over think these things.

  2. I have noticed that the more remote you are the more that all people wave. If you travel Highway 1 along the East Coast no one seems to wave.

  3. I’m finding that there a certain percentage that give any sort of a wave , I have travelled the Pacific Highway between Newcastle and the Gold Coast towing my van on eight different occasions over the last three months . I would put the percentage of wavers to roughly 40% .

  4. When we are on the road we wave to everyone. its a friendly gesture that is appreciated. We certainly wave to the big rigs and road trains, if we are in trouble there is always someone who will willingly stop and help. The road trains are In touch with help should we need it. Keep friendly, it could be a very lonely life on the road, to make a difference a wave is the least we can do. .

  5. Love your comments. Only bad comment you made is we have a pop top and we wave to all including full van which I presume you drive. My husband waves to truckies as well he says it’s safer as they might come after him

  6. Yep I wave to everyone including truckies, not all wave back that doesn’t bother me perhaps they never saw me wave, maybe they where looking at a map or DVD or something.

  7. I hate the drivers that are waving vigorously and looking for a responce as they some times drift to my side of the road.
    I might lift a finger if inclined.

  8. I have found that it is very unlikely that you will get the return wave if you are anywhere within about 200km of the east to south coastal area between about Rockhampton and Port Campbell, or anywhere on the Hume Highway

  9. I get sick to death of waving so now i don’t. Just because we are on the same road doesn’t mean i want to communicate with everyone.

  10. Yes there are 4 types of waves Dave, but there is one more. We have caravaned for 16 years and waveing is just the way it is. On one trip we came across a wicked van that had a waving hand suction capped to the windscreen. I have tried to find one to stick to our windscreen just for the fun of it.

    • Dianne when you find that waving hand… I want ine too please… love ’em ‍♀️

  11. Going across the Nullabor one year, my brother-in-law waved to all, but feared getting hand RSI. He looked in lots of towns for one of those hands on a spring to put on his dashboard. Would that classify as a wave?

  12. Whats the big deal about waving? You are driving down the road and obviously it is just too hard to give a friendly wave to passing vehicles.
    Are you too busy trying to text, or fiddle with the radio, or trying to work our your dash cam that you cannot acknowledge a fellow traveller. These fellow travellers are the ones who stop and help you when you get into trouble
    I spent 45 years driving trucks around australia and the last 15 years driving a caravan.I have stopped countless times to help people who are too ignorant to give a friendly wave. It doesn’t take much effort to lift a finger, or does it?

    • I was broken down with a flat tyre on my caravan on the highway 30klm east of Cloncurry not one truck, caravan or any other traveller stopped to see if I was ok. That showed me that the wave means nothing. When pulling in to a free camp or van park those there already studiously avoid looking at me after all I might have smiled or said something friendly. It may have because of the grey hair, the fact that I am female and travelling on my own or they didn’t want me encroaching on their space. Whatever the reason, that showed me the wave means nothing. I used to wave, I no longer do as it really means nothing at the end of the day.

  13. Dave, I say, what have you got to loose in waving to one & all… i also notice the further out you are the more waves you get… even the cars & truckies wave to me but maybe I stand out, a grey haired woman driving a Coaster bus. I love it. Might try & get one of those Coles Chang Hands…

  14. Ha we can all relate to your comments
    We had been Caravaners (for years), waving to all. Recently we swapped to a Motorhome and to our shock, caravan drivers rarely wave!! We feel the same as we did in a caravan, still excited traveling and meeting people along the way. What’s it all about anyway !!!!!

  15. I always thought lifting your hand, your finger or even waving both hands was an unwritten road rule. Whether you are towing a van no matter what type, or have your house behind you, or you are in control of a 53m road train or maybe you are just in a car, I was taught this hand gesture was acknowledgement that we are all on the same road at the same time going somewhere! As I see it, a smile, our manners and even how you salute a fellow road user costs us nothing, but can make someones day a lot nicer. I think its nice to see the old hand wave when you are travelling long distances. Its one of those unwritten road rules and I must say its better than some lol…keep waving fellow travellers, it is free!

  16. When out on the open road (especially remote areas), it is a polite jesture to wave to another road user. I always wave – it doesn’t hurt.

  17. Just a heads up for all thoses travellers heading to Kangaroo Island in SA. ‘EVERYONE’ waves here,not just to travellers but even car to car!! (A very friendly town) It caught me by surprise when I arrived, but it makes me feel included and very welcomed. Thanks KI……

  18. I like to see after I allow a semi to overtake my van – they flick their r) handed lights twice as a “thank you. Now thats manners.

  19. I’m waving?? I thought I was just protecting my windshield from flying debris.

  20. I grew up in the wheat belt of WA. Everyone waves cars trucks tractors.
    Everyone knew everyone else. Here in the West our number plates mean something. MM Bencubbin; NA Nungarin; MD Merredin MBL Mukinbudin etc. My last car was MBL 21 everyone in the district knew that car.

  21. I’ve even given the cops a finger wave and got one back. Mind you I was on an outback road.

  22. Funny, I travel 2000 km about every 4-5 weeks. Grey nomads are the worst of the lot for waving, trucks, cars SUVs are all pretty good but put a van on the back and forget it or do they just wave to each other?

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