‘Grey travellers’ trade the troubles of towing for motel and cabin ‘luxury’

Rising caravan park fees and surging fuel prices have got some grey nomads asking themselves a fundamental question about their travels … is there a better way of doing it?

For some, it seems, the answer is ‘yes’. Among those who have rejected the traditional grey nomad concept of seeing Australia in a caravan or motorhome is Eli Friedlander and his wife, Nitza … who prefer to call themselves ‘grey travellers’.

When the Sydney couple retired four years ago, they took a long, hard look at their on-the-road options.

They went off on organised 4WD accommodated tagalong tours, they hired campervans, they tried touring in ensuite caravans … and then they decided they didn’t need the hassles of a big rig.

grey nomads living in cabins

“Our passion is the Australian Outback and we tackle any terrain with our 4WD,” said Eli. “We will not swap our comfortable home for a fully nomadic lifestyle, so only spend a few weeks per annum on the road in accommodation such as motels, cabins and roadhouses.”

They book these places for one or two nights at a time as they move along their well-planned route.

“Basic types of accommodation can be found even along the most remote routes in Australia with only a few exceptions that can only be toured with camping,” Eli said.

He says accommodation prices range between $120 at a roadhouse to $250 a night at a high standard resort.

The couple say arguments against travelling with a caravan include:

  • We don’t have to invest tens of thousands of dollars in an asset we use only intermittently, or pay the ongoing costs of insurance and registration.
  • We save at least 30% in fuel costs when not towing anything.
  • We don’t have to depend on sometimes disgusting public amenities.
  • We don’t have to tow anything, or worry about van access on Outback roads and ‘4WD Only’ tracks.
  • We don’t have to reverse anything into a tight spot or worry about finding suitable parking.
  • No need to look for a dump point or deal with emptying a toilet cassette

They say some disadvantages of ‘grey travelling’ are:

  • It takes a lot of time to find and book suitable accommodation, often months in advance.
  • We never know what the accommodation will look like, and can feel ‘ripped off ’ if the standard is lower than expected.
  • We are a lot less flexible in our travels.
  • Packing and unpacking every time we check in and out is a major exercise.

And Eli and Nitza say they are far from the only reformed ‘grey nomads’ who have ‘seen the light’. “At our overnight stops we often meet other ‘grey travellers’ who, like us, prefer to stay in accommodations,” said Eli. “Or they may have a disability, or just want to take a break from setting up their camping trailer for the night … particularly in rainy weather.”

  • Have you ever thought about ‘downsizing’ your rig to become a ‘grey traveller’? Email us here to share your thoughts.

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