Like it or not, even the most spontaneous of grey nomads now has to plan ahead

Published: July 17, 2023

Three researchers from the Behavioural Science and Health Lab Group at Curtin University – Dr Chloe Maxwell-Smith, Hayley Breare & Professor Barbara Mullan – suggest ways nomads can navigate the challenges, and uncertainties, of the ‘busier Big Lap’.


After weathering the worst of the Covid-19 storm, grey nomads are not returning to life exactly as they knew it.

A surge in caravanning and camping resulting from the pandemic means the days of a devil-may-care approach to turning up at a caravan site or national park, and always finding a space, have dwindled.

Thinking about what you will lose by failing to plan helps you focus on the benefits of pre-planning to avoid falling victim to unrealistic optimism (because you want there to be a vacancy, there will be one).

Action planning involves knowing what you need to be on top of early and what you can afford to get away with for a little longer.

During peak seasons, popular spots will require booking ahead. Set aside time to prepare and plan. Calling a caravan park to enquire about bookings can make all the difference once you’re on the road.

Back this up with coping planning to ensure you have options if your plan falls through. These could be ideas of alternative accommodation or activities for if the weather isn’t what you’d hoped. What is there to gain by being prepared?

Some caravan parks offer four nights for the price of three or discounts for booking ahead. Another incentive might be reducing stress and costs of travel by anticipating fuel stops and supplies needed. Focus on choices that can still afford flexibility:

  • Book accommodation early but spare time for impromptu pub or café visits.
  • Lock in a caravan park but leave a few days without plans for spontaneous day trips. Check out visitor centres when you arrive to see what’s on in the area.
  • Travelling with family? Met friends along the way? Plan some activities, each taking the reins to plan one day of your trip, and being along for the ride on other days. Have the best of both worlds by booking the necessities and leaving other details unplanned.

Don’t let the new way of navigating Australia dampen a love of adventure.

* Do you plan ahead more than you used to … and perhaps more than you want to? Comment below.


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Nailed it 100% also camping fees for caravan parks and low cost camping are becoming overpriced and harder to justify the cost. ( supply and demand ) is greed creeping into the once affordable holiday lifestyle????
Cheers,And safe travels.

It certainly has changed and we have to accept the change and go with it. Personally myself I have lived this lifestyle with just me and a dog living in a caravan and being on the road for almost 12 years.
The idea of planning and only taking what you need is the first step. Then looking up web sites that give you a description of the camp sites or caravan parks and reading the comments and prices is another good idea. I use Wikicamps for this.

Try and arrive early is the best advice that I can offer as I want to be on site by like 2pm as that gives me the stress free lifestyle that I enjoy. Yet I see people turning up way after dark and trying to reverse onto their site in the dark and I just ask “ WHY” as that has to be Piss Poor Planning at its finest.

I don’t want to be towing a caravan for like 12 hours a day as that is not what life on the road is all about. Slow down and do like three or four hours driving and Plan to do that and phone ahead and book your site. Never rely on thinking that you will get a “Free Camp” only to arrive late in the day and find it full and now you truly have “Nowhere To Go” and no plan “B” so plan ahead and enjoy the lifestyle.

Pretty well nailed it mate..!

Typical Marxist feminist thinking… No wonder that Australia is finished!

First timer traveling to North QLD,we have now decided to stay at our own coastal local caravan parks after this ridiculously crowded trip

Caravan parks

Yep been 3 years now changing caravan parks on gold coast every 3 months..I’ve now paid up untill October 2024 for sites & storage….peace of mind…seems not many good beach side caravan sites in Qld where U can stay more than 3 months in one calendar year…Xmas is mostly full and site fees ridiculous….

We have always travelled this way and there has never been an issue. Make plans, be organised but be prepared for things coming out if left field. On the road today and it’s minus 1.1. not what we have hoped for but have adapted.

Motor home better….no need to book into over crowded, and expensive caravan parks …..like to be independent, stop any where ,all self contained .

Same,as we’re not big like a caravan so don’t take up much room. Don’t usually have a problem.

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