‘I wouldn’t swap my stealth camping lifestyle … but it’s not always easy!’

Published: May 14, 2024

While the traditional image of a grey nomad is of someone travelling in a reasonably sized caravan or motorhome staying at least semi-regularly in caravan parks, that is far from the whole picture.

Solo traveller ‘Jack’ lives in his Toyota Hiace Van and booking ahead – and paying for – a night or two in a park is not on his agenda.

“I don’t move about to any time schedule or take notice of how often I travel or how long I stay in one place,” he said. “I move about on a whim … or let wind take me.”

When the Grey Nomads caught up with Jack, he was staying on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and had no firm plans from there … other than finding a quiet and safe place to spend the night.

“Struggling to find a spot to park for the night really depends on the area one is in, or what the attitude of the local residents might be, or how strict the local councils are,” he said. “Or how often they patrol or as to how many ‘No Camping/Overnight stay’ signs or ‘No Parking Limit’ signs they have up around the place.”

Jack was parked up by a moonlit Maroochy River in Maroochydore having just finished his dinner of precooked rice and quinoa ‘with a few other bits added’.

“The atmosphere has that tranquil, soothing, magical quality that makes me want to look around and soak up the beauty and splendour that surrounds me,” he said. “I feel safe and relaxed and have to pinch myself sometimes … I think ‘wow, I would not want to be anywhere else right now’.”

However, as the minutes ticked by, Jack had to face a familiar conundrum … should he stay put or look for a better spot to sleep.

“I could take the risk and stay here for the night but I have seen a council presence here on occasion in the past,” he said. “It’s just not worth copping a fine, or going to sleep feeling anxious.”

Ultimately, Jack spent more than 20 minutes driving around looking for a spot that met his ‘safe parking’ criteria.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love this lifestyle and I choose it,” he said. “To the outsider it would seem easy searching for a safe quiet nightly parking spot but when you are actually doing it … not so.”

Jack, a single dad, hit the open road soon after his son left home.

He bought a van and set it up himself. By his own admission it is very basic with no power, no refrigeration, no toilet, no shower, and no air con … basically just a bed and a set of drawers and storage areas.

“I eat mainly a raw food diet so cooking is minimal,” said Jack. “If I do cook it’s all done on a small butane gas cooker which is really only used to brew up a chai tea, or boil some water for washing a spoon or a cup.”

Jack acknowledges his stealth camping lifestyle does cause him a fair bit of worry sometimes, but he wouldn’t change a thing. “The pros of living this lifestyle far outweigh the cons,” he said. “So, I’ll keep living it for now … until I win Lotto.”

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sadly, these so called stealth campers with no facilities are ruining free camping for responsibe campers who does the right thing.

I’m sorry stealth camping (where people use other people’s power, toileting & showers, public BBQs for cooking, etc), or in American terminology “Boondocking” should be called what it is, “Stealing”.

This is the type of traveler that causes Freedom and donation camping to be closed down – If you cannot afford or won’t pay your way, don’t bludge on society.

There are many Nomads out there that are basically living week to week, but not rorting the system, they volunteer as camp hosts, house sit minding pets, pick-up confetti and other rubbish at genuine freedom/donation camps.

Stealth camping – Not the Australian way

Lighten up people!!! He not hurting anyone, he’s legally allowed to sleep in his car,
unless signposted otherwise. Just chill out and let him enjoy his retirement!!


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