20151019 - Grey Nomad

According to the Macquarie Dictionary a “grey nomad” is an Australian colloquial expression meaning an older person, often retired from full-time work, who travels around the country, living in a caravan or motorhome. Linguists are not too sure how long the expression has been around, but according to an article penned by Kel Richards for the ABC NewsRadio’s WordWatch program “the first bit of printed evidence they’ve turned up goes back to 1995”.

A closer look at this growing sector of our community reveals that the stereotypical grey nomad may be a thing of the past. It seems there is as much diversity among its members as there is among the people we meet in our “normal” lives.

For starters, you don’t have to sell everything and leave your entire life behind to join in the fun. Have you ever hoped for just a few months out of the rat race to regain your life perspective? Or maybe you dream of somewhere warmer to spend the winter months, or to have a break between jobs before you settle down again? There are plenty of real “nomads” with similar motivations out there doing just that.

Next, remember that it is not just for full-time retirees. In some places, seasonal jobs are being filled by older workers alongside the usual backpackers and young locals. (Take a look at http://www.olderworkers.com.au.) And if volunteering is more your thing, you’re bound to find endless opportunities on your trip around the red continent.

It is estimated that there are around 350,000 nomads roaming Australia, injecting $2 billion into the economy each year. So it’s no wonder that you don’t have to look far for information on all the practicalities of taking this step—everything from keeping valuables safe, buying the right rig, and dealing with mobile phone coverage. Check out http://www.thegreynomads.com.au.

On a final note, beware of “caravan envy”. Quite simply, it seems some grey nomads are ageing more gracefully than others and size apparently does matter when it comes to the caravans they tow or RVs they drive. Park operators say it has created a class divide in popular destinations. However this perception may only be held by a minority. Don’t let that stop you – if you see yourself as a nomad of any description, now is the time to take off and explore this amazing country – in whatever type of vehicle you choose! And when you do travel, please send us your pics!