Once upon a time, I vowed never to join the ranks of the grey nomads.
Holidaying in caravan parks was something we did as parents of young kids. Once they flew the nest, it would be five stars all the way, thanks very much.
So, when I was signing the paperwork on the purchase of a Jayco Lark camper trailer at the ripe old age of 45, I found myself wondering, “how did I get here?”.
It turns out I was in good company. According to Caravan Industry Association of Australia figures for 2021, the market for people aged 30-54 years has exploded with 48 percent taking caravan trips annually.
For my family, the reasons for buying a camper trailer came down to cost and COVID-19.
Once our youngest son turned 14, in accommodation terms he was a child no more. Gone were the days we could take advantage of “kids stay and eat for free” packages.
For that reason alone, we began flirting with the idea of upgrading the tent to strike a balance between the costeffectiveness of camping with the comfort that comes with a caravan.
What pushed us across the line was COVID-19 and its impact on travel.
Interestingly, when we went to inspect the Lark we were among other families – many much younger than ours – who had come to the same decision.
Burleigh Beach Tourist Park managers Scott and Lara Berryman have seen a dramatic change to the demographic of their park’s visitors during the pandemic.
“We’ve seen a huge shift in our trade because it was predominantly grey nomads and the odd young family – now we’re getting a lot of young families with kids under the age of 10 in camper trailers,” Mr Berryman said.
“People aren’t travelling overseas, so they’ve got a bit more money and they’ve bought campers and caravans.”
It’s important to understand there’s more to caravanning than hitching the rig and setting off on holiday.
At least that’s what my husband told me after his two-hour handover at our local Jayco dealership.
Aside from a few hiccups at the start, our maiden voyage was a success. Sure, we only travelled an hour from home, but as our confidence grows so will the distance travelled.
Mr Berryman said he expected to continue seeing young families enjoying caravan holidays after travel restrictions were eased.
“There is always the group of people that are used to hotel travelling and want a resort pool and room service and don’t like having communal facilities,” he said.
“But that’s just a very small percentage. I think the large percentage will return and want to enjoy the freedom of having your own mini house on wheels and being able to enjoy the outdoors a bit more than you can when stuck in a resort.”
You’re preaching to the converted here, Scott.
We’ve already booked road trips well into 2022 and consider the Lark to be a part of the family.
No matter how skilled a driver you are, there’s a right way and a wrong way to hitch a caravan.
It’s not as hard as it looks, but it’s a two-person job. To avoid miscommunication, agree on what (polite) hand signals will be used between the driver and assistant, then:
Before hitting the road, it’s a good idea to do a final check to ensure everything is where it should be (including the kids).
The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.