More people are taking to the road than ever, and Gayle Wilson shares what drew her and husband Col to the highway full-time.

Caravanning ownership and registrations is on the rise … not just with the grey nomad set heading around the country as we speak, but half of the 8.5 million domestic caravan and camping visitors in Australia are aged 30–54.*

But taking to the road for a holiday is a little different to hitting the road full-time like Gayle and Col Wilson did. Gayle tells us what inspired them to pack up and go.

“When our last child left the nest, we realised we were no longer tied to the family home. It was then that we decided to have a huge garage sale. We sold the majority of our ‘stuff’ then put the rest into storage and hit the road in our caravan full-time.

“The process to do this took lots of online research as we had never owned a caravan before. We spent many hours on caravanning forums learning from seasoned caravanners. We did not even know if this lifestyle was for us so we decided we wanted to test the waters with a small second-hand van which could be towed by our small sedan; that did not leave us many options.

“Envious but realistic, we looked at all the new vans in caravan parks but on average at $80,000 for the van and a bit less for the four wheel drive required to pull such a heavy object, we would have had to wait years to be able to afford it. We decided we would rather caravan in an old van, than not caravan at all.

“So with our limited budget and after a few months watching selling prices on eBay, we purchased a tiny 11 foot 1980 Millard pop-top which we call ‘the cubby’.

“A slap of taupe paint on the interior to hide the dated fake dark wood panelling, new flooring and a reconfiguration of the kitchen to accommodate the induction cooker, plus new dinette cushion covers to replace the brown and blue plaid ones, and our van’s interior took on a more modern look.

“Sure 11 foot is small but we have a place to sit, eat, cook and sleep – what more do you need? We have a choice of where we want to live, stay as long as we like or move on to the next location, wherever that may be.

“We chase the warmth in winter and the more temperate conditions in summer, so no need for winter woollies; thongs are our shoes of choice.

“Caravan living is not for everyone and a few ‘grey nomad’ women I have spoken with often say how much they miss their family and grandchildren.

“You need to make sure you can communicate via Facebook and Skype to help with the home sickness. On the other hand, this lifestyle allows you to connect with so many like-minded people; caravanners have to be the friendliest people around. There is always someone to chat to, someone willing to offer you advice and lend a hand.

“This has to be the best lifestyle ever, but you will never know, if you never give it a go.”

Gayle’s tips:

  •  Do your research … look at online caravan forums and see what other travellers are doing and how they do it
  •  Test the water – try a small trip and see if it is for you.
  •  You don’t have to buy a state-of-the-art caravan. Check out your second hand options.

You can follow Gayle and Col Wilson’s blog here.

Grab the Queensland Caravan Parks 2014 Directory with 144 pages of information on Queensland’s caravan parks here

Share your caravanning experience with us in the comments below.

*(Snapshots 2012: Caravan or Camping in Australia, Tourism Research Australia, Canberra).