The Rise and Rise of Non-Grey Nomads
A question is on the lips of Australian caravaners and campers:
Should we drop the ‘grey’ in grey nomad?
According to Tourism Research Australia, people aged between 25 and 44 have taken almost 40% of the nation’s caravan and camping trips in the last few years. And while it’s true that this younger demographic still largely goes the car and tent option, and grey nomads continue to hold the lion’s share of the domestic caravan and RV market, there has been, of late, a minor - yet noticeable - trend of twenty-somethings and young families trading up in transportable living. The Ford Fiesta with a second-hand tent in the back is being replaced more and more often by the comparative opulence and comfort of a caravan or recreational vehicle.
What was previously the sole bastion of retirees can now be found appealing to a wider audience than ever. And when you look a little closer, that appeal is obvious.
The nomadship enjoyed by baby boomers has a world of upsides, particularly in a country like Australia. The environmental diversity that we enjoy is unlike anything else in the world, and it’s obvious that the great outdoors excess that we enjoy is best experienced by wading into it, rather than taking day trips from a city hotel. The humble caravan or RV does this in a way that a leaky tent simply cannot, by allowing you to enjoy all the pros of relaxing in nature, without dealing the cons – the bugs, the weather, and the grubbiness. It’s the perfect solution.
And it’s a concept that more than a few millennials are cottoning onto.
For these young converts there may be an ever-so-small sense of kitsch attached to caravanning and RVing too. If you tour around Australia’s lawn bowls clubs on a Thursday night, you’ll see the very same younger set enjoying the friendly atmosphere and 1980s beer prices offered at barefoot bowls. And while the fact that you can buy a round of schooners for less than a tenner certainly helps to get the punters in, they soon wake up to the value of the sport in and of itself.
The same, perhaps, can be said of the humble caravan. For whatever reason – be it that bowls club nostalgia and cost-effectiveness, or more a matter of the inherent convenience and flexibility - twenty-somethings and young families are dipping their toe in the lake of caravanning, and are quite happy with the temperature of the water.
So what does this all mean for the nomads of a greyer variety?
Will caravan parks turn into the archetypal American frat house that we’re so familiar with from film (but which, by all reports, are very much a real thing)? Will Bev and Bob on powered site #16 wake up to the sounds of someone trying to handstand chug a keg of mid-strength, or a herd-of-wildebeest scale nudie run?
In truth, not much about grey nomad caravanning will likely change with the uptake from the next generation. While it’s true that parks will be full over school breaks, this has been the case since time immemorial. And as far as the twenty-something caravan set who has yet to start a family goes, I think we can take solace in their lawn bowls adventures – if they treat caravanning with the respect that they show for the manicured green, our caravan parks, and the pastime as a whole, is in pretty good hands.
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