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Motoring around the country

 

While Australia’s COVID-19 response has been praised around the world, it seems we’re not out of the woods yet.

With the World Travel Organisation predicting that international travel could be off the table until at least 2022 and many of us reluctant to fly domestic routes thanks to the global pandemic, a growing number of Australians are looking to motorised vehicles as their preferred travel option.

Suited to those looking for a more comfortable holiday, a motorhome – sometimes referred to as an RV (recreational vehicle) – is a motor vehicle built on a truck or bus chassis and designed to serve as self-contained living quarters.

One of the great things about exploring different parts of the country in a vehicle that has your transport and accommodation all contained within is that a regular car licence is all that is needed to drive motorhomes weighing less than 3,500kg.

Now a $155 million industry in Australia, there are around 620,000 motorhomes and other recreational vehicles registered here with an estimated 135,000 vehicles on the road at any time.

Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA) marketing and communications officer Tess Bertoldi says RV drivers spend an average of $770 per week however their value extends beyond economic capital to human capital with grey nomads often providing labour (such as gardening, house-sitting or their pre-retirement professional skills) in exchange for a place to park or for extra income.

She agrees this type of lifestyle is hugely popular among senior Australian holidaymakers, with around 80% of its membership base aged 65 or over.

Bertoldi says because the RV lifestyle is unlike any other forms of travel, it appeals more to those in this age bracket, as unlike traditional camping or commercial touring, it is both slow and relaxing.

“You are never tied down to a set itinerary unless you want to be and this suits Grey Nomads (those over 55s who travel in RVs for extended periods of time). You get to set your own pace; you do not need to rely on other people, and it is relaxing. There’s minimal time setting up and packing up, and most of the time you have everything you need right with you.

“Setting your own schedule is more appealing than following someone else’s schedule too.”

One of the chief points expressed by the sector’s is about the perceived costs of the lifestyle. However, this isn’t always the case.

Bertoldi says those looking to purchase a motorhome can enter the RV lifestyle for an investment as little as $20,000-$30,000.

While purchasing a vehicle is more cost-effective long term, it is not your only option.

They can also be rented and here too the size of the vehicle you choose will have a big impact on how much you are likely to pay.

Available through commercial hire operators such as Apollo, Britz or Kea, or through private rental sites such as Camplify or CampToo, the average price of a two-seater motorhome sits at between $50 and $75 (excluding insurances and fuel) a day depending if it is low or high season.

For a four-seater prices range for between $125 and $145 while a six-berth motorhome will set you back between $200 and $400 in daily rental fees.

A two-seater motorhome only has a driver’s seat and a passenger’s seat leaving ample room for other features, including a shower cabin and toilet. The body of the motorhome typically contains a kitchenette, a workbench, and a table with benches that can be configured into either two single beds or one double/queen.

The two-seater style of the motorhome is ideal for those travelling alone or in a pair and because it is much smaller than four or six-seater ranges. It is also easier to park and drive and cheaper to fill.

Active seniors who prefer a little more space often opt for a four or six-seater vehicle which usually has additional entry places as well as extra seats in the dining area and a space above the driver’s cab that converts into an extra bed.

“There are motorhomes and other RV types to suit every lifestyle, choice and budget,” Bertoldi says.

“You can settle for the necessities or bring all your creature comforts along with you for the ride. Additionally, other costs to factor in include registration, insurance and roadside assistance.”

Bertoldi suggests those considering trying motorhoming should first speak with experienced RVers to find out what they like and dislike about the lifestyle, as well as their vehicle preferences.

It is worthwhile gathering as much information as possible and using it to help in the decision-making process, she says.

“Do not be alarmed when you still find yourself learning new things well after your first trip. You will continue to find easier ways of doing things or ways to modify and improve your vehicle, to make it your home away from home (or your permanent home).

“We do recommend trying before buying; not to get a taste of the lifestyle, there is no doubt you are going to love it, but to get a feel for the type of vehicle you may consider purchasing.

“The RV lifestyle can be addictive. Australia is a big place, with many stunning destinations to be explored. There truly is no better way to explore our own country.”

 

Several Aveo communities already offer parking space for residents who own motorhomes or caravans to park them onsite. These include Aveo Amity Gardens on the Gold Coast, Victoria's Hunters Green and Aveo Island Point, in St Georges Basin.

 

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