Throughout your working life, you probably couldn’t wait for retirement—finally being able to leave the office for the last time, and never have to worry about another deadline, task, or having to be on time in the office again. But for some of you, after reaching that long-anticipated period of tranquility, you may have found yourself hopelessly bored, and craving something novel and exciting.

And so, after a lifetime of slipping and straining for financial security, you’re in the wonderful position of being able to buy yourself a shiny new motorhome, pack your essentials, and turn your wheels to the open road, where adventure awaits. Another grey nomad is born.

If you’re considering spending your retirement travelling Australia (or the rest of the world) in a motorhome or caravan, this grey nomad trip planner will help you to prepare, so that your journey can be as smooth, safe, and exciting as possible.


Good budgeting is critical for the success of most projects, including travelling. The last thing you want is to find yourself stuck in some remote corner of the Northern Territory, with no money for fuel or food, and only roos or brown snakes to turn to.

It’s estimated that you’ll need around $100 per day to travel around Australia1, but everybody’s spending will be slightly different, so make yourself a comprehensive budget to estimate how much you’ll need each day for fuel, food, camping sites ($15 to $50 per night, and also some free sites), and other bits such as museums and shows. You’ll also need to include any regular bills such as council tax, phone contracts, rates, etc. If you’ve fully committed yourself to travelling and decided to sell your home, many of these won’t be applicable.

Consider using a vacation budget planner spreadsheet, or downloading an expense-tracking app. Make sure you also have some emergency money, just in case something goes wrong while you’re on the road, or if you suddenly need to be somewhere for a family emergency.

Health check

A clean bill of health is important for everyone, and especially important when you’re older and about to go travelling. Before you spend months gallivanting around the country, get yourself a full health check to make sure you’re ready for the adventure. This may include a blood pressure check, blood lipids, cancer examinations, eye exams, up-to-date vaccinations, and much more.

If you’re taking prescribed medication, you’ll also need to make sure that you have enough to tide you over until you can make another appointment with another doctor while on your travels.


When you’re constantly on the road, a lot can go wrong and because you’re going to be on the road for the foreseeable future, you’ll need to get comprehensive vehicle insurance that covers pretty much everything—accidents, theft, storm damage, contents, long-distance towing, and more. Be sure to spend some time comparing insurance plans, as this type of insurance will be more expensive than most, so you’ll want to make sure you get the best deal.

If you’re venturing outside Australia for your travels, you’ll also need comprehensive travel insurance, to cover you for any medical emergencies that may arise.

Vehicle service

Your motorhome or car is about to be put through the paces, so getting a full service is necessary to identify any problems, and deter breakdowns. Australia has some harsh roads too, so you’ll want your vehicle at its best to make sure it can handle them.

Pack the essentials

Every successful road trip includes a list of essentials, which help to keep you safe, comfortable, and on the right track. These include:

  • A paper map—this is vital for when you drive through an area with no phone signal, or if your phone fails
  • Water—a large supply in case you get stranded somewhere
  • First aid kit—essential for medical emergencies
  • Cooking equipment—unless you want your trip to be incredibly expensive, cooking equipment is vital for keeping yourself properly fuelled.
  • Fire extinguisher—cooking in a small and unfamiliar environment is more dangerous, so you’ll need this to quickly put out any fires
  • Chargers for phones and other electronics—phones are vital for emergencies, as well as navigation. You’ll need a charger that plugs into your vehicle to keep it topped up.
  • Car essentials—a jack, spare tyre, jumper cables, and tyre pressure gauge

Sort your bills

Unfortunately, nomads still need to pay bills, especially when they have a home to return to. Try to switch as many of your bills as possible from paper-based to online, so that you can receive and pay them more easily. This might include calling your bank, energy company, phone company, local council, and others.

It may not be possible to do this for every bill, so ask a family member or friend to collect your mail every month or so, to make sure everything is covered. Travelling around the country can be expensive, so the last thing you want is to return home with a whopping bill that has been slowly increasing during your Big Lap.

Towing course

If you’re using a caravan for your travels, you may want to consider taking a towing course so that you have the skills to travel safely. Towing a caravan can be challenging, especially if the vehicle is older and doesn’t have the latest stability technology. You’ll also learn how to check that the caravan is properly secured before you start driving.

Always know your next destination

Australia is an unfathomably big place, and there can be massive distances between towns and caravan parks. Before you set off for the day, consult your map to make sure you have enough time to get between one destination and the next. If possible, try not to give yourself stretches that are too long, as driving for hours can be exhausting.

Pre-book campgrounds

To be extra careful, you can pre-book your campgrounds before you set off for the day (or even weeks/months in advance). This helps to ensure that the campground is actually open before you arrive (many close off-season), and prevents you from having to dash about trying to find a legal spot to park for the night. It also helps to make your budget more accurate, as you know exactly how much the camping spot is going to cost.

There are lots of mobile apps you can use to find and book campgrounds in Australia, including WikiCamps, Free Range Camping, AnyCamp, and CamperMate. These provide valuable info such as user ratings, prices, distances, and amenities, to ensure you don’t get caught out.

Use a trip planner

For some, planning the trip is almost as fun as the trip itself, and one of the best ways to do this is with a trip planner such as TripAdvisor, TripIt, Google Trip Planner, and many more. You can create a detailed plan for your entire trip, including destinations, dates, and times. This is one of the best grey nomad hints and tips in our list.

Write down important phone numbers

Mobile phones are incredibly useful, but unfortunately, as with most complicated modern technology, they can easily fail. To plan for this, before you leave for your trip, write down any important phone numbers, including those of your family and friends, roadside assistance, and your doctor.

Be reachable

On the subject of phones, make sure that your family and friends have your latest number, so that they can easily reach you when they need to. This might also include your email address and social media connections, to provide various ways to get in touch.

Avoid extreme temperatures

Australian temperatures can be horrendously extreme, especially when you’re driving to the north. If possible, try to avoid the northern part of the country during summer, and the southern part of the country during winter. Not only will your trip be much more comfortable and enjoyable, but you’ll avoid the risk of being stuck in dangerous temperatures with a broken air conditioner.

Consider the holidays

If you have kids and grandkids, you might usually spend Christmases, birthdays, Easter, and other holidays with them. These can be some of the most joyful times of the year, so if they’re important to you, you may want to plan your trip around them so you don’t miss out.


  1. How much does it really cost to take the Big Lap?, The Grey Nomads