Are we gearing up for a new era of RV travel?
After what has been a tumultuous and unprecedented year so far, we think it’s fair to say that the majority of Australians are looking forward to a summer full of outdoor adventures, ocean getaways and city escapes!
While our nation continues its fight against the spread of Coronavirus, the ever-changing rules and restrictions around travel and border closures can be hard to keep track of, and it is only now, nearing the end of 2020, that we are all starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel! With many states and territories successfully quashing COVID-19 cases earlier in the year leading to a number of travel restrictions being relaxed, thousands of Aussies have been easing back into holiday mode once again. Now, after the toughest of tough lockdowns, Victorians have been given the much-anticipated green light to start planning for a summer of travel freedom too! However huge our desire to roam now is, we can’t ignore that the travel landscape has made a permanent shift, in that how we travel, where we travel to and what we’ll be packing are going to look a little different this year…
Ready to hit the road?
We now know with certainty that we'll need to look a little closer to home to scratch that travel itch this summer and beyond, with overseas travel off the cards until well into 2021. Getaways within our own shores, and possibly within our own state borders, are predicted to be the new normal with items such as masks and hand sanitisers on the packing list and social distancing a priority! An increased sense of wariness yet a strong desire to exercise freedom has already seen people taking baby steps back into the realm of holidaying, starting off with short local camping trips, multi-day hikes in National Parks and private Airbnb stays in less-frequented areas of their home states. With an unsurprising hesitation and fewer options to travel by air, rail and sea for some time to come, travel by road is set to become the most desirable way to holiday once again.
Indeed, CEO Stuart Lamont of the Caravan Industry Association of Australia said upon the easing of travel restrictions in certain states and territories back in June; "Now that international trips and cruises are off the radar, the great old-fashioned Australian road trip is back in vogue." Mr Lamont noted that every state and territory had experienced a "boom" in caravan sales and enquiries back in June, some by up to 30 per cent.
While camping trips by car and caravan will always prove a popular choice, industry insiders predict that those post-Corona summer holidays will present the perfect opportunity to visit those Australian bucket-list spots by camper or RV! An arguably more convenient, drivable, cost-efficient and versatile way to travel over their caravan counterparts, motorhomes are definitely having their moment. Historically favoured by grey nomads and boomers, RV travel is looking like an increasingly popular choice for newcomers from all generations with solo travellers, couples, and young families alike jumping on the bandwagon too. The appeal is undeniable; rather than picking just one destination and hotel, why not take an extended road trip ticking off as many amazing destinations as you like along the way?
Is the RV life for me?
Hiring or investing in an RV may well be the antidote to months of restricted movement for travel-hungry Australians who are eager to shake that cabin fever. Need some convincing? Let's take a look at the key benefits:
Wheels and accommodation all in one – What could be better; not only do you get your transport, but you also get your living quarters. Avoiding crowded airports, hotel check-ins and busy towns sure has its appeal. With everything you need in one spot, RV’s enable you to enjoy all the comforts of home (and pack without worrying about weight restrictions!).
Travel Freedom – It is safe to say that the freedom to travel as far and as wide as possible sounds very attractive right about now. Pre-pandemic, when we’ve had the choice to travel overseas or travel domestically, many of us have opted for abroad, thinking that we’ll have plenty of time to visit all those Aussie sights later in life. However, there are so many incredible places to see across our 769.2 million hectare land and travelling by RV means that you can tick as many sights off the list and stay in as few or as many spots as you like. The only schedule to keep is your own!
Avoid disappointment - As mentioned above, you are in charge of your itinerary and given the dynamic nature of the pandemic whereby areas of major cities have been locked down at short notice, amending your journey when travelling by RV is lot less costly and easier to do than having to cancel flights and/or hotels.
The ultimate in social distancing – We know that keeping a physical distance from others, aside from those you live with or close family and friends, will stay with us for a while post isolation. In an RV, you are in control of who enters the space or who you come into contact with and it can certainly be the bare minimum if desired, by stocking up on all your supplies pre-trip and avoiding visiting the tourist hot spots.
The ultimate in hygiene – Again, we know that cleanliness and hygiene must be top priority for Australians going forward. In an RV, you control the cleanliness, so disinfect to your heart’s content! With both hygiene and social distancing in mind, packing a Scrubba wash bag will enable you to take control over your own laundry too. With the self-contained and electricity-free Scrubba bag on board, clothes and reusable masks can be washed anywhere at any time, without you having to meet a soul or use a potentially unhygienic public facility.
Saving those cents – The hard hit economy will likely touch everyone to some degree, making a dent in disposable incomes, with luxury resort holidays and locations falling firmly out of favour. The main outgoings of your RV vacation, being the vehicle hire, insurance, fuel and food will all inevitably amount to a lot less than plane tickets plus hotel rooms in some far flung destination. To boost much needed sales, businesses such as RV rentals, insurance companies, camp grounds and attractions may well offer discounted rates to Aussies, resulting in big savings.
The whole experience – As touched on above, the journey you take really is up to you. Driving from place to place can provide you with quality time to unwind, listen to music or a podcast whilst taking in incredible panoramic surroundings at an elevated position through the large windshield, which would otherwise be missed when traveling by air. You may well come across some real hidden gems along the way, providing amazing photo opportunities and unforgettable memories.
Community feel – If you do fancy being social, fellow RV travellers and campers seem to be a bit more approachable at campgrounds than in standard hotel settings! If you’re having any vehicle issues or require some travel advice, information exchanges at campgrounds and country towns can often prove invaluable in shaping your experience on the road.
Helping to rebuild the economy – Your spending won’t only help the traditional RV friendly spots such as RV parks, campgrounds and outdoor attractions, but it’ll help other businesses such as breweries and wineries as well as small remote retailers and country pubs too. Many establishments may offer reduced rates to attract more custom which means more great deals for you. It also may be the perfect time to inject some much needed cash into the businesses in fire affected communities that have suffered through two devastating disasters in such a short time.
- Environmental benefits - Although RV's require a lot of fuel, motorhomes often use far less water and energy than the average household, which could mean that staying in an RV while travelling is more eco-friendly than staying in a hotel. With a much lower carbon footprint than air travel, RV travel can be made even more sustainable with certain vehicle modifications such as bamboo floors, nontoxic paint, and the installation of waste-grease fuel system. Not only that, there are a number of eco-products on the market (including the Scrubba range) that can help you to travel green.
There are a handful of cons of course, with RV’s sometimes proving tricky in crowded urban settings in terms of parking, and you can’t just rock up and stay the night at any old place as certain overnight restrictions may apply. If in doubt, it is important to check with local authorities prior to settling in. There is also a lot of planning involved in terms of routes, fuel, food, and timing, as getting lost, running out of supplies, or trying to back into at a campsite after dark could certainly prove stressful and detract from your relaxing RV adventure!
Another drawback for some is the list of chores to keep on top of, such as washing dishes, cleaning the RV or campsite, frequent garbage runs and sewage/grey-water emptying. If you enjoy having someone else cook and clean, RV travel might not provide the relaxation you expect from your holiday! That said, with the current climate of heightened cleanliness and the great importance placed on health and hygiene, we suspect mentalities may make a permanent shift in that having total control of your transport and accommodation will be what makes us feel the most comfortable and secure when holidaying. A further point to note is that RV’s, while larger than your suitcase or car boot, do not have infinite space so packing light and smart are still key to making the trip more enjoyable. We suggest that packing fewer clothes plus a Scrubba wash bag will certainly lighten the load, with the benefit of being able to use it as a convenient dirty laundry sack or weatherproof dry bag perfect for beach adventures!
Bitten by the RV bug?
Perhaps one or two RV holidays will lead to an extended trip, whereby a few months or year of road travel around Australia becomes a very real possibility! There are thousands undertaking such a journey as we speak, with hundreds more set to take the leap this summer once state borders open back up. If 2020 has taught us one thing it’s that people are adaptable and creative, with remote working and learning now commonplace, leading to the increased appeal to live that digital nomad lifestyle. We envisage more and more families with school aged children taking to the road indefinitely too, knowing that schooling can be carried out on the go. The term “vanlife” will be ever the more prevalent with the young and old alike and the new ‘saving up to buy a house’ could become ‘saving up to buy a home on wheels’, at a fraction of the cost and upkeep!
All in all, once we’ve emerged from this global disaster and are presented with travel freedom, we think it might be time to take that outback road trip you’ve always talked about or head up the coast and stroll along white deserted beaches and drop off to sleep to the sound of waves lapping against the sand. You may choose to head inland, gaze at stars in a perfectly clear sky or pull on the hiking boots and soak up the spectacular scenery of some of Australia’s 500+ national parks. Any way you look at it, domestic RV travel is going to look like an extremely attractive option for the pandemic-weary population looking for safe holiday options.
To help you plan your post-lockdown road trip, we have compiled the latest guidance on travel restrictions and a list of our top ten destinations for each state in a recent blog series!