Over-60s seek new thrills as Millennials dominate caravanning trips

Jun 03, 2021
New data reveals fewer Baby Boomers are hitting the road. Source: Getty

When you think of caravanning, a greying, recently retired couple motoring down the highway may come to mind, but times they are a changin’ and rather than Boomers, it’s Millennials who now hold the caravanning crown.

According to the latest data from Ultimate Driving Tours (UDT), Millennials have overtaken grey nomads when it comes to travelling the countryside in a caravan, with the older generation now seeking luxurious holidays that involve fast cars and fine wine instead.

The change up in holiday trends was brought on largely by the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw more young couples and families adopting the ‘van life’ movement instead of splurging on an overseas holiday, or putting down a house deposit. Some Millennials are also choosing to make their caravan a permanent home and live off the grid in a bid to save money and get closer to nature.

On the other hand, many Boomers are ready to spend their retirement cash and are choosing to splash out on indulgent holidays while they can, while others say roughing it on the road simply isn’t a practical option for them anymore. We asked Starts at 60 readers what their holiday plans were for their future and their answers supporting the UDT data.

SAS reader Valerie Callaghan said fast cars and good wine would always trump long drives and camping for her. “I might do glamping [glamorous camping] but driving endless kilometres to camp sites doesn’t do it for me at all,” she said. “I like my comforts! Bring on the pampered holidays for whatever time I have left!”

Meanwhile, resident SAS blogger Brian Lee said while camping trips were a fun experience 30-odd years ago, he and his wife, Jacqui, enjoy something a little more comfortable these days.

“Thirty years ago, Jacqui and I would have loved a caravanning trip, in fact we owned a van, and did quite a few of them in those days,” he said. “I’m afraid though, as the joints get stiffer and the intentions get more pliable, the attraction of wine tends to come out the winner. Somehow, the people in wineries seem to treat one with a greater respect for your needs, while the caravanning ground owners consider you to be the self-sufficient type, who doesn’t want to be treated so gently! So, I guess you go where your conscience takes you, according to your age and capability!”

Reader Colin John Millar said while wine tasting isn’t on his radar, he’d probably opt for a hotel over a caravan due to circumstance. “My wife is in a wheelchair so we are unable to go caravanning,” he revealed.

Jill Keating was the only SAS reader who responded to our call out to be in favour of caravanning, saying, “We are currently caravanning around our beautiful country, taking our time as I have just retired. In Broome at present. We have enjoyed camping and caravanning for over 40 years. We also enjoy overseas travel (when Covid free).”

And this isn’t the first study to look at Millennials and Baby Boomers’ changing travel behaviours. Research from 2019 found that instead of splurging on overseas holidays (another stereotype!), 25-to-34-year-olds spent $1.6 billion dollars visiting Australian caravan and camping grounds in the June quarter for that year. This is compared to $1.3 billion in expenditure for 55-to-64-year-olds.

At the time, A Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA) spokesperson told Starts at 60 that the youngsters’ enthusiasm for hitching up a caravan or pitching a tent was down to two big trends: nature-based experiences and the share economy. Travel that allows holidaymakers to get closer to the environment was identified last year at ITB Berlin, the world’s biggest travel trade show, as one of the fastest growing areas of the travel market. And caravanning and camping fits the bill perfectly, according to the CIAA spokesperson.

“The share economy is also on the rise and appealing to young people as it offers an easy and convenient way to organise a caravan and camping holiday by renting an RV through an online sharing platform,” she said.

What are your thoughts on this? Would you prefer a caravanning trip or a wine tasting tour?

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