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Achieving More in Your Retirement: 5 Tips for Travelling Australia on a Budget

For many Australians at the retirement stage, a trip around Australia is a big-ticket item on the bucket list. What does it take to become a “grey nomad” and take on Australia?

A huge factor is budget and a keen eye on keeping down expenses where possible. Consider us your “grey nomad” trip planner; here, we’ll look at some ways you can tour/visit Australia on a budget in retirement and keep the good times rolling.

1. Pay your own way

couple in a motorhome

Many retired Australians are enjoying their superannuation by taking extra-long trips down under. For this to be possible, many retirees may consider renting their family home. At the very least, renting your family home can keep your mortgage paid while you holiday.

If you are fortunate enough to have paid off your mortgage, this rental income can go directly into funding your holiday, including food, entertainment, accommodation, and fuel. Perhaps, depending on your situation, selling your home may be a more viable idea, especially if you plan to travel for a longer period of time. Speak to your financial planner about investing your money to use the returns as income while you travel.

If during your travels, you will be living in your caravan or RV, you may be able to claim ‘Rent Assistance’ when you stay at parks. Retirees who live in their caravans, vans or RVs and pay rent are eligible to complete a Rent Declaration form.

Thankfully, we live in an age where, if you are tech-savvy, you may be able to bring your work with you and freelance along the way. Often, parks and accommodation sites offer free Wi-Fi. Ensure you are all kitted out before you leave, with an external aerial and router if you plan to work on the road.

For those looking for more ‘hands-on’ opportunities, the work is there if you know where to look. Jump online and check if there are any local companies looking for help. Check Facebook pages and community pages and don’t be afraid to just walk into shops and councils and ask if there is any work. A lot of accommodation sites and farms are always on the lookout for someone to do odd jobs or handyman work. Just by doing some yard work, cleaning or waiting on tables, you may be able to pay for your accommodation for each night or fill up your RV or car for more adventures.

2. Don’t Pay Top Dollar for Your Gear

4WD vehicle with caravan

When preparing for the trip of a lifetime, it may be tempting to search for the best gear that is all brand new. It is worthwhile, though, to sit down and take a look at what big items you need; perhaps you need a new 4WD vehicle to tow your caravan.

Due to the incredible depreciation of vehicles (including RVs and caravans), it is worthwhile to look at buying a vehicle that is a couple of years old and still under warranty rather than buying a brand-new one.

Be realistic also about the features you really need. Often, when it comes to holiday equipment, you can pay up to twice as much for extra features that are convenient but not necessary.

Work out what will be important to you on your trip. If it is not as important as saving the extra money for your holiday, then make that decision and save your budget.

Sometimes, when it comes to travel, buying something like a bike can actually save you money, especially if it means you will use it for short travel at each destination and save on fuel as a result. Speak to some other ‘grey nomads’ that have gone before you to ask for ideas on the correct gear to buy and where it is possible to save money.

Check out Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree for equipment too, and take advantage of other people’s expensive purchases. Quite often, gear is bought for one trip and then sold soon afterwards.

3. Try Before You Buy

Before you take the big leap on a trip around Australia and dive into purchasing gear for your adventure, consider renting a recreational vehicle for a shorter trip and see how you like it. Having the experience of varying weather conditions, the daily setup and packing down, and eating and doing daily life on the road will really tell you a lot about what you like or don’t like. This can save you a lot in ways you might not expect.

Perhaps it might cause you to change your destination or buy different equipment and vehicles tailored to your needs and expectations on the road. At the very least, you will learn more about yourself and what you want out of your trip.

4. Invest in Insurance

4WD on the beach in Australia

Whatever you end up purchasing, make sure that your expensive items, such as your vehicle and caravan, are insured properly for loss or damage. You also want to give yourself the confidence to know that you are insured if you break down in a remote area.

Speak to a financial adviser to ensure you have the right insurance for your contents. For example, sometimes insurance may not cover your caravan if you are living in it at the time, or perhaps your car may not be insured for certain accidents. Take care of insuring properly from the start to give you confidence in your travels.

5. Manage Your Costs by Planning Ahead

If you plan ahead and have the right equipment for your needs, you can manage your expenses and make the most out of your Australian adventure.

Plan ahead to find the best deals on sites and even find some free unpowered parks or free farm stays. In this case, think ahead about the right equipment so you can save and still remain comfortable. Plan out what you intend to eat each week on the road, and never buy more than you need. Avoid staying in big parks during peak times of the year and do your non-perishable shop in a big supermarket (not a small local one that often doubles the price on convenience items). You can often find your fresh food at local markets if you are organised.

Having a good plan and a solid budget will save you money and maximise your holiday time.

We can help with “grey nomad” tour planning and set financial goals for your next adventure

Speak to your financial advisor to assess your goals and plan for your next adventure. Call Elliot Watson Financial Planning today on 02 4038 1623.


The information within, including tax, does not consider your personal circumstances and is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account any of your individual objectives, financial solutions or needs. Before acting on this information, you should consider its appropriateness regarding your objectives, financial situation and needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statements and seek personal advice from a qualified financial adviser.
The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author; they are not reflective or indicative of the licensee’s position and are not to be attributed to the licensee. They cannot be reproduced in any form without the author’s express written consent.
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Elliot Watson

Elliot Watson is an award-winning Certified Financial Planner with over 15 years' experience. He is passionate about helping people grow and protect their wealth.

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