If you’re anything like me, the lure of an RV lifestyle is strong, but so is the temptation of cruising. As a caravanning grey nomad, you can get all that fresh air and freedom, while cruising has all the creature comforts you could want. And as for how many knickers to take on holiday – well, that’s up to you! Read on for Jan Boge’s tip on that, plus much more.
Caravan or cruise? Why not both?
When it comes to travel, there are so many ways to go about it. You can rough it and camp in the great outdoors, or travel in a campervan, caravan, or motorhome.
You can backpack through Europe, or stay in luxury hotels and take in the sights from a tour bus. Or, you can take a luxury ocean cruise around Hawaii or a river cruise in Europe.
There’s really no right or wrong way to travel, as long as you’re doing what makes you happy.
Recently, I’ve been debating whether I’d become a grey nomad and make a lifestyle of travelling throughout Australia in an RV, or create a holiday atmosphere at home in Hervey Bay and take the occasional cruise, or two, throughout the year.
To help me break down the pros and cons of each option, I caught up with dedicated cruisers Jan Boge and Kate Ayres, and Kaye Browne and Brian Pickering from Food Wine Pets Travel, who are snail-pacing their way around Oz in their caravan.
Each duo has made a lifestyle of their preferred travel styles.
Jan and Kate have just returned from a P&O cruise from Brisbane to New Guinea, while Kaye and Brian recently parked their caravan in Hervey Bay and took a road trip to Queensland’s Magnetic Island.
So, if you were to choose between travelling around Australia in a caravan or cruising a few times a year, which would you choose?
Let’s go over what they said to help you can make an informed decision.
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Embracing the nomad lifestyle
There are several advantages to travelling around Australia in a campervan, caravan, or motorhome. Once you own your RV (recreational vehicle), it’s considered a lot cheaper than taking a cruise.
You don’t have to pay for airfare or fancy onboard meals, and you can usually find camping spots almost anywhere in Australia.
The price tag for powered caravan sites ranges from about $35 to $65 AUD a night; unpowered sites are about$30 to $35 AUD.
An alternative is free-camping, although the grey and digital nomad lifestyles have become so popular during the winter months, it can be hard to find a spot, even in the vast Australian Outback.
However, compared to cruise ships, this economical alternative means you can spend more time exploring Australia and less time worrying about your budget.
Another advantage to being a grey nomad with no fixed abode is that it’s more flexible.
If you want to stay in one spot for an extended period like Kaye and Brian – they’ve been in Hervey Bay about two years now – and really get to know the area, you can do that.
On a cruise, your itinerary is pre-set, you’re always on the move and rarely have enough time to really see everything. With an RV, you can take your time and see everything at your own pace.
Travelling in an RV can be both good and bad, depending on your preferences. Some people love the feeling of being away from the conveniences of home, while others prefer them close at hand.
For Kaye and Brian, their RV lifestyle is a “no-brainer”.
They love the freedom of choice their mobile lifestyle offers. Their bonus is the fascinating people they meet, not just on the road, but also in the caravan parks where they stay.
This is perfect for them as bloggers at Food Wine Pets Travel, who love telling stories, strange and true!
Among the amazing people, they’ve met is Gai Weaber-Buchal who literally ran away with Ashton’s Circus! Click here to listen to Brian and Kaye’s podcast on Gai’s story.
They also caught up with Gai for her take on travelling solo around Australia. Click here to read fascinating insights into her lifestyle.
However, road safety can be an issue for those embracing the RV lifestyle, but if you follow Truck Friendly – caravan road safety program online, you’ll learn some tips for keeping you safer on the road.
And the bonus for an RV lifestyle? When you’ve finished travelling, you’ve still got an asset (the RV) to sell and recoup some of the money you paid for setting up your nomadic lifestyle.
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Cruising the high seas and rivers
Of course, there are also several advantages to cruising the high seas or European rivers. The first is that it’s more comfortable than living long-term in an RV.
When you’re on a cruise ship, you have access to all the amenities—high-quality restaurants and bars, entertainment on tap, sightseeing shore trips, and daily room service to keep your cabin fresh.
If you’re like Jan and Kate who all love the comfort, convenience, and entertainment that cruising offers, then this is definitely the way to go.
Another advantage of cruising is that it’s more social. When you’re on board a ship with hundreds of other people, it’s easy to meet new friends and have fun together.
The solo RV lifestyle can be lonely unless you tag along with a caravan club or similar, but on a cruise ship, there’s always someone around to chat with or play cards with late into the night.
“We booked our P&O cruise and couldn’t fault it,” said Jan, a retired legal secretary and now chaplain.
“The food was great, the service was excellent, and the staff was amazing, but the price of wine was high at $14.50 a glass.
“The beauty of cruising is that you can leave your belongings in your cabin and go off for the day. It’s pure relaxation.
“My biggest decision each morning was what to wear!
“Should I wear this one or that? I take lots of shirts, and lots of knickers, unless I can hand wash them out.
“On this trip, I took 17 pairs of knickers and 11 bras for 10 days! I change regularly. I thought about taking disposable knickers, but they’re the most uncomfortable things.
“I also took three kilos of costume jewellery. It’s not like on a plane flight where the luggage you take is restricted by weight. On a cruise, there are no limits!”
Jan said their cruise offered shore trips to different islands, but because they lived at Hervey Bay where they had access to great beaches all year round, they stayed onboard and enjoyed its hospitality.
“If you’re travelling solo, I’d definitely recommend cruising. It’s very social,” Jan said.
“Of the 2600 passengers onboard, Kate talked to about 2000 of them, I think.
“Three ‘young girls’ took us under their wings. It was so funny. By ‘young girls’, I mean in their 40s, and we stayed up until 11:00 o’clock.
“I’ve also been on a European cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest and there was nothing to worry about. River cruises appeal to me because I have a seasickness problem.
“There are ways to get around that by choosing a room close to sea level and in the middle, or with medication, but river cruises eliminate that issue.
“We’ve already booked another 35-day ocean cruise for next May.”
We felt like goddesses, says Kate
Kate, a retired nurse, said that when her first husband was alive, they cruised around the Baltic and Mediterranean seas.
“I travelled around Australia in a caravan when I married my second husband, because he’d never been outside of Sydney other than during World War II,” Kate said.
“But I love cruising; I’m never going to stop cruising if I can help it.
“With cruising, all the work was done for you. We felt like goddesses when we come back to our cabin which was all made up. How good is that?
You sit back, relax, and order another Pina Colada! When I said I’d love some cheese on my toast, they came back with a platter with blue vein cheese in the middle!”
Kate said you could just take a book and read if you want to, or you can do yoga or go dancing.
“They had ballroom dancing on, but I didn’t go down. I used to ballroom dance with my second husband, so I get melancholy and I think I shouldn’t see it,” she said.
“When you consider how cheap it is to have all that service done for you. It really is economical.
“Cruising is better as we get older. I’m nearly 80. It’s a better way to travel because we see people in caravans who really shouldn’t be towing huge caravans.
“It’s scary. There should be a law that they have to train like a semi-trailer driver.
“Unless you’re really experienced with caravanning, don’t do it.”
Cruising also gives you access to places that are difficult to reach any other way.
Whether it’s an isolated beach or an exotic city far from home, there’s something special about taking a cruise to get there.
If seeing the world is your number one priority, then booking a cruise should be at the top of your list.
So, which is better—being a long-term grey nomad or living in one spot and taking occasional cruises throughout the year?
If cost is important to you and you enjoy roughing it from time to time, then travelling in a caravan is probably your best bet.
But if comfort and socialising are what matters most to you—and if money isn’t an issue—then booking yourself onto a cruise might just be an ideal experience for your next trip.
Me? I prefer the latter, but I’ve also been checking out long-distance train travel, and The Ghan is looking pretty good too!
With so many travel options around, why stick to just one?
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